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Ed Driscoll

Moving From Brown to Red in 20th Century Germany

December 2nd, 2010 - 1:22 pm

As Greg Gutfeld (whom I certainly enjoyed meeting during last month’s NR cruise) writes, “Museum to Failed Socialism Like a Tour Through Sean Penn’s Brain:”

The museum offers the visitor a typical day in socialism, featuring real artifacts from clothes to coffee. You can sort through closets, walk through a concrete slab living room, fiddle with a lonely pressure cooker on a stove.

Imagine crawling through Sean Penn’s brain.

You can steer an actual Trabant, possibly the worst car ever made. Legend has it, that there was no such thing as a new Trabant. A dead one was just patched back up and sent out on the road. Like Joan Rivers.

And of course, there’s GDR’s first and only attempt at creating a microchip. It cost 100 times more than ours, which was already an antique by then. East German leaders beamed with pride over the prototype, while the actual chip NEVER got made.

The museum is worth the long flight, for it is not simply a wry commentary on life without aspirations, but a salute to capitalism, a salute to us. From every corner of the museum, the displays told the viewer why their economy failed, why nothing worked, and how a desperate people dreamed of western goods.

Or as the Gipper said in his “Time for Choosing” speech in 1964:

Not too long ago, two friends of mine were talking to a Cuban refugee, a businessman who had escaped from Castro, and in the midst of his story one of my friends turned to the other and said, “We don’t know how lucky we are.” And the Cuban stopped and said, “How lucky you are? I had someplace to escape to.” And in that sentence he told us the entire story. If we lose freedom here, there’s no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth.

No wonder half the folks in the Obama administration would likely view that exhibition as a how-to guide.

Meanwhile, going from Red to Brown, Reason.tv’s Michael Moynihan looks at an American museum exhibition devoted to East Germany’s predecessor:

From radio and film to newspapers and publishing, the Nazi regime controlled every aspect of German culture from 1933-1945. Through Josef Goebbels’ Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, the German state tightly controlled political messaging, promoting deification of the leader—the Führerprinzip—and the demonization of the ubiquitous and duplicitious “racial enemy.”

A new exhibit at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., examines “how the Nazi Party used modern techniques as well as new technologies and carefully crafted messages to sway millions with its vision for a new Germany.” Reason.tv’s Michael C. Moynihan visited with museum historian and curator Steve Luckert to discuss the role and effectiveness of propaganda in the rise of fascism and what lessons can be drawn from the Nazi experiment in mass manipulation.

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And finally, for a laugh, a clueless attendee at an Ann Coulter Q&A session at Johns Hopkins University attempts to smear Coulter by comparing her with Leni Riefenstahl — even though he can’t pronounce either Riefenstahl’s first or last name. (Note Coulter’s great response about Riefenstahl’s recent popularity in Hollywood; just ask Jodie Foster.) Given the heckler’s follicularly challenged dome, I’m reluctant to speculate if he’s a student there, but he’s certainly a compliment to our educational system in any case.

Related: On the Pajamas homepage, “German ‘Conservatives’ Find Common Ground with Sharia-Compliant Economics.” Oddly, so do German Greens, as well.

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