By Charlene Spretnak
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Additional resources for Green Politics (Paladin Books)
By the I 960s a youth rebellion had erupted to challenge the older economic-miracle (Wirtschaftswunder) generation, whieh had lost its authority because of its Nazi past. The young people censured their parents for their cooperation during the Nazi regime, and they 10 chided them for their obsession with material accumulation. They grew up hypercritical, resisting every attempt to ideologize or moralize or mystify their social context and development. They felt betrayed because the continuity of their tradition and their existence as a people had been broken by their parents' generation, which had allowed the Third Reich to prevail.
The concept of a social contract between the communities, the unions, and industry was developed. Of course, that alliance was insufficient to stop the rise of Hitler's National Socialist Party, which co-opted many of the social themes. In contemporary West Germany the concept of 'social' (sozial) is behind the practice of companies offering workers benefits or arrangements that do not exist in the United States. It also accounts for a law that all stores and businesses, except restaurants, must close at six o'clock every weekday evening, at two o'clock on Saturday, and all day Sunday so that workers can be at home with their families.
The breakthrough was achieved by August Haussleiter, who was then seventy-four years old. He recalled for us that someone from Berlin, whose name he never knew, appeared behind him and gave him the final push necessary to shape the chaos into the four pillars of the Green Party: I myself had been almost desperate with the situation because there were 3,000 people screaming their own positions in the convention hall. This 'person kept saying, 'Don't give up. Don't give up. ' Although agreement seemed impossible, I took a piece of paper and wrote four words [in German] on it: ecology, social responsibility, grassroots democracry, and nonviolence.