By Otto Meyer
[This article published in: Ossietzky, 2/3/2007 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.linksnet.de/artikel.php?id=2839.]
Those ruled by the dominant media may hardly believe the news from the German Statistical Office in October 2006. In Germany, the rejection of c concrete democracy is growing while the welfare state and socialism have broad support.
Collaborating with the Berlin Center for Social Research and the Mannheim Center for Surveys, Methods and Analyses, the opinion researchers first asked about acceptance of the present form of the German state in the population. In 2005, nearly 30 percent in the West did not agree, “democracy in Germany is the best form of state” (71% agreed). In the East, over 60 percent did not want to know anything of the once longed-for democracy of the “free West” (33 percent were supportive). A downward trend appeared in both parts of Germany. Acceptance was ten percent greater five years before (60 percent in the West, 49 percent in the East).
The researchers discovered what might have caused the growing weariness with democracy. The large majority want to keep something politicians of nearly all parties – driven by the business associations and a powerful choir of the media – sought to take from them for a decade, the democratic and social constitutional state according to Articles 20 and 28 of the German constitution.
The interviewed commented on the sentence: “The state must ensure one can make a decent living even with sickness, poverty, unemployment and old age.” In 2004, 84 percent agreed (92 percent in the East) and 82 percent in the West)… For ten or twenty years, a large coalition from the CDU/CSU, SPD, FDP and the Greens declared and confirmed in government actions that their state was “overstrained” and could not afford “the social” any more. Everyone can and must provide for himself whether as a pensioner, unemployed or sick person. The state must “demand more” and “promote much loess.” The “activating state” is needed, not a “providing welfare state.” The newspapers were full of complaints about social burdens strangulating “ou7r economy.” Experts from business associations and occasionally even from unions urged liberation from “excessively high non-wage labor costs.” Professors of economics and philosophy and several bishops of both large churchex contributed the argument that “the freedom” of people suffers when the state looks after their existential needs. “We are all come-of-age citizens and can and must be personally responsible in the risk society” and on and on. Nine of ten German citizens support the welfare state and even want it better outfitted. 72 percent in the West and 86 percent in the East of FDP voters demanded, “a decent living” in all situations of life guaranteed by the state!
The governing – especially those from the red-green coalition – wanted to know: Do the people – particularly those from the shipwrecked East Germany (DDR) – want to return to something as terrible as “socialism”? The German Statistical Office posed a hidden system often raised by other opinion researchers since the turn with surprising results. This time the representatively chosen interviewees said: “Socialism is basically a good idea that was only poorly carried out.” .
Incredibly in 2005 after Germany was “united in freedom” for 15 years, 52 percent championed something as bizarre as “socialism” (46 percent in the West and 74 percent in the East).
What went wrong? Researchers at the German Statistical Office attempted an explanation that hardly moved the alarmed politicians. The opinion statisticians said they intentionally posed the question to avoid any association with the “command socialist system of the former DDR.” Three-quarters of the eastern population and almost half of westerners longed for something like “socialist democracy.” A socialist democracy joins “central ideas of liberal democracy like the guarantee of freedom rights and competitive elections with ideas of a well-developed social equality, security and direct citizen participation.”
If they could decide democratically, the majority would prefer a form of state and society with more “freedom rights” and “direct citizen participation,” a “socialist democracy” with social equality and security.
Why doesn’t the newly constituted Left party clearly champion this program? Perhaps the term “socialism” could be adopted in the new party program. They obviously don’t know what the people think. They could be set right by the Statistical Office. “Socialist democracy” would describe the goal more clearly than “democratic socialism.”