Three tips for your summer reading – reviews

for socialists

Olaf Schulz is Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. What could have been a fantasy a few months ago is now a reality. Three months before the 2021 federal election, the SPD was still at 15 percent in opinion polls. The media and opponents of the party mocked the decision to nominate a candidate for the post of chancellor at all. It seems that the Social Democratic Party must usher in a new era. It turned out differently. After 16 years of a federal government led by the CDU, the SPD can once again appoint a chancellor. Is it the end of the decline or just a pause?

Richard Stauss deals with this question. He is a German political scientist and assistant professor at the Free University of Berlin. His research focuses on right-wing extremism and partisan research. In his new work “The SPD at the turning point – a new beginning or a decline!” He searches for external and internal reasons for the sharp drop in SPD election results between 1998 and 2017. The legacy of “Agenda 2010” has proven problematic for the party. There was also a lack of leadership in the party, a willingness to serve as junior partner in a grand coalition for three legislative terms, and last but not least, internal disagreements. Stöss examines whether the SPD has become a victim of a social development for which it is not responsible or whether the failure is self-inflicted.

Stuss also tries to explain how the “last-minute swing” to a surprising 25.7% was accomplished in the 2021 federal election. Once again, there are a number of internal factors that helped the party’s rise. Stuss also takes a peek at other parties’ behavior in the run-up to the general election.

In general, Stöss does not provide a general history of SPD over the past two decades or claim to open previously unknown files, collect new data and communicate explosive inside information. Instead, it does a sober analysis of the SPD drought period based on accessible sources, reports, analyzes and commentary. Later he ventures a glimpse of the near future. It is clear to him that the SPD is at a turning point – either the party will continue its recent rise despite extraordinary obstacles, or sooner or later it will continue to decline.
Stöss does his work with precision and realism. The scientist himself indicates that a study will be presented. This is shown not least by the detailed presentation of the problem and additional methodological procedures at the outset. Anyone expecting a popular literary read will be disappointed. But it should not be delayed. No one who adheres to the SPD or wants to see a party put to the test will be bored. (minute)

Richard Stauss: “SPD at the tipping point – restart or rejection”, Schüren-Verlag, 2022, 252 pages, €28

For a better discussion culture

Through “radical compromises,” Zeit Online journalist Yasmine Mubarak has made a plea for a better culture of political discussion and communication with which to do so. A fundamental question at work is why discourses in German politics so often fail. The author cites, among other things, discussions of climate change, gender, corona scales, or black zero as examples.

For Mubarak, the root of this failure lies in the lack of transparency in communication and an inappropriate culture of error: “It is the fear of one’s own ignorance and exposure, because weaknesses and lack of knowledge are not appropriate in our discussions, unless they are used as my middle stylistic method.”

The author sees a solution in more realistic policy and “radical compromises”. The debates should continue as follows in order to find the best possible compromise: “The idealists provide the momentum and rub shoulders with conservatives who want stagnation and maintain stability. Realists try to mediate between these two poles. They meet in the middle.”

Mubarak is particularly harsh on “idealists”. They often lose sight of a long-term goal through unrealistic discussions. As a result, this often prevents compromises. In addition, the idealists “are stagnant and conservative and owe them a debt,” which they do not want to admit. It remains unclear to me how her criticism of idealists should fit into Mubarak’s preferred method of finding compromise. If the idealists did all this, they would end up being realists, and since Mubarak never tires of repetition, the two groups are needed alongside the conservatives.

Some examples are poorly chosen as well. Mubarak writes, “In the nuclear debate, there was never really an argument, it was a taboo” or that the black zero became an “economic standard” that is rarely questioned. I can clearly remember the different positions in German politics and the media comments on both topics. According to Mubarak, realpolitik is stigmatized in German debate. She remains guilty of explaining how that must fit into the 16 years of Chancellor Merkel and now a traffic light under Olaf Schulz.

Mubarak wrote that no one should make the mistake of “taking Twitter as a mirror of society, especially in German-speaking countries”. Unfortunately, while reading, I often had the feeling that she did not heed this advice. For me, many statements and examples do not correspond to the political reality of Berlin. In the end, I’m really confused as to who the book is actually targeting. There is hardly anything new for the reader interested in politics. For readers who are new to politics, the book can be valuable if it is not overly complicated. (cc)

Yasmine Mubarak: “A Radical Settlement”, Hoffmann & Camp, 2022, 192 pages, €18

Inside Friday for the Future

As Maurice Conrad explained at the beginning of his writing, “We are on strike until you move” is not a “climate book.” Rather, it is “an attempt to explain and insight into the largest climate and youth movement of our time: Fridays for the Future.” The nice thing about it: The 21-year-old author has all kinds of inside knowledge. He is one of the initiators of the Friday for the Future movement in Mainz and was the first candidate on the climate slate for the 2021 Rhineland-Palatinate elections.

This gives him a very comprehensive view of al-Shabab. It explains how Friday for Future has been able to go from movement to global movement in a very short time, what strategies are behind it and how these strategies were found, what role media and popular culture have played in it, and how intergenerational conflict is dealt with . With or how conflicts were resolved when some activists began pushing for active politics.

Given the author’s proximity to the Friday for Future website, one might expect to read a paean on the action. However, Konrad frequently deals with criticism and tries to classify it. On the accusation that “Fridays for Future” is not diverse enough, he admits, for example: “Even if the movement tried to be incomparably diverse: after all, they are mostly white, well educated, and wealthy” . He admits but must bear in mind: “The al-Shabab movement is, after all, just a microcosm of our big world. Decades or centuries of structural discrimination cannot be eliminated with the touch of a finger.”

The book is recommended for anyone interested in what young activists are doing outside of school strikes. But activists can also find new suggestions here, the phrase “we are on strike until you act” essentially includes a fresh look at the successful political campaigns that have been and are still being done by people who, with a few exceptions, do not act in normal politics and so far have not had No experience in this field yet – and they are still successful. (cc)

Maurice Conrad: “We’ll Strike Until You Act!” , Westend, 2022, 192 pages, 14 euros

This article first appeared in print edition No. 138 – Topic: Rising Stars. You can order the brochure here.

Leave a Comment