A Project of the Hamburg Institute for Social Research in Cooperation with the Einstein Forum, Potsdam

Berliner Colloquien zur Zeitgeschichte

Berliner Colloquienzur Zeitgeschichte

Two Lefts—Two Rights: On the Connectivity of Twentieth-Century IdeologiesHosted by Mischa Gabowitsch, Martin Schaad and Claudia Weber

15 and 16 February 2013

The colloquium provided a useful setting for exploring the limits and potential of a brand of historical writing that takes a critical look at ideologies by examining the ways in which the great ideologies of the twentieth century are intertwined and enmeshed. Overlaps in the political programme, informal encounters, successful cooperation, and even individual lives oscillating between »Left« and »Right«—all of this was lost in the dichotomous historical images shaped by the Cold War. 

First of all we were interested in the venues—associations, detention facilities, youth movements—of Left and Right discourses in the interwar period. We discussed how, in the course of the Second World War, these encounters first took the form of cooperation and then ultimately ended in antagonism between National Socialism and Stalinism. Secondly, the socio-cultural breeding ground and concrete political positions were regarded from the standpoint of their common origins and compatibility. For example, the esoteric and ecological movements from which both ideologies »borrowed« and which have remained virulent in present-day radical right-wing trends. Thirdly, we took a closer look at the overlaps in the political programs between the Left and the Right on themes such as the nation, the economy and violence; and also how they manifest themselves in the individual lives of side-changers and renegades.

Although these overlaps must be carefully considered in terms of their respective historical contexts, we can see continuous fundamental attitudes (for instance from discourses on the nation conducted by the Left in West Germany in the 1970s) that are discernible not least of all in the present criticism leveled at capitalism and globalization. Therefore, in the long run, we were interested in the potential of Left and Right movements to become receptacles for ideology in the twenty-first century.

Conference language was German.



Interview with Mischa Gabowitsch, Martin Schaad and Claudia Weber

Martin Schaad in Mittelweg 36 (in German)

Martin Schaad live at the Einstein Forum (in German)