The Marxist who saw the fall of the German left


There is both good and bad in this. The 1968 movement indeed marked an important turning point in the history of socialism in developed capitalist societies – but 1968 was not such a radical turning point for the working class. When the SDS was kicked out of the SPD in 1961, it was supported financially and practically by left-wing trade unionists from IG Metall to IG Chemie and other unions.

There was also a left wing of the West German trade unions which was represented in the SPD, but which criticized the development of the party after it abandoned its image of a class party with the Godesberg program in 1959. These links between the unions and SDS has stayed very close for a long time.

The dominant radical left around Rudi Dutschke in 1968 argued that the industrial working class in developed capitalist countries could no longer be seen as a relevant force in the struggle against capitalism. Yet an international wave of class struggles began around the same time in France, Italy and Britain, among other countries, as well as major strike movements in Spain and Portugal that wiped out fascist regimes. who had ruled there for decades. These enormous upheavals have confirmed that a shift in the balance of power towards democracy and socialism is not even conceivable without strong movements of the working class.

This is why people like Joschka Fischer, who would later become Minister of Foreign Affairs, went to Opel to work on the assembly line. In addition, there was a radical left grassroots movement active in the anti-nuclear movement, among others. This gave birth to the Green Party in the late 1970s, which then quickly became a party of the system. Many radical leaders of the day have since become apologists for the dominant order.


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