Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Der Kosmonaut hat in Berlin gelandet!

Greetings from Europe. I have spent the past 3 weeks in Berlin. I have decided to give the city a go. “First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin.” Indeed. Berlin is the city most like New York in Europe. I feel as if I am back in 1988 New York without the crime and crack. For the past 12 years it has been my greatest desire to live in Berlin. Here I am.

Political Perspectives
The Wall is down. Capitalism has triumphed. However the political past is still part of the present and will be part of the city in the future as well. 3 weeks in Berlin has sharpened as well as refined my political senses. It is normal as one ages that political views evolve. This is particularly true the more one travels.
Yet my core political beliefs remain untouched. The base of my politics is the firm foundation from where the top changes, alters and continues to be shaped and re-shaped. Thanks to Stalinism and the political manifestation of the Marxist-Leninist State, Communism has been discredited. Socialism remains in the form of Social Democracy which has been moving rightward and retreating from its labour roots. Tony Blair is to Social Democracy what Josef Stalin was to Communism. This is a tangent which I do not fancy digressing at this point in time.
Still, I remain an unrepentant Socialist with a firm belief in the principles of Liberal Democracy. I believe in a Socialist State without the command or corporate economy. I remain sceptical of business but I respect the right of private free enterprise with limits and conditions. I believe in Fair Trade rather than Free Trade.
Those to the left of me would denounce me as a reformer. I might even be accused of copping out. Everyone is free to their opinion. Like assholes everyone has one.
Nevertheless, these short weeks in Berlin have formed my opinions of which I hope to outline in this essay.

In Defense Of The Soviet Union
Treptower Park sits on the northeast end of Treptow along the river Spree across from Friederichshain and south of Kreuzberg. Treptow was on the eastern side of the Wall. In Treptower Park stands the Soviet War Memorial. Though I am usually not impressed with war memorials or monuments since they are usually of the imperialist and nationalistic nature, I was deeply touched by the Soviet War Memorial.
In East Berlin as all across Central and Eastern Europe stand memorials depicting World War 2 as a war against Fascism. In the West war memorials are nationalist but conspicuously fail to mention the true nature of the war.
The Soviet Union suffered more than any other country in Europe. The Soviets lost more than 15 million lives and came to the brink of extermination. At the Soviet War Memorial there stands 16 concrete blocks with engravings depicting the horrors of the Nazi invasion. In the middle of the square stands a bronze statue of a Russian warrior 20 meters high holding a child in one arm and carrying a 10 meter sword in his hand. The theme of the memorial is a celebration not only of the defeat of Nazism but to the heroics of the Soviet people. The memorial is a monument for the homeland which was attacked and a monument of gratitude to the Soviet people. It is also a strong reminder to the German people the extent of the guilt of their government as well as a reminder never again to attack the Russians and the Slavic peoples of Eastern Europe.
The first mural carving graphically depicts the Luftwaffe bombing Soviet cities, villages and people. The people are shown simultaneously grieving and angry. Unlike most Western war memorials women are featured prominently. There are carvings of women taking up arms and of women arming men. Women are carved gathering wheat so that Soviet soldiers could be fed as well as ensuring that civilians in the country did not starve. The Soviet Memorial explicitly expresses what the French, British and American memorials do not. Nazi Germany fought the Soviet Union in a war of racist extermination. After the Jews, the Slavic peoples of Eastern Europe were to be exterminated and their land appropriated to make way for pure raced Aryans.
Nazi Germany’s war with France, Britain and the US was an imperialist war. Nazi Germany wanted the countries defeated so not to have any competition in the aim of global domination. The Nazis had no intention of exterminating the French or the British. Had the Nazis had won the war, Britain like France would have been left intact with compliant client regimes. In other words Nazi Germany did not engage in a racist war of extermination against the West. Indeed, the Nazis admired the British. The British were the most powerful white people in the world up until the war. The Nazis emulated and took many of their ideas from the British but executed them in a more savage and ignorant way. Though there had been a history of warfare between the Germans and the French which produced lots of nationalist hatred, the French were not seen as an inferior race that needed to be exterminated. The Poles, Ukrainians and the Russians were held to be non-Aryan and therefore inferior.
World War 2 was the greatest war the Russians fought. Not even the loathsome Mongols posed the greatest threat to the Russian people as Nazi Germany. The grandiosity of the war memorial in the capital of the vanquished enemy does not exaggerate. The British maintain that the Battle of Britain was the darkest and gravest moment of their history. It probably was but it was no where close to being the fight for survival that the Soviets faced. Not one Nazi soldier ever reached the British mainland. Aerial bombardment is nasty but to have enemy soldiers inside your country exterminating every living person with plans to enslave those not killed is an altogether different story.
Good for the Soviet Union! Thank goodness for Communism! If it were not for Communism Fascism would have dominated the world. Anti-communism conviently overlooks or deliberately ignores that it was Communism not capitalism that killed Fascism. Capitalism favours Fascism. Democracy hinges on popular opinion. Public opinion hinders capitalism. Indeed, in the Western countries as well as China, Japan and India, capitalism desperately tries to find new ways to circumvent democracy or the popular will and consent of the people. A capitalist dictatorship is the most successful form of capitalism. Chile under Pinochet is the most obvious example.
During the 1930’s in France, the capitalists would routinely threaten to send the Black Shirts against the Socialist government. Winston Churchill was a keen enthusiast for Italian Fascism and deeply regretted that Mussolini was on the wrong side of the war. Milton Friedman was wrong. Capitalism does not mean freedom. However most of the Germans from the former DDR have known this for the past 15 years. The Berlin Wall came down because people wanted Democracy and human rights. They did not necessarily want capitalism.
I do not defend Stalinism of Communist totalitarianism. I would have not fared very well under the Soviet Union. Still if given the choice between Stalinism or National Socialism or Fascism, I would not hesitate to go for Mr. Stalin.

