LEAKY HOMES: Part 2 tomorrow . . .
I'll aim to have Part 2 for you tomorrow.
. . . promoting capitalist acts between consenting adults.
Remember, remember the ninth of November, the day twenty years ago that communism fell … openly at least. All the best links on that happy occasion, and on the murders and aftermath at Fort Hood. But first:
BERLIN WALL LINKS:
FORT HOOD LINKS:
More to come shortly . . . or keep track on my Twitter feed . . .
I was thinking and conversing today about Montessori and Dewey and capitalism, as you do, and thinking about the importance in all good education of observation – of the senses, where it all starts – and thought of Walt Whitman’s brilliant observational poem posted below.
And searching for an online version to post here, I came across this great description of it on the Walt Whitman Archive website that I knew you’d all enjoy:
“Called by Whitman ‘the most innocent thing I ever did’ and by Edwin Haviland Miller ‘one of the most sensitive lyrics in the language and one of the most astute diagnoses of the emergent self, this 39-line poem is a retrospective view describing the absorption of everything the poem's child beholds. Each sensation becomes ‘part of’ the child (a phrase repeated six times) and by implication foreshadows his maturation into the Whitman poet-persona.
“Sandwiched between the poem's opening assertion that each experience ‘became part of’ the child and the closing line's recapitulation of the same idea, a compact catalogue records an astounding four dozen metaphorically-charged images or sounds that the child absorbs (in a phrase deleted in later editions) ‘with wonder or pity or love or dread’ (1855 Leaves). His development is shown objectively by interlinked patterns of space, colors, passing time, and social phenomena; subjectively by his developing cognitive powers.
“Coincidentally or not, the poem illustrates the phrenological formula for educating the superior child by cultivating its powers of observing all surrounding phenomena. ‘The inductive method of studying nature, namely, by observing facts and ascending through analogous facts up to the laws that govern them is the only way to arrive at correct conclusions.’ (J.G. Spurzheim, Education: Its Elementary Principles Founded on the Nature of Man.)”
And with that by way of introduction, here it is:
There Was A Child Went Forth
And the first object he look'd upon, that object he became,
And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part
of the day,
Or for many years or stretching cycles of years.
The early lilacs became part of this child,
And grass and white and red morning-glories, and white and red
clover, and the song of the phoebe-bird,
And the Third-month lambs and the sow's pink-faint litter, and
the mare's foal and the cow's calf,
And the noisy brood of the barnyard or by the mire of the pond-
And the fish suspending themselves so curiously below there, and
the beautiful curious liquid,
And the water-plants with their graceful flat heads, all became part
The field-sprouts of Fourth-month and Fifth-month became part
Winter-grain sprouts and those of the light-yellow corn, and the
esculent roots of the garden,
And the apple-trees cover'd with blossoms and the fruit afterward,
and wood-berries, and the commonest weeds by the road,
And the old drunkard staggering home from the outhouse of the
tavern whence he had lately risen,
And the schoolmistress that pass'd on her way to the school,
And the friendly boys that pass'd, and the quarrelsome boys,
And the tidy and fresh-cheek'd girls, and the barefoot negro boy
And all the changes of city and country wherever he went.
His own parents, he that had father'd him and she that had con-
ceiv'd him in her womb and birth'd him,
They gave this child more of themselves than that,
They gave him afterward every day, they became part of him.
The mother at home quietly placing the dishes on the supper-
The mother with mild words, clean her cap and gown, a whole-
some odor falling off her person and clothes as she walks by,
The father, strong, self-sufficient, manly, mean, anger'd, unjust,
The blow, the quick loud word, the tight bargain, the crafty lure,
The family usages, the language, the company, the furniture, the
yearning and swelling heart,
Affection that will not be gainsay'd, the sense of what is real, the
thought if after all it should prove unreal,
The doubts of day-time and the doubts of night-time, the curious
whether and how,
Whether that which appears so is so, or is it all flashes and specks?
Men and women crowding fast in the streets, if they are not flashes
and specks what are they?
