The failure of the new left

The failure of the new left

What remains of the new left after fifty years is disappointing

The alternative political and cultural movement, which later became known as the "new left" and alternative culture did not emerge in 1968. Social resistance by artists and student youth was already forming in the u.S. And central europe a few years earlier. But 1968, with the assassination of rudi dutschke and the extensive french street protests, certainly became the milestone of this movement. Herbert marcuse, in a lecture (failure of the new left?)1 already addressed a possible failure of this movement in 1975.

Prosperity, rebellion against the establishment

The 1960s and 1970s were an interesting window of time that accelerated many developments or even made them possible in the first place. High economic growth after the second world war, despite the crude oil crises then towards the end of these years, consumption was in vogue as never before and became the dominant lifestyle, measured prosperity and the promises of social advancement actually proved credible at the time (those who perform will be rewarded).

In addition, there was the deterrent example of communism in the east, with its very tolerant living conditions for almost everyone, its standard state education in prisons, and a harshly enforced unity of opinion with rigid punishment for political deviation.

Those who were dissatisfied in the west with its likewise mendacious and authoritarian culture, the socially spared capitalism and the party democracy sworn to maintain power, found themselves just as quickly pushed to the fringes of society. Nevertheless, students in particular began to oppose tyrannical and crypto-fascist structures at universities and in politics. Those interested in the arts and parts of the young bohemians experimented with cultural alternatives and mind-expanding drugs. This was made possible by the prosperity of middle-class employees and small entrepreneurs, which slowly entered the everyday world and gave their children a certain amount of freedom.

Colorful niche

To put it simply, there was an alternative-political and a countercultural current, as well as a lot of mixed up new left, which was fond of fresh ways of life and the fight against the conservative establishment – there were also many old fascists and nazi imitators among them. New portable music (records, rock ‘n roll, beatles and stones) played a rough role.

Politically, the goals of the apo (auberparlamentarische opposition) were relatively old-fashioned: to establish socialism (better than in the communist countries) with class struggle, more democracy, more individuality, abrustment/world peace.

Stubborn proletarians

However, the working class does not like all this – more wages, the food wave, car and adriatic vacation, that is what the "system": the capitalism, the braven and achievement-willing had to offer, were there far more interesting. Likewise, the established social democratic parties did not want to have anything to do with the new leftist revolutionaries, the sds (sozialistischer deutscher studentenbund) was quickly kicked out of the spd. This quickly eroded the political ambitions of the young, leaving only ies that could be supported by halfway progressive people in the established parties, the churches and the liberal part of the middle class. For example, protest against the u.S. Vietnam war, sympathy for south and central american liberation movements (the term used at the time to describe the "liberation movements"), and the "liberation movement" "good" terrorists), objection to the worldwide upheaval as well as the rejection of nuclear weapons (hiroshima), nuclear power and especially the environmental pollution.

The alternative cultural approaches, at the beginning rather an alien niche, were discovered quite quickly by the media, exploited (especially: the "free sexuality", that has always been a circulation generator) and commercially appropriated through the backdoor, such as pop music. The capitalist culture industry knows no hesitation in this respect. With the art it lasted still, the education burger is just conservative, a few years longer.