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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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Ecology and its Discontents: The Concept of Nature in Elfriede Jelinek’s Oh Wildnis, oh Schutz vor ihr (Gernot Waldner)


Gernot Waldner

Ecology and its Discontents: The Concept of Nature in Elfriede Jelinek’s Oh Wildnis, oh Schutz vor ihr


Austrian politics in the 1980s was characterized by democratic improvement and ideological polarization. After almost 20 years of social-democratic rule, the electorate became increasingly dissatisfied with the center-left government, a discontent which was voiced in two events. In 1984, a state electricity supplier planned to build a power plant in the ecologically fragile wetlands of Hainburg, situated outside of Vienna, leading to the occupation of the Hainburger Au. This occupation was the first case of civil disobedience in the Second Republic. The momentum behind the squatters was caused by a growing ecological movement and fostered by criticism of the nepotism within the ruling left-wing elite that commissioned the power plant. Subsequently, this gathering prompted political referenda, as well as the foundation of the Green Party, whose members would first take their seats in parliament two years after their formative sit-in in the wetlands.1

In 1985, one year after the successful preservation of the wetlands, Elfriede Jelinek published Oh Wildnis, oh Schutz vor ihr, a text that returns to the experimental style of writing she had developed at the beginning of her career.2 Thereby Jelinek partakes in an experimental←147 | 148→ transformation of the genre “Heimatroman,” joining writers like Gert Jonke and Franz Innerhofer.3 It is difficult to discern how exactly Jelinek perceived this occupation but in an interview conducted by the K...

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