I remember twenty years ago watching as the people of the Socialist paradise surged across Checkpoint Charlie into the bright lights of the West, as the 28 year old Berlin Wall was breached. It was but part of a process that began with the Hungarians taking down the fence, and continued with the Velvet Revolution in Wencelas Square.
The fall of the Berlin Wall may not not have been the triumph of capitalism, but it was the collapse of communism. It represented the end of the era, started in 1917, that saw the deaths of 100 million people at the hands of their own governments in the name of a false utopia. The physical wall, that seemed so impenetrable, was felled with pickaxes and chains. The political system, buttressed by a vast system of informers and secret police, seem to crumble away even more easily. But the we share some elements of that repressive regime share today in this country. In the DDR
1. Everyone had to carry ID cards and constantly present them when asked.
2. A “democratic” country where parliament held no power.
3. Where the official properganda differed from reality.
4. Where every aspect of life was tightly regulated.
5. Arbitary arrest and detention.
6. Endless form filling and checking on every aspect of people’s lives. And where that form filling served as a huge hinderance, but no useful purpose outside of the bureaucratic machine.
It is worthwhile to remember that a moderate socialist party contains elements of the authoritarian left of the Soviet bloc. Their instincts are that only government solutions are the valid, and that private initiative cannot be trusted. That the individual owes everything to the state, and errant views are by definition not just wrong but dangerous.
Whilst we remember died trying to escape the suffocation and those who were persecuted for the slightest protest, it is also worth a history lesson in how the mass of people lead dreary, impoverished lives, made worse by officialdom.
Thanks to John Redwood, who stimulated my thoughts.