Dissident Marxism and Utopian Eco-Socialism in the German Democratic Republic

The Intellectual Legacies of Rudolf Bahro, Wolfgang Harich, and Robert Havemann


Rudolf Bahro, Wolfgang Harich and Robert Havemann were probably the best-known critics of the DDR’s ruling Socialist Unity Party. Yet they saw themselves as Marxists, and their demands extended far beyond a democratisation of real socialism. When environmental issues became more important in the West in the 1970s, the Party treated it as an ideological manoeuvre of the class enemy. The three dissidents saw things differently: they combined socialism and ecology, adopting a utopian perspective frowned upon by the state. In doing so, they created political concepts that were unique for the Eastern Bloc. Alexander Amberger introduces them, relates them to each other, and poses the question of their relevance then and now.

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Alexander Amberger studied political science at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg from 1999–2006. Since 2011, he has been a staff member for political education at 'Helle Panke' e.V. – Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung Berlin, and since 2017, a member of the Historical Commission of the party executive of DIE LINKE.

1 Introduction
 1 Research Question and State of the Art
 2 The Concept of Political Utopia
 3 Political Utopia Since the 1960s
 4 Time, Place and Actors
 5 Political Utopia and the GDR
 6 Meadows and the GDR

2 Communism without Growth?: Wolfgang Harich and the Eco-Dictatorship
 1 Harich and His Era
 2 The Primacy of Nature: Harich’s Return to Archistic Utopia
 3 How Communism without Growth? Was Received

3 Rudolf Bahro’s The Alternative in Eastern Europe
 1 Bahro’s Life: Exploring the Realms of the Possible
 2 The Origins of The Alternative
 3 The Alternative
 4 Bahro and Utopianism
 5 Is The Alternative Really an Option?

4 Tomorrow: Robert Havemann in Pursuit of the Third Way
 1 The Life of Robert Havemann
 2 The Origins of Tomorrow
 3 Havemann’s Classical Utopia
 4 Havemann’s Utopian Ideas and Their Place in Utopian History
 5 The Reception of Tomorrow in the East and the West

5 Conclusions

Index of Names
Eco-socialists, readers interested in Marxist approaches to ecology, historians of the DDR and German socialism in the post-war period, scholars of political utopia and utopianism.
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