Chat with us, powered by LiveChat After reading the chapter dealing with socialism from 1988, do you believe the information is compelling because it would provide American students with an alternative view of s - Writingforyou

After reading the chapter dealing with socialism from 1988, do you believe the information is compelling because it would provide American students with an alternative view of s

Discussion Question 1: After reading the chapter dealing with socialism from 1988, do you believe the information is compelling because it would provide American students with an alternative view of socialism? Furthermore, what of the more compelling arguments/points made in the reading grabbed your attention?

Discussion Question 2: What stands out after reading the article Using Classroom Recordings in Educational History Research: An East German Civics Lesson and examining the transcribed class discussion (at the end)? Is this line of discussion foreign from a typical civics lesson found at your school? Please explain.

Civics 10

Chapter I

The Character of our Era

1.1 The nature of our era.

Human history is rich with important events. But never before have there been so many different and far-reaching changes as in our century.

The shots fired by the cruiser “Aurora” in 1917 marked the beginning of a new age. With the Soviet victory in Petrograd, the most important revolution in the whole of human history was ushered in. Following the Great October Socialist Revolution, many more revolutions occurred and continue to occur today, in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

But this century is not only familiar with progressive development. Two devastating world wars brought enormous suffering for millions of people. Revolutionary forces suffered temporary defeats, as in Chile in 1973 and Grenada in 1983.

Major discoveries in science and technology have afforded new possibilities and horizons: people are exploring space, diseases like polio have been eliminated in many lands, including the GDR. But at the same time, aggressive imperialist circles are misusing these scientific discoveries; human life on our planet could be eliminated by an atomic war.

In view of these various and contradictory features, we must answer the question: what drives the world? What is the fundamental cause underlying the many individual experiences in the lives of people? Many young people ask a justified question: What are the social perspectives that influence my future, the life that lies before me?

We will answer to this question when we accurately determine the character of our era by considering the genuine struggles of our time.

What is an era?

Eras can be defined as major significant periods of time in the historical development of humanity. They are tied to certain classes, and despite all the varied and contradictory events, one sees in their main thrust the primary developments of the era.

Lenin defined an era in this way:

“We cannot know the speed and success with which individual historical movements of a respective era will develop. We can and in fact do know,  which class is at the center of this era or that era, what determines its essential content, the main direction of its development, the most important characteristics of the historical situation of the respective era, etc.”

Lenin’s starting point for the definition of an era is the proper determination of  class that defines the character of the respective era.

Applying this to our era: For a number of reasons, the working class is at the center. It is most directly involved in modern mass production, and is its most important force. The working class has also developed rapidly as a result of developments in science and technology in recent decades. In the middle of the 1980s it constituted a worldwide army of 660 million people.

The working class is the main social force of our time. In advocating its own class interests, it also represents the fundamental interests for peace and social progress of all other productive classes and walks of life, which are the interests of humanity itself.

In our era, the working class fulfills its historical mission on a world scale. Under the guidance of the Marxist-Leninist parties, its function is to eliminate the capitalist social order and, in alliance with other classes and walks of life, establish its own power while building up socialism and communism. Today the historical mission of the working class is bound more tightly than ever with world peace.

The struggle of the working class is being guided by the nature of our era, the main direction of social development, and the most important details of the historical situation.

What is the character of our era?

The program of the SED  [Socialist Unity Party of Germany] states: “Our era is the era of transition from capitalism to socialism.”

Our era began with the Great October Socialist Revolution in 1917, and it will last until socialist conditions have triumphed throughout the entire world.

But as Lenin knew before the Great October Revolution, conditions for a socialist revolution would ripen at different paces in individual countries. In the beginning socialism would only triumph in one or a few nations. In the course of time, however, it will triumph in other countries, and eventually the entire world will become a part of the socialist community.

History has proven that Lenin was correct.

Whoever does not start with Lenin’s principles will reach a false understanding of our era. Bourgeois opinion makers, for example, speak of this as an “era of industrial societies” in contrast to the earlier “agrarian societies.” Others conclude that electronic and robot technologies in our era are resulting in an “era of technological societies.” These narrow and one-sided approaches consider only development in production capacity, not the overall development of society. Who does not know, for example, that is it not only the means of production in socialist countries that are fundamentally different from the means of production in capitalist countries, but rather the whole human way of life and production.

