Of course, this is not a project that can be achieved within a short period of time according to pat procedures and without an unremitting search for the best solution in each individual case. Instead, it is a historic, long-term process of profound change and reform in all areas. In this way, socialism steadily ascends to an ever-higher level as a real alternative to capitalism, and its advantages will have an even more lasting impact on the lives of the people. They themselves create their present and their future by actively participating in all social matters according to our principle: “Take part in the work, take part in the planning, and take part in the government.” So much is certain: for us, the slogan coined in the founding period of the GDR still applies: “Forward ever, backward never.”
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Comparing the GDR of today with the GDR of 1949 speaks for itself. Impressively, the great revolutionary process of reorganization – a process that was carried out here on German soil and that proved the abilities of the working class and its allies to exercise power – still manifests itself. The trusting, comradely cooperation of the SED [Socialist Unity Party] and the other parties and mass organizations in the Democratic Bloc and the National Front of the GDR has proven itself as a form of democratic inclusion of all social forces that is appropriate to our country. And so it was possible to implement a number of changes – land reform, the conversion of important companies into public property, school reform, the law on local parliaments, industrial price reform, and structural changes in the political economy.
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In forty years, we have developed an economy with a modern structure and great economic potential. It is characterized by dynamism and growing efficiency. In 1989, the national income will amount to 279 billion marks, eleven times what it was in 1949. Labor productivity rose ten and a half times. Industrial production increased eighteenfold in this time period! Production in construction in just one month is almost as high as in all of 1949. In our agriculture, plant production almost doubled, and the production of meat stock increased eightfold. The daily turnover of industrial goods for the population today is thirteen-and-a-half times what it was forty years ago.
Our results also make themselves evident when we survey the recent past. Thanks to the labor of the workers, in the 1980s the national income rose by an average of four percent per annum, a rate that has also received international notice. We were able to assert ourselves in the face of great changes in the world market, with its increasingly harsh competition. That is a fact that speaks for itself, although we should certainly not fail to notice that we are facing an even greater challenge on account of rapid changes in science and technology throughout the world. We have accepted this challenge. It is still true that our workplace is a place of struggle for peace and popular prosperity.