The Fall Of the Berlin Wall

Image courtesy of Reuters: Johannes Eisele

November 9 marks the 20th anniversary what must be one of the most joyous and important events in modern history—the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is amazing to think that only 20 years ago the world was still clearly divided into east and west, communism and democracy. I think the Berlin Wall is the ultimate example of how absurd this conflict became—a wall dividing an historic city into two sections at a seemingly arbitrary point, which people could not cross lest they be killed. I heard a story of one young man whose parents lived in east Berlin, but who had just moved all of his things into an apartment in west Berlin the day before construction of the wall began. He spent the night at his parents’ place, and then could no longer get back to his apartment the next day! Well actually, he did try to, and became one of the first people to be killed attempting to cross from east to west.

We must never forget that only in the last 50 years, political ideology allowed such an absurdity to not only happen, but be accepted as commonplace. It is a reminder of how susceptible we are to simple ideologies that give us a sense of certainty and identity. Today, the “red terror” has been replaced with Islamic terrorism, and an extremist response to it—i.e. a resurrection of the centuries old conflict between Muslims and Christians—may lead us into a real war this time, and not just a “cold war” (indeed, to a large extent it already has). We must never allow extremist religious and political ideologies to take us into WWIII; we must use reason to fight the forces of fundamentalism.

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Amen to that! (If I may be allowed a bit of humour.) A good perspective can be had by reading Eric Hoffer’s “The True Believer.”

  
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Yeah, good luck with that.

As long as bigoted religious zealots remain ignorant and allow themselves to be guided by a couple of out of date books and mumbo jumbo, reason will not be able to work.

Sorry for being cynical but religious superstition has been with us for at least 8,000 years and science has only been accepted for about 300 years, maybe.
There is a lot of work to be done yet. We may well destroy life on the planet before reason gets a foothold.

  
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one can only hope that Koreans will experience such a turning point too, in the *near* future.

  
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To understand fully the hold of religion (and ideology) on the human mind, consider the case of Kirby Hensley. He originally founded the Universal Life Church as a protest against the nontaxation of churches. Years later, he actually began writing doctrine and turned it into a real religion. And, of course, there’s Scientology, which can be summed up in one sentence from Isaac Asimov: “I knew L. Ron Hubbard when he was a SMALL-time crook.”

  
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I agree with Patrick, but for different reasons. One of the more unfortunate aspects of the cold war was that American foreign policy defined itself not in terms of what America stood FOR, but what it stood AGAINST. To think that even someone as intelligent as Barack Obama will succeed in reversing a trend that’s lasted half a century in Washington, D. C. is simply naive.
Religious zealotry notwithstanding (and it is a MAJOR problem), a zealously guarded philosophy of negativity is just as dangerous… especially when it continues to be PROFITABLE for some people (like Dick Cheney).

  
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And it has trickled down. I think in most elections I have been voting Against candidates rather than For them.

  
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I think that voting against candidates is actually a very good policy, when we’re talking about the likes of the Bush administration etc. I don’t expect religious dogma to end any time soon, but we must do what we can to prevent it from becoming powerful enough to takes us into a third world war.

  
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It may be too late for that; the current problem in the Middle East is merely the continuation of what began during the Crusades when Christian arrogance clashed with Muslim intransigence, but now fueled by greed. A serious and effective drive for the development of an affordable ‘green technology’ might take some of the motivation away, but the whole Middle East mess is a classic case of not having learned the lessons of history.

  
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My “pragmatic” social studies teacher in my freshman year of high school dismissed one of my comments in class without allowing any discussion. I was crestfallen, but quickly took the dismissal in stride as a sign of the times. I had just compared the spread of the contemporary “communist bloc” to the spread of the “Muslim empire” over centuries much earlier. I spoke of what I’d just read about, as a good student, about the similar “environment of fear” that gripped Christiandom (or, the quasi-secular West in recent modern times) that allowed Europe to live with the knowledge that its armies were deployed to go elsewhere and do mad and violent things to the “evil ones”. I observed, before being cut off, that a perceived feature common to both the Muslim and “commie” agressors was poverty. Those were ideologies that allegedly appealed to angry, poor people with nothing to lose — and the West thought it saw something to be fearful of losing if it should be overrun by the ways of the deserts and steppes. Then, the teacher curtly stated that “commie” and Muslim were two totally different things, and could not and should not be compared. The year was 1961.

If I had known only a few more nickel and dime facts, and had been able to talk faster with my limited childhood vocabulary, I might have gabbed on to list other common features. Then, I would have brought an enduring corrupt financial operation to the attention of my peers, among other things…something in effect with the Roman Empire, that later bankrolled the Knights Templar and enabled the crusades, and eventually polarized the West against “communism” while giving new life to Hitler and his Nazi goons. Prescott Bush had supported Hilter according to that tradition, just before I was born. Little did I dream that the current new US President would soon be assasinated, and that both the son and grandson of Prescott would eventually be able to sit through three full terms as US Presidents with little fear of a similar fate. And that “Muslim” fears would re-emerge so soon in place of those about “Marxists”.

  
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“I observed, before being cut off, that a perceived feature common to both the Muslim and “commie” agressors was poverty. Those were ideologies that allegedly appealed to angry, poor people with nothing to lose..”

I have been saying for quite some time now, that well fed, sexually satisfied boys do not want or need to fight. Give them a good feed, a fuck and the fight is over.

  
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Originally Posted By Patrick
I have been saying for quite some time now, that well fed, sexually satisfied boys do not want or need to fight. Give them a good feed, a fuck and the fight is over.

Exactly! Which is why I am so adamant that sexual suppression (which is almost always the result of religious dogma) is such a terribly dangerous thing. The Muslim suicide bombers are an extreme case in point: they are totally sexually suppressed in this life, with the promise of 72 virgins in the next. No wonder they’re so willing to kill themselves – these young men are literally dying for a fuck.

  
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It’s not the young, strong men who want to shed blood; it’s the old men whose powers are waning who want to send the young men to war.
Religion and ideology are two sides of the same coin; both forms of social control, both ways to give people ‘answers’ to the vagaries of life. People who are hungry and in need crave one thing as much or more than sustenance: they want structure and meaning in their lives, which is why religion and ideology can have the hold they do. A case in point: global warming — if you’re a liberal, you ‘believe’ in it; if you’re a conservative, you don’t.

  
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