Marx and Lenin

Does Mrs. Noem know what she is talking about?

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem actually said the following sentence yesterday during the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Houston: “Let me tell you the truth about the enemies of the Second Amendment. They are schooled in the ways of Marx and Lenin.”

Soviet propaganda banner with the heads of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Lenin), Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx (from left). We were fed up with such images in GDR times, because they hung in every classroom. I can’t believe that I have to come back to these pictures now, in the supposedly freest country in the world, of all places. At least no harm happened to us in school during our childhood, not once in the whole country – and that in the midst of a socialist dictatorship.

What pathetic nonsense.

“In the ways of Marx and Lenin” I was trained against my will in 1987/88 in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) on the Kalashnikov, the most widely used sub-machine gun in the world at the time – and I did not like that at all. Even that “schooling” did not change my attitude towards guns.

In the GDR, where I lived for 29 years, military education was a compulsory subject in schools, as well as military camps – by the way, also for girls -, where the young people were trained on weapons. This also included hand grenades.

Notice something? Marxists, Leninists, Communists, Socialists, were sinister propagandists in line with Mrs. Noem and the NRA in their opinion about guns. Both sides for different, but in both cases self-serving purposes. Both are characterized by efforts to sell their propaganda with all sorts of history distorting arguments to disguise their true intentions. Politicians in the U.S. for reasons of votes and donations from the gun industry, no matter how many children have to die in their own country due to gun violence. Communists and socialists believed that guns were desperately needed to succeed in the “revolutionary struggle against the class enemy.” I am not sure anymore which is worse.

So, I don’t know where the lady from South Dakota gets her wisdom from. But she doesn’t care about historical facts – because she knows how well any nonsense goes down propagandistically with the majority of her countrymen as soon as terms like “Socialism” or “Marxism” come into play. My special friend Ron DeSantis from Florida uses far-fetched allusions to German history, including odd remarks about the Cold War, with such regularity that you can’t help but laugh at them. But with a majority of Americans, that kind of thing resonates.

The radical, naive and inflammatory speeches of the Trumps, DeSantis’, Cruz’ are easy to see through, especially for those who are informed about the historical background. I understand more and more why the political right, together with the churches in the fairway, wants to teach children in schools only what they think is right. For there is nothing more dangerous for the goals of propagandists than an enlightened humanity.

German State Secretary: Refugees across the Atlantic as well

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr

Visiting a shelter for Ukrainian refugees today in Hannover, Lower Saxony, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) said every country in Europe must take in refugees. She added: “We must also bring people across the Atlantic.” Given the dramatic situation in Germany and the economic capability of the countries on the American continent, she could only have meant Canada and the USA.

The German Foreign Minister’s demand is more than justified. The refugees from Ukraine are clearly an overall responsibility of the West due to its misguided policies towards Russia in the 1990’s. In concrete terms, this means that all NATO countries should be required to accept refugees from Ukraine, as the Alliance as a whole has been moving its external border closer and closer to Russia since 1999, thereby unnecessarily provoking the country. Of course, this does not entitle Russia to the war in which it is now bogged down. But the disintegrating Soviet Union should have been treated more carefully by the West, instead of pushing it into the corner of a possibly Asian peripheral power via the American Wolfowitz Doctrine.

Germany’s Secretary of State Annalena Baerbock (Alliance 90/The Greens).

In the meantime, it has almost been forgotten that in 1990 there were even brief considerations of admitting the Soviet Union to NATO.

At that time, there were many opportunities to integrate Russia into European security structures based on reciprocity. These opportunities have been punitively squandered. A prudent policy by the West would have made this bonding possible under the acceptance not to impose Western-style democracy on Russia. Anyone who was able to observe the political upheavals in Eastern Europe at the end of the 1980’s from close quarters knows that this is true.

Now the European Union expects ten million refugees from Ukraine – that would be a quarter of the country’s entire population. This represents an enormous social burden and at the same time an opportunity for the entire West, including the U.S., to show its true Christian commitment.

A Human Disaster

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr

In 2015, Germany mastered the refugee crisis with flying colors – it is remarkable how a million people were integrated into what was already Europe’s most populous country. But now I am anything but optimistic. Special trains from Warsaw carrying Ukrainian refugees reach the German capital Berlin almost at hourly intervals. 10,000 people arrive here alone every day.

