November 9th, the Fall of the Berlin Mauer (Part I of II)
Memory of our past hopes or last tumble in the decline of the modern empire?
November 9th. What does this date evoke you?
You will cry out in unison this year´s results of the just-out-of-the-oven 2016 presidential race and, with it, the end of the painful spectacle in which two prominent stereotypes, straight out of the Inferno´s ring of hell populated by the remote controlled, back-bent-on-a-screen, celebrity-craving Millennial generation, have battled their way to the most important seat of power in the world, right next to that fat red button of oblivion, with tweets, lies, and manifesto offensi
ve to our intelligence. Their campaign has not only epitomized the certainty of the fall of our civilization (which we all know did not start yesterday and must be shared by all since the advent of the baby boomers) but possibly more: a new limitless idea of the absurd and indecent.
For all to see, we should have added a permanent blinking and warning subtitle to most recent news. “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?” (Lewis Carroll)
But talking of the downfall of our time, November 9th is also the anniversary date of another fall. This year´s November 9th marked the 27th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Many people, now at a mature age, had witnessed it with hopes, most of which have since been reduced to illusions. I suppose that it is what the collapse of any barrier can inspire. But, isn’t it also why the front lines of revolutions are composed of the naïve, impressionable young? – although, it would be easy to argue that even the sense of rebellion, the motives of discontentment and the notion of sacrifice for a cause have greatly evolved over the past half century.
On the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall, Berlin, and Germany along, had celebrated the symbol of a reunited country. It was more largely the remembrance of the reconciliation of the quartered Europe, that mosaic of antagonistic cultures divided by war and political chess games named after a Phoenician woman who was seduced by a white bull rather than being bullied by brutes as it has been in our recent era. Back then, in 2014, the wall had long been gone and most vestiges of cement sold as souvenirs to tourists and museums (e.g. one actually stands in the yard of the Imperial War Museum of London). Yet, its absence, from its destruction, was remembered with the Lichtgrenze (the border of light), a display of 8,000 white balloons floating above a trail of 15km where the wall had stood in the city centre, concerts, speeches and exhibits.
In 2014, the West had once again marveled over its past achievement and its victory for freedom. But was it truly a victory as Mr. Reagan has so often claimed and credited himself with, or was it both the simpler accidental resolution of a long and complex, often misunderstood, war of propagandas and beliefs that most of us only saw through our own side of the prism?
A day earlier, Mikhail Gorbachev, the President behind the glastnost of the USSR, had warned of a new cold war, which he foresaw in the manners the Western powers, under the NATO flag, were handling the aftermath of the fall of the Wall.
“Instead of building new mechanisms and institutions of European security and pursuing a major demilitarization of European politics … the west, and particularly the United States, declared victory in the cold war…”
“Euphoria and triumphalism went to the heads of western leaders. Taking advantage of Russia’s weakening and the lack of a counterweight, they claimed monopoly leadership and domination in the world”
Speaking of the enlargement of NATO, the tragedy of Kosovo, the wars in the Middle East, Gorbi referred to a “collapse of trust” – “To put it metaphorically, a blister has now turned into a bloody, festering wound”.
This speech, and the celebrations which ensued, was two years ago. Since it would be hard to contradict the engineer of perestroika after what has happened in Ukraine, Turkey, Syria, the build-up of NATO troops on the Russian Baltic borders and the strategy of counter-firing arguments with fears of good old fashioned hysterically paranoid speculations of Russian involvement in the last US presidential campaign.
This year, the mass media made no or little mention of the Berlin anniversary of the fallen design which once held people of the edge of their unfounded fears. I assume if there has been no noteworthy local event, it may be because such event, as years go by, are reserved for key years, ending in 5 or 0, although, again, it is not true of everything. Besides, the media were reeling from the shock of the election of Mr. Trump and were nursing the hangover of their failed participation and anticipation. And I suppose that the European leaders have other fish to fry (or ´other cats to whip´ as the French say) between finding a way (adding the adjective decent here would not be highly inappropriate) to back-pedal on their anti-Trump comments and building their own dike against the stirring tide of the discontented traditional middle-class about to wake world-wide against a system which has for too long given them the finger.
The present unraveling before us has distracted most of us from the history which has already happened and which lessons may be worth remembering. There has been no room for remembering or perhaps it is too painful to look back on the dreams of 1989, planted in the cracks of the desintegrating wall, sowed in its rubbles, and watered by the melting of the first cold war, and wake to where we are now.
Like David Bowie, who was one of the rare and earlier Western artist to give a concert at the wall, it seems that the memory of the wall is abandoning us.
The rest is history…
Do not forget to read what really happened on the 9th November 1989 and what led to the fall of the Wall in the second, more historical, part of this blog article.
I will leave you now in good hands, with the words of the Spanish philosopher and poet George Santayana,“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Those who do not remember their past are condemned to repeat their mistakes. Those who do not read history are doomed to repeat it. Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors are destined to repeat them”.