Archiv für Sozialgeschichte
Band XLIII/ 2003 - Summaries

Wolfgang Kraushaar,

The Sponti-Scene in Frankfurt. A Sub-Culture as Political Laboratory

As a result of the 1969 dissolution of the "Extra-Parliamentary Opposition" (APO), the 1970s not only saw the development of an assortment of Maoist political factions, but also of various sub-cultures. Most of them were doubtlessly inward-focused; some, however, were not, and those had a considerable impact on politics. The Frankfurt cadre group Revolutionärer Kampf (Revolutionary Struggle), which had previously unsuccessfully attempted to mobilise the workers in a car factory for the class struggle, was soon able to turn the concept of Spontaneismus (spontaneism) - with its hitherto rather negative connotations - into a positive label and to thus open up a long-lasting socio-cultural field of experimentation. At its core stood the squatters-movement: With cleverly orchestrated publicity stunts they managed to put considerable political pressure on the Social Democrats as the dominant local political force in Frankfurt at the time. The conversion of formerly respectable residential areas like the city's West End into business districts went along with the increasing destruction of affordable living space, which touched the social conscience of Social Democracy. Leading members of the Sponti scene took advantage of this contradiction and promoted squatting. For a while, the flats they shared in illegally occupied houses were regarded as "liberated areas", which were considered to contribute more to a thorough change in people's lifestyles than did the pursuit of an ever abstract anti-capitalist revolutionary agenda. In the mid-Seventies, however, it became apparent that this concept, being closely tied to the constitution of a separate sub-culture, would lead into a dead end. Likewise, all attempts to transform these structures into an alternative social movement through the founding of their own small businesses, soon turned out to be unsuccessful. The only feasible solution was the return to parliamentary politics, now with an ecological agenda. This effectively finished off the Sponti-Movement, but it also constituted a new beginning for some of its protagonists: As the Green Party's so-called Realpolitik wing, they were to play a decisive role in the emerging party's development. As a result of this uneven process, they can not only be said to have had a certain share in the shaping of local, state and federal politics, but also in the redefinition of lifestyles and individual biographies in a socio-cultural context.


©Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | Webmaster | technical support | net edition ARCHIV FÜR SOZIALGESCHICHTE | September 2004