The Slow Death of a Dystopia.





Last Saturday the people of Berlin had to relive a nightmare as they recalled the dark days behind the Wall, but they luckily had the liberty to rejoice that this vast man made edifice has gone. Thirty years ago, the Berlin Wall fell. The Wall was a reminder of division and oppression. When it fell this became much more than the destruction of an artefact it was a signal that this symbol of an evil ideology has disappeared for eternity.

Socialism and communism were crude human experiments which simply did not work. On the Eastern side of the Iron Curtain a system of social engineering was enacted. The folly of these regimes were only revealed when the Wall collapsed. Capitalism is by no means the perfect social and economic system but at least it allows ingenuity and enterprise to flourish. Artistry is allowed to flower under this system but under socialism it simply stagnates. Socialism in its purest form seems humane but once it is put into practice it becomes a sinister behemoth which denies individuality.

The State just strips away all luxury, including free thought and free speech. Socialist states just serve to crush dreams and destroy aspiration. The GDR hemmed in an entire people for decades. However by the 1980s subversive elements were creeping in, and in the most unexpected quarters. Martin Cruz-Smith`s 1989 novel “Polar Star” is ostensibly a murder mystery focussing upon the unexplained death of a young woman from the East. However it is a book containing a rich seam of intrigue, as within this story there is a florid and memorable description of a smuggling operation. The contraband is not hard drugs or diamonds but cassette tapes of Western pop.

Life mirrors fiction as one of the most influential and popular bands to cross the divide in Germany is Depeche Mode. Their music is a characteristically stark palette of alienation and isolation. This sense of bleakness spoke to a city of people where life became a daily struggle. When the band returned to Berlin in 2013 it became the subject of a documentary film. The film was appropriately enough in Gothic monochrome recalling a much more forbidding time. The film is a tribute to the courage of a scarred nation.

We must always remember the hopes and dreams of a generation of East Germans and salute their bravery. We need to recognise that after the Second World War ended the allies destroyed fascism and Nazism and the entire world was thankful. Now that the Cold War has finished we must ensure that socialism and communism should never ever return.

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