Criticism/self-Criticism in East Germany: Contradictions between theory and practice
East Germany's revolution has been portrayed in the western media as a popular uprising rejecting the old socialist order and wholeheartedly embracing Western capitalism. This article examines the politics of leaders of the East German citizens' movement who spearheaded these changes in 1989, using data collected with prominent dissidents nearly three years after the opening of the Berlin Wall. The critical intelligentsia of East Germany were unique among dissidents of the Soviet bloc countries in their continued belief in "socialism with a human face"—even after the brutal repression of the Prague Spring—juxtaposing socialism as it actually existed with socialism as they thought it could be. With the rallying cry "We Are the People," they contested the party elite's practice of socialism, as they sought to build a more democratic alternative on East German soil. This article relates the East German state's application of the Marxist-Leninist concept of contradiction and criticism/self-criticism to the country's history of critical politics and to the politics of the citizens' uprising in 1989.
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