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Call to Action (1992)

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1. Relief for the future

Politics and society have largely been ignoring the consequences of their present actions for the distant future; meanwhile the distant future has long since become the present. As a result, the present is being dangerously overloaded. This pertains to practically all areas of life, including the demographic development. The tendency not to consider future interests has thus become a threat to [our] existence. The entire political, social, and economic order must therefore be urgently reviewed to determine its long-term future viability and, if necessary, modified. This task must be tackled by the government and the opposition, their respective parties, research and industry, and all authorized organizations, institutions, and individuals.

2. Promoting children

Until about a generation ago, the population could count on the fact that enough children would be born to at least sustain the population without any major collective effort. The status of family policy and societal appreciation for childrearing were correspondingly low. Over a long period of time, family policy was considered hardly more than a political remnant.

The “people will always have children” principle (Konrad Adenauer) no longer applies. Because of this, the most important prerequisite in almost all areas of politics, but especially in economic and social policies, has undergone a lasting change. The demographic foundation on which all policies rest lost some of its ability to support them. This demands a radical revision of political priorities.

Stronger than previously, policies must be formulated and implemented with due attention to their demographic consequences. Family policy must be given high priority. Within social policy, family policy even needs to become the first link in the chain of all subsequent sociopolitical measures, because without a solid demographic foundation the entire system of social security will suffer.

In concrete terms: only when the reasonable material and immaterial needs of children within and outside of the family are satisfied can society tackle additional sociopolitical tasks. We must not allow material need to keep people from having children in Germany. The population must recognize that childrearing is its most vital task altogether.

3. Formulating and practicing a consistent immigration policy

By the end of the 1990s, the decline in Germany’s native population might well be largely compensated for by the immigration of ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe. Other immigration waves might not be necessary, at least not from a strictly demographic perspective. Moreover, they might even worsen both the present living conditions and the long-term age structure of the native population. If this were nevertheless permitted – for which there can be good reasons – it would be exclusively in the interest of the immigrants.

[ . . . ]

Source: “Damit die Deutschen nicht aussterben” [“So that the Germans Don’t Die Out”], in Marion Dönhoff et al., Ein Manifest. Weil das Land sich ändern muss [A Manifesto. Because the Country Has to Change]. Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1992, pp. 40-50.

Translation: Allison Brown

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