New directions for East German science?


THE CENTRAL Committee of East Germany’s communist Socialist Unity Party has set out proposals for the support of scientific research as part of its broad platform of social reforms. A policy document approved by the committee last Friday contained the following statement: ‘Science holds a place in the first ranks of society. A new concept of the sciences is on the agenda. The promotion of basic research is to be accepted as one of the highest priorities with an orientation towards increasing the efficiency of the process of social reproduction. ‘Economic relations between science and production must be organised fortheir mutual advantage. Step-by-step modernisation of the material and technical basis for science and higher education is an urgent requirement. Bureaucratic hindrance and control of both research and academic life, short-sighted economic measures in science, secretiveness, ignorance displayed towards the results of research and recommendations by academics, restrictions on international contacts, and taboos on certain research projects must be eliminated . . . ‘The central committee calls on social scientists to collaborate critically and constructively in (economic) renewal. The results, analyses and studies by the scientists must be thoroughly assessed, publicly discussed and used in the preparations of decisions.’ One scientist who will be watching theEast German government’s move with particular interest is Jens Reich, one ofthe co-founders and current leaders of the opposition group New Forum. Reich is a microbiologist,
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