The Corner

Darn That Reagan

Some woman named Bruni de la Motte has fascinating essay over at the Guardian on what a terrible thing it was for the Berlin Wall to come down. It begins with this paragraph:

On 9 November 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down I realised German unification would soon follow, which it did a year later. This meant the end of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), the country in which I was born, grew up, gave birth to my two children, gained my doctorate and enjoyed a fulfilling job as a lecturer in English literature at Potsdam University. Of course, unification brought with it the freedom to travel the world and, for some, more material wealth, but it also brought social breakdown, widespread unemployment, blacklisting, a crass materialism and an “elbow society” as well as a demonisation of the country I lived in and helped shape. Despite the advantages, for many it was more a disaster than a celebratory event.

And ends with this one:

Since the demise of the GDR, many have come to recognise and regret that the genuine “social achievements” they enjoyed were dismantled: social and gender equality, full employment and lack of existential fears, as well as subsidised rents, public transport, culture and sports facilities. Unfortunately, the collapse of the GDR and “state socialism” came shortly before the collapse of the “free market” system in the west.

Everyone is free to take out their red pens and mark this up as they see fit. Some thoughts:

1. I love that one of the problems with a free Germany is “blacklisting.” Lord knows the Stasi would never have resorted to blacklisting! (She also goes on to bemoan the lack of academic freedom in post-unification Germany. It was so much better in the old days. Uh huh).

2. “Social achievements” is put inside quotations marks even as it is modified with the word “genuine.”

3. I love the suggestion that East Germans lacked “existential fears.” I don’t know what this woman is talking about, but it seems to me that a lot of folks who risked their lives to escape East Germany were afraid of something. Not a whole lot of West German’s braved the barbed wire to escape their fears, if memory serves.

4. I really like that what mattered were subsidies for rent, public transport and sports facilities but nowhere in her essay does she discuss democracy, freedom (save the freedom to travel) or liberty.

5. I think it’s terribly, terribly sad that such an evil regime created women who think this way.