Willy Brandt Under Fire

Willy Brandt Under Fire

IN 1959, THE GERMAN SOCIAL DEMOCRATS adopted a new program. At the same time, the British Labour party also adopted a new program. Each of the two was trying to shed the image of a Marxist workers’ party and to transform itself into a people’s party. While the British did not totally repudiate nationalization of the means of production, the Bad Godesberg formula was: “Free market competition wherever possible; nationalization where necessary.”

A few years later the Social Democratic students in Germany began to rebel against the embourgeoisement of the party, started violent actions at several universities, and collaborated with Communists in public demonstrations. Willy Brandt had them summarily expelled from the party. He did not think that tender regard for party democracy should be allowed to bar the party forever from power.

The treatment paid off. The party came to power, or at least now shares it with the Liberals. But it had to pay a pri...

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