Through such methods, bourgeois ideologues conceal actual social development. They never answer the crucial question: which class determines the character of an era and the direction in which society consequently goes. Bourgeois ideology is not able to give scientifically-based answers to these questions, so it must admit the inevitable fall of capitalism and the victory of socialism.

Some bourgeois theorists maintains that the main direction of today’s development may be defined as the “era of the downfall of humanity.” In this century there have been disastrous wars, the threat of nuclear catastrophe, the abuse of science and technology, and the decay of culture and morals. But this is the question one must ask: Who is threatening humanity, who is misusing science, and where are culture and morality decaying? Only under imperialism.

Such “theories” try to represent imperialism’s lack of a future as a general human lack of future, and imperialism’s defects and crimes as general human defects and crimes.

When this happens, the main direction of humanity’s development is concealed. And even worse, because our era has been misrepresented in such pessimistic and false ways, the working class and the other working people in capitalist nations are discouraged and prevented from fighting for a better future.

What are the actual characteristics of our era?

1. With the worldwide transition from capitalism to socialism, something more is happening than the replacement of one social order by another. The significance of today’s revolution is that the old exploitive order, which shaped the social life of humanity for the last thousand years, is being completely abolished. All the evils and maladies which were and are connected with this order are thus eliminated.

With the transition from capitalism to socialism on a worldwide scale, humanity’s age-old dreams of life without exploitation and poverty, life without injustice and war, are gradually being realized.

This development has a deep influence on the life of humans of our time, particularly in those countries in which socialism has already become reality, but also in those where this fundamental social transformation is still coming.

The influence of the individual on developments in his own country depends substantially on his knowledge and convictions regarding the course of history. The correct understanding of the present era is a prerequisite for correct personal orientation. To be on the side of history’s victors — and who would not want to be — demands supporting the socialist party through mind, heart, and action!

2. The nature of our era is such that over the course of many decades two social systems face each other in the world arena: socialism, which has already entered history and is still developing, and imperialism, which, despite being condemned to fall and losing battle after battle, is still an opponent that must be taken seriously. Our era has been characterized by the relentless fight of these two systems from its beginning.

According to the  Theses of the General Committee of the SED for the Karl-Marx Year in 1983, “In the era of the worldwide transition to socialism, the development processes and struggles in the world may not be separated from the growing political world influence of real socialism. At the same time, the nature, policies and crises of imperialism still influence world events.


In our era socialism and imperialism face each other as the two protagonists of the class conflict.

3. Our era is characterized by a great number of social revolutions and political movements, not all of which are socialist.

Among them are:

· the national liberation and people’s revolution movements in Asia, Africa, and Latin America are directed first towards the acquisition and strengthening of national independence from Imperialism. Often they do not have socialist goals;
· the struggle for democratic change in capitalist countries against the omnipotence of the monopolies, but which do include direct socialist goals;
· the actions against the reduction of hard-won social achievements in the citadels of the capital that oppose shifting the burdens onto the workers and fight the imperialist military buildup;
· the worldwide peace movement, in which very different social and political forces work together to prevent a nuclear inferno for humanity.

There is a close, multifaceted relationship between these various national, social, and democratic movements and the transition to socialism, the defining aspect of our era. The existence, the growth, and the political initiatives of socialism influence these movements in one form or another. The elimination of exploitation under socialism has effects on the conditions of class struggle in capitalist lands, on the struggle of the workers for political rights, social improvements, and democratic change.

Even if they do not have any direct socialist goals, these various progressive movements contribute to the international balance of power in favor of the forces of change peace, democracy, and human progress.

4. The struggle between the two social systems entered a new phase in recent years. “In the world today, objective conditions have developed under which the conflict between socialism and capitalism can only occur through peaceful competition.” Maintaining peace has become the most important task of the present day.

At the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s, the most aggressive circles of imperialism in the USA and other NATO countries gathered their forces for an all-out attack on social progress through confrontation and military buildup. They continue the arms race, even extending it into space. The danger to humanity’s very existence has become even greater because of the development and introduction of new weapons of mass destruction. Therefore the prevention of a nuclear inferno is now humanity’s most important task. The importance of ensuring peace does not eliminate the inevitable disagreement between socialism and imperialism, but it does preclude the use of military force.

