Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Fall of the Wall

The Berlin Wall fell 20 years ago Monday November 9. Germany and much of the rest of Europe are remembering and celebrating.

Germany is reunited after 45 years of separation. The Soviet Empire and its occupation are over. The Stasi is closed (and its files are wide open showing how much spying, lying, and blackmail was going on).

There is another aspect to the End of the Cold War best captured at the time by the great cartoonist Pat Oliphant in 1989.

There was an old joke in Eastern Europe during the Cold War that said, "Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's the other way around."

Here are some very similar musings by Slavoj Zisek in the NY Times.  He recalls the sad and revealing story of a now forgotten star of the Cold War, Viktor Kravchenko, author of the once celebrated best-selling book I Chose Freedom.  He fell through the ideological cracks after the success of that book, becoming as deeply disillusioned with ideological capitalism as he once was with ideological communism.

There is a story about George Orwell (I wish I could remember the details) attending the lecture of a pioneering British conservative ideologue.  This right wing British intellectual denounced liberal pluralism and the enervating effect of liberal cosmopolitanism on society.  He insisted that we were unprepared to meet the challenge of communist aggression.  He called for the remilitarization of society to face the communist threat.  Orwell congratulated him on his lecture and then said, "I don't think you fear the communists so much as you envy them."
To my mind, that is the epitaph of the whole Cold War.


Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Amen, Brother!

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

May this teach us to be very wary of utopias!