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Author Daniela Dahn Announces a New East German Self-Confidence (September 21, 1996)

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The formerly tormented who now acceded [to the FRG] would finally find contentment in the arms of prosperity and justice. But before they could, as hoped, enjoy pure democracy, a social market economy, and modern emancipation, those things disintegrated between their outstretched hands. More quickly than many of their Western relatives, who were still befogged by their victory, they understood that the model of society, rightly favored up to the Wende as a superior civilization, has at this very moment come to an end in its present form. Noting that we joined capitalism at the very moment when its advantages were beginning to dissolve has nothing to do with anti-Western resentments. What is alienating is the brutal energy of the restoration.

Although the profound crisis of the working society and the democracy-endangering globalization of capital are now identified by name, the overwhelming majority in the West is not yet viewing the globalization of worker and employee interests as a challenge. Granted, political activity leaves something to be desired in the East as well, but discussions here unfold quite differently.

Nowhere can this invisible mental division be read more clearly than in the once visibly divided capital: here, the party that calls for the greatest changes has more than 40% support in the East, in the West the figure is not even a tenth of that.

Some Western liberals feel especially accommodating when they concede, in the face of GDR life stories, that there evidently was – contrary to Adorno’s overused statement – a genuine life in the midst of a false one. I myself was never able to follow this idea, which is taken out of context. For Adorno implies that there is in fact a non-false and thus correct way of being. I take the liberty of questioning this assumption. The differences are a matter of degree. In the end there is nothing but genuine life in the midst of a false one. Even today.

Source: Daniela Dahn, “Ost und West missverstehen sich” [“East and West Misunderstand Each Other”], taz, September 21, 1996.

Translation: Thomas Dunlap

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