The solidarity of the local population still holds.

At Berlin’s main train station, numerous signs in Russian and Ukrainian warn young women in particular not to accept overnight offers from private individuals. Most refugees are women and children. If they do not register upon arrival, every trace is lost. The police patrol everywhere.

On the tarmac of Berlin-Tegel Airport, which was shut down in November 2020 and where my wife and I had landed just three years ago, an arrival center was opened where refugees are registered, cared for and then transported on to other federal states in Germany. The City of Leipzig has already signaled that it has reached its intake capacity.

The German government now assumes that one million refugees from Ukraine will end up in Germany, almost 300,000 of whom are already in the country. But this figure is vague, because no one knows how long the war will last. And it can hardly be assumed that most of the refugees want to return to their destroyed country.

By comparison, the U.S. is about 27 times larger than Germany, but it has barely four times as many inhabitants.

This is the largest movement of refugees in Europe since 1944/45, when 14 million people from the former German eastern territories were fleeing the approaching Soviet army at the end of World War II. One of them was my father from East Prussia.

Only China can make Putin see Reason

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr

Putin will never succeed in bringing all of Ukraine under his control. I am sure that is not his intention either. Contrary to Western assumptions, the man is not a lunatic, far from it – he knows how to play his cards. He is a Machiavellian. Therefore, he also knows what could exceed the forces of his country.

If anyone at all can mediate in this conflict, it is not the Americans, and certainly not the Europeans. Europeans no longer play any role at all in the big decisions. China – to the detriment of the USA – has the decisive key role to play. If Putin listens to anyone at all, it is Chinese leader Xi Jinping. For the same reason, all channels of communication with Putin must be kept open if the war in Ukraine is to be ended as quickly as possible. As things stand, there will be no other way.

Even then, Putin is unlikely to back down from his demands: Recognition of Crimea as Russian territory, the same for the Donbass, but above all: a guarantee by the West of Ukraine’s neutrality. If peace is wanted – and this peace must come – then this is the price that the West will have to pay for its reckless policy of hubris toward Russia.

The only other possibility would be to bring Russia to its knees militarily or, in the end, even economically. Neither seems very realistic, as Biden’s “no” vote on fighter jets from Poland for Ukraine underscores. It would provoke Russia even more with devastating consequences for the whole of Europe. Here, the West is already showing signs of giving in. And the more the West fights Russia with sanctions, the more it brings the majority of patriotic Russians to Putin’s side.

Even the pictures of protests in Moscow do not change that. For more than a generation, the majority of Russians have wondered what the country actually fought for and won in World War II – only to lose so much again afterwards under its own concession. One has to put oneself in this position of Russian patriots – of a country which was, after all, allied with the USA in the last Great War. All this is directly related to the war in Ukraine.

The other victorious nation, the United States, after the destruction of Hitler’s Germany and with far fewer casualties than the Soviet Union, did not shrink a square inch, did not lose power, although it too has since instigated unjust wars in other parts of the world.

“Fuck The EU”

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr

Do we remember the following? https://www.theguardian.com/…/eu-us-diplomat-victoria…

This is not meant to justify Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine – on the contrary. But it may be recalled how Washington and also the European Union tried to manipulate the opposition they preferred in Ukraine after Viktor Yanukovych, a pro-Russian president, came to office in 2010 in a recognized election.

Western interference came to light when a bugged telephone conversation between U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Kiev, Geoffrey Ross Pyatt, was leaked in 2014 on the internet.

By “Fuck the EU,” Mrs. Nuland was referring to the European Union’s reluctance to support the stricter U.S. intent to “arrange” a pro-Western course for Ukraine by manipulating Ukrainian opposition against Russia and for its (the West’s) own interests.

At that time, then U.S. President Barack Obama had repeatedly assured the world public that the U.S. would not interfere in the internal affairs of Ukraine. This was a lie that came to light openly through the phone call.

It has long been confirmed that the 2013/14 protests on the Maidan in Kiev, the perseverance of the masses in freezing cold in tent cities, was a subversion financed by the United States and the European Union.

The West is partly to blame for the fate of Ukraine, because for years it has ostensibly pursued only its own interests and not the interests of the people of Ukraine. The compassion of ordinary people today, who want to help, is real – the “compassion” of the West is hypocritical.