The streets themselves and the façades of houses, and goods in
Vehicles, teams, the heavy-plank'd wharves, the huge crossing at
Shadows, aureola and mist, the light falling on roofs and gables of
white or brown two miles off,
The schooner near by sleepily dropping down the tide, the little
boat slack-tow'd astern,
The hurrying tumbling waves, quick-broken crests, slapping,
The strata of color'd clouds, the long bar of maroon-tint away
solitary by itself, the spread of purity it lies motionless in,
The horizon's edge, the flying sea-crow, the fragrance of salt
marsh and shore mud,
These became part of that child who went forth every day, and
who now goes, and will always go forth every day.
Bernard Darnton has heard so many apologies recently that he’s forgotten who said what.
Ronny Hidewira was unrepentant last week when caught scamming the taxpayer for a personal holiday. Lashing out at his opponents he said, “You socialist motherfuckers have been raping our wallets and ripping us off for decades. I just wanted some of the action.”
Hidewira had been caught gilding his expenses after a dirty weekend with his new girlfriend, Lolita Crime. Crime, at one third of Hidewira’s age, is affectionately known to the middle-aged politician as “the perky busty.”
The impromptu holiday took place while the Associate Minister for Local Wine and Cheese was on a trip to Brussels to examine Europe’s “super-country” project. The super-country project will replace all of Europe’s disjointed national governments with a single authority resulting in continent-wide economies of scale. Hidewira began his trip by meeting one-on-one with project head Viggo Rustaks, the Swedish Finance Minister.
However, instead of attending Tuesday’s scheduled meeting on Polish banana-farm subsidies he took a side trip to Hawaii to practice for an upcoming appearance on Surfing with the Stars and to impress his teenage girlfriend with his Gold Elite Airpoints card. “Fuck it,” he said, “I’m only in the northern hemisphere once every couple of months so why not?”
In an interview on National Radio yesterday, Hidewira apologised for his language. “I don’t resile from the sentiment of what I said but I realise that the language was inappropriate. I know that a lot of people are uncomfortable with the ‘mofo’ word but, as someone who’s currently enjoying a bit of intergenerational nookie, I don’t want to give the impression that there’s anything wrong with that. My party’s policy is that whatever goes on in a private individual’s bedroom, spa pool, or Ottoman-themed dungeon is their own business.”
When challenged that his apology wasn’t so much an apology as a cynical self-justifying PR exercise, he responded, “I’m sick to the back teeth – teeth by Dental Artistry, Newmarket; call now for a free quote – of this puritanical bullshit. There are 120 snouts in the Parliamentary trough, why are you hounding me? Is it because I’m heterosexual?”
He continued, “I’m not answerable to you. I’m only answerable to the good people of Te Tamariki o Remuera and they will judge me, years from now when this is all forgotten.”
Hidewira’s fate now lies in the hands of his party’s leadership. Māoreact Party leader Rongo Wright admits that she’s disappointed by Hidewira’s behaviour but says that his weight loss regime is probably responsible, blaming Post-Colonic Traumatic Stress Disorder.
* * Bernard Darnton will be posting irregularly over the next eight weeks while he helps support the European viticulture economy. Look out for a live post and photo from the Vatican – and as many posts as his consumption of wine and cheese allow. No taxpayers’ money will be harmed in the making of his fact-finding mission. * *
"Architecture begins to matter when it goes beyond protecting us from the elements, when it begins to say something about the world -- when it begins to take on the qualifications of art."
- Paul Goldberger
If there’s any building that fits that description, it’s the “cathedral of business” that is Wright’s Johnson Wax Building – a revolutionary exterior in Racine, Wisconsin containing his sleekest tower, and what’s been called “the greatest room in America” – a place in which to work that would feel like you were in one of Monet’s lily ponds – and somewhere that‘s very difficult to photograph well . . .
Watch this video presentation to find out more:
For the full impact, start at 3 minutes in when you begin entering the building.
And on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, in the year 1918 the guns of the Western Front finally went silent and the human carnage of the First World War came to a close – yet results of the war would stay with us, like a bacillus, for decades to come.
Far from being the War to End All Wars, it instead set the world up for decades of pain to come.
Britain and Germany were bankrupted, and the war debts of all combatants would infect western economies for years to come, until their final annihilation in German hyperinflation, the collapse of the classical gold standard, and the maw of the worldwide Great Depression.
The Bolshevik takeover of Russia was still in place at the Armistice, a wartime piece of German treachery that eventually enslaved around 300 million people – and whose eventual collapse we celebrated just two days ago.
