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The Director of the Youth Institute Comments on the Progressive Alienation of the Young People in the GDR (November 21, 1988)

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In connection with this, young people have a critical attitude (which can go as far as rejection) toward formal institutions and organizations (school, FDJ), when the latter fail to take their demands into account (i.e., special interests, needs, ideas, suggestions).

Conversely, this explains the preference and affinity for informal groups, cliques, movements (church, environmental, all kinds of recreational groups).

This also explains certain forms of deviant behavior, youth rioting, the rejection of police and other custodians of the law, authoritarian adults. To some extent also: social dropouts, those wanting to emigrate, etc.

Another, totally different area should also be assigned to this category: The demand for freedom in choosing a partner, and surely also the phenomenon of cohabitation and the high divorce rates here. The greater demands by women, especially younger ones, for self-determination should also be regarded from this perspective – right up to feminist postulates. Also the entitlement to decide for oneself where to travel, what one would like to see. An examination of this phenomenon from this perspective is very promising. Unfortunately, it is not discussed in our country at all, not even among social scientists.

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– Development of self-fulfillment. [ . . . ]

This is why young people, and others, are pressing to take on real social responsibility, to participate “voluntarily” in democratic processes, in major and, especially, minor ones. Only this is experienced as positive. Involvement in environmental groups, church groups, and other informal groups, rejection of the formal FDJ work should be mentioned here once again. If a young person’s departure from the FDJ were without consequence, then the youth today would certainly be leaving the organization en masse. In its organizational form, and to some extent in its subject matter and language, it corresponds too little to the changed mentality of today’s youth. They feel that they are subject to too much external control.

– Another component/symptom of the “changed self-confidence” syndrome is the strong desire/need for life-realization. This is to be interpreted simply as another aspect of self-realization. A better term for this should probably be found.

With this, I am referring to the growing aspiration/tendency toward joie de vivre, an enjoyment of life, and more “living it up.”

[ . . . ]

– Performance motivation is also altered in a characteristic way as a result of this mentality change. Ego-peripheral motives (that is, value orientations aimed at society or at abstract values) recede further; they lose force and ego-centered motives increasingly emerge.

[ . . . ]

– There is still an identification with major, universal-humanist values, such as peace, humanity, solidarity, wanting to help others (helpfulness), equality, democracy, social security.

[ . . . ]

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