As always, it is the people who have to suffer. This is what we are now witnessing in Ukraine, and the accompanying hypocritical chatter of the Europeans at the expense of the suffering population in Ukraine is hard to bear. The West should be ashamed of itself.

Cui Bono – to whom is it a benefit?

How the West provoked the Russian Bear

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr

An old Latin phrase goes: “Cui bono?”, which translates roughly as “to whom is it a benefit?” This, it seems, is a conclusion according to which everyone twists his own version of history (or simply omits facts), and as a result only comes to light how much the blusterers like to measure things with double standards: When two do the same thing, it is far from being the same.

The omission of facts has served the West as a justification to blame the other not only since these days. What made U.S. President Barack Obama, of all people, not only insult Russia but throw stones in his own glass house during the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague? The quote is worthwhile because it shows how arrogantly, negligently and immoderately the USA and Europe – the occasion was the Russian invasion of Crimea – railed against Russia. Obama said at the time, “Russia is a regional power that threatens some of its immediate neighbors … We [he meant his own country] do not need to invade our neighbors in order to have a strong, cooperative relationship with them.”

Pardon me?

Who else should the U.S. have attacked as neighbors after the way had been “paved” for westward expansion by wiping out indigenous peoples in violation of treaty after treaty to the point that they no longer mattered? And yet, that was not enough. Mexico, a neighbor, had been attacked in violation of the treaty for – among other things – not allowing slavery in Texas, a part of Mexico – and 40 percent of Mexican territory fell into U.S. hands “just like that” at the end of the war. Now there was no neighbor in the west anymore, for the Pacific was difficult to attack.

This is called, according to free American translation, a “strong cooperative relationship with our neighbors”?

Those who then have hardly any neighbors left but want to advance in their expansionist drive for world domination, eventually look elsewhere in the world. Where have the Americans, as the unmatched military power, not invaded to secure their influence by deposing existing governments, unjust or not, and replacing them according to their own good thinking to protect their own interests? Where have they not used their intelligence services to launch or support plots to organize coups and overthrows – all, of course, under the official guise of “democracy and freedom?” The list of affected countries is not short.

Anyone who is not very interested in history, who is not familiar with it, need only look at recent events – the criminal war in Vietnam is not even necessary in the considerations. In Afghanistan, for example – after George W. Bush’s grandiose announcements about fighting terrorism, although it was clear very soon after the attacks of September 11, 2001, that the majority of the terrorists not only came from the allied Saudi Arabia but had also been financed from there. A little later, weapons of mass destruction were the alleged reason for attacking Iraq – a lie for a pretense. What has become of it?

What capitalist interests, what dilettante ruthlessness was behind pelting the Russian bear with stones in the decades that followed the end of the Cold War? Doesn’t the West realize how much it is fomenting a nationalist revival in Russia?

To this day, no one seems to notice what a divided country Ukraine is – with one of the highest mortality rates in the world, by the way. Apparently, Russian tanks are already in eastern Ukraine, whose people were denied the use of their native Russian language after Ukrainian independence in 1991. There, in the Donbass, the powerful industrial center of the tsarist empire and the Soviet Union, the Americans with their omnipresent McDonald stores and Coca-Cola will probably have to give up the sails for the time being. One can only hope that the conflict does not spread even further.

But the profit vultures in Stars and Stripes, who already control most of the corporate world, have long been circling elsewhere – in Germany, of all places, whose chancellor according to desire only today decreed the “interim” halt to the Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream 2. A victory for the dealmakers, hagglers and speculators: against the will of a majority of the more environmentally conscious German population, the Americans can now probably sell their dirty, overpriced fracking gas in Europe.

So, it looks as if Germany, the largest donor to the largest European country – Ukraine – will be asked to pay twice in the future, including extreme prices for liquid gas, which probably have to be subsidized. For years, German money has been seeping into dubious channels in Ukraine, for the oligarchs there are selling out their country like the Americans are selling out theirs. This means that the boomerang especially for Germany is already in the air. In the end, the sanctions against Russia might harm the Europeans more than the Russians.

As another truism says: democracy is the rule of money.

The German Chancellor’s Balancing Act

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr

The new German chancellor Olaf Scholz could not signal his agreement with U.S. policy toward Russia fast enough in Washington yesterday. And yet he knows how careful he must be.

