Hunt has interpreted the discourse in Kopfgeburten as forecasting the forthcoming decade the s as one that will be beset with the consequences of ecological destruction. Not only that: as far as ecological destruction was concerned, this would take place on a scale hitherto unimagined. Alongside the theme of overpopulation, the threat from nuclear power is the dominant global and green concern of this text.
There are two further instances where the nuclear issue over- shadows the events of the narrative to a less obvious degree. Nicht mehr fremd. Er ahnt eine neue, ihm bisher unbekannte Freiheit. Kein Einerseits-andererseits mehr. Ein Hocker bietet ihm Betel an. Harm feels a sense of identity instead with the beggars and children of the slums for whom such an act is thoroughly natural.
The character of Dr.
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But the solution that Grass offers, through the mouthpiece of Harm, to the global concern of overpopulation and the ecological pressures it exerts, has more precise implications for Germany. Jede versehentliche Schwangerschaft wird unterbrochen. Wald und Heide gewinnen Raum. The German people will die out as some kind of punishment for past crimes.
In a unified process of extinction, the deutsche Frage — the issue of whether the two German states would eventually become one German nation again — is resolved: the people may disappear but Germany, as a single geographical space and natural region, is reborn. Viewed as an ecocentric answer, this solution fulfils the requirements of a radically green manifesto: dismissing the self-interest of man in the interest of the future survival of the planet.
In , Bahro made the forthright suggestion that the required changes for ecological stability could only occur outside the political arena, by way of a dictatorship. Jetzt bald, ab Silvester. It is a part he toys with to some effect, proceeds to pass on for the fictional Harm to exploit, but ultimately dismisses. Aside from some proposed policies with wider social implications for the reorganisation of the Bundeswehr and the education system, for example, Grass begins a game of fantasy environmentalism.
This time, Reschke reports back from a future Rome, where motorized vehicles are absent and replaced by bicycle rickshaws.
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Almost certainly this prospect would horrify the right-wing reader; the most liberal reader on the other hand, would also find it awkward, even frightening. What cannot be doubted is that Grass would never propose such a measure in his political speeches or articles. Fiction can be even crazier than the craziest of political radicals and Grass fully exploits this possibility.
Simultaneously, however, considerable doubt is cast on any assumption that the tone in Kopfgeburten is a strictly apocalyptic one.
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Grass retains a slight hint of cautious optimism, an insistence on the ability of mankind to cling on to survival, inferring that he is not quite ready to predict the end of the world. Firstly, it is necessary to outline the political beginnings of the Green Party in West Germany. It would not have been difficult for Grass to predict the future involvement of a Green alliance in the federal election, however. The fledgling Green party in Germany gave the impression of being driven by events rather than anticipating them in its formative period.
Clearly, the outcome of the next election is more important to Grass at this point than the possibility of a breakthrough for green party politics. For bourgeois voters such as the Peters, the Green Alliance might have attractive policies. But if too many people decide in their favour, Grass is saying, the danger exists that the SPD share of the vote could be adversely affected, allowing the CSU leader, Franz Josef Strauss to become Chancellor.
Die machen sich alle was vor. It is the threat posed by the Green alliance to the established tri-partite system that irritates Grass here.
Soll ihnen einerseits-andererseits dazu was einfallen? Ko, For the time being, it seems, the Greens are a pill, which the narrator for one does not seem keen to swallow. The Green alliance is criticized in Kopfgeburten for its apparent concentration on one issue, namely, that of nuclear power, a factor which probably added to its already unlikely prospects of party political success. Though Grass himself attempts to rise above this problem by addressing a range of global ecological concerns and displaying his interest in the developing world, it is impossible to escape the impression that Kopfgeburten owes its entire existence to the looming federal election.
The Greens are depicted as being incapable of gaining acceptance for their failure to address further political issues, ironically, amongst the very public such as the Peters, which, according to Grass, the Greens should be canvassing for support. Rather than confront the limited solutions offered by his own party, the SPD, Grass opts instead to launch an invective against present alternatives.