The “state socialism” adopted by all the Great Powers in the war would come back to haunt them. Every big statist of the next generation, from Keynes to Herbert Hoover to FDR, learned their interventionism in the corridors of power they so loved so far behind the front lines.
And in the men in the German trenches were born the seeds of World War II: the march of the Nietzschean call to arms in defence of the Fatherland and its “blood and soil” began there; what Clemenceau called the “twenty-year ceasefire” that was the Versaille Treaty was bewailed there; and there too was the myth of Der Dolchstoß so exploited by the Nazis – that “good Germans” who were at the front still undefeated were stabbed in back by a surrender forced upon them by a coterie of Jews and other traitors in their rear echelons. It took the utter defeat of Germany twenty-seven years and 100 million lost souls later to finally lay these myths and tragedies to rest.
This last, the myth that the German surrender of November 1918 allowed to take hold, offers a lesson that needs to be learned and relearned: that to be lasting a defeat must be crushing, and must be seen to be crushing, as it finally was in World War II.
Lest we forget indeed. If truth is the first casualty of war, then the the memory of its lessons and of its unintended consequences must surely be the second.
[Image, by the way, is from Charles Sargeant Jagger's Artillery Monument at Hyde Park Corner, London.]
Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath takes his regularly irreverent look at some of the past week’s headlines . . .
See y’all next week!
Labels: Earth Hour
If you’ve wondered why the world’s politicians seem so relaxed about their ability to repay the trillions of pounds, dollars and euros they’ve been throwing around in recent months, then rest assured they have a dirty little secret.
And if you’ve wondered why John Key seems so relaxed about the outstanding bill for NZ’s leaky homes – a “bill that is likely to top $11.5 billion” – then rest assured Mr Key has the same secret. It’s the same secret on which his finance minister Bill English is relying to repay the decades of govt deficits over which he’s now presiding.
That secret can be stated in one word: “inflation.”
Except Mr Key can’t keep a secret, and in that respect he’s different to most of the world’s politicians. They call it “quantitative easing” and figure that as long as they all inflate at the same rate, then no-one will notice because all their currencies will be going down the toilet together. Yet Mr Key (if not his deputy) is happy to admit that he’s planning to inflate his way out of several messes.
Speaking to Guyon Espiner on the weekend about his new plan to get rid of that $11.5 billion leaky-home liability, Key said his plan was basically to inflate his way out. He’s up front about it. He told Espiner,
“if we can ensure that a homeowner has guaranteed access to funds, and a guaranteed ability to repay . . . we can allow inflation and we can allow rising house prices to let people fix their home and actually move on and move out of the situation.”
Did you get that? “We can allow inflation and we can allow rising house prices to let people fix their home and actually move on and move out of the situation.” Key’s plan to wipe out the billions of dollars of leaky home liability (and by implication the tens of billions of dollars his government is spending that it hasn’t got) is not to address the real problems, it’s going to be to print money – the age-old remedy of quacks, charlatans and short-sighted so-called statesmen.
“Inflation is like sin,” said Frederick Leith-Ross, “every government denounces it and every government practices it.” Key at least is ingenuous enough to admit it (and astute enough to realise his policies are already allowing house-price inflation to take off).
Let’s get one thing very clear here: New pieces of printed paper bring no new resources into existence. None at all. But by diluting the purchasing power of every existing dollar, inflation take resources from savers (involuntarily and against their will) and gives them to borrowers, gives them to governments, gives them to those the government has chosen (this week) to favour.
The history of the twentieth century’s money is the history of its dilution by governments’ central banks. Ever pound and every dollar is worth now around one-hundred times less than it was one-hundred years ago because of governments printing money. And every government secretly thinks it can control the process – and every bubble, every hyperinflation, every careful “quantitative easing” tells the same tale: they can’t. (Read Fiat Money Inflation in France to see just how deluded “statesmen” can be when taking this particular tiger by the tale.)
The danger of inflation is great, but the temptation is always greater. “By a continuing process of inflation, government can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens.” John Maynard Keynes said that in his instruction manual to thieving governments. Key plans to confiscate openly.
