#AMREADING RITA KUCZYNSKI, WALLFLOWER: A LIFE ON THE GERMAN BORDER
This is an intellectual autobiography by a woman who grew up in East Berlin.
She was born in 1943, a furlough child, that is, conceived when he father was on furlough as a kind of souvenir in case he died in the war.
After graduating from high school, she studied philosophy while working the nightshift at a lightbulb factory: I had found for myself a manageable balance between work on the production line and existential philosophy, and things inside me were pretty much on the right track.
What was her goal in studying philosophy? I was looking for God in the form of an absolute, a pure theory. It would be big enough to be able to withstand the contradictions of the present and those of the past…to pave the path with reason!
Eventually she realized that the department of philosophy was a breeding ground for apparatchiks. Students were interested primarily in learning the political philosophy of the East German regime. They were admitted even if the applicant’s academic qualifications were substandard. They were replaced by the criterion of political reliability…The foremost concern here was the formulation of political argumentation strategies.
Kuczynski was repeatedly rejected for party membership because she was seen as too critical. A well-meaning friend counselled her: One could not say such things in that way. I had to learn to say what I wanted to say in a way that did not leave me open to attack.
I live in a democratic society. In Canada, critiquing the powers that be will not land a person in jail. Our society has subtler ways of punishing people who have not learned to say what they want to say in a politically correct way.