← back to archive

Post-Growth Utopias from the GDR: The Ecosocialist Alternatives of SED Critics Wolfgang Harich, Rudolf Bahro, and Robert Havemann from the 1970s

Alexander Amberger

Contradictions: A Journal for Critical Thought V, no. 2 (2021): 15–29

download (pdf)

Keywords: Eco-socialist utopias, GDR, Marxist intellectuals, Wolfgang Harich, Rudolf Bahro, Robert Havemann

While the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), under its new chairman Erich Honecker, focused on consumption and economic growth in the 1970s, some Marxist intellectuals in the GDR recognized the urgency of the ecological question. They took the warnings of the Club of Rome seriously and pleaded for a different communist way of life, one that would abandon the ever-prosperous industrial economic model. To this end, they independently formulated eco-socialist utopias. Wolfgang Harich was the first in 1975 with Communism without Growth?, followed by Rudolf Bahro with The Alternative from 1977, and Robert Havemann with his book Tomorrow, published in 1980. In this article, the three utopian texts and their authors are presented, analyzed and compared. Amberger shows that the oppositional thinking of Harich, Bahro, and Haveman does not only belong in the history books but can also be an inspiration for today’s debates on climate change and environmental destruction.

Translated by Julian Schoenfeld.

doi: 10.46957/con.2021.2.2

← back to archive