And don’t think this just means he intends inflation to help out people paying to fix their homes. He intends it to help out his government. As Stephen Horwitz points out,
“A clear message of [inflationary policies] is that one cannot separate inflationary monetary policies from profligate fiscal policy, As with counterfeiting, the lure of inflation is that the inflator can acquire real resources at virtually zero cost. It does this not only directly, but also by reducing the value of the government’s massive debt. For political actors seeking votes, or governments seeking power, inflation is a far more palatable way than taxation to pay for new programs or military adventures.“
Mr Key’ dirty little secret is that he knows that. He just hopes that you don’t.
I couldn’t be happier with how this house has turned out – and I sense my clients would say the same.
I posted it here a few years back (here and here), but now the plants have matured – and since it’s been featured in the Waikato Times this month, I figured it was about time I showed it here in all its glory.
Who would have thought this could be found just five minutes from the centre of Hamilton.
The Waikato Times called it “an outstanding Hamilton home, surely one that is among the finest ‘House ‘n’ Lifestyle’ has featured.” Naturally, I agree with them . . . but I bet they say that about every house. ;^)
The house offers a private front to the street, and opens out from within to four landscaped ‘courtyards’ created to integrate site and house.
I won’t say too much here, since you can read about it in the ‘House n’ Lifestyle’ feature linked below – but seeing a house completed to this standard and the clients enjoying it as they are is the reason I do this job: to bring their dreams into reality by doing what they would do if they were a good architect.
Nothing like a good hater & wrecker to make your week, is there.
But at least there’s no need to guess what Maori Party MPs really think about us. Tariana thinks there was a “Maori holocaust” in Taranaki, and Maori are suffering from “Post-Colonial Traumatic Stress Disorder”; Hone reckons “white motherf...ers have been raping our lands and ripping us off for centuries,” and that ““[Phil] Goff and his mates should be lined up against a wall and shot" for their foreshore and seabed legislation.
And the whole Maori Party caucus was silent today when Hone apologised for his language, but not for his sentiments.
Nice people. For a pack of racists.
Skimming the newspapers to check their Berlin Wall coverage, Sean Gabb from Britain’s Libertarian Alliance discovered an unusually good piece in the Daily Mail. It’s not just unusually good (especially for the Mail), but it offers a good lesson in activism, as Sean explains in the postscript:
It's an article by Melanie Phillips and it titled "We were fools to think the fall of the Berlin Wall had killed off the far Left. They're back - and attacking us from within". The key paragraphs are:"Soviet Communism was a belief system whose goal was to overturn the structures of society through the control of economic and political life. This mutated into a post-communist ideology of the Left, whose no-less ambitious aim was to overturn western society through a subversive transformation of its culture....It's a good article and is worth reading in full. I mention it, however [says Sean], because Mrs Phillips might have been quoting from my book Cultural Revolution, Culture War. Indeed, I know that someone bought 50 copies of this two years ago and set them out to various opinion formers among whom was Mrs Phillips.
"But as communism slowly crumbled, those on the far-Left who remained hostile towards western civilisation found another way to realise their goal of bringing it down.
"This was what might be called 'cultural Marxism'. It was based on the understanding that what holds a society together are the pillars of its culture: the structures and institutions of education, family, law, media and religion. Transform the principles that these embody and you can thus destroy the society they have shaped.
"This key insight was developed in particular by an Italian Marxist philosopher called Antonio Gramsci. His thinking was taken up by Sixties radicals - who are, of course, the generation that holds power in the West today.
"Gramsci understood that the working class would never rise up to seize the levers of 'production, distribution and exchange' as communism had prophesied. Economics was not the path to revolution.
"He believed instead that society could be overthrown if the values underpinning it could be turned into their antithesis: if its core principles were replaced by those of groups who were considered to be outsiders or who actively transgressed the moral codes of that society.
"So he advocated a 'long march through the institutions' to capture the citadels of the culture and turn them into a collective fifth column, undermining from within and turning all the core values of society upside-down and inside-out."
I don't normally boast about influence. However, I had a long conversation yesterday with a friend who was rather depressed about the Libertarian Alliance's lack of impact in British politics. This is my answer. I will not claim that I am the only person putting this argument … However, I do think it reasonable to claim that I have *helped*, since I began writing about "The Enemy Class" back in 2001, to provide the conservative and libertarian movement in this country with a narrative that explains what has happened in England over the past few generations.
Who’s with us?
