GDR

1963 Words8 Pages
1 Introduction In this essay, I will focus on the political system of the German Democratic Republic where I am particularly trying to examine if it was a totalitarian state. Since the emergence of the theory of totalitarianism, the concept passed through constant fluctuations. Its meaning changed depending on which side or at what time the term was used. And again today, after the collapse of socialism in the GDR and Eastern Europe, the concept of totalitarianism is a focal point of scientific but also of public discussion. Especially in the case of the GDR, regarding to the point of view if it was a totalitarian system, the different opinions of scientists diverge (cf. Jesse 1996, 11). I personally, apart from the immediate postwar period until the death of Stalin, would not classify the GDR as a totalitarian state. You could definitely argue that the German Democratic Republic was a dictatorship but I would rather describe it as an illiberal system with some totalitarian elements which appeared especially in the early years of its foundation. However, to answer this question it is necessary to explain the term totalitarianism. Political scientists describe totalitarianism as a political system which is fully controlled by the state. The centralized government holds total authority over the society. Furthermore the state tries to control and regulate all aspects of private and public life (cf. Conquest 2000, 74). In the first part of my essay I will explain the development of totalitarianism, secondly I will go in more detail about the model on totalitarianism of Carl Friedrich and Zbigniew Brzezinski which I will also use to characterize the regime in the GDR and in addition of course, I will highlight the totalitarian element... ... middle of paper ... ... East and West Germany and unsatisfactory production levels of the Eastern Bloc compelled the SED to implement the so called NÖSPL/NES in 1963. The New Economic System of Planning and Management was a government program to reform the centrally planned economy. With the aim of creating an economy which runs as efficient as possible, elements like performance bonuses for workers and a greater autonomy for enterprises were introduced. As a result, labor productivity grew by seven percent the following year. The introduction of capitalist methods lead to a increasingly business dominated and liberal society which furthermore positioned social and economic issues above ideology. Opening itself to privatization and liberalizing its economy is a clear sign against totalitarianism and yet another reason why this system can not be defined as a totalitarian political system.
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