Heaven and Hell (1) 0

What persuaded us to believe that socialism, having begun everywhere so badly, should possess the power to reform itself into something better? To be something other than it has been? To pass through the inferno of its Stalinist tragedies to become the paradiso of our imaginations? – from a letter by David Horowitz

Why, this is Hell, nor am I out of it – from ‘Dr. Faustus’, by Christopher Marlowe

Hell is other people – from ‘No Exit’, by Jean-Paul Sartre

*

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the years of the New Left, there was a commune of young revolutionaries in Vienna, housed in a beautiful old building with wide curving stairways and grand halls, monuments to the skills of architects and builders, and to the achievements of owners who had won fortunes in manufacturing, commerce, and the professions round the turn of the twentieth century, in the belle époque.

When the communards moved into one of the spacious apartments – as squatters, not rent-paying tenants – its walls were richly clad with glowing, dark, polished wood paneling. They tore it off. They considered it ‘too bourgeois’. Holes remained where the panels had been pinned into the brick. The communards – every one of them born of bourgeois parents who indulged and supported their idleness, along with the welfare state that the affluent young revolutionaries ached to overthrow – said they liked the damaged look because it ‘proletarianized’ the apartment.

One wall only they had repaired: the holes filled in, the surface plastered smoothly. There they planned to paint a mural. One of them drew a vertical line down the middle. On the left they would depict Hell, and on the right, Heaven.

They started (‘There’s an artist in all of us’, they opined) painting their vision of Hell, but soon became disappointed with the way it was shaping up and decided to hire a professional artist to realize their vision.

The artist, an American, was found, agreed to terms, and arrived on the appointed day with brushes and paints ready to carry out their instructions.

The communards were unanimous on what Hell looked like. It was Vienna; its streets, traffic, monuments, palaces, art galleries, houses, theatres, open-air market, department stores, banks, schools, sports grounds, factories, a prison. There were shoppers, children, prisoners, police brutally breaking up a protest rally, fat men in big shiny cars smoking cigars (‘capitalists’), and so on. Everything had a dingy look, the colors predominantly ‘’like mud, excrement and vomit’, as per the communards’ orders.

It took the painter about a month to finish Hell to their satisfaction.

‘Now,’ he said, moving to the other side of the line, ‘describe your Heaven to me. ‘

‘Um,’ they said. ‘Take a few days break while we think about it.’

They never did come up with a vision of Heaven. It wasn’t that they couldn’t agree among themselves on what it should look like; the trouble was none of them had any idea of it at all.

They paid off the artist with their parents’ money, and the right side of the wall remained permanently blank.

Jillian Becker   December 16, 2009

Posted under Articles, communism, Europe, Miscellaneous, Religion general, revolution by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, December 16, 2009

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From Auschwitz to Islamization: the long slow suicide of Europe 2

It happened many times in the history of Europe that a state drove out the Jews, then regretted doing so when it found itself the poorer, and so invited them back again. Now voices are raised about the sad plight of Berlin since its Jews were ‘driven out’, never to return.

We may hear the sound of bitter laughter from the ghosts of European Jewry (though not apparently from stupider Jews living in Germany now) as we read this, by Paul Belien of the Hudson Institute:

Thilo Sarrazin, a Bundesbank director who criticized Turkish and Arab immigrants in a recent interview, has been punished by his employer and may lose his job. Apart from receiving threats by Islamist extremists, he may also be taken to court by the German authorities on charges of “incitement to racial hatred.” For many Germans, however, Mr. Sarrazin, who until last May was Finance Minister in the regional government of the state of Berlin for the Social-Democrat SPD, is a hero.

Last week Axel Weber, the president of the Bundesbank, Germany’s equivalent of the FED, needed body guards on an official visit to Istanbul. Normally, the head of the German central bank never travels with body guards, but life at the Bundesbank has changed since two weeks ago. Lettre International, a German cultural magazine based in Berlin, published an interview with Thilo Sarrazin, in which the Bundesbank director criticized the unwillingness of Turkish and Arab immigrants to assimilate into German society. The interview provoked the anger of these very immigrants. Immigrant groups accuse Mr. Sarrazin of espousing the “racist views of the far right.”

His boss, Mr. Weber, however, does not want to become the target of angry Muslims. He has apologized to everyone who might feel offended by the “discriminatory comments” of the Bundesbank official. In fact, the Bundesbank issued a statement, distancing itself in the strongest terms from the interview. It also demoted Sarrazin; he may even be fired altogether.