The socialist countries, allied with all other freedom-loving and democratic forces, conduct this fight confident in their goal of preventing a nuclear inferno and building a world in which people may work in peace and happiness.

The correct understanding of the character of our era and its specific attributes has great importance for the development of the strategy and policies of a Marxist-Leninist party. It is particularly important in organizing the struggle and development of one’s own country in a way consistent with the larger historical and international situation.

1.2 The development of the international balance of power — an expression of the historical advance of socialism

In the political world, very different forces work to shape social classes and groups, political movements and social orders. We have already determined that in our era socialism and imperialism are the two main forces that face each other. Both are world systems. The concrete international balance of power depends on the development of socialism and imperialism. But other social and political forces are also involved.

Therefore, the international balance of power is the worldwide distribution of force between socialism and the other progressive revolutionary forces on the one hand, and imperialism on the other.

This balance of power is determined by a number of economic, political, military, ideological, moral, and other factors. We are not able to express it mathematically. However, when we consider all the important factors, we can determine the direction of the international balance of power, and from that derive conclusions for the future.

The international balance of power has changed in favor of the forces of peace, democracy, national liberation and socialism. This is above all the result of the fight by and the development of the main engine of social development, the revolutionary, but also other democratic and peace-loving forces. Together, they work closely to influence the course of historical development.

Today, the main forces of the social development are:

· world socialism, whose main strength is the Soviet Union;

· the workers’ movement, especially their most progressive and consistent part, the international communist movement;

· the peoples of the liberated nations and the national liberation movements;

· the democratic mass movements of the masses, including the powerful, worldwide peace movement.

How has the international balance of power developed under the influence of real socialism?

Since the Great October Socialist Revolution, socialism’s strength has grown steadily throughout the world. That has happened in many ways. Of special importance:

— the steady liberation of new peoples and nations from the imperialist system, as well as the creation of socialist conditions in an ever larger circle of countries;

— the strengthening of the influence of socialism due to its internal political, economic, and social development, and the ever-improving development and use of its advantages;

— the strategic creation of a military balance of power between the USSR and the USA, between the nations of the Warsaw Pact and NATO.

Consider these factors closely!

Since the first victory of workers and farmers in Soviet Russia in 1917, when imperialism lost its autocracy in the world, socialist revolutions have occurred regularly in other countries. The most important result of this process after the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution was  the development of the socialist world system. It developed as a result of the victorious revolutions in a series of European and Asian nations in the 1940s, which were followed in subsequent decades in other countries.

Socialism has taken on a real form in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. In Africa as well, a number of lands have chosen a socialist future.

The area of imperialism’s dominance and influence is steadily growing smaller. Bourgeois politicians love to make the “Hand of Moscow” responsible for this. In reality, the deepest cause for all revolutionary changes is in the individual countries themselves, resulting from the  objective laws of historical development, and in the intensification and resolution of  internal contradictions.

Today the international balance of power is largely determined by how well socialism succeeds in solving its political, economic and ideological tasks as its superiority to capitalism as a social system grows.

Thus the 11th Party Congress of the SED set the following as the chief aim and primary direction of our international policy:

“The further development of fraternal ties with the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries, comprehensive contribution to the all-around strengthening and increasing of the strength and international attractiveness of socialism through the steadily increasing unfolding of its advantages.”

Socialism’s accomplishments weigh ever heavier in the international class struggle. The unity of economic and social policy is the crucial link in the historical competition between socialism and imperialism.

Despite all the problems in this area that still have to be solved, in only a few decades socialism has proven that its productive forces grow faster than in capitalism. It has an increasing share of the world’s industrial production.

This increase is not only a result of the increasing number of socialist countries, but even more of socialism’s higher economic growth rate compared to capitalism. The countries united in the RGW  [the communist equivalent of the European Community] are particularly notable. The annual average growth rate in capitalistic industrial countries from 1951 to 1984 was 4.3 percent, in the socialist countries during that same period it was 8.8 percent. With only 18.5 percent of the world’s land and 9.6 percent of its population, the RGW nations produce around a third of the world’s industrial production.