The danger exists, however, that through seeing the political party dismissed, the reader might deduce that environmentalist objectives are similarly undermined. Kopfgeburten, however, is a negative lesson in what happens when green politics and party politics are mixed up. Yet it is a movement whose home is not that of party politics, because Green politics and institutionalised party politics are anathema, incompatible in process, in means and in ends Bramwell As a result of his preoccupation with political events, Grass is unable to fully endorse the need to act locally in Kopfgeburten, although he would be applauded by ecologists for thinking globally, for which there is ample evidence.
The fantasy vision of a self-awarded role of eco-dictator accords the narrator the freedom to propose some solutions to contemporary ecological crises. The more imaginative and radical ideas voiced by Harm, which bring the future existence of the German people into question, dissuade the narrator from further autocratic ruminations, however. Weil es gesagt sein soll. Weil Nicolas Born tot ist. Weil unser Mangel kein materieller und sozialer, sondern geistiger Notstand ist Ko, Immer wollen sie das Unterste zuoberst kehren. Relieved of the self-imposed constraints associated with writing Kopfgeburten in advance of a federal election, Grass is able to develop a literary strategy for dealing with environmentalism at greater length, resulting in an apocalyptic, yet not strictly fatalist novel.
In contemporary history things develop in ways that Kopfgeburten attempts to predict, as reflected in its chaotic narrative structure. Hollington puts this succinctly: Nothing in history ever comes to a final halt, or makes an absolutely fresh start. What emerges from this text is evidence of a writer clearly engaged with green issues, who anticipates developments in green history rather than one who merely reacts to them.
At times, Grass enunciates some clearly radical ecologist arguments, but without developing them further, or simply dismissing them. Elsewhere, potentially radical green credentials are compromised by a humanist concern with Zukunftslosigkeit. Although Grass acknowledges the need to think globally then, we find that his overriding concern in Kopfgeburten is the result of the forthcoming Bundestag election.
For all the mixed signals that the text transmits, it is possible to deduce that Grass is extremely wary of making a political commitment on green issues in the prevailing climate. Jetzt haben wir den Salat. Marxism has the potential to serve as a useful critical tool, capable of highlighting the lack of clarity in green thinking, despite itself having arguably nothing that is positive, in a green sense, to offer the debate on green political thought.
Before turning to these texts, it is necessary to shed more light on the way in which Marxism sees ecologism, and on the Marxist concept of nature. I will turn to the variant of socialism practiced in the GDR — Marxist-Leninism — later on in this chapter when I come to discuss Flugasche.
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In Capital, Karl Marx regarded nature as subject to the human will, and as a social construct. Ab, and the relevant page number s in parentheses. Fl, and the relevant page number s in parentheses. Nature in the abstract was simply of no interest to Marx. Despite unifying the green movement, Marxists argue, such slogans actually permit the recycling of old ideas from across the political spectrum such as anarchism, monism and mediaevalism.
Consequently, if old ideas are to be employed, then the relevant old criticisms of them can be put into practice. It can readily be appreciated, therefore, that Marxism can act as a regulatory tool for critics of ecologism. A second major criticism levelled at ecologism by Marxists is the avoidance in green thought of the identification of the root causes of current ecological problems, such as global warming, for example, being the product of class relations.
The close identification of ecologism with the end of ideology thesis compounds such apoliticism, and frustrates Marxists because it fails to engage in a discussion of class politics.
Indeed, Marxists have argued that the wealthier sections of world society can actually avoid the effects of ecological change. The charge of defending class interests is indeed a significant part of the Marxist critique of ecologism. A significant proponent of this argument was the German Marxist, Hans Magnus Enzensberger , who claimed that environmentalism was an essentially middle-class cause adopted by people seeking to defend their own selfish interests in the face of the threats posed by capitalism.
Less radical green commitment such as conservationism, is adjudged by Marxism to be seeking to protect the landscape and values held dear by the ruling classes, who are merely intent on defending their own geographical and ideological territory Pepper But even this class does not escape criticism. A further explanation as to why Marxists draw attention to the socio-economic composition of such ecological protest is to challenge any claim that western societies operate according to the principles of pluralism, which is an aspect of society respected unequivocally by ecologism.
Marxists argue that those who choose to participate in ecological protest have access to such resources as money, education and time that assign them a significant advantage over other lower socio-economic groups when it comes to challenging decisions about the location of potentially ecologically destructive projects.