Did the Berlin Wall Really Come Down?

Berlin Wall

Berlin Wall

Remember when the Reds were the bad guys? Those Halcyon Days in the 1950s when Ronald Reagan and Elia Kazan ratted out their friends to HUAC for holding unpopular beliefs? Those days when political science meant teaching every school child that hiding under a cheap wood desk would protect them from atomic bombs?

Remember what it was that made the Reds so bad? The Reds wanted to dominate the world militarily. When they invaded a country and executed its leaders, they installed their own puppet governments. And those governments always turned out to be corrupt and drove the regular citizens of the country to fight insurgent rebellions against them.

The Reds wanted a handful of elites at the top of society to enjoy the benefits while the regular citizens worked hard, in unsafe factories and polluted environments, for wages too low to give their families decent lives. To achieve this goal, the Reds merged the ownership of business and government, creating huge monopolies and preventing business competition. Government contracts went to businessmen who were in government or tied by money or family to men in government.

The Reds wanted to eliminate any dissent or critical discussion of their policies and their governance. To achieve this, Red leaders were given lavish P.R. build-ups, usually with a patriotic theme. They regularly appeared at big events celebrating military achievements and hardware. They paraded themselves as champions of the military and of national defense.

Although they praised their military and missed no opportunity to exploit military displays, Red leaders held themselves aloof from any military problems or failures. They did not admit defeats or even show up to honor returning casualties from their foreign wars. And, because giving contracts to “the right” companies was more important than providing their troops with the best weapons, Red armies often found themselves inadequately equipped and provisioned on the battlefield.

And the Reds tore down anyone who tried to disagree with them. They said anyone who questioned their actions was unpatriotic and anti-military. Even soldiers who complained about equipment problems on the battlefield were dismissed as malingerers and malcontents. And Red leaders were smart enough to “classify” any critical military reports, to make sure that they didn’t end up being exposed to the public.

The Red leaders controlled the press as well. They said that no one needed any news sources other than the official party line, because the party would provide the truth in fair and balanced coverage of all issues.

Party commentators regularly criticized and condemned anyone who questioned or disagreed with the government, and called for extreme punishments for anyone accused (just accused, not convicted) of such things as calling for better public services and schools or an end to foreign wars. They always pretended that criticism was a good idea. But anyone who actually tried it was accused of undermining the government’s successes and aiding the nation’s enemies. So even though criticism was good in theory, any actual criticism was derided as ignorance and treason.

The Reds also maintained control by encouraging people to report their neighbors and even their own children or parents whenever they said or did anything “suspicious.” To investigate such reports, Red governments set up massive agencies to protect the security of the homeland. These homeland security agencies worked on “sensitive” matters and so were given permission to work outside regular legal channels and to use extraordinary measures for gathering information and for interrogating suspects.

As with the Red’s military, the homeland security agencies were staffed and equipped from those companies whose close relationships with government leaders ensured their loyalty and devotion to the party. Because their loyalty was assured, Red governments decided that the homeland security police, operating in secret, didn’t need oversight or procedural rules. But they did deserve immunity from any criticism or damage suits from citizens they arrested, tortured and imprisoned without evidence that the Courts might require.

The stated goals of the Red governments – to provide more freedom for their people; to provide better schools and medical care; to provide decent life in retirement and more equitable rewards for honest labor before retirement – were embraced by people around the world.

To achieve such noble goals, the Red governments claimed that they needed both time and absolute loyalty. When they imposed policies on conquered countries that gave the Red country the benefits of national resources and that routed “foreign aid” moneys back to companies in the ruling country, they demanded that everyone, both at home and in other countries, support the policies, even when they seemed to contradict the noble, stated goals.

Of course, outside the Red governments, people started to snicker and laugh at the faithful followers who parroted the party line, even as it changed and embraced inconsistent positions from week to week. The Reds responded to such ridicule with paranoia and increasingly strident attacks, claiming that their opponents were dishonest and morally corrupt. Red governments proclaimed that the moral bankruptcy of non-Red societies would lead inevitably to the collapse of all but the Red states.

To “protect” their citizens from hearing the snickering, Red governments restricted travel to “dangerous” or “hostile” nations. And they prevented universities from inviting visiting scholars who were known to question the official line. They controlled and limited what teachers could teach in public schools and they taught children that it was dangerous and bad to question authority.

Tear Down that WallWe’ve been told that Saint Reagan destroyed the Reds, causing their Wall to fall and their military dominated economy to collapse. But did he?

For most of the first decade of this century, people who built careers studying Red governments ran our economy. They instituted colonial wars, killing local governors and installing puppets who have inevitably proven to be corrupt. They sent our troops off to war with inadequate armor and then called our soldiers cowards when they complained about the inadequate equipment and unarmored vehicles, supplied under no-bid contracts. They made victory speeches on aircraft carriers, then cut the budget for medical care for wounded troops, and made it illegal to publicize soldiers coming home in coffins.

To preserve the position of those at the top, they slashed taxes on the wealthy and instituted a regime of no-bid contracts for government insiders to supply the war machine. So Haliburton was contracted to sell Coke to the government at $5 a can – the same cans that Smart & Final sells for cents, then given another contract to charge for security to deliver the cans.

The war and contracting policies were lauded as patriotic by government leaders and their hand-picked (but fair and balanced) “news” agency. Between paroxysms of praise, these party PR shills dished out increasingly hysterical damnation of every critic of the regime, and preached that criticism itself was unpatriotic.

As the snickering started, then increased, the regime moved to limit teaching and thinking in schools. They barred foreign teachers from speaking at universities. And in lower grades they attacked science and critical thinking, telling children that it was much more important to have Faith in what they were told by their superiors than to think for themselves.

tom_hall_2.jpgIn classic divide-and-conquer style, our leaders taught that it was always important to see things with an us-vs-them view. It was important to remember which clan each of us belonged to. And to honor their philosophical roots, the leaders decreed that the places that agreed with their policies would be named The Red States.

So did the Berlin Wall really fall 20 years ago? Or like London Bridge being moved to Lake Havasu, did the Wall just get relocated below the Mason-Dixon Line?

Tom Hall

Published by the LA Progressive on November 9, 2009
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
About Tom Hall

Tom Hall is a family lawyer in West Los Angeles. He is from Boston, and was raised in Friends Meeting at Cambridge (Quakers) to think that religion was a progressive force. During the Vietnam War, he organized draft counseling centers and worked with groups training people in techniques for disciplined nonviolent demonstrating. After the war, he became just another yuppie working to make a comfortable life. The Bush administration shocked him back into social concerns. Now he’s working to see that the Obama administration lives up to its progressive promises. Tom can be reached at ProgBlog@aol.com