Youth wing of Schmidt's party thumbs its nose at him -- and NATO
The youth wing of West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt's Social Democratic Party (SPD) has thumbed its nose more ostentatiously than ever at the defense policy and economic conservatism of the pragmatic Schmidt.
At their annual convention in Lahnstein June 26-28 the Young Socialists (Jusos) unaimously called for West German rejection of the new NATO nuclear weapons planned for 1983 deployment -- and also demanded massive nationalization of all banks, insurance, steel, and energy firms.
So strong was the anti-NATO weapons and anti-Schmidt mood among the 300 delegates that even Juso chairman Willi Piecyk -- who is regarded as a moderate "reform Socialist" -- sharply attacked the NATO weapons and even questioned West Germany's allegiance to NATO. Membership in NATO, Piecyk declared, is "no dogma."
He urged Jusos to make next October's rally in Bonn against the new nuclear weapons the largest in West German history. In alluding to US President Reagan, he further charged Schmidt with having "shrunk the Social Democratic peace policy down to the size of a cowboy hat."
In addition, in virtually demanding the recall of Schmidt, Piecyk accused the chancellor of being "a kind of substitute kaiser."
For Piecyk's deputy chairman and main rival, Klaus-Peter Wolf -- the two men kept their positions in a close reelection vote -- Piecyk's criticism of Schmidt was far too timid. Wolf, a more ideological Marxist, ridiculed Piecyk for being too mild.
The Jusos' parent SPD, he asserted, has become a "pro- capitalist state party." And Schmidt's Liberal coalition partner, Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, is "US President Reagan's viceroy."
In this atmosphere, one of the heroes among the convention's guests was Erhard Eppler, the intense left-winger who was the SPD legislative leader in the state of Baden- Wurttemberg until the party's defeat in the last state elections.
Eppler's words drew repeated applause from the delegates -- even though his opposition to the new NATO weapons stems from a strongly Christian, moral viewpoint, while the Jusos' opposition comes more from a view that Western capitalist systems are war-mongering, while the Soviet or any other system that calls itself socialist is peace loving.
The villain among the convention's guests was the Social Democratic Party's secretary, Peter Glotz. Glotz's argument that the already deployed Soviet SS-20 mobile missile threatens Europe and requires a response met with catcalls and boos. So did his last-ditch argument that a political undermining of West German implementation of the NATO decision would topple the Social Democrats and usher in a conservative government in Bonn.
The 96-page "Economic and Social Political Basic Program" approved by the Juso convention after five hours of debate calls for nationalization of 52 enterprises, including such familiar names as Krupp, Thyssen, and Mannes-Mann. It also demands an infusion of 30 to 50 billion deutsche marks ($15-25 billion) to spur full-employment. This pump priming, it stipulates, should be financed by cutting military expenditures and increasing taxes the taxation of the rich.