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Essay/Term paper: Civil society and east ge

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Linz and Stepan list and describe a set of five elements that
determine a consolidated democracy. Civil society, political
society, rule of law, usable state of bureaucracy, and an
institution of economic society all interact in complex ways to
bring about democratic consolidation in countries. This paper
focuses and emphasizes the interactions between the
^development of a free and lively civil society . . . [and] an
institutionalized economic society . . . [which] must be
present, or be crafted, in order for a democracy to be
consolidated^ (Linz and Stepan pg. 17). Two former communist
countries, East Germany and Poland, will be analyzed and
critiqued about the prospects for sustainable democracy.
Specifically, an analysis of the civil societies in the
countries and how they react to their current economic
situations will be used as a determinant for their chances of
sustaining democracy. Both East Germany and Poland are
considered success stories. Both countries have undergone free
elections that have brought about new leaders in the country that have
represented the citizens needs and wants, but the transition for these
countries hasn^t been easy. Many citizens in both of the former Soviet
bloc countries feel that their votes aren^t changing the social and
economic conditions, and are rejecting the system with this ^learned
helplessness^. An increasing number of citizens in both countries are
turning to right wing policies as a result of the new and challenging
social and economic order. Where before workers were guaranteed jobs,
allowances, and other provisions from the state, now they face the
cutthroat competition that defines capitalism. The economic societies
in the countries have been approached from very different angles.
Whereas East Germany was immediately incorporated into the strong
economic and social conditions of West Germany, Poland was forced to
handle the transition alone. While in East Germany labor and
initiative collapsed and flowed West, Poland had no where to go, and
the capitalist West flowed into their economy in the form of
investments. The result has been very positive for Poland, which is
now one of the fastest growing economies in Europe, but very negative
for East Germany which is dawdling in high unemployment and low foreign
investment. In societies where the party aspired to control all
aspects of life, including persecution for unauthorized association,
social life was very weak. Martial law and danger of persecution for
unauthorized activities encouraged citizens in both countries to
restrict their social ties to kin and very close friends. The result
of this phenomenon has had a profound effect on the quality of civil
societies in these countries. Susanne Spulbeck describes the state of
East Germany: ^In the course of my fieldwork, I came to realize that
communication in the public sphere was characterized by much mutual
fear . . . the deep ^ seated feeling of insecurity that had been
instilled by the experience of fifty years of unpredictable state
surveillance . . . [and a]ccordingly there is a tendency to avoid the
public sphere altogether, rather than actively occupying it and
claiming it as one^s own . . . [the p]ublic sphere [is] characterized
by a fear of the other, where the surveillance system!
of a once all powerful state is still widely thought to be at work,
the concept of the citizen as an active and politically responsible
person is difficult to realize.^ The Economies: From Socialism to

