When the Berlin Wall came down and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics fell apart in 1989, the world got a good look at what Socialism actually looked like. In a way, East Germany was like what Allied soldiers found when they liberated Nazi death camps some 45 years before. East Germany was revealed to be threadbare and falling apart. Poverty was rampant, nothing worked, everything was collapsing. Nothing was modernized. Some bombed buildings from WWII remained where they fell in the forties.
In East Germany the world got a good look
at what Socialism actually looked like.
It fell to the richest nation in Europe to rescue their ailing relatives. And they did. Now, 23 years later, the former East Germany has been restored to health in reunited Germany, which is the powerhaus of the European Union. Living standards, even in the thick of a global small-d depression, are among the highest in the world. German productivity is very high. Everyone is secure in knowing their health will be protected no matter what, and they cannot be reduced to poverty just by being old.
This is the same Germany that Republican conservatives like to characterize as a “socialist hell”. They are saying that one of the most modern societies in the world, with one of the highest standards of living, is hell? What can these people be thinking?
I think they must be confusing what European nations do to protect the wellbeing of their citizens with the disastrous policies forcibly imposed on the countries of the USSR. Maybe they forget that ended in 1989. It’s an unfortunate confusion in terminology because it is dooming the US to second-class citizenship and a less-than-modern economy based on great wealth for a few and great insecurity for everyone else.
The most modern European governments have created systems that protect everyone, even in the radical economic downturn we are now experiencing. No one dies for lack of health care, as happens in the US. The aged cannot be reduced to oppressive poverty, as in the US.
European governments protect everyone.
No one dies for lack of health care,
as happens in the US.
It is inevitable that those who believe that Germany and all other European countries are a “socialist hell” would be utterly certain that President Obama is a card-carrying big-S-Karl-Marx-Socialist who is determined to sell the country into slavery. This, of course, is nonsense. The only “evidence” they can point to is the government’s bailout of certain crucial industries in the crash, including AIG, which actually happened under President Bush, not Obama. “Socialism for the rich, capitalism for everyone else” is much closer to the truth.
So, is Obama a socialist? Not according to the socialists.
“I have been making a living telling people Obama is not a socialist,” says Frank Llewellyn, national director of the Democratic Socialists of America. “It’s frustrating to see people using our brand to criticize programs that have nothing to do with our brand and are not even working.”
Adds Billy Wharton, co-chair of the Socialist Party USA: “I am not even sure he’s a liberal. I call him a hedge fund Democrat.”
There is a supreme irony that those who would speak of “socialist hell” would choose European countries as exemplars. They have only to think back to what the world saw in the collapse of East German Socialism to realize how wrong they are.