Can we criticize democracy

Commitment makes democracy : "People criticize, but they don't get involved"

In a few weeks, Berlin will be celebrating the day the Wall opened 30 years ago. An immortal moment when the SED leadership had to surrender to people demonstrating peacefully because even their dictatorial machinery of repression was no longer terrifying. Conquered by people who wanted freedom and self-determination, took to the streets for it and also accepted the repression.

No dictatorship can rule against a people in the long term. But democracy cannot flourish without the people. The state lives from people's commitment to it - we are all the state, not just the politicians. It is depressing that 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, people are becoming increasingly alienated from this state. People criticize, but they don't get involved.

Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed this in her speech on Unity Day as a lack of willingness to come of age. Democracy lives from taking part, from getting involved and also from the fact that we feel jointly responsible for it, emphasized the Governing Mayor Michael Müller as patron of the volunteer days “Common Cause” organized by the Tagesspiegel and Paritätischem Wohlfahrtsverband. That is why this year they had the motto “Engagement.Power.Democracy”.

On the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, it can also be remembered that volunteer work was underdeveloped in both parts of the city. Although there were people on both sides of the Berlin Wall who were committed to their neighbors and their neighborhood, it was a minority.

[If you want to find out more about voluntary work in Berlin: The free newsletter “Ehrensache” appears once a month. Register here: ehrensache.tagesspiegel.de]

In both halves of the city, the ideal was the fully-provision welfare state - in West Berlin, social benefits were financed with billions in subsidies from Bonn. And in the eastern part of Berlin, self-chosen voluntary work was viewed rather suspiciously by the state organs. For this, the GDR citizens were pushed to sobotniks, so-called voluntary work assignments - which is such a lasting negative memory that some East Berliners are still horrified today. When the Wall came down in 1989, the number of foundations in West Berlin was also significantly lower than in the rest of Germany.

That has changed. And how. Today there are active voluntary initiatives and associations in all districts and a developed infrastructure for committed people, such as the district volunteer agencies. On the occasion of the celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 30 years ago, this is also a reason to celebrate.

Now new: We give you Tagesspiegel Plus for free for 30 days! To home page