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Ecologies of Socialisms

Germany, Nature, and the Left in History, Politics, and Culture


Edited By Sabine Mödersheim, Scott Moranda and Eli Rubin

This volume explores the complex webs of interaction between the environmental movement, socialism, and the «natural» environment in Germany, and beyond, in the twentieth century. There has long been a divide between the environmental, or «green,» movement and socialist movements in Germany, a divide that has expressed itself in scholarship and intellectual discourse. And yet, upon closer inspection, the split between «red» and «green» is not as clear as it might at first seem. Indeed, little about the interaction between socialism and environmentalism, or socialism and the environment, fits into a neat binary. In a way, the discourses, positions, and policies
that structure the interactions between environmentalism, nature, and socialism in German history and culture can be said to constitute a kind of ecology – a complex and interdependent web of relations, which can appear as antagonisms, but which can also contain deeper, less immediately visible, interdependencies. Ecologies of Socialisms attempts to combine the work of scholars from a wide range of disciplines (history, literature, German/Austrian studies, philosophy, geography) in order to contribute to a better and more nuanced understanding of how «green» and «red» have clashed and also merged in German history and culture.
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A Garden of Small Plots or Factory Farms? Early Cold War Agricultural Planning in East Germany (Scott Moranda)


Scott Moranda

A Garden of Small Plots or Factory Farms? Early Cold War Agricultural Planning in East Germany

Agricultural modernization radically transformed rural landscapes on both sides of the Iron Curtain, as agronomists and farmers embraced tractors, chemicals, and larger farms all across postwar Europe. Even if small family farms were more likely to survive under capitalism, western government policies and market forces still led to the consolidation of small plots into ever larger farms. Biodiversity plummeted on the resulting farms, as a mix of pastures, cropland, hedgerows, small streams, orchards, and woodlands gave way to monoculture and specialization. Synthetic fertilizers led to the nitrification of streams and ponds to the detriment of fish and other wildlife.1

Although these trends were global, the ills of industrial agriculture more often feature in the histories of socialism and its failures. In part, this reflects real differences between East and West. Under centralized planning and with a socialist admiration for large-scale projects, state planners in East Germany pushed through immense changes in a very short time-period. High modernist planning reoriented farms around machines and transformed rural←25 | 26→ spaces through collectivization.2 Later, agricultural authorities increased meat production through large-scale confined livestock farming.3 Indeed, the SED’s Ministry for Agriculture saw nature preservationists and traditional farming as obstacles to the modernization they believed was required in order to provide more food to workers and to enlighten the countryside.4 Given the speed and scale of these changes in East Germany...

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