Monday, November 9, 2009

Thoughts on the fall of the wall

Remember, remember the 9th of November, 1989. Well, having spent most of my adult life in Germany, I most certainly do and a little word on the fall of the wall is almost mandatory. What was I doing? Happy days they were and I was taking a CELTA course at IH in Munich, I was sitting in a classroom and I was somehow hoping that this might be the beginning of some "postiives" coming over from the GDR.

Twenty years down the road, we have the "litte green man" that gets you around the corner at the traffic lights quickly, we now have a "left" that could offer an alternative to the unacceptable face of capitalism but which is, in fact, more likely to undergo the par for the course "capitalist roader" metamorphosis as it increasingly merges with a "new" SPD, however, on that point, the last word has not been spoken and "die Hoffnung stirbt zuletzt".

However, what about the "positives" for those on the other side of the wall. Well, one senses that all over Eastern Europe they have sold their soul if not for the company gold, then at least for a dependency on a virtual world, reality television shows and a gobbledegook mainstream media that manufactures consent and undermines dissent in a way that the Stasi never quite could and while they, at least, thought they were missing something in the "Tal der ahnungslosen", now they actually think they are free to think, speak and even change things.

Yet, that has to be the point; they are, indeed, free in a way that they never were before the heady days of November 1989. However, it is unlikely that they will realise those freedoms as they will somehow have to say "adieu" to the brave new world of 24 hour "news", to the game shows, the talent shows. Media created individual illusions have become mass delusions and seeing through the crap is not going to be easy, as the new opium of the people takes root. Nevertheless, on looking back twenty years ago to the fall of the wall, there is hope. As Abraham Lincoln said; "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time." For my part I can only tell my friends on the other side of the wall that before 1989, some people in the West actually read books and questioned things, that we got our news out of newspapers that, at least to some extent, had not been "gleichgeschaltet". Yes, there is hope but, in order, for us to create our "Jerusalem" we will have to get our fingers out and put our thinking caps on.

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