Anarchism and The End Of Politics
The greatest family feud in the history of modern politics is that between Marxists and Anarchists. The religious equivalent is the feud between Catholicism and Protestantism. Marxism and Anarchism are the same political philosophy with sharp disagreements on various points of details. Just as both Catholics and Protestants share the same religion of Christianity, Anarchists and Marxists share the same political philosophy: anti-Capitalism.
Anarchism and Marxism have the same political roots: The revolutions of 1848. They both formed their ideologies on the basis of the class struggle. They both saw the capitalist bougersie as the enemy and both believe that the working class is the revolutionary class.
Across the Spree from Treptower Park sits another former DDR district of Berlin called Friederichshain. The Anarchists squatters are currently at war with the Berlin police. The captain of the riot squad was quoted in a Berlin tabloid as saying “It was like being in a war.”
Over the past couple of weeks I had noticed lots of riot police in vans in Friederichshain. Rigastrasse belongs to the Anarchists. On that street sit a couple of large squats. Friederichshain south of Frankfurter Allee is trendy with many night revelers and tourists walking around. Meanwhile unknown to most of the revelers along and around Warschauer Strasse, a war that is being waged 10 blocks away.
Friederichshain like the rest of the DDR has recently emerged out of a left wing totalitarian state. A liberal social democratic control structure is too tempting not to provoke. The Anarchists are aware that the current State cannot legally suppress using the same methods as a totalitarian regime. Moreover, the former DDR people have discovered that every communist critique of capitalism is true.
With the discrediting of Marxist theory, Anarchism has filled the vacum. Anarchists share the exact critiques of capitalism that Marxists do. However what separates the two is the theory of the State.
Marxist-Leninism determined that the seizure of the State and economic power was the way to achieve Communism. The problem was that the Communists used the state to destroy liberal democracy. Communists denounced liberal democracy as a bougesoise political value. The other problem was that the Communist parties used the economy to exploit the masses and acted as a parasite.
Anarchists are justified in both their critique of capitalism and liberal democracy. They are also equally justified in their critique of the deadly reality of the terror state run by Marxist-Leninist politicians. Anarchists believe that the State must be smashed. Like their Red first cousins the Anarchists take to the streets. The Reds want to seize State power. The Anarchists shun State power.
However, Anarchists leave many questions unanswered. Anarchism cannot and will not abolish the State in the 21st century. Politics still revolve around the State. It has always been so since Plato wrote The Republic. To end the State is to end politics. Anarchism is the political manifestation of the philosophy of Nihilism. Anarchists have politics and engage in politics. Anarchism is a means to not having any politics at the end. There will always be politics for the same reason as why there will always be opinions. Politics arise out of opinion. How can a political philosophy sustain itself when its objective is self-destruction? To destroy the State is to destroy politics. To have Anarchist politics means that once the political objective is achieved then there is no more politics. In this way Francis Fukuyama expressed Anarchism with his silly notion of the End of History.
Marxist-Leninists failed politically because of the extreme indulgence of political self actualization. Marxist-Leninism wanted its political philosophy to permeate every opinion and political outlook; in other words the actualization of total politics.
Anarchism on the other hand is minimalist to the extreme. Its political objective is the actualization of no politics. This is precisely the split in the 19th century anti-capitalist camp. The Reds wanted total politics while the Anarchists wanted no politics.
The best Anarchism will be able to achieve are cities or small areas of Anarchist autonomy zones surrounded by States. Given the nature of Anarchism, it would be impossible for entire countries to become Anarchist. There have been many utopian societies in the US that lasted between a few months to a few years.
Anarchist zones cannot sustain themselves in the long term. Moreover, they would be under constant observation, surveillance and subject to many provocations by the States which surround them. Montreal would probably be the best city that could sustain an Anarchist "society" for the longest period of time.