Susan Ryder remembers The Day The Wall Came Down.
I’d initially decided to elaborate upon a disagreement I had recently with someone for whom I have respect, even if I don’t always see eye to eye. Then along came Hone Harawira who, as if we needed more proof, showed once again what a fat-head he is. My fingers itched to give him the printed smack he’s never going to receive from the self-neutered, mainstream media, so option one went by the wayside.
And then I was reminded of something much more important. Something that shows the Hone Harawiras to be the trivialities, the sideshows, the non-entities they are. I remembered the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
People always say that they remember exactly where they were when they heard the news about President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. In 1997 I was driving across the Auckland Harbour Bridge when I heard that Princess Diana was dead. And in 1989 I was in downtown San Francisco when the first crack appeared in the Berlin Wall.
The Wall was built the year before I was born. For me, nothing symbolised the Cold War greater than that bleak, barbed-wire monstrosity, fortified with soldiers, sirens and searchlights.
I never saw it for myself. I never went to Berlin. But I saw Eastern bloc communism first-hand during a short visit to Bulgaria in 1983, which made for pretty grim viewing.
The whole situation was farcical. Travel visas to the Eastern bloc were always short-term because they had to be. You see, the communists knew their system was crap, but they desperately needed hard currency to help keep the whole shebang going. Infuriatingly, westerners showed little interest in wanting to migrate to Eastern Europe with their dollars and D-marks, so the communists had to begrudgingly permit entry to tourists.
However, the longer the touring westerners were in their countries, the greater the expense of having to monitor them – and yes, we were monitored – and the greater their likelihood of fraternising with the locals, who in turn, might just hear about dangerous things like freedom, prosperity and plenty of food! Joseph Heller had a name for that sort of scenario.
Back to San Francisco. There had been reports of public disquiet behind the Iron Curtain for some time. Standing in front of the Brandenburg Gate two years earlier, US President Reagan had urged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall,” whilst Gorbachev himself had been busy implementing his radical domestic twin-plan of perestroika (restructuring) and glastnost (openness).
I’d gone into town after work to meet friends. I came out of the parking building and turned into Market Street to find a vast crowd gathered outside a large store selling electronic goods. The crowd took up the whole sidewalk and spilled out into the street where traffic was also stopping. They were all watching the TV’s displayed in the store windows.
“What’s going on?” I asked nobody in particular. Then my blood ran cold. “Oh my God,” I said. “Has someone shot the President?!”
“No!” said a man in front of me. “The Berlin Wall’s coming down!”
I gazed at him blankly. I couldn’t seem to process what he’d just said.
“Here,” he said, “have a look for yourself! Hey you guys, let this lady through!” And the crowd generously made room for me towards the front where a dozen televisions were all tuned to the same channel, transmitting scenes of cheering Germans attacking the wall from both sides, with many more clambering over it, drinking, dancing and celebrating its long-awaited destruction.
We watched in stark disbelief. I turned to face the people behind me.
“Can anybody else believe this?” I asked. Everybody just shook their heads. It was completely unreal.
One man finally broke the spell. “This is amazing!” he yelled. “This is friggin’ FANTASTIC!” And then everybody was jumping up and down and hugging each other and yelling out to slowing traffic to spread the news. People were whooping and cars were tooting.
The bar to which I was heading was just down the road. I flew in and spotted Janna waiting for me.
“I know, I know!!” she yelled before I even opened my mouth. “Where the hell have you been? We’ve been watching in here!! Isn’t it amazing?! I can’t believe it!” The packed bar, in its entirety, was glued to the screen in the corner, while raising glasses to the brave Germans relishing their first moments of freedom that very instant.
That whole evening was like a New Year’s Eve in Edinburgh. It was one big party to which everyone turned up with total strangers expressing disbelief and excitement, but all saying the same thing that needed no further explanation.
“The Wall’s coming down.”
* * Read Susan Ryder’s column every Tuesday here at NOT PC * *
If you think the Queens Wharf competition “winners” were uninspiring, then check this out: the sports hall that beat out the Wimbledon Centre Court redevelopment and the Atlantic Jets warm-up stadium to win the “prestigious” World Architecture Festival Awards announced last week in Barcelona.
