9. The German Democratic Republic is on the way to a future that is called socialism and that lies far ahead of the West German Federal Republic and the other western European industrial countries. If we would finally start to build up the kind of socialism that our Euro-communist comrades are dreaming of – so that they would no longer feel the need to dissociate themselves from our socialism – then the GDR, together with the other socialist countries, could become the pacesetter in the great socialist transformation of Europe. We just have to take the long overdue second step, the step to democracy, by eliminating uncontrolled rule by the party apparatus. We will continue to need the party and the state apparatus for a long time, and we will have to endure them with all their inevitable shortcomings and contradictions. The withering away of the state is a long, drawn-out process. But it can only proceed if every form of despotic rule is checked and nipped in the bud by broad-based democratic controls. Under present conditions, the state will never wither away. On the contrary, it is growing and taking possession of everything. It is omnipresent, vigilantly hears everything, sees everything, and registers everything in secret electronic databases. In our fears, it conjures up the eerie world that Orwell described in his book 1984.
10. Capitalism has entered its final phase. Soon there will no longer be any peaceful solutions to its problems. Inflation, currency chaos, mass unemployment, energy and raw materials crises, pollution; a wasteful throw-away society on the one hand, and hunger and misery for millions in poor countries on the other – all of this in a world that proves itself incapable of mastering its problems on a daily basis and that is perfectly preparing only one thing: its own self-destruction in a nuclear war. It is frightening that we are hardly utilizing the short time we still have left to avert this great disaster. In this situation, socialism is our last and only hope. But that means we cannot afford to wait any longer. We have to start here and now to realize the great dream of socialism, holding true to the words of August Bebel: “No socialism without democracy, no democracy without socialism.”
On the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the GDR, here are some suggestions for the first steps along the way:
1. Abolishment of all restrictions on freedom of expression by making corresponding amendments to the criminal code, especially by repealing the unconstitutional Sections 106 (agitation against the state), 219 (unlawful contact), and 220 (public vilification [of the state]).
2. The release from prison and rehabilitation of all people convicted of violating these sections.
3. The abolishment of all censorship and the dissolution of the offices for copyright.
4. The establishment of an independent newspaper.
5. The lowering of the age for travel to the West.
6. The publication of these theses in Neues Deutschland.
Source: Robert Havemann, “So schwindet der letzte Rest des Vertrauens dahin…” [“And the Last Bit of Trust Fades Away… ”] (September 1, 1979), Frankfurter Rundschau, October 3, 1979, p. 17.
Translation: Allison Brown