“Can’t Truss It”
I apologise to Chuck D and Public Enemy for biting off their line. However, it most aptly expresses my apprehension of Anarchist politics and people. While the Anarchists say they are anti-Fascist they do not have much to show for it. Communism defeated fascism. Regardless of how Anarchists may try or want to cut or twist it, history does not lie. Marxists have a long and heroic tradition of anti-Fascism and anti-racism. In the US before the start of the Civil Rights movements in the 1950s, the Communist Party did more than any other organization to combat racism and to fight the Ku Klux Klan. The reason why Britain is one of the few countries in Europe without a large serious Fascist party is due to the existance and vigilance of the Socialist Workers Party. Where were the Anarchists in the struggle for racial equality? Where were the Anarchists when the Communists fought pitched battles in Alabama against the KKK? Why is it that historically Blacks have been Communists and Socialists? Why has Marxism had so much appeal to the non-white peoples of the world from Latin America to Asia? Why are the overwhelming majority of Anarchists white? Why have I met so many Anarchists who have claimed to be former Nazis? Why have I always felt excluded and treated with hostility from most Anarchists? Why do I feel that white Marxists are more sincere in their anti-racism than white Anarchists?
The basis of my distrust of Anarchism arises from my skepticism that an Anarchist society will be free of oppression. If Marxism, which espoused the very same philosophy created an oppressive society, how can one be sure that an Anarchist system will be any different? Why do I have the nagging suspicion that Anarchists would engage in opressive behavior worse than Stalinist communists? I have witnessed too many occasions where Anarchists have revealed their dark side.
Under Anarchism, rather than being sent to jail, a medieval system of justice would prevail. Why? Anarchists do not believe in justice or the concept of due process. After all, that is an example of the State. First the transgressor would be publicly denounced and censored. Then there would be public ostracization. Finally expulsion form the “collective” would be the ultimate punishment. This is the scenario under “ideal” Anarchism. The history of Liberal Democracy and political Marxism have revealed how reality is rather different from the ideal. Under Anarchism, those who do not conform to the collective would face sanctions of violence.
No thanks. I would rather live under Stalinism than Anarchism. Under Stalinism there is the shell or the illusion of due process even if the justice is non-existent. There are still certain rules and boundaries under Stalinism. There is a structure. Under Anarchy, there are no laws and no rules so the process of justice and investigation is discarded. Anarchism would be un-even, topsy turvy and politicized based on emotion. Anarchists would oppress in the name of anti-oppression.

Gruss von Wien
I am currently in Vienna taking in some rest and relaxation. The difference between the Prussians and Austrians is too great to put into an essay. It has been 5 years since I was last in my beloved Vienna. I am taking this time to write before I head back to Berlin to start my life there. Ah! It is nice to be back home in Red Vienna!
-Vienna, Austria

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