The comprehensive intensification of the economies in the majority of the nations in the socialist community will have decisive influence on the further development of the competition between socialism and imperialism.

The GDR makes its contribution with the successful implementation of the economic policy decided on by the SED. (These questions are handled in more detail in section 3.2).

With its great economic strength and rich resources, the Soviet Union is primarily responsible for the economic strengthening and development of a socialist society.

Over one-fifth of all the goods produced in the world were manufactured in one of Lenin’s lands.

At the 27th Party Congress of the CPSU,  [the Communist Party of the Soviet Union] Michail Gorbachev stated that “The standard of the US economy in the years before and immediately after the war seemed hard to attain,but in the seventies our scientific, technological, and economic potential came very close to theirs, and we actually surpassed the US in the production of some very important products.”

While the social position of the worker comes under constant attack in the capitalist world, the standard of living in socialist countries has increased.

For example, the gradual development of material and cultural standard of living is obvious in housing construction. In three decades, more than 70 million apartments were built in the member countries of the RGW, improving the life and living conditions of about two-thirds of the entire population of these countries. At the beginning of the 1980s, around 3 million apartments were built annually. This is proportionately double as many apartments as in the capitalist EC  [European Community] countries.

The successful unity of economic and social policies strengthens the relationship of trust between the leading Marxist-Leninist party and the citizens, and also strengthens the political stability of the socialist nations. That is an important factor for international relations. Workers in the non-socialist lands increasingly recognize that only in socialism are working people at the center of everything. That strengthens the authority of socialism and the socialist idea in the world. This, too, influences the balance of power.

One of the major factors that changed the international balance of power was the achievement of an approximate militarily strategic balance between the USSR and the USA, between the Warsaw Pact and NATO.

Without a doubt, a decisive factor for socialism’s strength and invincibility is the socialist and communist morale of the soldiers in the Soviet army and in the other armed forces of the Warsaw Pact, as well as the high degree of cooperation within the socialist military coalition.

Military technology naturally plays a large role in the evaluation of socialist and capitalist military strength. That includes the quality and number of tanks, anti-tank defense weapons, planes, and ships.

Nuclear warheads as well as the means of carrying them are of extraordinary importance in the evaluation of the military balance of power. We refer to rockets, which can be launched from land or from sea, along with aircraft capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

In 1945 the USA tried to show its military superiority to all the world and to pressure the Soviet Union by dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Even though the Soviet Union succeeded in splitting the uranium nucleus in 1946, making the building of its own bomb only a matter of time, the USSR proposed to the USA that both nations cease the production and use of nuclear weapons. The acceptance of this Soviet proposal would have saved not only vast expense, but also would have prevented the growth of a deadly danger to the existence of humanity. The USA rejected the Soviet proposal. It bears the full responsibility for missing the opportunity, and for the resulting arms race. The USSR was forced to arm and build nuclear weapons.

The Soviet Union broke the United States’ monopoly of the atomic bomb in 1949, and later of the hydrogen bomb. Those were important steps in establishing the militarily strategic balance of power that exists today.

In contrast to the most aggressive circles of Imperialism, the socialist nations do not strive for military superiority. They work towards disarmament, by which the balance of power is preserved with decreasing levels of armaments.

Socialism’s establishment of a military balance of power is an historic achievement, the significance of which cannot be overestimated. It secured the longest period of peace in modern history for the people of Europe, and it is the decisive foundation for the prevention of a nuclear inferno. The sacrifices were necessary and worthwhile: peace became more stable because the imperialist world realizes that it is impossible for them to win a nuclear war.

The increasing influence of the working class of all continents on the revolutionary world process is one of the critical factors in the international balance of power. That is seen in the growing strength of its revolutionary vanguard, the international communist movement.

The modem communist and workers’ movement developed in the wake of the Great October Socialist Revolution. There is a close mutual relationship between the development of the communist movement and real socialism: on the one hand, socialism is the crowning achievement in the struggle of the international revolutionary workers’ movement; on the other hand, the entire communist movement can rely upon real socialism as its greatest strength in its struggle for peace and national and social liberation.

Anywhere there is human progress today, one will find the sacrificial work of communists.