East Germany

To get a full picture of what the economy in East Germany is
doing, one must look at situations that occurred around the
time of the reunification in 1990. West Germany^s Chancellor,
Kohl, made a very rash decision. To assure the East German
votes for reunification, Kohl agreed to exchange one
duetschmark for the almost worthless East German currency. The
money supply was immediately flooded, and interest rates rose.
Higher interest rates discourage entrepreneurs from taking
loans and entering the market, and discourage older businesses
to expand, and thus high unemployment quickly followed. In
addition, if Germany were unified, Kohl promised East Germans the same
benefits West German citizens receive including social services
(retirement benefits, welfare, etc.) and a $100 billion annual subsidy
to promote economic growth. East Germany immediately began to rely
heavily on the annual payments. West Germany was still not done. To
prevent the flow of skilled laborers from East Germany to a higher wage
paying West Germany, East German wages had to be raised, which further
discouraged economic expansion. The GDR had poor pollution
regulations, and many areas are still laced with toxic substances. The
pollution will take billions of deutschmarks to clean. The outlook for
East Germany looked weak, but West Germany was persistent on making the
former inefficient communist state into an economic asset.
The German government has installed over 2800 miles of new
railroad tracks, and over 5000 miles of highways. In addition,
to make up for the poor investment opportunities in East
Germany, the government also offers business subsidies and tax
breaks to companies willing to invest in the east. Since 1990,
companies have taken advantage of such incentives, and invested
over $625 billion dollars in East Germany. Deutsche Telekom
completed from scratch a highly advanced fiber optic and
digital telephone network. With the West German subsidiaries,
real estate investment also rose. Huge office buildings and
hotels are appearing throughout cities. The economy isn^t
strong enough to make use of such structures, leaving them
unoccupied, as the cities become extremely overbuilt. With
such major renewals, it is no wonder that 17percent of the East
German work force are employed in the construction industry.
Even with all the stimulation and money pouring in from all sides,
unemployment in East Germany is soaring at 17percent and 9.1percent in
West Germany. Four million Germans (10.6percent of the workforce) are
unemployed. Such a figure hasn^t been seen in Germany since post-WWII
in 1945, and the citizens are displeased. There are several causes for
the unemployment. As mentioned above, the high interest rates make
business investments in East Germany look unattractive. In addition,
with an average wage rate of $16 per hour, Germany has higher wage
rates than the US, and one of the highest rates in the world. The
German workforce enjoys many more holidays than the American workforce,
and receives a 13th month salary bonus at Christmas. Companies
increasingly invest in neighboring countries like Czech republic,
Hungary, and Poland where wage rates are dramatically lower. Strong
stubborn labor unions aid in decreasing the flexibility of changing the
wage rates. With 2.7 mi! llion autoworkers as members, IG Metall is
resistant to any wage cuts, and is actually currently seeking a
6.5percent pay increase. East German citizens claim that finding jobs
in the communist GDR was much easier than finding a job presently. The
unification brought the closing of thousands of GDR^s unprofitable
factories. Newly privitized companies could not afford to hire as many
workers, and do not provide as many benefits to the worker as in the
old communist regime. The free market system has increased competition
for jobs, and left many unskilled laborers behind. The Rostock
shipyard for example employs half the workers than the GDR employed.
(Lynch) Most of the investments in East Germany have led to highly
automated factories, which supply minimal jobs. For instance, the city
of Schkopad is currently receiving $7 billion in aid from the
government to tear down a Dow Chemical power plant and replace it with
a state of the art system. In the old communist regime, the plant
employed 18,000 people. Directly after the fall of the Berlin wall,
the plant employed 4000 people. After the renovatio! ns to the plant
are finished, the plant will employ 2200 workers. This is not the only
instance of technological advancement interfering with the economy. A
prescription drug company, Salutas Phatma Gmblt, built a $200 million
dollar factory in 1997. Robots measure the dose, place the dose in the
mold, and package the pills. The factory employs a total of 320
workers. The Opel unit of General Motors has one of the most advanced
auto assembly plants in the world. Experts claim that East Germany
will have the most modern economy and infrastructure in fifteen or
twenty years. West German citizens are growing impatient. While a
large majority of West Germans were willing to bear the burden of
rebuilding Eastern Germany in 1990, they are increasingly becoming
tired of supporting the weak East Germany. The East German output per
person is half what it is in West Germany, and had an output in 1996 of
only $230 billion. The 7.5percent solidarity tax Germans pay to
support East Germany doesn^t seem to be doing anything, and leave West
Germans to question its role. It is doubtful that West Germany will
stop aiding the weak economy, though, since it has invested so
intensively in it since 1990. The dye is cast. Chancellor Schroeder
is working to create jobs throughout Germany. ^Alliance for Jobs^ has
already had its first meeting. To increase employment, Schroeder
proposes lower labor costs (even though it may be political suicide),
reform the welfare system, create more flexible workplaces, allow
Germany to be accessed more easily by small companies, and lower
retirement age (which is currently at 65). The economic gap is not the
only burden that separates East from West Germany. DeMaiziere, the
first freely elected leader of East Germany in the short time after the
fall of communism, claims that ^the psychology of everything done in
East Germany is all wrong.^ He claims West Germany is trying to undue
what they think to be the ^bad communist ways,^ without realizing that
2.4 million of 11.5 million East Germans were members of the old
communist party in the GDR. These citizens have pride of what they
accomplished in the communist regime and feel like West Germans are
rapidly revising what took them a lifetime to create. It^s as if what
was accomplished under the communist regime didn^t amount to anything.
This factor accounts for a lot of dissent felt by East Germans toward
West Germany. East Germans complain of being able to find jobs in the
GDR, are discontent with the ill economy, and the 20percent average
higher salary that West Germans have. Former Chancellor Kohl, the
^reunification Chancellor,^ is routinely booed when he visits East
Germany. DeMaiziere relates what is happening in East Germany to the
parable in the bible when Moses was leading the slaves out of Egypt.
The slaves wanted to return to Egypt where they had a roof under their
head, and something to eat and drink. Moses went to pray and ask God
why they were reacting like this and how he could improve their
condition, and God answered that only when the last slave dies will the
condition change. East Germans are having a difficult time adapting
from a system where they were guaranteed employment to the dog eat dog
world of capitalism.


