Posted by Charity on November 9th, 2009

November 9, 1989.

I still can’t believe that we are having 20th anniversaries of world events that I remember happening.

The picture on the Berlin Wall wikipedia page shows the stark contrast between East Berlin and West Berlin.

I thought this was a very powerful line, from a WSJ piece, Why the Berlin Wall Fell.

Barbed wire, closed military zones and the machinery of communist propaganda could keep the prosperity of the West out of sight of most people living east of the Iron Curtain. But that wasn’t true for the people of East Berlin, many of whom merely had to look out their windows to understand how empty and cynical were the promises of socialism compared to the reality of a free-market system.

Though, I’m sure many of you would disagree with that emphasized part.

I thought this was interesting, from another WSJ piece about Ronald Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” speech in 1987.

Ronald Reagan would embarrass himself and the country by asking Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall, which was going to be there for decades. So the National Security Council (NSC) staff and State Department had argued for many weeks to get Reagan’s now famous line removed from his June 12, 1987, Berlin speech.

With a fervor and relentlessness I hadn’t seen over the prior seven years even during disputes about “the ash-heap of history” or “evil empire,” they kept up the pressure until the morning Reagan spoke the line.

5 Responses to “20 Years Since the Fall Of the Berlin Wall”

  1. So I’ve been spying on your page for awhile, reluctant to comment, but the more I read the more I’m impressed with astuteness of your writing. What are you doing on the Right??? So I’ve decided to start making comments because a smart Conservative mind confuses me like no other…

  2. So to make a relevant comment. How familiar are you with Poland at the end of the USSR? Its a very interesting history. The Solidarity party was a very socialist party/trade union that opposed the bureaucracy and oppression of the USSR and formed a majority coalition to secede from the Warsaw Pact. This, in part led to the Revolutions of 1989, which, as I’m sure you know, eventually led to the destruction of the Berlin wall.

    The part of history that isn’t often told is the involvement of the IMF and other uber free market types in the subsequent policy formation. Solidarity proposed an extremely popular way to depart with the old state run companies. Instead of mass privatization they promised to form worker-owned coops out of the remains of the ashes of soviet style command economy. This is the proposal with which they swept the elections.

    Unfortunately the West refused to forgive the debt accumulated by the Communist Party and forced the Solidarity gov’t to repay all of the wasteful spending of their predecessors. This is where the Catch-22 of modern Capitalism takes stage. On cue, the IMF comes in and says we’ll help you with your crippling debt… if you make broad market reforms. I’m sure you can guess that these involved rapid privatization, wage freezes, massive cuts in public expenditure and an overall middle finger to the workers of Poland.

    The reason I bring this up is because after these policies took effect, Poland entered a period of extreme economic turmoil and many, many working people took the brunt of the Friedman-esque solution. They eventually became disillusioned with Solidarity and even more confused as to what the hell the West (IMF) was trying to accomplish in their country. I’d like to know your thoughts on this!

  3. Check Point Charley! She’s Right is back. Good deal.

    I chipped a piece of the Berlin Wall. It was not big deal since it was 2 years later in 1991. I had to sneak under a fence to get at the part they were trying to save for a museum. My friend and I got stopped by a German cop who thought we were Russian. He spoke to us in Russian with a German accent. I didn’t understand what the hell he was saying. I slipped a small piece in my pocket and made a show of dropping the rest of the rubble I had broken off what was left of the wall. My friend and I just smiled and nodded as the cop spoke on and on in Russian. He let us go.

  4. As to that last sentence, true if you’re talking about the Stalinist/Leninist version of socialism that was present in the Eastern Bloc, which was really a state-run capitalism more than anything else. Not so true, otherwise, as the democratic socialist countries all have a higher standard of living than we do. They know better to trust “the market” to do the right thing, unquestioningly.

  5. Mark, welcome. Sorry for not responding sooner. I just haven’t had a chance to intelligently respond to your comment, but thanks for leaving one!

    Haik, thanks for sharing the story. I love your stories.

    JD, I agree that there is a huge difference between the Eastern Bloc and the modern democratic socialist countries. I find it annoying, to say the least, that people on the right fail to make that distinction. It’s a bit alarmist to claim that we are heading toward a Stalinist/Leninist country, not to mention an intellectual cop-out. Unfortunately, we hear that all the time these days. However, there are still problems with a democratic socialist system.