At the end of the student revolts the unorganized anti-authoritarian current was next to Jusos (social-democrats of the SPD), the DKP (a Marxist-Leninist party) and the K-groups (several communist organisations), one of the most important tendencies within the leftwing movement of Germany. In the 1970's the Italian concept of "Autonomia Operia" started to influence this German current more and more. In West-Germany so-called "Betriebsprojektgruppen" (Workplace project-groups) were created with the Italian model as an example. However, an important difference with the Italian autonomy was the fact that instead of the workers having a leading role, this role was fullfilled by student activists. Their intention was to introduce the anti-authoritarian activism of the student revolt into the factories. They saw direct action and militantism as ways to unite the anti-authoritarian revolt with the proletarian workers culture. However due to a lack of a solid basis within the German workingclass and the cultural barrier between worker and student, no broad autonomous workersmovement as in the Italian model developed itself in Germany. At the end of the 1970's this led to a sceptisism towards politics that focussed itself only on the workersstruggle. Many anti-authoritarians found entrance in the alternative movement, that wanted to create some kind of parallel counterculture, thereby trying to create a practical alternative within the dominant social order.
In October 1975 the first edition of the journal "Autonomie" was published. This became the first theoretical platform for anti-authoritarian activists who tried to politically re-orientate themselves. In 1979 this led to a break between the editors collectives of Hamburg and that of Frankfurt. The Hamburg group stuck to the traditional concept of operiatism and kept a clear Marxist-proletarian orientation. They accused the editorial collective of Frankfurt of abusing the term "autonomy" to revert from true revolutionary politics. The group from Frankfurt saw the anti-nuclear struggle as an alternative for a strong focus on the proletarian struggle and left the journal that kept being published by the Hamburg collective uptill 1985. The journal "Autonomie" created a historical bridge between the student revolts of May 1968 and the autonomous movement of the '80's.
At the beginning of the 1980's unexpected new social movements developed from the alternative movement of the 1970's. Most of them developed from the many "one-issue" campaigns (anti-nuclear struggle, squattersmovement, peace movements, etc.) who started to broaden their perspectives. This social movements who shot from the social revolts of 1980 and 1981 were then products of a deep social and political discontent. In this a militant autonomous wing developed that consisted mostly of young activists. They went on to confront the bourgeois norms and values and put their own needs as the central political goal. They didn't propagate a resistance that was confined to the weekend or a certain location, but a resistance that included life as a whole. Therefore the autonomous movement didn't limit itself to a certain area of struggle or theme, but did broaden her struggle to fight against everything that would opress and destroy us. Within the new social movements of the 1980's the autonomy represented an indipendent political fraction. Within the autonomous movement of the 1980's there also developed a new discussion about the class struggle. In these times wagelabour was dominated by a core of politically integrated, specialized workers who were member of the trade unions. They had prospect on a relatively safe and long duration of work. Therefore the autonomous idea of a selfdetermined live and the struggle against capitalism did find much support within the factory. Although a lot of effort was done by the autonomous movement to form alliances with workers, not much succes was booked on this area and an emphasis was layed on the construction of a mass-movement and alternative culture.
The German autonomous movement has published several thesis in which she tried to catch its most important characteristics. Some of these;
- We fight for ourselves and others fight for themselves. However by connecting our struggle we make ourselves stronger.
- We won't engage in any dialogue with those in power! We only formulate demands. Those in power can concede with them or not.
- We all embrace some vague anarchism, but we're not anarchists in the traditional meaning of the word.
- No power to no one!
- Our ideas are very different from those of the alternative movement, but we use the infrastructure of the alternative movement.
- We are not certain if we want revolution or revolt. Some of us want a "permanent revolution", while others claim this is nothing else then a "permanent revolt". Those who don't trust the term "revolution" think it suggests a freedom that has to be realized at a certain point, whilst they think this is impossible. For them freedom is the short period of time between throwing the rock and the rock hitting its target. However we all agree that in first instance we want to dismantle and destroy - formulating affirming ideals is not our priority.
- We are not by definition organized. Our forms of organisation are somewhat spontanious. There are squat meetings, telephone chains, autonomous assemblies and many many small groups. Short term groups form to perform an action or to attend a protest. Long term groups work on ongoing projects or very illigal actions. There are no structures more solid than this and there will be no hierarchy. Uptill today the movement has produced not one individual representative, spokesman or celebrity, that means no Negri, no Dutchke, no Cohn-Bendit, etc.
Since the 1980's the German autonomous movement has lost its momentum. This movement however always remained a factor of political interest and its practice has inspired radical activists all over the world to use the militant practice and tactics of the autonomous movement for their own respective struggles.