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Anyone with a commitment to socialism needs to take an interest in the history and fate of the German Democratic Republic (ddr), up to now the object of systematic neglect by West-of-the-Rhine liberal and radical intellectuals alike, who have scant knowledge of its achievements in painting and film, and assume its economic and political lessons to be exclusively negative.  This is yet another instance in which Cold War dismissals in the name of Stalinism and totalitarianism—essentially political judgements—continue to be tacitly accepted by today’s lefts in embarrassed silence. To be sure, the Soviet Union is another matter, and its rise and fall is as respectable a historical topic as the life and death of the Roman Empire; but at the same time it is widely assumed that the evolution of its ‘satellites’ is necessarily a secondary matter.
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