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The Skin of the SystemOn Germany's Socialist Modernity$
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Benjamin Robinson

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780804762472

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804762472.001.0001

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Utopia and Actuality: What is to Be Done with Really Existing Socialism?

Utopia and Actuality: What is to Be Done with Really Existing Socialism?

(p.19) Chapter One Utopia and Actuality: What is to Be Done with Really Existing Socialism?
The Skin of the System
Stanford University Press

The end of the Cold War and the collapse of “really existing” socialism in Eastern Europe were two critical events that have had an impact on cultural studies. This chapter examines the strategies of cultural studies—including those of Theodor Adorno, Jürgen Habermas, Stuart Hall, and Richard Rorty—for denying intellectual significance to East European socialism. It reviews the enthusiasm of the triumph of liberalism and argues that the true site of socialism is the point where systemic alterity vanishes, where bourgeois modernity sees itself as an immanent transcendence enveloping any rivalry. The chapter focuses on Germany and East Germany, widely considered to be the most socialist of the socialist states. When the Berlin Wall fell, East German parochialism was supposed to be finally swept away by a Western “system of accountability.”

Keywords:   socialism, liberalism, Cold War, East Germany, Berlin Wall, modernity, parochialism, cultural studies, Eastern Europe, Jürgen Habermas

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