ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Southern California Diary

PP If Helmut Kohl has become more and more daring in his pronouncements, to the point where he can assert that the ideas of Ludwig Erhard have truimphed decisively over those of Karl Marx, the reason for it lies in the parallel growth of diffidence, confusion and helplessness among the East German socialists. And underlying this helplessness is a theoretical, or if you like philosophical, crisis which socialists, particularly in Eastern Europe for whom it is an immediate problem, have failed to overcome THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, which is full of Eastern Europe these days, reports an interview with an East German worker, in which he says that about a month ago just about 50 per cent of the East German population might have wanted German reunification, but today (February 1) the proportion is 100 per cent. The disillusionment of the East German people with the old social and political structures, in its pronounced form at any rate, appears paradoxically to have followed, and that too with a noticeable time-lag, rather than preceded the introduction of liberalisation. The migration pattern to the West tells the same story: after the initial exodus in October, the number of people migrating west came down, but has again risen sharply over the last month or so. When the Berlin wall was removed, thousands went West daily, but came back to resume life in the East, much to the consternation of western media; in stray interviews, many expressed their commitment to staying on and working in East Germany. Hundreds of thousands of people around that time attended political rallies in Berlin where they listened to writers like Stefan Heym and Krista Wolff arguing for a socialism that sprang from the people. The maverick economist Bahro even came back to attend a congress of the Socialist Unity Party where he argued passionately for socialism, though of a variety of his own, on ecological grounds. It appeared for a while in those heady days that East German socialism was having a re-birth, that far from getting swamped by West German capitalism, it would not only consolidate but even enrich itself, no matter what formula was eventually tried out for the relation between the two Germanys. All that has dramatically changed. The second wave of migration has crippled the economy; Party membership has dropped significantly, and pollsters are predicting its certain defeat in the forthcoming elections; not much is being heard about the need to preserve socialism; and the only hitch that is perceived in the re-unification process has to do with concerns about European security, and not with the existence of two different social systems. The question naturally arises between October and January what went wrong? Why did the promise of a renaissance of socialism get snuffed out?

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