All Power to the Imagination! The West German Counterculture from the Student Movement to the Greens

All Power to the Imagination! The West German Counterculture from the Student Movement to the Greens

All Power to the Imagination! The West German Counterculture from the Student Movement to the Greens

All Power to the Imagination! The West German Counterculture from the Student Movement to the Greens

Synopsis

"All Power to the Imagination!" is a history of the West German counterculture and its immensely influential role in the nation's cultural and political life. Sabine von Dirke opens with an examination of nascent countercultural movements in West Germany during the 1950s. She then moves to a nuanced account of the student movement of the 1960s, describing its adaptation of the theories of Marcuse, Adorno, and Benjamin, then recounting its attack on "bourgeois" notions of the autonomy of art and culture. She next examines the subsequent development of a radical aesthetic and the effects of left-wing terrorism on Germany's political climate. Later chapters focus on die tageszeitung, the ecology movement, and the rise of the Green Party. Von Dirke concludes by asking whether the evolution that this book traces - from Marxist-influenced critiques of culture and society to more diverse, less doctrinaire left-wing positions - represents progress or a betrayal of radical ideals.

Excerpt

Postwar West Germany is often described as a stable democracy characterized by a homogenous rather than conflictual political culture. Closer inspection of the political, social, and cultural developments challenges this perception and reveals numerous instances of political discontent and protest early on in the history of the Federal Republic. The immediate postwar period and the 1950s, for example, saw their share of political protest crystallizing around armament issues. These early peace movements and other subcultural expressions of dissent were, however, successfully contained by the dominant culture. A decade later, the student movement was the first sociopolitical and cultural upheaval that thoroughly disrupted the harmony of the Adenauer era and had lasting impact on the further development of West German society. The advent of the student movement marks the beginning of the West German counterculture, which has grown over the years into a significant political force, as the success of the ecology movement and of the first alternative daily newspaper, die tageszeitung, attests. We cannot understand today's Germany without knowing the historical and conceptual developments of this counterculture. This study therefore examines the sub- and countercultural history of West Germany from the 1950s through the mid-1980s.

The counterculture received much attention right from the beginning, particularly from social scientists, who coined the term "new social movements" as a summarizing identifier for a variety of oppositional movements such as the citizens' initiatives, the women's movement, the ecology movement, the peace movement, the squatters' movement, and the alternative movement. Since each of these practiced an alternative politics as well as lifestyle, the term alternative movement is often used as a synonym for the new social movements as a whole, stressing the commonalities of the variety of oppositional and countercultural groups. Some studies blur the . . .

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