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Rudi Dutschke Demands the Expropriation of the Springer Press Empire (July 10, 1967)

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SPIEGEL: Is throwing tomatoes or smoke bombs also a form of direct action?

DUTSCHKE: Tomatoes and smoke bombs are nothing more than impotent methods to signify protest. No one can delude himself into believing that that is a means of effective protest.

SPIEGEL: Are stones more effective?

DUTSCHKE: A systematic provocation by throwing stones is absurd. Stones as a means of debate or carrying out a conflict are no different in principle from tomatoes. Tomatoes are powerless. Stones are powerless. They can only be seen as preliminary forms of true confrontation.

SPIEGEL: We have examined a number of your speeches to see how you perceive these confrontations. They usually sound sibylline, like this: (Spiegel turns on a tape recording of a Dutschke speech) “When, ladies and gentlemen, will we finally take a closer look at the factories in Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg, or West Berlin that directly or indirectly supply the American army in Vietnam with chemical and electronic installations?”

Can you please tell me what that means: “When will we finally take a closer look at the factories?”

DUTSCHKE: It means that if we are serious about supporting the liberation struggles in the Third World, on the one hand, and about changing our present social order here, on the other, then we have to take a very close look at how these factories are operating. Not to blow them up, but to make it clear through outreach to minorities in these factories that one cannot agree to supporting oppression in Vietnam. Mario Savio, the leader of the student revolts at the university in Berkeley in the United States, suggests the other side of possible resistance when he says that we have to pit our bodies against the extermination machinery; in other words passive resistance, mass refusal.

SPIEGEL (turns on a tape recording of a Dutschke speech) “When, ladies and gentlemen, will we finally end our subjugation to those who rule over us? Why do we not respond to the emergency exercises on the occasion of state visits, that is, the emergency exercises of the state authority machinery, why don’t we respond with emergency exercises of our own?”

What is that supposed to mean?

DUTSCHKE: It is supposed to mean that emergency legislation is being openly debated in the Federal Republic, but basically it is already being practiced at an everyday level, in particular during state visits. And emergency exercises of our own would be attempts, precisely under these specific exceptional conditions, to apply the most elementary forms of democratic freedom – whether freedom of assembly or freedom to demonstrate – as was the case on June 2 [1967] in Berlin, when the police brutally clubbed demonstrators.

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