In the Lettre International interview, Sarrazin talked about the economic and cultural situation in his hometown of Berlin. He argued that Berlin has been unable to recover the cultural and economic status and prestige it had before the Second World War. Even its contemporary population figure of 3.2 million is lower than the pre-war 4 million. Sarrazin says that Berlin’s dynamics were broken when the city lost its Jews: the Jewish elite were driven out and instead the city acquired a Turkish and Arab underclass.

“The large scale disappearance of the Jews could never be compensated,” Sarrazin said. “Thirty percent of physicians and lawyers, eighty percent of all theatre directors in Berlin in 1933 were of Jewish origin. Commerce and banking were also largely Jewish. All this has vanished; it was also a considerable intellectual loss. Sixty to seventy percent of the extermination and expulsion of the Jews in the German speaking countries affected Berlin and Vienna.”

Sarrazin argued that during the Cold War, ambitious and dynamic people moved away from the highly-subsidized West Berlin while left-wing activists and drop-outs took their place. Meanwhile a Turkish and Arab underclass was imported, which also lives mostly off government subsidies without making economic contributions to the city.

“Berlin has a bigger problem than elsewhere of an underclass that does not take part in the normal economic cycle. Many Arabs and Turks in this city, whose numbers have grown as a result of wrong policies, have no productive function except selling fruit and vegetables,” Sarrazin said. The plight of his home town makes him very bitter. He lashed out at what he called policies that were “too plebeian” instead of elitist. “Anyone who can do something and strives for something with us is welcome. The rest should go elsewhere,” Sarrazin told Lettre International. The Turks, however, “are conquering Germany in the same way that the Kosovars conquered Kosovo: through their high birthrate. […] I do not need to acknowledge anyone who lives off the state, rejects this country, does not take proper care of the education of his children and keeps producing little girls in headscarves.”

Since the publication of the interview, Sarrazin has received threats from Islamists. The Social-Democratic SPD Party has started a procedure to oust him from its ranks. He has also been criticized by the Central Council of German Jews, whose General-Secretary Stephan Kramer compared his comments about Turkish and Arab immigrants to the “opinions of Göring, Goebbels and Hitler.” The Berlin prosecutor is currently examining whether Mr. Sarrazin can be prosecuted for the crime of “racial incitement.”

An opinion poll indicated, however, that 51 percent of the Germans agree with what Mr. Sarrazin said. Conservative newspapers, such as Die Welt, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and the mass circulation Bild have come to his defense, arguing that he has merely stated uncomfortable facts. Prominent Germans, such as former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and the writers Henryk Broder and Ralph Giordano, have also spoken out in support of the Bundesbank official.

Helmut Schmidt, the nonagenarian former leader of the Social-Democrat SPD, said that the presence of seven million immigrants in Germany are proof “of a wrong development for which the political class [of the past 15 years] is responsible.” It would have been better, Mr. Schmidt told the weekly magazine Focus, that those who refuse to integrate into German society “had been left outside.” He added that “The further inflow of people from Eastern Anatolia or Black Africa will not solve the problem [of Germany’s ageing population], but will only create an enormous new problem.”

Ralph Giordano said that Sarrazin’s analysis was “right on the mark.” Henryk Broder stated that he “does not even go far enough.” Since both Messrs. Giordano and Broder are Jewish, their support for Mr. Sarrazin has earned them severe criticism from the Central Council of German Jews, whose Mr. Kramer derisively called both men “Jewish intellectuals.”

On October 14th, Jasper von Altenbockum, an editorialist of the influential Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, wrote in his paper that Mr. Sarrazin’s frank remarks were proof of his great “civil courage.” “Civil courage is more than just courage. It is also a service to the state, whose legal constitutions and social achievements are worth defending.” Mr. Altenbockum criticized those who accuse Sarrazin of acting irresponsibly and foolishly. “In a civil society it is not considered foolish to risk one’s own existence when one defends the civil society and its freedoms and security. What is foolish is for the civil society to punish those who act this way.”

In contemporary Europe, leading a life surrounded by body guards has become normal for people such as Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician who criticizes the Islamization of his native land, and Kurt Westergaard, a Danish cartoonist who made a drawing depicting the Muslim Prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban. Thilo Sarrazin has now joined their ranks.