‘For freedoms won, however, there have been freedoms lost.’

From Steve McGiffin’s all too infrequently updated Spectrezine I’ll late link some differing opinions on the reunification of Germany.

Ewout Irrgang has a positive view:

It sent shivers down my spine when I heard the chants of ‘Wir sind das volk’ (We are the people) on the demonstrations. It was even more exciting when the chants changed to ‘Wir sind ein volk’ (‘We are one people’).

While Victor Grossman is outside the broader mainstream consensus:

Why is it never mentioned that the GDR, though certainly undergoing an economic crisis, was in less of a crisis than all of Germany today, and that until its very end it had no unemployment, no homelessness, free medical care, child care, education, and a sufficiently stable standard of living?

  • NCM

    “Ich bin was ich bin.”

  • aquifer

    There are probably now East Germans among us who have experienced socialism first hand. Wow. I’ll have to read their Stasi file to see what it was really like.

  • Panic, These ones like it up em.

    Capitalism does not work all that well for ordinary folk (certainly not all of the time)

    It seeems to work well for Bankers though. And as we have had it rammed into every orifice over the “Credit Crunch”

    These are the “People” that matter.

    Socialism fails on a lot of levels a lot of the time. Its “success’s”probably have been underestimated.

    Actually I am just jealous that I am not a good banker or even a bad banker. I mean what difference does it make.

    But why would our Capitalist systems ever give any credit to socialism. “DOH”

    You know I think our Bankers have just about got the Best of Socialism and of Capitalism.

    I take it back they are willing to look at other ideas so long as some one else is paying for it.

  • Mack

    Productivity levels in East Germany were 1/3 of those of the West. Real wages would have been determined by that reality. You can guarantee full employment merely by creating jobs (makework) and taxing (redistributing money) to fund it. But money is not wealth. Ultimately it is what is produced that determines the wealth of a society.

    The whole purpose of labour is to generate goods and services that people value (wealth). Slaves work and may generate wealth, but don’t benefit from it. Socialism can guarantee work, but not wealth.

    Modern capitalism is far from perfect, but it’s the least worst system for generating wealth and ensuring it’s benefits are shared. Productivity matters. Creative destruction, entreprenialism, innovation all drive increases in productivity. Statism, in all it’s forms, protects encumbents and stifles new entrants, competition and productivity growth.

    It is ludricuous to suggest that the East German populace were better off under socialism than under German Social Market Capitalism, even today, in the depths of Germany’s biggest crises since the 1920’s. And ya know what?

    This too, will pass.

  • Karl Engels

    Ute Krieger had to avail of free medical care in the united Berlin over the medical care she received in the DDR.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Ultimately it is what is produced that determines the wealth of a society.’

    That would depend on how you define wealth and whether or not any particular society can afford to buy the products it produces . During famine times in Ireland much wealth was produced in the form of agricultural produce but a quarter or more of the population could not afford to buy it .Thus they starved . Do starving or dead people produce ‘wealth ‘?. England’s economic growth in the 15th and 16th centuries was aided by the removal of half it’s population due to the Black Death which enabled ‘capital ‘ accumulation by survivors . The Irish ‘famine’ had a similar consequence with the rising Irish farming class benefitting from the mass exodus and die off. Scottish lairds and ruling elite also benefitted from the replacement of ‘boisterous ‘ highland clans by more amenable and literal sheep .

    Obviously one solution to the world’s present predicament would be if all the ‘poor ‘ of the world were to starve or die off somehow particularly non productive sub saharan Africa and the several hundred millions of Indians and Chinese who are ‘clogging’ up the economic rate of growth in these emerging economies ?

    Fast forward to today’s global crisis of capitalism and the difference is of degree rather than principle with the 18th and 19th century precedents .

    Leave economic development and regulation solely to the private sector and repeats of the Irish and Indian famines and the Highland clearances will follow as night follows day .The countries and regions affected will be different but that’s all ! We have seen how the financial services sector wrought ‘destruction ‘ worldwide over the past few years when it’s ‘muzzle’ was removed. Anyone who knows the history of industrial development or the modus operandum of large multi national corporations should know that left to themselves they will wreak social and economic havok if allowed . Look at the tobacco industry ? the Ethyl Corporation (experts in lead poisoning )-the Bhopal tragedy – the callous disregard for human lives in mining operations in developing countries .

    Yes ‘capitalism ‘ creates but it also destroys !

    ‘Productivity matters. Creative destruction, entreprenialism, innovation all drive increases in productivity’

    But who does ‘increasing ‘productivity matter to?
    The evidence from the USA is that the increasing ‘productivity ‘ brought about by technological advance over the past couple of decades has led to income stagnation for most american middle class and working class americans. The productivity ‘gain ‘ has in it’s entirety gone to the top 1% of Americans . In addition those areas of life such as health care and access to a higher education have been priced out of reach for half of the American population if not more .

    As for East Germany ? When you have a society where one third of the population spies on another third while the top third of the population enjoy the benefits of one party rule and political patronage then you have a society that longer term is going nowhere .

    You could of course say almost the same about Northern Ireland 1920-1972 . And just like in East Germany today there are some in Northern Ireland who would like to return to the NI of the 1950’s and 60’s . The only problem being that they would first have to plough through the 1970’s and 1980’s to get there . Many seem to have forgotten that presumably for the benefit of current political agendas.