What are the moral values ​​of our nation

Values ​​and changing values

1. Bourgeois culture as the leading culture of modernity

Until the 1960s, the prevailing view was that values ​​(W) were cultural phenomena that changed only slowly. In their empirical form, they were defined as value orientations that set standards of the way of life in industrial society, which are internalized and socially controlled (cf. the classic contributions by M. Scheler, N. Hartmann and N. Elias, the sociologists E. Durkheim and M. Weber and T. Parsons). In addition to humanity, religiosity, closeness to nature and the nation, the focus was above all on the classic bourgeois canon of values.

Not only sociology, but also the philosophy of the 17th and 18th centuries had abandoned the idea of ​​a God-willed and practically unchangeable system of values ​​that prevailed in the rural pre-industrial culture of the Middle Ages. Bourgeois culture, itself a product of early modernism, became the dominant culture of classical modernism in the 19th century with the rise of the bourgeoisie. However, powerful counter-movements arose against their supremacy.

If the anti-bourgeois attitude of romanticism of the 18th and 19th centuries remained an episode, proletarian culture, Soviet communism, and to some extent also fascism, posed threats to bourgeois hegemony. Nevertheless, the steady rise in the standard of living and the level of education led in of the industrialized world in the course of the 20th century to a bourgeoisisation of the modern masses, which had emerged as a result of the sharp increase in population in the 19th century.

2. Cultural revolt of the young bourgeoisie

However, this development was interrupted again in the mid-1960s. After the consolidation of bourgeois culture after the Second World War, a protest movement broke out again in the western world, albeit not in the previous supporting classes, the working class and the threatened petty bourgeoisie. Now part of the young, educated bourgeoisie tried to find a cultural alternative to the bourgeois value system. This movement combined, mediated by the Frankfurt School, with neo-Marxist ideas.

The new cultural movement had a certain parallel in the changes in industrial society, but its forms of thought and expression were not in line with its very sober requirements (about as little as the concepts of Rudi Dutschke and Ludwig Erhardt). Ideally, especially in the emerging new middle class, bourgeois W. should be linked with those who related to increased individual driving forces and socio-intellectual competencies. The harbingers of the service and communication society made themselves felt.

In the Federal Republic of Germany, solving this cultural task turned out to be more difficult than in the GDR. The possibility of a value synthesis (H. Klages) from valuable and meaningful traditions and the new orientations was not recognized or could not be implemented. The unstable history of Germany, in connection with the reviving democratic culture, had a polarizing effect. The innovators sought a dispute and strove to overturn values. The defenders of the "old man" resisted, but because of their involvement in the Hitler regime they often got on the defensive.

3. Change of values ​​and conflict of values

In the mid-1960s, the end of the Hitler regime was only two decades ago and with socialism there was a political alternative in the divided country that was (at least verbally) anti-bourgeois. However, the popularity of the GDR could not be compared with that of the Federal Republic or that of the Hitler regime (during the peace and first war period). Its intention had been dangerous to lower the standards of civilization and to tap into the instincts of "evil". The softening of church norms of family and sexual morality also had a corrosive effect.

On this basis, the war and the post-war led to a loosening of morals, and this had to be curbed again in the course of cultural consolidation. However, in the second half of the 1950s and early 1960s, problems increased among the younger generation (especially among the urban working-class youth). Increasingly, new types of deviant behavior appeared (alcohol abuse, youth riots, vandalism, public riots by "youngsters", see H. Schelsky's book on the "Skeptical Generation").

The young workers demanded their share in the upswing and the innovators started at this particularly present breaking point. The diffuse protest of the young workers against the "inner-worldly asceticism" (M. Weber) was instrumentalized for the attack on the "docility" towards authorities (also in the GDR the boyish style of the young workers was used against the remaining bourgeois elites). In the democratic environment of the Federal Republic the door was opened to a plebeian hedonism that was soon no longer mastered.

4. Change of values ​​as a topic in young sociology

From the beginning, the change in values ​​(Ww) was the subject of sociology, especially that branch that made use of modern survey research (here, too, the Frankfurt School had prepared the way). The analysis of the American political scientist R. Inglehart manifests the view that an emancipatory "post-materialism" should replace the still prevailing conservative "materialism". Free development of the individual and co-determination would now be placed above the question of the stability of the economy and society.

Against this idea, presented with the pathos of necessity, yet more desire than reality, voices against it soon came up, either with an intention to preserve values ​​(Noelle-Neumann 1978, under the same title already in 1975 in Die ZEIT) or as a call to prudence, the practical complexity social development should not be underestimated (Klages 1975). Although general fatigue ended the phase of the shift in values ​​in the mid-1970s (Klages 1975), the sharp rise in social wealth continued to give reason to leave priority on the development of the individual.

5. The inner-German constellation

Statements about the population and mentality of the GDR citizens or about their changes are difficult. Survey research was carried out in the GDR, but its results are relatively little useful for the topic of "values ​​and value change" due to the lack of representativeness and insufficiently interpretable indicators. If you take what is available (including the experience of the new German citizens) and look at it together with the surveys since the fall of the Wall, you can still get an approximate picture (cf. Gensicke 1998).

What the Inglehart School had declared to be the opposite was perceived in the GDR as complementary and combinable. This mentality, in which system and population met each other from different assumptions, was similar to what Klages called the synthesis of values. There are many explanations for this, the most important being that the GDR was based on a cultural model that mediated between tradition and modernity. The bourgeois classics, highly valued by Marx and Lenin, played an important role in this.

The human image of the universally developed personality was (within limits and increasingly in the course of GDR history) open to individual self-development. For practical life it became particularly important that the emancipation of people took place primarily in the context of roles of responsibility, e.g. B. in the world of work, in which women and young people were comprehensively included. In addition, there was (as in Scandinavia despite high divorce rates and many illegitimate children) a stable role of the family, which took on emancipatory elements at an early stage.

Source: Andersen, Uwe / Wichard Woyke (ed.): Concise dictionary of the political system of the Federal Republic of Germany. 7th, updated Aufl. Heidelberg: Springer VS 2013. Author of the article: Thomas Gensicke