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Liberal Musings on the Character of the Generational Revolt (October 18, 1968)

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Viewed in terms of mass psychology, these students are profoundly alone and isolated; they have no social group worth mentioning that stands behind them, if one disregards their sympathizers from intellectual circles. Free-floating intelligentsia.

In the sociological jargon they quickly adopted from Marcuse, Adorno, and Habermas, they speak a language whose rigid, formulaic shorthand recalls the prayer wheels of a new esoteric party lingo. Rather all too quickly, it becomes stiff and "misappropriated."

Finally, one notices the signs of a fantastic, childlike self-confidence that can occasionally, with lightning speed, assume the features of terrorism, as is always the case with children. A passionate will to action combines with a sense of entitlement to power that would most definitely arouse amusement if the establishment itself were not so nonplussed and helpless.

One has to grant them the courage of their convictions. No institution is too powerful for them – not prominent writers, major publishers, established statesmen, not to mention the legal system and the police: the more stable the power, the more confident the style of provocation. "You know, Messieurs Publishers," one of them said to our book-capitalists, "that we are going to expropriate you in due time. But for the moment we request your solidarity. Go tomorrow morning [ . . . ] . " Are infantile fantasies of omnipotence inspiring these words? A whiff of pubescent megalomania is surely running through their ranks. Their relationship to the masses and to power is emotional, uncritical, but if it were only pubescent, it could hardly trigger crises of such scope.

[ . . . ]

Source: Horst Krüger, "Die Kinder des Liberalismus – Unsere APO, aus persönlicher Beobachtung" ["The Children of Liberalism – Our Extra-parliamentary Opposition from Personal Observation"], Die Zeit, October 18, 1968.

Translation: Jeremiah Riemer

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