Why I bemoan the Fall of the Berlin Wall
“The magic of 1989 was the way that the political shape of Europe was changed, not by a process, speeches or grand strategic designs - but by the exercise of "people power" western politicians frequently talk about, but rarely see delivered to quite such positive effect and so quickly.”[bbc]
I do remember when The Wall came down in 1989. I had just completed my fun-filled stint in the Army – well, at least I thought it was fun given the great times I had with my ‘ah beng-cum-pai kai’ friends along with more ‘educated’ ones, and was the ‘romance counselor-cum-love letter writer for the former (translation – ‘Chinese of the crasser kind’, or what I prefer to view as ‘Chinese of the down-to-earth kind’ cum ‘gangsters’, well, at least some of them anyway) – and, being largely ignorant, saw the fall of the wall as the triumph of good over evil.
Ronald Reagan, had around that time, termed the Soviet Union ‘an evil empire’. In church, I recall praying for ‘the conversion of Russia’, heard about their proscriptions on religion, saw how ‘Marxists’ were detained in Singapore in ’87 for an alleged conspiracy to overthrow the government, and hence dismissed Marxism and communism as all-round evils. Till I learnt to read and think that is. Anyway, it all fit in well with the ‘anti-estab’ and non-incorporated individualism and multiculturalism of the 70s and 80s, so ‘perestroika’, ‘glasnost’, solidarnosc’, Thatcher being booted out by her own party; people power, or the ‘Laban’ movement, in the Philippines that saw Imelda frantically attempting to pick out a pair of shoes, out of her 2000 pairs, to match her going-away outfit; and Billy Idol’s ‘Rebel Yell’, along with the coming down of The Wall, went well with the overarching spirit.
Two decades down the road, I looked back and realised that pop culture, whilst being able to complement a perspective, was a poor substitute for the perspective itself. You’ll just end up having the energies stoked by the said culture, amongst others, directed according to the fancies of the powers-that-be, or PTBs for short. That is why, perhaps, we might be directed to appreciate the fall of the wall as a product of ‘people power’. Poor gits, those who fall for that. I find it a very clever strategy indeed though. By giving credit to the masses for the fall, that can serve to validate the sensibilities they utilised to make sense of it at that time, the means by which such sensibilities were acquired, whilst giving them enough of a feel-good buzz to not want to compromise it by wondering if it was at all a good thing in the long run. This way, the elite impose walls around the sense that can be made of the event. And this is not just for those times as the validation of all of the above 20 years after serves to perpetuate it. People aren’t really going to question their own intelligence and the means by which they acquired it – by being educated into adept ‘economic units’, pop culture, and efforts to compensate for that which they are deprived off at work and society by other vicarious means. So hey, if we can bring down The Wall being so little, than that little must surely be more than enough right. So with the coming down of The Wall, greater ones came up, and years after celebrities began to lead the proles. Oh for goodness sakes.
Now, when I look back, I realise that the coming down of the wall was not simply an event where the people of the east were able to walk freely across to the west, but that the flood of capital was able to trample over them on their attempted way out. Whilst people view The Fall as the start of the collapse of ‘Socialism’ or ‘Communism’, it was actually the fall of ‘Stalinism’ and ‘State Capitalism’ with the former two never having been given much of an opportunity to come to fruition. And, most importantly, as it was with the feminist movement, what happened was more and more people were incorporated into a patriarchal state of affairs – I view capitalism, nationalism, amongst others, as by-products of a relatively apathetic and self-worshipping patriarchy. The thing is, if we are fixated on including all with this ‘equality of opportunity’ nonsense, without addressing the inequitable basis of civilisation, what we are going to accomplish is getting even more support from the increasing numbers we include. With women becoming more like men upon the ongoing successes of the ‘feminist’ movement, the patriarchal system of the west was left untouched. Thus, with the coming down of the wall, the success of the prior civil rights movements in the U.S. in the 70s, the successes of the anti-colonial movements before that, amongst a host of others, what we are witnessing is an increasing support base for the way things have always been.
There is a fine but nevertheless indelible distinction between ‘including more’, and ‘incorporating more’ within a patriarchal depreciation of things. The former gives the illusion that we are progressing, but it is the latter that identifies it as degeneration. With the incorporation of more, the hope for a progress in the overarching system becomes less as potential opposition is incorporated. For instance, with the incorporation of women, their empathetic instinct was incorporated into a patriarchal state of affairs and failed to overturn it; or when a relatively isolated and elitist Legalist/Confucian ethos encountered difference outside of China, it incorporated it; when the Wall came down, the east was incorporated into the patriarchy of the west. This may not be a ‘conspiracy’ but given how their end-points are converging, it might as well be. Perhaps that is why Francis Fukuyama, for instance, was inclined to appreciate this as ‘the end of history’ that is seeing an increasing number arriving at the promised land of modernity. A ‘modernity’ which, to myself is nothing more than the peak of civilisation that is thought to be one simply because the masses have been reduced sufficiently to recognise less for enough. Just throw them a pacificatory ipod and they are sufficiently plugged into a world wide web of deception and perspective decrepitude.
These are certainly the worst of times….for those who took the red pill that is.