The Americans, always profit-oriented, want to sell their highly polluting fracking gas to Germany as well. Yet even if it worked that way against expected protests from the massive Green Deal movement overseas, it would not meet the demand in Germany, as natural gas from Russia can. But it’s not about Nord Stream 2 alone.

My home country, as always, is in a moral dilemma when it comes to Russia. In both countries – a fact not very well known in America – the last Great War has not been forgotten. 25 million people were lost by the Soviets because of the Nazi invasion in World War II. Almost every Russian family was affected. No other country has had to pay a higher blood toll.

It is true: Stalin was hardly better than Hitler, but he was suddenly in league with the Americans two years after the alliance with the German dictator had ended. Those who believe that this no longer plays a role in the consciousness of Russians and Germans today are very much mistaken. World War II is the reason why Germany cannot supply weapons to Ukraine – although German war atrocities in Ukraine were particularly brutal there in 1941/42.

The Germans, even in subsequent generations like mine, have accepted the guilt. This is not self-evident in world history. Until today, the Americans have not officially apologized for the war crimes committed in Vietnam.

Of course, Putin is not a flawless democrat, but the Americans, in their neoliberalism, also have their difficulties in asserting democracy in their country. And they all – the U.S. as well as the European Union – should remember how badly the disintegrating Soviet Union was mishandled in 1991 and after. As in a boxing match in which the opponent is already down, the Americans struck again below the belt in form of the secret Wolfowitz-Memorandum, casting “Russia as the gravest potential threat to U.S. vital interests [before it had even done anything] … The Pentagon had decided the United States would never permit any nation … to rise again even to the status of regional superpower” (Source: Patrick J. Buchanan: A Republic, not an Empire, pages 7-9).

The memorandum proves the West’s aggressive strategy against Russia: pushing NATO forward to its borders in open breach of previous agreements – the same agreements, by the way, that enabled the Germans to reunify in 1990. I was there, I lived it and experienced it.

One can declare someone the main enemy before even knowing whether the opponent is an enemy at all. This is exactly what happened with Russia after the end of the Cold War. The truth of the history is long forgotten today. Just one hundred years ago, the current confrontations over Ukraine would have led to a full-scale military conflict. Who still cares about that? Of course, Putin also has skeletons in the closet – but from the point of view of the West, he alone is the villain. It is as simple as that.

Is What Bernie Sanders is Saying not True?

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr

Is someone a radical left if he calls a truth by its name – a truth that affects the majority of people in the U.S. at that?

The truth should prevail above personal political and, by the way, religious convictions. Why? For, first, humanity has been misled and abused by both sides – by politics and even more so by religions – more often than seldom. And secondly, because those who in principle give their convictions a higher value than facts and truth degrade themselves to intellectually wretched creatures whose train of thought discharge into baseless assertions. From such a corner emerge the conspiracy theorists, who, by the way, have always existed throughout history.

Without my own experience, I probably wouldn’t believe Bernie Sanders so easily either. In eight years of working for a company called Walmart, I’ve encountered more than enough not to know what he’s talking about. I can justifiably say that I have not experienced such a lack of rights on the part of the workers even under communist rule in the GDR. There – in a command state in which we were all walled in – at least the physical well-being of the workers was still taken care of. In the workplace, physical integrity was a high priority, and no one has ever been burdened with additional financial demands other than the monthly health insurance contribution. Medical care at that time was excellent, even if it was subsidized.

It is an arbitrariness like in a third world country, to which the employees at Walmart and more than likely elsewhere in the country are exposed – without a real possibility to defend themselves. Working time was cut if the profit figures for the store did not match greedy corporate expectations. Consequently, those who were spared from even lesser income now had to run faster to get all the work done. In a hopelessly understaffed department, I contracted a double hernia. All references from my side to a health impairment contracted at Walmart were of no use – the superiors had their instructions according to which they had to proceed.

A case like mine was everyday business, and Walmart had long since taken precautions to shirk its financial responsibility. Workers’ compensation insurance was only on paper, because according to Walmart’s philosophy, I had not sustained the injury while loading hundreds of bags of mulch, garden soil and compost for the customers, not seldom without help, but probably at home growing tomatoes or studying American history books.

Despite health insurance, a not inconsiderable part of the costs for the surgery fell on me. I settled the bill with means not generated in the USA, but in my home country Germany. How many Americans are fortunate enough to be able to similarly compensate for the miserable care their own wealthy country provides them?