The main difference between East Germany and Poland is that Poland
wasn^t spoiled by an immediate flow of money. The Polish government
created a situation where Polish laborers could leave their job at the
factory and have the opportunity to create their own business. While
German economy is dominated by large scale endeavors like building huge
hotels, advanced energy systems, and fiber optic networks, Poland has a
large service oriented economy. While Germany is employing more and
more lower class laborers (mainly as construction workers), Poland has
created a situation where a middle class could be formed, and it has
worked remarkably.
Poland set out immediately to build a western society, and its market
economy is making leaps and bounds. Although, during the first
several years, inflation, unemployment, poor standards of living, and
a ^centrally controlled economy run by discredited communists^
(Weinstein) plagued the Polish economy, Poland fought back with
fundamentals. They sought western aid, and used it to pay for
economic reform. Weinstein writes that ^[the k]ey to Poland^s success
have been two policy decisions. . . [f]irst Poland adopted what might
be called the Balcerowicz rule. . . [t]he second major decision was
scarier. Poland forced insolvent firms into bankruptcy, preventing
them from draining resources from productive parts of the economy.^
The Balcerowicz rule, named after Deputy Financial Prime Minister
Leszek Balcerowicz, liberates entrepreneurs to sell basically whatever
product they want for basically whatever price they want. This
competition couldn^t take place in East Germany because of its
obligation to conform to the laws of West Germany. The Balcerowicz
rule aids capitalism in many realms. It allows entrepreneurs to
undermine state owned firms with lower prices, and encourages many low
financed businesses to enter the market. Thus, privatization and
competition ^ the capitalist way - in Poland is well on its way. The
second step was crucial in alleviating the government from supporting
incompetent businesses. While Germany is providing subsidies and tax
breaks to incapable businesses, Poland lets the cutthroat competition
of capitalism have its way with them. Many workers left the factory to
create their own store or manage banks, and thus ^Poland drained
workers out of worthless factories into units that could produce the
goods that people wanted to buy.^ (Weinstein) Once a communist
dominated economy, Poland has emerged as the most entrepreneurial
country in the ex-communist region with over two million new businesses
since the old regime fell ranging from banking to health care to
tourism and leisure activities. Poland easily gained investments from
Europe (particularly Germany) and the US who both acknowledge their
stable middle class, the improvement of Poland^s currency, the zloty,
and the highly educated workforce. Poland^s GDP has been rising this
year by about six percent, and has been estimated to be over five
percent in 1999. Inflation is estimated be down 10 percent by the end
of the year as prices drop rapidly.

