Peter Camejo, the Greens, and Independent Politcal Action

Lueko Willms Lueko.Willms at
Tue Jul 22 09:12:16 MDT 2003

 in reply to: 

# Subject: Peter Camejo, the Greens, and Independent Politcal Action
# From: Les Schaffer <schaffer at>
# Date: Tue, 22 Jul 2003 09:40:40 -0400

  and his question: 

> Lueko wrote:
> > but you still find, including in the very tops of the Greens,
> > activists like Dany Cohn-Bendit, one of the student leaders of the
> > May 1968 revolt in France, who is now MEP for the Greens in France,
> > and pushing for "humanitarian" wars
> 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?

   No, on the contrary. Those who did not evolve like Cohn-Bendit or
Joschka Fischer either moved out or withdrew their opposition
grudgingly. There is only one with some left image left in the
Bundestag parliamentary group, Hans-Christian Ströbele. BTW, if it
were to the will of his party, he would not be reelected, since the
Berlin Green party did put him quite low on the slate, but he managed
to take away a direct mandate away from the PDS, thus throwing the
PDS out of the Bundestag... *)

   New recruits to the Green party in Germany are rather completely
untouched of any leftist idea. I have always to think of this guy
Metzger, who was in the Bundestag for at least one term (currently
not) and who complains that the program of social cuts, actually wage
cuts, is not deep and radical enough. TV and radio talk shows like to
invite him... 

   I thought for some time that the Greens would destroy themselves
by moving to the right, moving away from their base even in electoral
terms, but I turned out to be wrong. The party only reflected and let
the move to the rifht of a whole social layer which had been the base
of the Green party. 

   BTW, the Green party did not necessarily see itself to the left of
the SPD; when they managed to get seats in the Bundestag for the
first time, they insisted on being seated in the middle between the
CDU/CSU and the SPD, i.e. actually to the right of them. This was one
of the expressions of their "classless" ideology. For some times they
were not sure if they wanted to be a party at all and even more if
they wanted to take government responsability. It makes me think of
the famous phrase of German emperor Wilhelm at the beginning of World
War I: "I don't know parties any more, I know only Germans" (Ich
kenne keinen Parteien mehr, ich kenne nur noch Deutsche). 

   But sure, when the Greens thought more seriously about taking up
government responsability, it was clearly within the framework of the
German capitalist state. 

   Even before they entered the first coalition government in the
federal state of Hessen (where Frankfurt is the biggest city, but the
capital is Wiesbaden), when they entered that federal state's
parliament (Landtag) for the first time (it must have been four years
before entering the government), and got a pivotal position, they
refused to vote for the SPD prime minister, Börner, who then formed a
minority government, if my memory does not play foul on me, but the
green party then voted for his budget, thereby giving him all the
money for his policies, and actually taking responsability for these
policies, including the police, secret agencies, prisons, and so on. 

  A revolutionary workers party would have acted differently: it
would have voted without reservations for the SPD's candidate for
prime minister, but would have refused to support his pro-capitalist
policies, and would have voted against his budget, with maybe voting
in favor of parts of the budget, like for schools or social programs,
or at least abstaining on those parts of the budget. 

   Back then, this sequence of events seemed to me not only outright
silly for an opposition party, but a proof that the Greens could not
be a vehicle to advance the working class' interests. 

   I prefer to vote for what I want, and don't get it, instead of
voting for what I don't want, and get it in abundance... 

Lüko Willms 

*) on the parliamentary successes of Hans-Christian Ströble and the
PDS (which is the successor of the SED, the party ruling the GDR): 

  The election system for the German Bundestag is actually a more or
less pure proportional system, where each party is allocated seats in
proportion of their relative share of the vote (with in one federal

  It is modified by splitting the vote into two votes, with one vote
being used to elect a direct representative of a constituency by
majority vote. But those seats achived by constituency are being
subtracted from the overall number according to the actually
determining vote for the slates, thus just changing the composition
of the parliamentary group of that party, but not its size. But
nevertheless, this vote is called the "second vote", thus more or
less consciously confusing the voters. 

  Then the elections are not really free since each party has to get
at least 5% of the (proportional) vote to be considered for seats, or
at least three direct seats on the majority per constituency basis.
The PDS, although being quite strong in the ex-GDR, never got these
5% nationally, but their proportional votes were nevertheless being
counted, since they got 3 constituencies. Now, in the last election,
Hans-Christian Ströble stood in one of the Berlin constituencies
where a PDS candidate had been elected four years before, and he made
a big campaign to give all those constituent votes to him, so that hi
would enter the Bundestag despite his party putting him on a bad
place of their slate, and he won with a slight margin before the PDS
candidate, thus bringing their direct mandates to just two and
throwing the PDS out of the Bundestag altogether (besides these two,
who cannot form a parliamentary group, and thus have much less rights
than other members of parliament). 

   I hope I have not bored you to death with these anecdotes... 


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