After the passing of a young colleague, the lady from Human Resources went from table to table in the Walmart break room asking for donations for his immense hospital bill that the bereaved family was facing. No one sitting there could answer in the negative. People barely able to make ends meet themselves pulled a dollar out of their pockets, some as much as five, while American health insurance companies shoveled billions in profits into their own pockets without lawmakers lifting a finger to stop the criminal profiteering at the public’s expense.

A few weeks later, this HR woman who had helped me get a full-time job in 2014, was also hospitalized and died.

During my tenure at Walmart, I’ve seen colleagues 80 and older dragging themselves to work, forced by medical bills, incurred years ago. People undergoing cancer treatment had visible difficulty to make it through the workday. I saw all this for the first time in my life, and I couldn’t believe I was in the United States of America.

Of course, Bernie Sanders is right. Anyone who denies this has lost all touch with reality and lives in another galaxy. Facts cannot be blurred by closed eyes during prayer, either, but faith and belief can be misleading. Religion can very easily lead astray – especially when those who derive lucrative benefits from it know how to skillfully spread it among people as an ideology. As a consequence, this has a lot to do with how few of my colleagues recognized the injustices that happened to them every day. Most took it in silence. To put it bluntly: they were used to it, they didn’t know any different.

The old man Bernie is also right about the Democratic Party. Because just like the Republicans, Democrats with very view exceptions are also grateful recipients of large donations from the country’s moneyed elite. Their corrupt nature deprives millions of needy Americans of much-needed help in connection with the build back better act once so hopefully announced by Biden. Instead of supporting their president, his own party is embroiled in an internal battle of alignment while more and more Americans are dissatisfied.

Is he really surprised? Joe Biden is an American, he should have known better. After all, not long ago he publicly described himself as a capitalist. It seemed to me as if he wanted to make clear with this very insipid formulation how little he has to do with socialist ambitions. The man knows only too well what a sour taste such a disposition would evoke in most of his compatriots. Therefore, he did not even bother to explain to them what socialism actually is, nor what kind of capitalist he himself impersonates as president of the country.

I don’t think a turn for the better is imminent for most Americans.

Hunter Biden, the Realistic American

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

The excitement is sometimes hard to understand. Hunter Biden, son of the president, followed a common U.S.-American pattern, practiced and recurring in countless countries around the world. American, as well as companies and corporations from other parts of the world, stick their greedy hands into mostly underdeveloped countries under the hypocritical pretense of wanting to help them, mostly taking advantage of unstable political and economic situations. With flimsy promises they buy exclusive rights for lucrative sources of profit, in order to sell them later on to friend and foe.

There is nothing new about it.

Hunter Biden used the same principle according to which the U.S. has always interfered economically in the affairs of other countries – if the political direction was not in conformity with it, then also by means of intelligence and military aid, in order to help overthrow unpleasant governments that wanted to go their own way for their country. This was also the case in Russia, by the way, on the part of large American corporations, especially immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union and when the Wolfowitz Doctrine was already well advanced in its search for a new enemy image.

One need only look beneath the surface of history to see that such patterns have often led to attempted overthrows and bloody civil wars – always under the pretext of establishing democracy and justice. True causes and triggers are rarely mentioned in the news, much less in American media, either conservatives or liberals.

The chemical element cobalt, which is mostly hand-extracted from simple, man-high shafts in the former Belgian Congo, is important for our car batteries and cell phones, among other things. Child labor is often used for mining in Congo.

Thanks to Hunter Biden’s “investment firm”, the Chinese were able to claim one of the most profitable cobalt mines, after all 80 percent of the output in what is presumed to be the richest cobalt region in the world. Biden brokered the transfer of this mine from an American corporation to a Chinese company. In the truest sense of the word, the business deal in Central Africa was “Made in and from the US.”

Of course, this constitutes a state crime, especially since it involves the son of the sitting president as well as a country with which the USA is anything but allied.

However, since when is anything considered a crime in the U.S. as long as it serves the interests of the donor class of the political caste? Gun industry, corporations, insurance companies, fossil fuel companies – you name it. They are all under inactive political protection and can do whatever they want. According to American understanding, human rights only count when a president of their own – no matter who it is – points the finger at other countries.

That’s right, China. Mr. Biden should ask his son.