The most importance forces of the international workers’ movement include:

· over 87 million communists in almost 100 lands on all continents;
· 20 million members of socialist and social democratic parties from 43 nations, who are full members of the Socialist International.
· 500 million members of trade unions, 206 million of whom are members of 84 national organizations in socialist, capitalist, and developing countries that are members of the World Federation of Trade Unions.

The collapse of the imperialist colonial system is one of the surest signs of the change of the international balance of power in favor of progressive forces.

The national liberation movements developed in response to the victory of the Soviet Union and the other powers of the anti-Hitler coalition over German and Italian fascism and Japanese militarism, as well as the strengthening of world socialism.

Since 1945, 90 former colonies and half-colonies have irrevocably thrown off the burdens of Imperialism’s colonial yoke. The national liberation movement showed particular strength in the fifties and sixties. In these decades, 40 African lands won independence. In 1950 there were only three independent states (Egypt, Ethiopia, Liberia). Today, there are no more colonies except for the racist and imperialist regime of South Africa, and illegally occupied Namibia.

The imperialist colonial system has collapsed in Asia and Latin America as well. In the 1970s, the liquidation of the colonial colonies was effectually concluded.

Naturally not all social problems are solved with independence, such as underdevelopment resulting from imperialist colonial control, the elimination of the economic dependence on the imperialist monopolies, the elimination of illiteracy, and others. The growing sm is historically on the defensive, but it is not to be underestimated. “It is and remains with its aggressiveness, its unpredictability, and its drive for hegemony, supported by its still substantial resources, a threat and danger for the peoples.”

If we summarize all the factors mentioned, then we can determine:

History is characterized by increase of the power of Socialism and other revolutionary and peace-loving forces, and the decrease imperialism’s influence. In spite its remaining ability to influence international events and threaten peace and progress, Imperialism has lost its former superiority. This shift in the d international balance of power is irreversible. It reflects the fundamental laws of our era: Capitalism is on the defensive defensive, doomed to inevitable collapse, while socialism is on the offensive, and will ultimately triumph throughout the whole world.

1.3 The deepening general crisis of capitalism — Evidence of imperialism’s decline

In the 1950s and 1960s as capitalist world economics were on an upward swing, bourgeois politicians and idea-makers prophesied that capitalism would have permanent growth and that the workers would always have a good and secure income. At that time, all the new theories assumed that there was no reason to fundamentally change society since capitalism had overcome its crises once and for all.

In the 1970s these theories were less common. In 1973 there was a worldwide economic crisis in the capitalist world. At the beginning of the 1980s capitalism suffered its deepest crisis in fifty years, which completely silenced these theories.

Even the most eager advocates of capitalism must admit that there are a variety of crises in the capitalist world. They talk about a “steel crisis,” an “oil crisis,” and so on, but they deny that they have anything to do with a crisis in the capitalist system.

As a matter of fact, capitalism has achieved considerable things in science and technology, and it produces modern, well-designed products. In more than a few industrial capitalist countries, a considerable number of the workers enjoy a relatively high standard of living.

The question follows: how can these facts be reconciled with the fact that this society is in a  general crisis.

You have already encountered what is most important in answering this question in the ninth grade with the treatment of imperialism, as well as at the beginning of tenth grade with the treatment of the main content of our era (1.1) and the shift in the international balance of power (1.2). What we examined first under the criterion of the increase  of socialism’s strength, we now want to handle under the criterion of the  development of imperialism.

As we know, overcoming of imperialism will occur over a long historical process, during the entire era of the transition of humanity to socialism and communism. Since this process is unavoidable for capitalism, it is at the same time evidence of its general crisis.

In contrast to the cyclical crises (see p. 190) which occur for limited periods in the economy, the general crisis of capitalism includes:

— the entire period of our era including the World War I and

— all sides of capitalist society (science, social relationships, domestic and foreign policy, and ideology, among other things).

The general crisis is characterized by three factors.

First: Socialism became a social reality. As socialism has gained step after step, imperialism has lost position after position. Imperialism finally lost its position of world domination. In growing measure, the events of the world are influenced by socialism.

It is clearer than ever that imperialism is not only a hindrance for further social development, but that its most aggressive circle