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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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Revolutionary Laws: Emergence and Emergency

Revolutionary Laws: Emergence and Emergency

(p.188) Chapter Seven Revolutionary Laws: Emergence and Emergency
The Skin of the System
Stanford University Press

In the early 1970s, critical socialists such as Franz Fühmann and Christa Wolf had felt optimistic that the Socialist Unity Party (SED) dictatorship in East Germany would finally give way to a mature era in which there would be “no taboos in the realm of art and literature.” However, the hardline revision of the criminal code in 1979 was anything but a mature piece of normative reflection on what the content of socialist justice could be. Instead, it demonstrated the sharpening strategic considerations of a system that seemed incapable of feeling secure in its sovereignty. This chapter shows that the promised new law of socialist order in East Germany remains stubbornly suspended between the emergence of socialism and its catastrophic state of emergency. This suspension is evident in Fühmann's correspondence around the time of several aggressive legal actions against East German writers in the mid-1970s.

Keywords:   Franz Fühmann, Christa Wolf, Socialist Unity Party, dictatorship, East Germany, socialism, state of emergency, sovereignty, socialist justice

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