Saturday, November 7, 2009

Happy Anniversay, Fellow Mauerspechte!

As we noted several blogs ago (“Second Tier Speculation Traps”), Ken Wilber marked the anniversary of 9/11 on his web site. Another, far more important, anniversary has now come, something we should note with celebration and appreciation. This month marks the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain. Matt Welch asks some powerful questions about its relative non-observance in an article on entitled “The Unknown War.”

Welch focuses less on the causes of the nonchalance and more on the consequences of the peace. He notes that a significant result in Western Europe was the dissipation of the socialist imperative. “By the time the Berlin Wall fell,” he writes, “it was the rule, not the exception, that Western European governments would own all their country’s major airlines, phone companies, television stations, gas companies, and much more.

No longer. In the long fight between Karl Marx and Milton Friedman, even the democratic socialists of Europe had to admit that Friedman won in a landslide. Although media attention was rightly focused on the dramatic economic changes transforming Asia and the former East Bloc, fully half of the world’s privatization in the first dozen years after the Cold War, as measured by revenue, took place in Western Europe. European political and monetary integration, widely derided as statist by the Anglo-American right, has turned out to be one of the biggest engines for economic liberty in modern history. It was no accident that, in the midst of Washington’s illegal and ill-fated bailout of U.S. automakers, Swedish Enterprise Minister Maud Olofsson, when asked about the fate of struggling Saab, tersely announced, “The Swedish state is not prepared to own car factories.”
The fall of the Wall appears to represent the final political defeat of the forces of Amber in Europe that had engaged in the Five Hundred Years’ War raging in various degrees of intensity since Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Schlosskirche in Wittenberg. The subsequent evaporation of the Soviet Union in 1991 meant that, for the first time since the clash began in 1517, Amber has no European political power base from which to contest the hegemony of Orange.

This cleared the way for the new clash between Orange and Green that shows up in the Thatcherite commitment to the Orange ideals v. the Green postnational aspirations of Strasbourg. We can certainly enjoy the irony of the relinquishing of the old Marxist ideals in light of the postmodern Boomeritis Green sensibilities that pervade the new European Union, and its intense longing to rope the United States into its orbit. How else can we interpret the otherwise meaningless Nobel Peace Prize award to President Barack Obama?