Media library

This blog gives access to several Economic Programmes written by the German Green Party between 1983 and 1991.

However, very few people in the degrowth movement are aware that we are essentially repeating a cycle of mobilization that had already taken place from the late 1970s to the early 1990s (Piulats 1984 is a good sample, in Spanish). In that period, the ideas and practices that we currently call degrowth were labelled just as green, without knowing that the environmental movement would later become dominated by other different shades of green. The movement was especially strong in West Germany, becoming a reference all over the world when its political arm, Die Grünen (the German Greens) irrupted into the Federal Parliament in 1983.
Unfortunately, Die Grünen became split in two main factions. The fundamentalist or fundi, which we would currently call degrowther, would soon have to share the party with the self-called realists or realos, closer to what we currently call green capitalism. Fundis went under pressure after an electoral defeat in 1990 (when the Greens did not share the general enthusiasm for a quick reunification of Germany, warning of the many problems that this would cause to East Germans, and focused their campaign on the then virtually unknown issue of climate change; paraphrasing the German Railways’ slogan Everyone is talking about the weather. We don’t, their slogan was Everyone is talking about Germany; we’re talking about the weatcartell Verds Alemanya vs climaher!; e.g., Jungjohann 2013). In a party congress in 1991, the fundis were defeated and left the party (see different views of this congress here and here). The end of the German Greens of the 1980s was rounded off with the death in 1992 of its most emblematic member, the fundi Petra Kelly.
After these events, the ideas, experiences and illusions of the early Grünen were forgotten almost completely. However, their spirit has never ceased to manifest itself in lots of grassroots initiatives. And, behind this veil of amnesia, there is a hidden treasure: the political programmes of the German Greens of that times. As described in a paper that Jorge Riechmann published in Ecología Política in 1994 (if you understand Spanish, this review is a must read), there was a conscious process of programmatic elaboration. It was carried out by the assemblies and representatives of the party all over West Germany, the many social movements where they had their roots, and hundreds of experts hired with the funds obtained from the presence of the party in the institutions. They envisioned, with much detail, how Die Grünen could foster a transition toward a socially fair degrowth.

> The programme of urgent economic measures approved in Sindelfingen in 1983: Die Grünen. 1983. Sinnvoll Arbeiten-Solidarisch Leben. Gegen Arbeitslosigkeit und Sozialabbau [Working meaningfully – Living in Solidarity. Against Unemployment and Cuts in Social Services]. Bundesgeschäftsstelle Die Grünen, Bonn. (35 p.)

> A document on labor policy: Die Grünen. 1984. Arbeitszeitpolitik der Grünen [Working Time Policy of the Greens]. Arbeitskreise Wirtschaft und Arbeit/Soziales der Grünen im Bundestag, Bonn. (96 p.)

> The programme of economic policy approved in 1986: Umbau der Industriegesellschaft . Schritte zur Überwindung Von Erwerbslosigkeit, Armut und Umweltzerstörung [Reshaping Industrial Society. Steps to Overcome Unemployment, Poverty and Environmental Degradation]. Die Grünen, Bonn. (101 p.).

> Economic policy bill presented to the federal parliament in 1990: Die Grünen. 1990. Entwurf eines Gesetzes für eine ökologisch-soziale Wirtschaft (Förderung der umwelt- un sozialverträglichen Entwicklung der Wirtschaft – GösW) [Draft Law for an ecological and social economy (promoting environmentally and socially sustainable development of the economy – GösW)] Drucksache 11/7606. Deutscher Bundestag. (41 p.).

> International economic policy: Die Grünen. 1991. Auf dem weg zu eines ökologischen-solidarischen Weltwirtschaft. Bundesgeschäftsstelle der Grünen, Bonn. As far as I can tell, this is the only major economic policy document for which a translation to English is available: The Group of Green Economists. 1992. Ecological Economics: A Practical Programme for Global Reform. Zed Books Ltd. (172 p.).