Speeches, Open Letters, Commentaries
In 1965, the so-widely-respected (aber hier so-awkwardly-translated) German author Gunter Grass hit the campaign trail in support of Social Democrat Willy Brandt's bid for the Chancellorship. In the speeches and subsequent commentary now collected, he attacks the fat-bodied, fat-headed ruling Christian Democrats for encouraging the public to worship the "Golden Calf known as the Economic Miracle," while excusing the continued prominence of former Nazis in government. At the same time, Grass criticizes young radicals and writers on the Left for substituting "rhythmic stamping and... loud cries of 'Ho Chi Minh'" for work toward pragmatic reforms attainable through "solid, colorless Social Democracy." But what reforms? And how attained? Grass, a moralist rather than a political thinker, rarely spells out the ends or the means. Nor does he probe the appeal of any of the movements -- from radical Left to radical Right -- which he opposes here. The American reader who turns to this volume for an understanding of German political life will consequently be disappointed, as Grass' German followers may have been, if they sought inspiration from this novelist. Fittingly, this middle-of-the-road statement of faith bears a laudatory introduction from Michael Harrington, another worthy Old Leftist somewhat out of touch with contemporary unheavals.