The Tradeoff of Economy and Right Wing Politics East Germany
Attitudinally, a democracy becomes the only game in town when, even in
face of severe political and economic crisis, the overwhelming majority
of the people believe that any further political change must emerge
from within the parameters of democratic procedures. (Linz and Stepan
pg. 15) Many East Germans, dissatisfied with the economic situation,
have looked to the simpler forms of government in the midst of the
economic and political transformations. As taboo as it may be, a large
number of Germans are leaning toward right wing politics. Many Germans
are concerned with losing their jobs and status to foreigners, and
xenophobia is very high in the Lander. Outbreaks like Hoyerswerda,
Rostock-Lichtenhagen firebombing, and the assaults in Solingen,
indicate a need for government attention. As economic situation
worsens, the parties are sure to gain more support. Currently, two
parties exist in Germany promoting right wing policies: the German
People^s Union (DVU) and the Republikaner which denies any affiliation
with fascism. In 1993, the Hamburg Office for Protection of the
Constitution estimated a total of 65,000 right wing extremists. 64,000
of these extremists are considered to be militant. The surprising fact
is that half of the right wing extremists are in East Germany, which
would make sense, but only a quarter of the entire German population is
located in East Germany. In the last elections, the right wing votes
didn^t come close to seating anyone in the Bundenstag. The parties
work within the framework of democracy to stop the ^overload of
government and decay bourgeois culture and values.^ (Michael Minkenberg
pg. 73) The majority of the right wing violence doesn^t stem from
these parties, though. The extremity appeals to many youths. The
offenders are surprisingly young men, ranging in the ages of 14 to 32
but the average ages are 17. Millionaire Gerhard Frey, a chief
contributor to the GPD, claims, ^Voting for the right is as much a part
of youth culture today as techno and skateboarding.^ These unorganized
youths with rudimentary political ideas strike out spontaneously at
foreigners, gays, Jews, and non-whites with the belief that they are
speaking for the majority. Many neighborhoods have skinhead gangs that
have adopted illegal nazi flags and symbols. Vandalism is commonly
found throughout Germany. Swastikas and neo-nazi graffiti sprayed on
walls in cities, defacement of Jewish cemeteries, and holocaust
memorials vandalized. Kristallnacht, a somber remembering those Jews
deported by nazi storm troopers back in 1938 and the commencement of
the genocide, was also a night for the right wingers. A memorial
commemorating the mass deportation of the Jews in Berlin was found
lamed with three swastikas were scratched into the metal Star of David
atop the monument. The outbreak in East Germany is believed to have
stemmed from confusion surrounding the collapsing political and social
values East German citizens once had. Right wing extremist
participation is a result of East German citizens^ reaction to new
government with closed mindedness, and their inability to cope with the
cultural and economic developments taking place around them. With the
collapse of the communist regime, adults find it hard to explain to
their children why they participated in such a system. When confronted
East German parents are questioned about the communist regime, they
don^t know whether to answer that they were nave to the fact that it
was bad system, thus making them look stupid, or if they did know, why
they didn^t rebel. The deterioration of family values is a key factor
in why so many youths are turning to right wing extremism. Another
factor that brings on the high rate of right wing support in East
Germany is a German term called vergangenheitsbewaltigung. It means
coming to terms with the past. East Germany had been under
dictatorship basically since 1933. West Germany has come to terms with
the nazi past, and has strong feelings against such absurd beliefs.
With forty years of democracy under their belt, West Germany approaches
the issues with more maturity than their eastern counterpart.
Meanwhile, East German communism bottled up such beliefs and
mentalities, and they may be reemerging. The leader of German^s Jewish
community, Ignatz Bubis, warns, ^One cannot only look to the glorious
sides of history and suppress the unpleasant ones. Those who are not
prepared to address this aspect of history and try to look away or
forget, must accept the fact that history can be repeated.^ Having
history repeated in Germany is the last thing anyone wants. The right
wing extreme values that are being adopted are an example of the poor
civic fabric in East Germany. The outlook for Germany is bleak with
youths accepting such ridiculous values. Luckily, there are things
being done to curb the extremity. Chancellor Schroeder, the first
Chancellor not to have been alive during WWII, led the proceedings of
Kristallnacht this year as 70,000 Jews marched through Berlin on
November ninth. He proclaimed, ^sixty years later, we look forward,
without forgetting the past.^ Jewish leaders didn^t think the
proceedings were getting across to citizens, and decided to parade in
rememberance. Other positive gains in the fight against racism,
anti-Semitism, ^gay bashing^, and xenophobia have been made by bands.
Anti-racist bands like WAR (white Aryan resistance) have made their
stand clear through their lyrics. Hopefully these rock bands will help
to curb the problem.

The right wing extremism in Poland doesn^t gather nearly as
much support as do Germany^s parties. There are a number of
possible reasons for such outcomes. First, unlike Germany, the
workers are content with their economy. They don^t feel as big
a need for change in the current system. Second, Poland has a
huge religious affiliation with the Catholic Church. The
Catholic Church plays a major role of enforcing Christian
values in the writing of laws. The Church looks down upon
violence and acts against humanity. Third, the right wing
parties that are alive in Poland are very extreme, which
discourages many Poles from joining. There are two major right
wing parties in Poland: the Polish National Party and Polish
National Commonwealth (PWS-PSN), and the Polish National Front
(PNF). Both parties have a strong skinhead core (Szayna:
120). Both parties are also ultra-nationalistic. They want a
^pure Poland^, and believe only where economic and political
rights are reserved solely for Poles will the Polish culture
flourish. The leader of PWS-PSN is Boleslaw Tejkowski. He was
ordered to a psychiatric exam by Polish courts in 1992. The
party is strongly anti-Semitic and believes Jews to be the
route of all their troubles. They claim there is a Jewish
conspiracy to gain wealth for themselves. They believe Jews
have taken over the Solidarity movement, have always controlled
communism, and even go as far to proclaim the Jews direct the
Catholic Church. PWN-PSN is approximately 15,000 strong. In
the 1993 elections, though they had much trouble getting on the
ballots, they accounted for .11 percent of the total votes. In
polls conducted in May of 1992, 24 percent of the polish
population reported to be familiar with the party, and 60
percent of those people chose to have the party prosecuted.
The NFP is an extreme right wing party that believes in
militarism and holds deep hostilities to all ethnic
minorities. Their ultra-nationalistic beliefs go as far as to
claim that everything non-Polish should be eradicated. They
also had trouble getting on the ballots in the 1993 election.
The votes totaled to a meager 565, a .004 percent of the
country^s votes. It is a good sign to see that despite
unemployment levels of about 15 percent and even reaching as
far as 20 percent in some regions, that the Polish are not
resorting to these ridiculous organizations. The Poles are
reacting to their new democracy with a maturity and knowledge
that extremism is going nowhere


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