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International Socialism, Summer 1965



To Our Readers


From International Socialism, No.21, Summer 1965, p.23.
Transcribed & marked up by by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


After nearly 26 months of discussion the Legal Committee of the West German Federal Parliament has brought forward a bill for an Emergency Law. The only information which the public received on these discussions was through occasional statements by members of Parliament – the usual practice of placing memoranda at the disposal of Members of Parliament not on the Legal Committee and of universities was not observed. To date, the DGB (Trade Union Federation), the student organisations and many members of University staff have protested against the Emergency Law, and in particular on the following points:

  1. Proposed general clauses allow the Federal Government an almost complete takeover of State power if ‘the situation requires definite immediate action’.
  2. The Emergency Law makes possible Executive usurpation of legislative powers.
  3. The Government majority is able to prolong the period of the Emergency indefinitely, including the postponement of elections.
  4. Parliamentary opposition can also be eliminated.
  5. The Lander Governments can likewise be suspended.
  6. The proposed Law makes possible censorship of all media of communication.
  7. The trade unions can be eliminated, and compulsory labour service instituted, giving the employer almost military powers.
  8. The Government is empowered to use the armed forces to maintain civil order.
  9. The citizen’s right to appeal on constitutional grounds to the Federal Constitutional Court can be removed by the parliamentary majority.

In general, the Law permits ruling groups to prevent their displacement by constitutional means in a crisis and heightens the danger of coup d’etat.

We have received an appeal from the Working Committee against the Emergency Laws for support and publicity to its campaign; by the time this reaches readers, the first combined protest demonstration against the proposed Emergency Laws will have been held in Bonn on 30 May. Protests against the Law should be sent to the Committee at 6 Frankfurt/Main Kurfurstenstrasse 8, West Germany, from whom more information can be obtained.

Our contributors are Chris Harman, 23, a postgraduate student in Sociology at the London School of Economics, Roger B. Nelson, a student of international labour affairs, Martin Glaberman, an American trade unionist; the extract from Rosa Luxemburg’s famous essay was translated by Barry Gorden, 23, (cf. IS12, Spring 1963), an American socialist studying in Frankfurt-am-Main.

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