Peter Camejo, the Greens, and Independent Politcal Action

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Tue Jul 22 07:46:05 MDT 2003

> when i read this, i want to know the following: for each person who's
> politics evolved over time (such as Cohn-Bendit), was there one or two
> people who replaced them in the party with "radical" views? in other
> words, rather than focusing on one individual's political evolution,
> you fix on the party as a whole.  are these Cohn-Bendit people being
> replaced by fresh faces NOT, for example, supporting "humanitarian"
> wars?
> les schaffer

Since the Green Party US, like many other such parties, would probably
not exist if it had not been for the example of the German Greens, it
would be useful to examine the original.

By the mid 1970s a grassroots environmental of enormous scale had taken
root in Germany. Called the 'Burgeriniativen', it would include 50,000
groups and 300,000 members at its height. Nuclear energy was the
decisive question for this movement, but protests against nuclear
weapons rapidly became a Green issue as well.

In the mid-70s, the German government planned to satisfy 15 per cent of
the country's total energy requirements and 40 per cent of its
electrical power through nuclear power stations over a ten year period.
Protestors threw the government on the defensive, especially at a
proposed site on the upper Rhine at Whyl in Baden-Wurttemberg. In
February of 1975, wine-growers from Alsace and the Kaiserstuhl joined
some 8,000 demonstrators who eventually broke through a police barricade.

Two things helped to intensify this movement. One, was the 1979
'accident' at Three Mile Island in the United States, which seemed to
confirm the worries depicted cinematically in "The China Syndrome". The
other was the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan, which set into motion an
escalation of the arms race, both in terms of "Star Wars" and the
grizzly proposals floated by the White House about the possibility of a
"winnable" nuclear war. Nuclear power plants and NATO bases melded into
a symbol of capitalist irrationality and violence.

By 1979 activists in the Burgerinitiativen had begun to explore their
electoral options since the SPD was not seen as a suitable vehicle for
their demands. One of the first to propose a "Green slate" was Petra
Kelly, who many regard as a founder of the German Greens. Petra Kelly
died at the age of 44 on Oct. 1, 1992 at the hands of her lover and
co-founder of the German Greens Party, Gert Bastian--a 69 year old
retired Nato General--who then turned the gun on himself. Some
speculated that Bastian was a double-agent while others interpreted the
tragedy in purely human terms.

Initial electoral successes led Kelly, Rudi Dutschke, Czech immigrant
and dissident Milan Horacek, wack job artist Joseph Beuys, Rudolf Bahro
and others to begin discussions about launching a new party. Dutschke
was a prominent figure in the German student movement of the 1960s,
which was organized as the SDS. The German SDS, unlike the Americans,
was Marxist.

Dutschke had been shot by a rightwing gunman in 1968 and died of
long-standing complications in 1979, before he had a chance to see the
success of the movement he helped to launch. Prior to the initial
discussions about the feasibility of a Green Party, Dutschke and Horacek
had been working closely together in order to start a nondogmatic
socialist party. In the late 1970s, there was a generalized phenomenon
of Marxists beginning to try to break free of sectarianism after a
decade of abortive attempts to "win over" the working class in one
adventure after another.

In January of 1980, this group submitted the first party program. It was
characterized by Horst Mewes, a scholar of the Green movement,  as
containing "an array of concrete proposals for environmental policy,
framed in what was ultimately a 'utopian' design for a pacifist,
environmentally compatible welfare state, with totally emancipated,
self-governing green republics existing autonomously in a pacified world
of international mutual assistance and political harmony."

Suffice it to say that the rejection of sectarianism so close to the
heart of figures like Dutschke and Horacek had mutated into a rejection
of socialism altogether when pen finally hit paper.



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