Autonomous and Between Worlds: Musical Manifestos for Anti-Capitalist Futures in Post-Wall East Berlin

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Abstract

The opening of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 provided a spectacular climax for Samuel Huntington’s third wave of democracy. It represented the triumph not only of a people over their oppressive regime but also, ultimately, of western economic liberalism; the post-socialist democracy of German reunification was a singular one with consumerism at its core. In the early 1990s many East German reform socialists resisted this inevitability, and exploited the temporary political and bureaucratic void that emerged in East Berlin as a space in which to imagine alternative democratic futures from the socialist past. In this article I explore the attempts by two very different East Berlin musical communities to incubate anti-capitalist worlds from the legacies of the GDR, both official and unofficial. First, I reflect on the autonomous musical worlds that were created by members of the GDR’s alternative bands in occupied buildings in Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte. Second, I consider the articulation by the ZwischenWelt-Festival, a reincarnation of the GDR’s Festival of Political Song, of a more outward looking future for East Germany, based on the ideals of international solidarity.
Original languageEnglish
Journaltwentieth-century music
Volume20
Issue number1
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Aug 2022

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