Fight Socialism

How American Neo-Liberals lie to their People

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

I once wondered why so many US media outlets, in concert with especially right-wing politicians, almost exclusively use the empty phrase “former communist East Germany” whenever the defunct German Democratic Republic (GDR) is mentioned. It’s misleading because it’s historically wrong – and I think the commenters know that very well in most cases. A fear-mongering is deliberately staged in order to drum into people’s heads over and over again a phrase about a social system that, according to a widespread American understanding, only compares to hell. In truth – and I say this as a contemporary witness – this communism did not exist on German soil at any time.

For in communism, by definition, neither money nor private property exists. Fact is we had both; money in most cases even in abundance – only you couldn’t do much with it. That’s because basic needs in the GDR – housing, food, medical care – were guaranteed by state order and dirt cheap, and spending on big extras was almost impossible because those extras most of the time simply didn’t exist. Generally, the GDR-customer had to wait up to 15 years after registering for a new car, and when the first Soviet-made color televisions became available in the early 1980s, they cost around 6,000 GDR marks. The average wage of a skilled worker at that time was 800 to 900 marks, and I paid 66 marks monthly for a two-room rental apartment of very good quality. A beer in the pub (0.5 liters equal to 0.13 gallons) cost 0.40 and 0.51 marks; for a loaf of mixed rye bread (1.65 pounds), fresh and delicious from the bakery, the price was 0.93 marks.

I remember a student – we were still children – asking our teacher how shopping without money could work under communism and in general. The teacher’s answer: In communism, everyone is considerate of others and therefore only puts as much in the shopping cart as he needs for himself – no more. He does not have to pay for it, because there is no money. – My school friend Bernd spoke up, his index finger raised far above his head, and he was excited: “That can’t work. My father would lug all the beer out of the store, right down to the last bottle, if he didn’t even have to pay for it.”

Communism was to be the final stage of fulfillment of all desires and dreams, while socialism is only the penultimate step to pave the way. But Socialism didn’t work out well in the GDR either. This is because the idea of socialism requires that the means of production are not in private hands, but in the hands of the state. I have personally worked and lived in this state-controlled economy that did not allow personal innovation in the first place. Of course, such a command economy with hardly anyone interested in progress cannot function in an effective manner. Apart from subsidized basic supplies for the people, the economy in the GDR was an economy of scarcity; a condition that worsened especially in the 1980s.

Many years later, I worked for the largest private employer in the United States of America, a retailer named “Walmart.” That’s when I went from the frying pan into the fire – so to speak. Although there was a lot more to buy at Walmart than in “communist East Germany” back then, most of my American colleagues barely had any extra money available and often couldn’t make it from payday to payday without relying on government handouts. There was no legal protection for workers either; instead, they were subjected to arbitrariness of a kind not seen even in the supposed communism of East Germany. It is true that in the GDR was no freedom of travel, and also no freedom of expression without taking the risk of serious consequences, especially when the remarks were of critical political nature – consequences relatively harmlessly described by the term “reprisals.” But also at Walmart I witnessed blatant threats by management against young employees during a meeting: ‘Be very careful what you say about the company publicly, including in your spare time and via Facebook. Be careful what you write about Walmart. There could be consequences for you, up to and including termination.’

Maybe they will come after me now when they read the truth about themselves and what I and others have witnessed. Land of the free … What I heard and saw opened my ears and eyes to how little American corporatocracy seemed to differ from socialist despotism, except that no one could lose their job in the GDR workforce. The right to a job was codified in the command economy system.

During those eight years with the corporation, I have often wondered why Americans accepted in such a docile way their fate of low wages while being treated like second class people. I had to go back to 1997 in my research to find an even halfway, yet not very satisfactory answer, provided by no less a figure than Alan Greenspan. The American economist, who served five terms from 1987 to 2006 as chair of the Federal Reserve, warned in his testimony about the performance of the US economy in front of the Joint Economic Committee: “Job insecurity cannot suppress wage growth indefinitely. Clearly, there is a limit to how long workers will remain willing to accept smaller increases in living standards in exchange for additional job security.”***

And yet, he was probably not quite correct at the time – or the situation had changed over the years and was subject to regional differences. When I was working for Walmart, people were literally toiling for barely more than a starvation wage, while the corporate family of roughly two dozen made 30 billion in profit per year, almost untroubled from any significant legal regulation in favor of the workers. Now and then a grumble could be heard behind held hands, but I never saw a potential for more. If they were afraid to make demands for better conditions from their employers for reasons of Job security, then the high labor turnover rate I witnessed didn’t fit the picture. At Walmart, there was a constant coming and going – employees often simply didn’t show up at the store the very next day. After three or four years, I realized I was one of the “longest-serving” of the 90 or so employees in the store.