The A$1.3 million Berry Sports Hall, designed by Allen Jack+Cottier (AJ+C) and completed in 2007, beat the world renowned Wimbledon Centre Court Redevelopment and the New York Jets’s Training Facility to take the sports category award.
I’ve a few times that environmentalists’ ethics and currently fashionable planning laws here and elsewhere suggest that it’s not buildings they’re really wanting, these says, but a camouflage net.
This building by architects Allen, Jack & Cotter – a Recreation Hall for the Berry Sports and Recreation Centre in rural New South Wales – essentially a “low cost” gymnasium for a New South Wales country school -- takes that approach.
Here it is at night, in the view that apparently so impressed judges:
It’s said that the best place to see buildings like the Sky Tower is from the inside, since then at least you don't have to look at them. Of this one it could be said that the best time to see it is at night . . . when school is closed.
Twenty years ago this week the Berlin Wall collapsed and hundreds of millions of enslaved Eastern Europeans were freed from decades of enslavement.
Freedom! A word only whispered in Eastern Europe since the Iron Curtain fell across Europe was now, at its collapse, trumpeted across the world!
As Richard Ebeling says, “For 28 years, from 1961 to 1989, it stood as a symbol of the tyranny of the totalitarian state under which the individual was viewed as the property of the state.” This slideshow comparing the death strip of the wall then with the prosperity that has replaced it now tells a graphic tale that is the most important story of the last half-century – and the most predictable result of both the birth and the failure of socialism.
In 1922 Ludwig Von MIses explained that socialism would eat itself and the people whom it enslaved – that it couldn’t plan, it couldn’t produce, that it couldn’t calculate -- that it was and always would be both morally depraved and economically unsustainable. Sixty-seven years later he was proven emphatically correct when the illusion that was socialist Eastern Europe collapsed, and the symbol of its totalitarian state was torn down.
The collapse when it came was peaceful, but when the Iron Curtain was finally pulled back after the decades of poverty and bloodshed, what was revealed was economic penury, human misery and an environmental basket-case.
One fact alone tells you the story: Hundreds of millions were enslaved behind the Wall; hundreds of thousands attempted to escape from the East; 171 were shot and killed at the Wall’s Death Strip . . . but nobody was ever killed trying to move from the West to the East*.
Today’s socialists like to forget about or dismiss the results of the twentieth-century’s greatest and most disastrous political experiment -- set up like a laboratory experiment by contrasting ideologies on either side of the Berlin Wall -- but in the collapse of the Wall and the reasons behind its inevitable collapse lie every lesson every student of socialism should have engraved on their soul. If they have one.
The simple lesson is this: "Man's mind is his basic tool of survival,” but "man's mind will not function at the point of a gun.”
“Socialism [identified Ayn Rand] is the doctrine that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that his life and his work do not belong to him, but belong to society, that the only justification of his existence is his service to society, and that society may dispose of him in any way it pleases for the sake of whatever it deems to be its own tribal, collective good…
“The alleged goals of socialism were: the abolition of poverty, the achievement of general prosperity, progress, peace and human brotherhood. The results have been a terrifying failure—terrifying, that is, if one’s motive is men’s welfare.”
Perhaps the single most astonishing result of the collapse is the reaction of the intellectuals. Anyone over twenty then who doesn’t yet get the lesson is confessing quite frankly that no fact can ever persuade them. They are self-admittedly intellectually dead.
In the twenty years since the collapse today’s intellectuals have evaded every fact that decades of socialism revealed, and ignored every “prophet” whose predictions about socialism was proven correct**. They’ve wriggled, they’ve evaded, they’ve turned to environmentalism to damn the production that proved impossible for socialism; to ‘multiculturalism’ to damn the west; and they’ve even embraced post-modernism to damn the facts – anything to avoid the reality that the Wall’s Fall should have made obvious.
And by the way, the post-collapse intellectual embracing of postmodernism is no accident. The old socialists have disappeared, they’ve mostly morphed into something else. The political crisis of socialism made several other revolutions necessary, including a political one – or as philosopher Stephen Hicks sagely observes, the failure of socialism made postmodernism necessary; the collapse of philosophy made it possible.
As my colleague Richard McGrath said this morning, the two decades that have passed since the Berlin Wall was torn down should not let die the lessons of socialism, nor the memory of those who died trying to escape the East European slave pens. They should be remembered, not forgotten.
