THE DREAM OF A FREE SOCIETY
The dream of a society which is no longer based on the destruction
of nature and man. A society in which exploitation, oppression,
and the dominion of man over man is abolished.
The dream of a society in which the authoritarian and patriarchal
way of thinking is overcome. A society in which decisions are made
through self-determination and values like solidarity and community
stand above competition and egoism.
In the last decades in the industrialized states, in the capitalistic
as in the so called real-socialistic states, this dream has been
held mainly by rebellious young people. In them, a flicker of the
flame which has gone out in most adults is still alive.
Again and again the same process can be observed: A new generation
of young people is growing up. Different mechanisms like the authoritarian
education in families and schools, and manipulation of the mass
media, especially TV, are intended to take from them their ability
to dream. They are pushed to adapt themselves, to submit, and to
conform to existing conditions. In short, to become functioning
wheels in the gigantic machine.
The dream or at least the attempt to begin to make it come true,
must collide with existing expectations. The young people’s
reaction are rebellion and attempts to escape. Some rebel consciously,
others seek refuge in drugs, alcohol, crime or the pseudo world
Often the rebellions were closely connected with musical styles,
such as Punk in England, HipHop in the United States or Rai in Algeria.
This music was an expression of the rebellious social atmosphere.
But the music industry turned its subversive character into a commercial
one. As a result of this development, the main parts of the movement
All these movements, especially the consciousness rebellions in
the seventies and eighties, like the Kraaker-movement in Amsterdam,
the city-Indians in Italy or the autonomous squatters in West-Berlin
were concerned with developing social free areas in which a different
life, an approach to the dreams of a free society, would be possible.
In some cases new forms of living together were tried out. The patriarchal
structures of families, and, to some extent, the relationships of
couples, were basically called into question, and criticized as
the germ-cell of the bourgeois state. As opposite models, flat-sharing
communities and communes developed in which people live together
on an equal basis.
Moreover, sexuality played a decisive role. Existing norms were
rejected and a free approach to sexuality without taboos was demanded.
This also includes the rejection of repressive regulations, for
instance against homosexual men and women.
A very important aspect was the emancipation of women. The suppression
of women is still normal in the whole of society, that is, in the
system as well as in the private area. But also rebellious movements
often reflected this situation or only went a step forward to the
real liberation of women.
The prospect of working a whole life long in an alienated way, about
eight hours or even more every day, provoked disgust and basic doubts
were cast on the sense of such a life. Most movements set imagination
against this monotony of daily life.
Basic elements of the political-awareness rebellions were the radical
rejection of the ruling capitalistic and imperialistic economic
order and the political structure of the state, which suppresses
the possibility of a self-determined life. Sometimes parts of these
movements fought on a militant and armed level.
Ultimately none of these movements prevailed, some of them were
repressed very brutally, while others were integrated in a subtle
way. Nevertheless, traces have remained from each movement.
The freedom-movements are not only a phenomenon on the capitalistic
states. They are based on a human need and they come up in every
repressive system - including the repressive so called real-socialistic
This year we had the non-violent protests of thousands young people
at the Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China. The protests ended in
a massacre. The Chinese army killed several hundred people. The
Communist Party (which is not communist at all), unmasked itself
in a bloody way.
Scientists often try to explain such youth rebellions with the so-called
generation gap, which means that the rebellions result from a different
age, different development and experience of the generations. But
the purpose of this explanation has been to divert attention from
the real reasons for the conflict between a system in which the
dream cannot be realized, and a system whose basic principles are
opposed to this repression.
At the present time there are few perspectives for change; environmental
destruction, manipulation, repression, exploitation, famine and
war, are considered normal. A first step is a consequent refusal
in opposition to the ruling destructive structures in the capitalistic
states as in the so called real-socialistic states.
This refusal can only develop its real strength if it’s concerned
with different forms of resistance, from unmasking ‘information’
to direct action. In addition, the development of countercultural
free areas is an essential element. Free areas which are an expression
of inner and outer change as well as a starting point of the fight
for the dream.
The poet Günter Eich once wrote ”Sing the songs, they
don’t expect you to sing. Be uncomfortable, be sand not oil
in the engine of the world...”
It’s a long and hard way and it seems that there’s not
much hope. But if it’s possible to develop the courage to
change and the power to fight, then there is a chance to go a step
further on the way to realize the dream.
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(Parts of a speech by Wolfgang Sterneck which was held at the 13th
World Festival of Youth and Students, 1–8 July 1989 in
Pyongyang, DPR Korea.)
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