SPIEGEL: Because of that kind of wording, your speeches are sometimes interpreted as hidden appeals to use violence. Do you preach violence?
DUTSCHKE: To call for violence, murder, and killing in the cities of highly developed industrial countries – I think that would be wrong and virtually counterrevolutionary. Because in the metropolises there is basically no one to hate. The government leaders at the top – a Kiesinger, Strauss, or whoever – are bureaucratic character masks. I reject them and fight against them, but I cannot hate them like a Ky in Vietnam or Duvalier in Haiti.
SPIEGEL: This distinction – violence there but not here – for you it comes from. . .
DUTSCHKE: . . . from the difference in principle in the state of the historical struggle. In the Third World: the people hate the form of direct oppression that is represented by puppets, so they fight against them. Here: assassinating members of our government would be absolute madness. Because who does not understand that here the people at the top are interchangeable? Terrorist violence against human beings is no longer necessary in advanced countries.
SPIEGEL: So you don’t condemn violence categorically, but only under the prevailing conditions?
DUTSCHKE: Certainly no one could claim that there will be absolutely no violence within the process of change. Violence is an element of rule and has therefore to be answered from our side with demonstrative and provocative counterviolence. The form of response is determined by the form the conflict assumes. In Berlin violence from the side of the senate executive has in fact been demonstrated by the shooting of Benno Ohnesorg. But within this confrontation we cannot say, let’s take up the machine guns and wage the final battle.
SPIEGEL: So what can you do?
DUTSCHKE: We have to see very clearly that our chance to revolutionize the present order exists only in our consciousness-raising among ever-growing minorities. The antiauthoritarian camp is continuing to grow and is starting to organize itself and find its own forms of living together: a counter-university in Berlin, for instance, or communes or whatever. The existing order must be undermined and new forms need to be created at the same time.
Source: Rudi Dutschke, “Wir fordern die Enteignung Axel Springers” [“We Demand the Expropriation of Axel Springer”], Der Spiegel, July 10, 1967, pp. 30-33; reprinted in Wolfgang Kraushaar, ed., Frankfurter Schule und Studentenbewegung. Von der Flaschenpost zum Molotowcocktail 1946-1995 [The Frankfurt School and the Student Movement. From the Message in the Bottle to the Molotov Cocktail 1946-1995]. Hamburg, 1998, vol. 2, pp. 268-69.
Translation: Allison Brown