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View Diary: North Korea & Hysteria, Madness (23 comments)

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  •  To be fair, East Germany was a paradise... (0+ / 0-)

    ...compared to North Korea, and it was more prosperous than other Soviet-bloc countries or the USSR itself.  Its people enjoyed a cheap parody of Western consumer culture.  

    But nobody's buying flowers from the flower lady.

    by Rich in PA on Thu Dec 22, 2011 at 05:41:33 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  Ilove (0+ / 0-)

      how people think they know what is happening in countries they have never even visited.

      •  To quote Bill Maher (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I don't have to be a chicken to know what an egg is.

        We had a pretty good idea of the general misery of life in Eastern Europe in the 1980s from visitors, official statistics, defectors, satellite photo based economic assessments, military news, internal propaganda, diplomats, and from knowing what life generally and the economic condition prior to Communism specifically in the region were like.  When Eastern Europe opened in 1989/90 we discovered that everything we knew was true in a more intense and consequential fashion than expected.  In fact, the Eastern European countries were stuck in a kind of time warp, at a lot of the social and economic condition they'd reached in the 1940s or early 1950s at best, fairly equivalent to western European countries in the 1930s or 1940s.  Their regimes were stuck in a pretension or belief that WW2 was not over and might have to be refought.

        When eastern and western Europe began to reintegrate in the early 1990s there was a roughly 50 year political, social, and economic evolution differential between the two.  Eastern Europe is now variously up to where western Europe was in perhaps the late 1950s (Belarus) to the 1980s/90s (Poland) and 1990s/00s (Czech Republic).

        It's fairly obvious that North Korea is also a society in which the regime has continued to pretend that the Korean War is just over and its continuation is realistic.   The social and economic condition is also that of a basically agrarian 1950s Asian country whose meaningful industries are the production of the 1950s/1960s Soviet weaponry.  When North Korea opens it's pretty obvious that there will be both modern weaponry production facilities and a rural population mostly living as it did in the 1930s and 1940s.

        If you look closely, extreme conservatism is the defining feature of North Korea.  It is agrarianist, monarchist, militarist, hyperconformist.  That's 1880s-1910s Europe.  That is insustainable in a world that is not.  

        •  try (0+ / 0-)

          some reality and not seeing the world as reflecting your own opinions:

          •  I've been there, lived there, (0+ / 0-)

            have relatives there...and you're one to lecture me about it???

            It's easy to be nostalgic for a land that never was when other people have come in and (at high cost to themselves in time and blood and treasure) have paid the hidden costs and fixed up all the material failures and managerial/psychological dysfunctions of your homeland.  

            I can even sympathize to some extent.  The GDR was the first period in a thousand years in which the direct descendants of the historical native peoples of the geographical territory defined by the GDR borders, the western Slavic Polabians and Sorbs, had a nation state to themselves (more or less).  Deep under the veneer of Communism they did (re)generate elements of a culture and a society of their own after centuries of colonization and being jammed into a Germanic social mold that never really fit.  Contemporary eastern Germany remains something of a cultural revival of its pre-German forms to my thinking and definitely distinctive in the more empirical view of German society at large of itself.  I don't begrudge these people their form of tribalism or nationalism.  Frankly, they already possess and seemingly will keep de facto sovereignty of the territory of the former GDR outside of a few districts of Berlin.  It's mostly up to them to make it a place that can sustain the lifestyle in which they wish to live.

            But that doesn't actually warrant the delusion and denial of the awfulness that did exist.  East Germany public reality was incredibly oppressive, backwards, and morally disgusting, petty, mean, painfully impoverished, and exploitative.   The Soviet Union did net extract a lot of goods and services from them and impose fifty plus years of military occupation.  The postwar culture of rape by Russian occupation troops, resulting in the world's most liberal abortion laws, was a reality.  The Stalinallee revolt of 1953 in fact happened.  Hundreds of Russian nuclear warhead tipped short range rockets were stationed on GDR soil, the first strike force that would have annihilated West Germany and the Benelux countries, southern England and northern France.  And due to prevailing west winds, poisoned the GDR population.  No, no defensive war plans whatsoever were discovered in the Warsaw Pact archives captured and preserved by Polish democrats.  But plenty of offensive war plans.

            I think you're being and arguing for that curious and absurd but sometimes surprisingly common creature, the culturally conservative Leftist.   Though this curiously leads you to defend a retrograde monarchy in Asia.

            All I can really say to that is that Modernity is stronger, that liberals (even if Rightist) incrementally prevailed over radical conservatisms in the twentieth and early twenty-first century.  The acquiescence to misery and ignorance and indignity required for cultural conservatism is simply too great in a world where these have lost much of their necessity and such acquiescence has high cost in relative status.

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