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Cultural Repression by the SED Central Committee (December 1965)

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No place for petty bourgeois skepticism

In the name of an “abstract truth,” these artists concentrate on depicting alleged deficiencies and faults in the German Democratic Republic. Some writers are of the opinion that socialist education can only succeed through an aggregate depiction of deficiencies and faults. They don’t realize that their works of art have a regressive effect and that they inhibit the development of the working population’s socialist consciousness.

How is an ideology of “petty bourgeois skepticism without limits” supposed to help the working population? To the adherents of this ideology, who stand for semi-anarchist lifestyles and take pleasure in talking about “absolute freedom,” we would like to say quite frankly: You are mistaken if you believe that the division of labor in our republic means that the working population selflessly builds up a socialist society and that others need not participate, that the state pays and others have the right to promulgate a life-negating, petty bourgeois skepticism as the sole means of salvation. The calculation is simple: if we want to keep increasing labor productivity and, by extension, living standards, which is something that all citizens of the GDR have an interest in, then one cannot spread nihilistic, despondent, and morally subversive philosophies in literature, film, theater, television, and periodicals. In the comprehensive build-up of socialism, skepticism and a rising standard of living are mutually exclusive. And conversely: a varied, down-to-earth, and realistic art and literature based on our socialist worldview is a good travelling companion and guide for working people in our German Democratic Republic.

The active role of art and literature lies precisely in its ability to artistically capture, on the basis of our socialist conditions, the way in which the constructive policy of the party and the state overcomes the contradictions in people's conscious actions.

Of course, we are not opposed to the portrayal of conflicts and contradictions as they arise in the build-up of socialism. We are not for a superficial reflection of reality. What concerns us is the partisan point of view of the artist in his political or aesthetic assessment of our reality and, correspondingly, his active involvement in the portrayal of conflicts and their solutions in socialism.

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