Contrary to Greenspan’s thesis, my colleagues gave me the impression that they could do nothing to change the unjust conditions. They seemed to accept their situation with drastic cuts in their rights rather as a “God-given” fact. These are dire realizations, especially from younger people who supposedly lived in a country of freedom and liberty.

Those who have to live constantly in existential dilemmas through no fault of their own can hardly feel any sense of freedom. They worked in a lawless space, and there was no real legal representation of workers’ interests. No one dared to even utter the word “trade union.” Unions in the US, of course, also smack of socialism – again, an argument as intentionally scattered as it is nonsensical. In this context, American history tells a different story: The first American president to openly side with unions was Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt – not a Socialist, but a Republican, as we know. The man knew what hardly anyone in the US seems to know today: membership in a union representing the interests of the vulnerable is one of the fundamental rights of a truly free and democratic social order. An upper class that does not have to disguise its actions will have no problem recognizing this basic right. Only in a system that systematically represses a large part of its own population while wanting to remain undisturbed is there a deliberate intention to nip in the bud views that run counter to corporate interests.

This gives rise to the profound suspicion that the United States of America is anything but a free country, for the majority of its populace is in various forms subjected to neoliberalism, which restricts social services, gives excessive power to corporations, enables political corruption without legal intervention, and exacerbates economic inequality. In this way, social division in the US has become more and more pronounced, thereby further undermining the old American creed of freedom and equality.

Consequently, those trying to identify the true forces in the US suppressing American basic rights and liberties, will have to look at the domestic corporatocracy and its propaganda aids, the corporate media – led by outlets like Fox News, which CNN and others are currently somewhat behind in misleading the people. Most media outlets systematically distort and suppress reality to serve big business in the US, which provides these media with advertising spots worth billions of dollars. It’s about purchased opinion, ratings and against everything that could spoil the business. It is the profit interest of a few to the detriment of the many.

Right-wing ideologues like to use the specter of socialism in the most primitive way to distract attention from the real culprits of the problems in their country and to make their own political mark. And masses of Americans are falling for it in rows. Socialism as a bogeyman is cited as often as possible, if necessary even in the distant past of the former “communist East Germany”, although rather unknown to most Americans. Yet, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is particularly fond of invoking my nation when it comes to spreading delusions of an impending red tide in America, made up of “radical leftists.” At the same time, the man can’t be so stupid as to believe his own words – he just seems confident in his ability to dumb down his compatriots, since they obviously don’t know too much. If he doesn’t feel that way about them – then why is he telling all this easily disprovable nonsense? What he has to say about Germany in general is historically sheer baloney and can be refuted with a minimum of knowledge. Nevertheless, he does not seem to care what truth is and what nuisance – and neither obviously do those who manage to vote for him.

Are these people entrusting their future to such demagogues still in their right minds? What – to cite just two current examples – does a compulsory mask regulation in the midst of a worldwide pandemic or a vaccine have to do with socialism?

In the USA, neither socialism nor anything else is in sight to oust the prevailing neoliberal system. Those who should have a particularly guilty conscience throw around terms like socialism or communism for the sole purpose to keep people in line and stir up fears about an ideology that is considered un-American anyway. And rest assured: even those confounded Democrats who barely mention Socialism by its name – Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, or Chuck Schumer – are more afraid of socialism than the devil is of holy water. Why? Because they get their billions from one and the same source as their Republican counterparts: The Corporatocracy.

They can fight each other in public as much as they want. How does an ancient German proverb say? “When it really comes down to it, one crow doesn’t peck out another’s eye.”

Or have you ever seen a different version yet?

Notes:

*** Source: Testimony of Chairman Alan Greenspan, Performance of the U.S. economy,
Joint Economic Committee, United States Congress, March 20, 1997. Available in the Internet at FRB: Testimony, Greenspan — Performance of the U.S. economy — March 20, 1997 (federalreserve.gov)