Forwarded from Nestor (morphing)

Einde O'Callaghan einde at
Mon Aug 4 15:07:12 MDT 2003

Louis Proyect wrote:
> Einde O´C. wrote:
> "Here in Germany we have several leaders of the Green Party who were 
> AFAICS genuine revolutionaries in the 1960s and 1970s who are now in 
> leading positions in pushing a right-wing agenda, sometimes with 
> pesudo-leftist arguments.
> One crass example of this phenomenon is our Foreign Minister, the former 
> streetfighter Joseph (Joschka) Fischer <...>
> Another example is Otto Schily, former attorney for the Red Army 
> Fraction (Baader-Meinhoff group) and himself formerly suspected of being 
> a leading terrorist, who <...> is currently leading the most radical 
> attack on civil liberties since the Second World War and preparing the 
> for ground <...> total supervision of the general public, not just 
> political activists.
> <...>
> I don't necessarily believe that these people were always opportunist 
> shits. I think it's more a case of <...> (social) being determining 
> consciousness."
> ===
> I agree. But we should also recall the social roots of the individuals 
> at stake. From what I can gather here and I remember about all those 
> radicalized groups of the late 60s, early 70s, all of them were somehow 
> or other sticking to the idea that the working class in metropolitan 
> countries was lost for revolution and the <New> Left had to be built up 
> from the "free intelligentsia" and "radicalized students/youth".  That 
> is, in the end, from the radicalized layers of the petty bourgeoisie and 
> bourgeoisie.
This isn't strictly true for many leading German Greens. A major element 
that provided the original cadre came from teh so-called K-groups, such 
as the Kommunistischer Bund Westdeutschlands (KBW), which had had a 
serious orientation on the working class and some roots. However, their 
essentially maoist politics didn't prepare them for the reverses that 
occurred during the 1970s, particularly on teh industrial front, and 
they collapsed through the peace movement into the the Greens, 
originally the parliamentary voice of the Movement.

An example of this is Jürgen Trittin, teh present Environment minister, 
who was once a leading member of the Central Committeee of teh KBW 
(IIRC). He now provides left cover (or maybe "not so left" cover) for 
the government, where he is counted as one of the "radicals".

Incidentally both Schröder (SPD chancellor) and fischer are both 
inordinately proud of their impoverished working class background and 
Fischer used to use the fact taht he had never been to university to 
browbeat his more academically successful left-wing opponents from the 
so-called fundamentalist wing of the Greens. now he seems to enjoy 
collecting honorary doctorates.

Although many of the people in the current government started on the 
left of their respective movements/parties - even Schröder was a leading 
light on teh left of the Young Socialists when they had real leftie 
credentials - their politics were essentially elitist, whether in teh 
form of streetfighting or in the form of reformism. This meant that when 
the mass movement receded they proceeded to make a career as politicos 
doing things on behalf of the people. Gradually their present social 
position shaped their politics and now they behave light right-wing 
social democratic renegades, even if they may still privately have some 
regrets or left-wing sympathies.

> That is, in the end, they voiced a non-proletarian (and perhaps 
> anti-proletarian, though heavily veiled) point of view. It should be no 
> surprise for a Marxist that during an age of general advancement of 
> revolutionary movements the globe over, the "enlightened" tiers of the 
> petty bourgeoisie preferred to style themselves following that global 
> trend. With a reversion of the global trends (which took place by the 
> mid 70s and lasts until our days, though it is getting weaker with the 
> hours), the petty bourgeois sides with the bourgeois.
I think you're in danger of reading too much from teh American 
experience and generalising it to the European scene. There are some 
significant differences between the experiences of the left in the 
States and in Europe at least since the Second World War e.g. 
McCarthyism never really took off in Europe and there were always open 
communists and lefties in leading positions in trade unions (communism 
isn't really a dirty word in most of Europe - not even in the former 
Eastern bloc, where many people are highly critical of the system before 
1989), and on my reading this was also true long before that.

> Who was it that wrote, somewhere, that the petty bourgeois cannot have a 
> political project of itself and has to lean either on the bourgeois or 
> the proletarian...
This may be true, but I think we have to look at the particular 
biographies and the particular political environments in the particular 
countries before we can go from this level of generalisation to dealing 
with the concrete instances.

Einde O'Callaghan

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