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Realer Sozialismus als Fürsorgediktatur: zur begrifflichen Einordnung der DDR

Real socialism as welfare dictatorship: reflections on the conceptualization of the GDR
[journal article]

Jarausch, Konrad H.

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Abstract "After the peaceful revolution, politicians and scholars intensely debated the Labels which ought to characterize the East German brand of communism. Focusing on its totalitarian features, cold warriors called it an 'Unrechtsstaat' while former supporters of the SED preferred to speak about 'real existing socialism' as a failed experiment. In order to escape this polarization some scholars labeled the GDR a 'modern dictatorship', while yet others talked about an 'educational dictatorship' or a 'commodious dictatorship'. The conceptual challenge to which these efforts responded was the paradoxical character of the SED-regime that was clearly repressive, but also allowed many citizens a fairly normal life. Alluding to the party's emancipatory claims, but contrasting them to its repressive practice, the author therefore suggested the neologism of a 'welfare dictatorship'. The Right' s denounciation of it as too soft and Left's criticism as too harsh suggested that the new term might have hit upon a useful characterization." (author's abstract)
Keywords German Democratic Republic (GDR); true socialism; welfare care; dictatorship; Socialist Unity Party of Germany (GDR); regime; political regime; discussion; concept; interpretation; language; self-presentation; stereotype; science of history; Soviet Occupation Zone; Federal Republic of Germany; bilateral relations; analysis; comparative research; rhetoric
Classification General History; Political System, Constitution, Government; Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture
Method historical
Document language German
Publication Year 2012
Page/Pages p. 249-272
Journal Historical Social Research, Supplement (2012) 24
Issue topic Contemporary history as transatlantic project: the German problem 1960-2010
ISSN 0172-6404
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works