2013 Spring Workshop

Creating Participatory Democracy:
Green Politics in Germany since 1983

Thursday, FEBRUARY 28, 2013
Duke University
John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary & International Studies

Friday, MARCH 1, 2013
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Institute for the Arts and HumanitiesHyde Hall

Carolina Seminars
Center for European Studies, Duke University
Center for European Studies, UNC-Chapel Hill
Center for Jewish Studies, Duke University
Department of History, UNC-Chapel Hill
Heinrich Böll Stiftung, North America
Institute for the Arts and Humanities, UNC-Chapel Hill


In March 1983, the West German Greens became the first new party to enter the Bundestag since the early days of the Federal Republic. This shock to the country’s political system changed the debate on how West German democracy could be expanded or reformed. The Greens’ significant recent gains in parliamentary representation, which were highlighted by their 2011 electoral victory in the state of Baden-Württemberg, evince the enduring effects of Green politics on German democratic praxis.

Our workshop, which will take place on the thirtieth anniversary of the Greens’ March 1983 entrance into the West German parliament, will use that occasion as an opportunity to raise new questions about the democratic visions and achievements of the Greens and their predecessors in the New Social Movements. Specifically, we will ask how Green politics challenged West German democratic praxis and question whether the Greens’ understanding of democracy changed when they entered parliament in 1983. We will also investigate the Greens’ position on Jewish issues and their stance towards Israel. Altogether, these questions will open up a larger dialogue about the possibilities for participatory democracy in post-industrial society. The workshop will foster a rich conversation by bringing together political scientists and historians from Germany and the United States. Participants will include renowned senior scholars and researchers conducting cutting-edge empirical research.

The workshop will begin at Duke University’s John Hope Franklin Center with a readings seminar for graduate students featuring the work of Belinda Davis. This seminar will offer students an opportunity to discuss with Davis her recent research on the West German New Left, and to address questions of anti-American and anti-Semitism amongst Germany’s 68ers in particular. Andrei Markovits, whose classic 1992 work The German Left: Red, Green, and Beyond links the New Social Movements with the rise of the Greens, will then give the keynote address. He will use this opportunity to reflect on the Greens’ enduring significance, and thus to go beyond the narrative he presented in The German Left.

The second day of the workshop will take place at UNC’s Hyde Hall, home to the Institute for the Arts and Humanities. It will feature two panels dedicated to the democratic visions of New Social Movements’ activists and the Greens, respectively. The first panel will focus on the late 1970s, and explore the ways that participants in the New Social Movements saw their activism as a contribution to or a critique of West German democracy. The second panel will continue this conversation into the 1980s, looking at the Green Party itself and its effects on West German politics and parliamentary democracy. Taken together, these panels will allow for a fresh look at questions about the participatory potential of parliamentary democracy that were raised in 1983. Between these two panels, a lunchtime address by Andrei Markovits will consider the European Left’s disproportionate interest in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The workshop will conclude with a roundtable devoted to the larger ramifications of Green politics for the creation of participatory democracy within post-industrial society.



Duke UniversityJohn Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary & International Studies

4:30 pm: Graduate Reading Seminar

Belinda Davis, Rutgers University

Fear and Loathing in West Germany: Startling Memories of Activist Youth

This reading is drawn from a book in progress concerning the "inner life" of extraparliamentary activists in the Federal Republic, ca. 1962 to 1983. The book examines how so many young West Germans came to oppositional politics, what sustained their activism over the course of decades, and how this activism redefined politics altogether. The study reconsiders the relevance of this political participation today, while also highlighting the deforming effects of some of the conventional narratives that have formed the “afterlives” of this period.

7:00 pm: Keynote

Andrei S. Markovits, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Reflections on The German Left: Thirty Years beyond the Greens' Entrance into the Bundestag

Markovits, will take the audience back to the evening of Sunday March 6, 1983, which he remembers as if it were yesterday. The triumphant Greens spent that night celebrating their entrance to the Bundestag in Bonn, then still the ensconced capital of the Federal Republic of Germany. It was also that evening that the study of this phenomenon was to become Markovits’s scholarly preoccupation for the ensuing decade. Switching from his previous research anchored deeply in the industrial world of the German and West European trade unions and labor movements to the world of post-industrial and post-material politics, the Greens became the anchor of this intellectual endeavor. Even though he did not much like the German title of his book The German Left: Red, Green and Beyond (Oxford University Press); Grün schlägt Rot actually hit the nail on its head in that it expressed succinctly the gist of his argument: that Germany’s and Europe’s left agenda and politics had irretrievably mutated from its former red to its then-current green. There can be no doubt that it was green topics that have transformed progressive politics in Germany and all countries of the advanced capitalist world. Markovits’s lecture will deal with this mutation as well as an accounting of the positives and negatives that this greening of politics entailed.

Moderation: Konrad H. Jarausch (UNC-Chapel Hill)

8:15 pm: Reception



UNC-Chapel HillInstitute for the Arts and HumanitiesHyde Hall

8:30 am: Registration & Light Breakfast

9:00 am: Welcome & Introduction

9:15 am: Panel 1
New Social Movements, Public Participation, and the Emergence of Green Politics
*Please note, a brief coffee break will be held after the panelists present their papers. Comments and discussion will follow the break.

Moderation: Holger Moroff (UNC-Chapel Hill)

New Social Movements and the Politics of Emotions - West German Peace Protests against Nuclear Weapons, 1980-1984

On 12 December 1979, NATO decided to deploy more intermediate-range missiles if no agreement with the Soviet Union to limit nuclear weaponry could be achieved. In the wake of the so-called “Double-Track Decision,” peace protesters took to the streets, squares and parks of West German cities in protest. Central to these protests was the expression of fear. Standing in the tradition of social movements that had developed in the 1960s and 1970s, peace activists understood emotionality as a human quality and repeatedly stated that they were afraid of Western politics and nuclear weapons. This paper shows that the protesters’ continuous reference to their emotions triggered a debate between peace activists, parliamentarians and the media about the relation between politics, rationality, and emotions.

