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Economic and Social Policy at the Local Level (1986)

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The BD cannot participate in the party leadership meeting; he was called to Berlin on short notice by the minister. I try to imagine how many work days he alone would need to control and analyze all thirty-six of his positions once a month and give instructions….

[ . . . ]

Three years ago it was still possible to run through the cold rolling mill in ten minutes. Today you need three-quarters of an hour for it. Longer than for the entire town center of Salzungen, says HDF. The party should think in that kind of magnitude when they work out programs …

[HDF continues]: As casually as the economic strategy of the party – the unity of economic and social policy – is repeated before every talk, every discussion, it is not all that easy to implement in practice. To assert the economic policy here in the cold rolling mill – two-digit increase rates are to be achieved with new technology – that’s a reasonable, calculable, and, despite all the problems, solvable task. The social policy, too, the improved working conditions, a new cafeteria … everything in this case could be planned and is a familiar quantity. It would even be relatively simple to explain the unity of economic and social policy in such a way that everyone understood: The faster and cheaper the production in the factories, the more apartments that can be built and the more daycare facilities there could be. Even with the slogan: “We are accomplishing something, we’re accomplishing something for ourselves,” it would be generally possible to argue very convincingly, says The First, and then continues: But as soon as things get concrete, in the basic organization and with each and every comrade in the factory – where all strategies are first implemented – things are more complicated. People like to talk and write about the “We are accomplishing something for ourselves”: the new apartment, the new youth club, the color TV. But not everyone would be prepared to talk openly and honestly with the same enthusiasm about what each one, really each individual, does in return. But only there do we finally come full circle: with the work of the individual, the connection between economic and social policy. That is why the programs of the party, which were put together in these days, included not only economic tasks, but especially also questions of ideology, openness, honesty, criticism and self-criticism. Just like the party decided …

Source: Landolf Scherzer, Der Erste. Eine Reportage aus der DDR [The First. Reportage from the GDR]. Cologne, 1989, pp. 196-200.

Translation: Allison Brown

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