How the language of propaganda is related then and now
From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr
Fifty years ago, in socialist East Germany (German Democratic Republic, GDR), I and others were drilled into believing that only fools do not believe in communism. Once or twice I also heard the phrase, “Only a communist is a good person.”
In a slight variation and a few decades later, I heard the following pithy phrase in a Florida church that made my ears ring: “Only a Christian is a good person.” What a merciful, Christian assessment for all those who dare to think differently. I left the institution of totalitarian opinion at the same moment these words were spoken, because I had heard all this before in my life.
Deriving from such experience, when we replace the words “communism” with “God” and “communist” with “Christian” in the first paragraph of this article, we should not be too dumbfounded to discover certain similarities.
The propaganda is comparable in each case, because there is no credible contrast between good and evil here. If you look at the history of Christianity objectively, you can hardly avoid the realization of the role the church has always played in the oppression and extermination of entire peoples in the name of their God. Not even the misdeeds of the churches from today’s time should be mentioned here – starting with the Catholic Church up to the Baptist sect and thousands of cases of sexual abuse. In general, communism lags behind Christianity in the crimes committed only because it did not have 2,000 years in its infamy to cause similar damage on humanity as was inflicted under the Christian cross. Mendacity, however, differs in nothing.
For myself, I come to the impossible conclusion that I am in some way indebted to the Communists. For anyone who has been exposed to their propaganda and, moreover, has not only resisted but rejected its effects, is inevitably endowed with the instinct to smell any form of propaganda from a hundred miles away for the rest of his life.
The absolute majority of people in what was then East Germany (often incorrectly referred to in the U.S. as “communist East Germany”) had a similar experience. Otherwise, a peaceful revolution like that of 1989, with hundreds of thousands of demonstrators every Monday on the streets of East Berlin and Leipzig under the eyes of snipers posted on rooftops, would not have been possible. We were sick and tired of listening to the demented socialist propaganda any longer. Needless to say, a revolution like the one in 1989 cannot be carried out with people who are on the side of the power apparatus. The tireless protests swept away the communist rulers, which would not have been possible without the tacit restraint of the Soviet occupation forces. During the workers’ uprising of 1953, which had already brought the GDR to the brink of the abyss, things looked quite different.
Experience from history should teach:
One’s own life and the independent, free thinking associated with it are too precious a personal good to let it be influenced by unscrupulous impostors – whether from religion or politics. They are easily recognized by their use of language. For such propagandists want nothing else than to bring about the unity opinion, which in the end finds no more contradiction, and all this for only one purpose: Allowing only what they and no one else think is right in the (profitable) interest of the few over the many. Nothing is more dangerous for a society than that.
It sounds like a bad staircase joke: Much of what I can observe in America today reminds me of the old GDR – with the only difference being that in the USA the danger does not come from socialism, but from the extreme opposite, namely real existing neoliberalism. Every encyclopedia explains what that is and what it stands for.