Dictatorship, State Planning, and Social Theory in the German Democratic Republic

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Overview

The introduction of centralized state planning and party dictatorship dramatically altered the environment for social theory in communist East Germany. This book examines the way the German Democratic Republic (GDR) worked from the point of view of its leading experts in law, economics, philosophy, and cybernetics. Like other state-socialist countries, the GDR aimed for a postcapitalist modernization, which it hoped to achieve by way of dictatorship. Caldwell makes use of newly available archival sources to demonstrate how state-socialist politics and social theory both merged and collided. From the 1950s onward, figures such as the economist Fritz Behrens, the jurist Hermann Klenner, and the philosopher Ernst Bloch struggled with the basic contradictions of state socialism that eventually led to its collapse. The plan, for example, forbade markets yet could not function without them; the party-state subordinated the rule of law to its own decrees yet also called for a regular and reliable system of rules; Marxist-Leninist philosophy rejected idealism yet made its own idealist claim to know the purported laws of historical development. With a clear explication of basic concepts in Marxist economics, this book is an introduction to the elements of state socialism that its leading proponents saw as most important.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A marvelous piece of work: well-written, thoughtful, and challenging." H-GERMAN

"This book is a splendidly thought-provoking and elegantly executed tour de force. This immensely stimulating and brilliantly argued book is indispensable reading for all students of East German history/politics and Marxist-Leninist state socialism generally." Central European History

"fine book" - Gary Bruce, University of Waterloo

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521820905
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2003
  • Pages: 230
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Modernization, Modernity, and the Plan 1
1 The Economics of State Socialism: Productivity and the Law of Value 14
2 The Legal Theory of State Socialism: Socialist Legality, the Laws of Historical Development, and the Plan 57
3 Philosophy and State Socialism: Consciousness, Dialectical Materialism, and Hope 97
4 From Planning Metaphysics to Cybernetics: Planning, Technology, and Politics after Revisionism 141
Conclusion 185
Bibliography 197
Index 215
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