Friday, July 12, 2013

The German New Left

A fascinating article at Dissent on the history of the German left and the ghosts of the Nazi past.
All these unresolved anxieties and desperate claims about the all-too-present Nazi past endowed the German student movement with an almost unique fierceness (though the Left in the other defeated Axis countries, Italy and Japan, would also turn to terrorism), and lent it what Kundnani calls its “strange mixture of guilt and moral superiority.” Whereas the French new Left was inspired by the heroism of the Resistance, and the American new Left by the brave dignity of the Civil Rights Movement, the German new Left was haunted by visions of the gas chambers: it believed that the only two alternatives for Germany were, quite literally, the creation of a utopia or the recreation of Auschwitz. Shame, guilt, fury, and fear, rather than pride or hope, were far more common in the communes and classrooms of Berlin than in those of Berkeley or Paris. 
Well worth a full read!

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