A Brief Cosmogony of the Green Party

This paper will offer a broad sense of the transformation of different activists’ thinking that led to the ideas of the Green List, then the Green Party. It will examine changes in conceptualization of “ideology,” “revolution,” and other received notions of modern politics. It will also address alterations to these activists’ broader world view concerning how change takes place and how people successfully enact change. Finally, it will take into account changes arising out of activists’ own experiences in the preceding decade and longer. The paper suggests these changes might be used to more directly inform our present-day thinking about political and social change.

The New Watch on the Rhine: Trans-National Cooperation, Popular Protest, and the Rise of West Germany’s Green Movement

The powerful West German anti-nuclear movement of the 1970s has frequently been considered a predecessor of the Federal Republic’s Green party. The Greens’ clear and enduring interest in nuclear energy is the most obvious evidence of this genealogy. This paper, however, will argue that in addition to this programmatic link, the Greens also built on the models of participatory democracy developed by anti-nuclear activists. In fact, by looking closely at the spread of anti-nuclear protests from the Upper Rhine valley, this paper will show that it was democracy matters and anti-nuclear activists’’ challenge to the political system that initially attracted many future members of the Green Party to the issue of nuclear energy.

Petra Kelly as an International Leader of the Green Party: Considering Biography and the Peace Movement as Resources of Power in German Politics during the Early 1980s

At the beginning of the 1980s, Petra Kelly was the figurehead of the German Green Party. She held many leadership roles within the party, and her personal politics and values dominated the Greens’ public image. She coined the term “anti-party party” and stood for mediation between East and West. She demanded “ecological” coexistence, better working conditions, equal opportunities for women, and respect for human rights in both Germanys. At the same time, Kelly suffered both physically and psychologically. A kidney disease had affected her since her early childhood. Beginning in the 1970s, her daily life was characterized by anxiety attacks, which eventually led her to avoid being alone. Methodologically, this paper will explain Kelly’s biography. The analysis, however, follows a chronological and systematic approach and thus creates an interface between political science and contemporary history. Within the realm of political science, the work adds a fourth dimension to the analytical triangle of structure and prerequisites (polity), process (politics) and content (policy): the personal and individual dimension of the politician and/or citizen.

Comment: Karen Hagemann (UNC-Chapel Hill)

12:00 pm: Lunch
Featuring remarks by Andrei Markovits (University of Michigan) on:
The Obsession with Israel: Might the Disproportionate Attention Accorded the Israeli-Arab Conflict by the German (and European) Left – thus the Greens – Have Something to Do with Jews?

2:00 pm: Panel 2
Out of the Streets and into the Bundestag: Participatory Democracy in Parliament

Moderation: Thomas Pegelow Kaplan (Davidson College)

The Idea of the Anti-Party Party and its Misunderstandings: Green Identity between the Movements and Electoral Politics

Becker-Schaum’s paper will be grounded in the frequency with which young visitors to the Green party archive, which he directs, are excited about the ideals of the Greens during their founding phase. The current success of the Pirate Party and the growing interest in anti-political political ideals are clearly linked. Becker-Schaum’s paper will build on the important recent work of Silke Mende by looking at the concrete experiences of the young Green Party. It will focus particularly on the Party’s interactions with the anti-nuclear movement, the peace movement, and the women’s movement. In all of these cases, the Greens were accused by the movements of selling out their goals for political reasons; yet in all three cases, the Greens continued to articulate their strong solidarity with the movements. The paper will likely show that the Greens’ supposed anti-political stance was always tempered by considerations linked to electoral politics. Becker-Schaum intends, however, to find new empirical support for this thesis and to use that evidence to respond to the idealizations of politics that are once again en vogue.

The Changing Insertion of Left-Libertarian Parties in European Party Systems Then and Now

Drawing on his extensive research into the politics of the Greens and other so-called left-libertarian parties since the late 1970s, Kitschelt will describe how the role of these parties has changed over the past thirty-five years. His paper will focus specifically on the way that these parties insert themselves into European party systems and the different challenges they faced in the 1970s and today. Particular consideration will be given to the role of social movements in this process.

“Enemies at the Gate”: The West German Greens and their Arrival to the Bundestag between Old Ideals and New Challenges

The West German Green Party’s 1983 entrance into the Bundestag marked a major break, both in the history of this young political force and the parliamentary system of the Bonn Republic. The Greens had been founded in opposition to the guiding principles of the West-German postwar-consensus and conceived of themselves as an “anti-party party.” Although they had gained parliamentary experience in some regional chambers, their entrance onto the national parliamentary stage juxtaposed old ideals and new challenges – for the Greens themselves as well as for German political culture. Taking this singular historic moment as a starting point, this paper summarizes the formation of the Greens in the context of the changing political and ideological landscape of the 1970s. It also contrasts the party’s formation with the transformations in terms of program and personnel that it undertook during the 1980s. The focus lies less on the specific activities of the green parliamentary group than on the broader developments in green politics and green thinking.

Comment: Christiane Lemke (New York University / Leibniz Universität Hannover)

4:00 pm: Coffee Break

4:30 pm: Final Roundtable
The Green Challenge: Constructing Participatory Democracy for Post-Industrial Society

Moderation: Gary Marks (UNC-Chapel Hill)

5:30 pm: Reception

This workshop has been organized by:
Stephen Milder and Konrad H. Jarausch
Department of History • UNC-Chapel Hill