“’Communism relied on watchtowers, snarling dogs, machine guns, and brick edifices topped with barbed wire,’ he said. ‘The Berlin Wall was the embodiment of this determination to rule by force. Today, twenty years since the wall was torn down, we should remember those East Germans who perished attempting to reach freedom in the West.’
‘The first person shot dead at the Berlin Wall was 24 year old Gunter Litfin, as he tried to swim across the Spree River on August 24, 1961. A year later, East German guards shot 17 year old Peter Fechter as he tried to scale the wall, and left him to bleed to death in that barren and desolate area of open land east of the Wall.”
“The last person known to be killed at the Wall was 20 year old bartender Chris Gueffroy, shot ten times for good measure on February 5, 1989.”
“Perhaps those who frequent the Lenin Bar in Auckland or Fidel’s Café in Wellington, or wear a red star cap or a Che Guevara T-shirt, should consider how long the authorities behind the Iron Curtain would have tolerated displays of dissent during the era of the Cold War.”
Oddly enough, it’s the buffoon Boris Johnson who offers the timeliest lesson,
“that it is precisely now, when the public mood is so bitter towards bankers, so hostile to profit, so seemingly brassed off with the very idea of wealth creation that we should remember how ghastly, grim and unworkable was the alternative – state-controlled socialism.”
Remember, remember, the ninth of November!
Remember these lessons and that warning as you regird your loins for the battle that Richard Ebeling outlined last week:
“Unfortunately, the Collectivist mentality did not end with either the fall of the Berlin Wall or the collapse of communism in the former Soviet Union. It remains alive and well in America and around the world, with its insistence that the individual lives for and is to be sacrificed to ‘interests’ of the state.
“We still have our work cut out for us, to demolish the numerous political "walls" with which the government continues to enslave us through its police power in the growing interventionist-welfare state and the threatening economic fascist order. “
And too the shaky philosophical foundations on which those walls are built.
* * * * *
** For example: Economist Paul Samuelson for example was still writing in 1989 in his best-selling textbook Economics that “the Soviet economy is proof that, contrary to what many skeptics had earlier believed, a socialist command economy can function and even thrive” (Samuelson and Nordhaus 1989, 837). Samuelson’s textbook (in revised editions) is still a best-seller, and a prescribed texts at many universities. By contrast Ludwig von MIses, who predicted the economic collapse in 1922 in his classic Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth (and who predicted the Great Depression in his 1912 Theory of Money and Credit and elsewhere) is still largely unknown by today’s intellectuals, and his books are untaught at nearly every major university. Unbelievable.
UPDATE 1: An unusually good piece here from Ed Hudgins: The Berlin Wall Then and Now. Here’s an excerpt:
“The wall was a breathtaking moral obscenity, a concrete manifestation in concrete of the philosophy on which it was built. The communists held that the good of society took priority over the interests of selfish individuals. They maintained that individuals must be required to work for society. Of course, the will of “society” was to be divined and carried out by a small ruling elite who would have the exclusive right to force all to serve whether they wanted to or not.
“And no one could be allowed to opt out and leave, to escape their duty to serve. The reality of this philosophy was most starkly on display in East Berlin. Communist countries were giant prison camps holding the slaves in bondage and shooting them if they tried to escape.
“Today there are only a few regimes, like North Korea, that are literal prison camps along the lines of the Soviet bloc. But the philosophy, and its manifestation in culture, that gave rise to the Berlin Wall is still very much alive.
UPDATE 2: Watch this inspiring, thrilling and informative short video around the events of November 9, 1989:
It was posted at the Austrian Economists blog, where they say, “we can still rejoice in this shinning example of the victory of the individual over the collective. Freedom was celebrated that day by people who were oppressed by their government for far too long.”
“Let's remember the sheer joy of that day, and the celebration of life evident in the faces of the young (and old) as the tore down the wall figuratively and literally and reclaimed their basic human freedoms. And let us also remember the intellectual arguments . . . that so thoroughly demonstrated that tyranny fails to deliver the goods, while freedom actually works. Even us cool-headed academics can get passionate about the fact that there is only one economic system that simultaneously delivers individual autonomy, generalized prosperity, and peaceful cooperation among diverse groups. Capitalism is not just ruthlessly efficient, it is civilizing . . . “