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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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But more specific socialist values and goals are presently losing their attraction. The identification potential is diminishing, for example, socialism as a superior social model, elements of class consciousness, communist convictions and ideals, recognition of Marxism-Leninism as a life philosophy, the concept of the enemy, defense preparedness, etc.

This was referred to extensively in our reports and many examples were given.

Criticism is expressed toward institutions (party, FDJ), groups, and especially individual persons (politicians, commentators, journalists, functionaries, comrades, leaders, adults) whenever they do not act according to expectations or norms: if their actions are authoritarian and unfair, if they act privileged, if they preach water and drink wine, violate socialist norms, or act as superiors.

I am convinced that it is very important to connect the multitude of superficial phenomena mentioned here, and others not (yet) mentioned, to the syndrome of “changed” self-confidence. Although this is not a universal key to understanding it, it does make it basically accessible. This access opens up significant information, options, opportunities, and prospects in the areas of politics, leadership, education, and propaganda.

We need to remain aware of this problem and carry out in-depth empirical research.

[ . . . ]

6. Some remarks on the causes of a change in mentality

The change in mentality that is presently taking place in the GDR is extraordinarily complicated and determined by many factors. I am not in a position to offer a satisfactory explanation of the complex of causes (there is no literature that goes beyond an abstract discussion).

Therefore, I can refer only to some layers of causes/determination structures that I regard as essential.

It is definitely necessary to distinguish between global and GDR-specific determinants.

The change in mentality in the GDR is determined by general factors as well as by numerous ones specific to the GDR; these are structurally interwoven. Neither the general factors nor those specific to the GDR should be overlooked.

The change in mentality has unmistakable GDR-characteristics. It cannot simply be identified as the “postmaterialist shift in values” in Western capitalist countries, even if it includes some of these traits, though in part in different structural contexts.

[ . . . ]

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