Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ghosts of Two Germanies Continue to Haunt

A recent dialectic I took part in centered on the subject of how strong the divide exist between the former German Democratic Republic (East) and the previous incarnation of the Federal Republic of Germany (West). Sadly, the answer is that there is a noticeable difference in economics, culture, and politics.

Western Germany had the beginnings of a globalized economy and membership in such organizations like the European Community and NATO. The former East Germany is still being propped up by massive subsidies as capitalism is still waiting to be accepted by many Easterners. Not all is bad but there is still a difference economically.

Education is another problem. Propaganda on was used to explain why there were differences between West and East and not liberal education hallmarks like debate and reason. History was simplified to Nazis bad, West bad, Communist good. Teachers worked with the Stasi to make sure questioning students and teachers were kept in their place. Meanwhile teachers from the left and right ensured lively debate in West Germany. Today educational differences exist with startling results.

Politically the landscape is a mess. In the west two major parties, the center-left Social Democratic Party and center-right Christian Democratic Party engage in European politics with smaller parties like the Greens and Federal Democratic Party playing roles of king maker. Eastern Germany now has the everything-but-in-name East German communist party called the Left Party making serious gains and the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party is starting to win local elections.

The ghosts of the Berlin Wall, East Germany, and other divides exists because of the lack of cultural preparedness. The eagerness, rightly so, to reunite the country did not take into account the economic costs for the west and cultural realization of wrong doing for the east. These factors are being weighed along with Germany's example by those who seek reunification of Cyprus, Moldova, and Georgia. It is, in part, the above reasons why reunification is slow coming in those areas.


Anonymous said...

"It is, in part, the above reasons why reunification is slow coming in those areas. "

But its coming or rather happend already!
Many younger folks do not have the same borders in their mind, as people shortly afterwards the reunification had. Of course many students and workers still use their networks in the east or west of the country, but one can observe important changes.For example the rising number of students at eastgerman universities. This was unimaginable some years before!
Some even can't tell of a important differences anymore, which maybe also seen between different states in western Germany or in the European Union.

One can not erase the experience of several generations of a 40 year lasting dictatorship in East-Germany. Nevertheless many people made experiences, wich are also very useful in times of globalization. Who can tell of a complete breakdown of the economy in numbers and structure?
Or: Who made it possible to end a cruel dictatorship, without violence?

You'd almost think some differences that are still existing will hopefully still last a long time! While others will take while. But it is not the difference between the mentioned East and West-Germany it self which should be took into account, when talking about economy and culture.

Maybe these differences should nowadays be seen in a more differentiated way. Less East vs. West.

Thanks for the nice blog-entry and keep on blogging!

BTW: sorry for the bad English

Catholicgauze said...

Good to hear the good out of Germany. You do show good trends, yes. I hope these overcome the ones I pointed out.

BTW: Your English is more than fine.