9 thoughts on “Seumas Milne on East Germany: Historical revisionism at its worst”

  1. Posted 25/08/2017 at 16:13 | Permalink

    An excellent article which comprehensively shows that Milne “cherry picks” facts to suit his version of events. He is a true champagne socialist, because he has the money, the family and academic background which his family money allows him to be. My late father in law was a working class Yorkshireman, who worked at the same factory on the same lathe for over forty years. He always said that ” you have to be able to afford to be a socialist” and that socialism was very good at spending everyone else’s money.
    The GDR was an oppressive, brutal and totalitarian machine which murdered many of its citizens for the slightest dissent, encouraged friends, neighbours, children and husbands and wives to spy on each other in order to enforce its iron fist in a concrete glove hold on power. Why are we even giving this man the oxygen of publicity?

  2. Posted 25/08/2017 at 17:47 | Permalink

    Interesting article but you’re attacking a soft target. No-one takes Seamus Milne seriously because he is so clearly representative of a commonplace British archetype – the perpetually adolescent public schoolboy contrarian stuck forever in 1968. Everyone knows someone just like him.

  3. Posted 25/08/2017 at 18:33 | Permalink

    I lived in Poland in the 1980s and occasionally went to Berlin (West) to stock up on things that weren’t available in Warsaw (i.e. everything except bread and jam). This was at a time when the CIA billed East Germany as the world’s 10th economy. Visiting East Berlin, I was astonished to see that the workers’ districts in the east of the city were even more basic and soulless than the Warsaw housing projects. In Poland, we had rationing of food and petrol and most other daily consumer necessities. The government spokesman said many people approved of rationing because it guaranteed them a minimum of staples. He didn’t discuss that rationing was only necessary because the system structurally produced scarcity. Milne never experienced that in his life. If he had, he wouldn’t be nostalgic for it, unless he’s a masochist.

  4. Posted 25/08/2017 at 18:36 | Permalink

    Political belief is based on emotional thinking where reason has to be totally suppressed as that is the only means of coping with discomforting data which is not onside with belief. This was proved over a decade ago by researchers imaging the human brain using MRi scanning. See ‘Emory study lights up the political brain’ https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060131092225.htm.
    …”None of the circuits involved in conscious reasoning were particularly engaged,” says Westen. “Essentially, it appears as if partisans twirl the cognitive kaleidoscope until they get the conclusions they want, and then they get massively reinforced for it, with the elimination of negative emotional states and activation of positive ones.”…
    In other words the political brain is in bliss as it luxuriates in its own confirmation bias thus making reason-based thinking impossible if belief is in question.
    Confirmation bias is a much bigger problem for the left because only one of the five moral triggers matters in the slightest to the left liberal brain – harm/care. The other four moral values are viewed in a very negative light. This means liberals are incapable of even understanding the concerns of most of the population due to their narrowness of moral values.
    See ‘Conservatives have broader moral sense than liberals, says ‘Righteous Mind’ author’ http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/jun/26/righteous-mind-author-haidt-conservatives-have-bro/
    ….He polled over 130,000 conservatives and liberals on moral issues and found that while conservatives rely on all six foundations equally in making moral judgments, liberals favor care, liberty, and fairness, and were often indifferent to concerns of sanctity, loyalty, and authority. Libertarians, relying primarily on the liberty foundation, had the smallest moral domain of all, which probably explains a great deal…

  5. Posted 25/08/2017 at 22:12 | Permalink

    Watch the film “Lives of Others”.
    \

  6. Posted 25/08/2017 at 22:41 | Permalink

    It’s a strange mentality that goes looking for falsehoods to bolster their beliefs. I can only imagine it’s because too much self-esteem and deep-seating dreams have been invested.

    Thanks for the research and article.

  7. Posted 26/08/2017 at 15:43 | Permalink

    Excellent article, Kristian.
    I haven’t studied this, so only have anecdotes from my own experience. My father was a German from the Sudetanland, who later was a prisoner of war in Britain and remained. Because of the ban on emigration from the East, he never saw his parents again after the war and they died in the 1960s. Technically, he could have visited them, but actually could not as he was very poor, mostly working on building sites and could never save the money for the trip. He was very bitter about the life his parents endured – he said that they lived on nettle soup for a while when they had their house in the Sudetanland confiscated by the state (building the house and paying for the materials with a bank loan was his father’s life’s work) and they were forcibly moved to East Germany along with my father’s sisters (for some reason all his brothers ended up in West Germany). He used to send them parcels but all the goodies were stolen by those controlling the postal system.
    Later on, I met a few East Germans in my early 20s on a day trip into East Berlin and later visited them in East Berlin before the wall had come down. Their lives were grim – crammed into horrible, dark flats. When I visited the food prepared was pasta with tomato sauce – I think there wasn’t much variety of food available. My one friend was involved in the churchyard protests. She said she could away with it because her father was in the Communist party, so she had some protection against arrest.
    Later still, I had an East German boyfriend. He did point out the disadvantages of reunification – notably that there was no longer full employment – also, his parents loved their new TV but it did breed discontent as they could now see how others in the West lived and had lived all these years (they were ignorant of this before) and they were still pretty poor. He, however, got a well-paid job in a brewery based in Hamburg, so he came out of it well. He used to say that when he was in University, four boys shared a dormitory and you knew that one of them was a Stasi informant, so you always had to be on your guard. For me, this is the most pernicious aspect of life under a totalitarian regime – no price can be put on freedom of thought and expression. He said that in any group of four, one was likely to be an informant.
    Anyway, as you say, Seamus Milne doesn’t know what he’s talking about if he holds up East Germany as a country to aspire to in any shape or form.

  8. Posted 28/08/2017 at 13:16 | Permalink

    Eric Honecker said: The only rights you have are clothes on your back a roof over your head and food in your belly otherwise you have no rights. [That sums up 40 years of the DDR].

  9. Posted 13/08/2018 at 11:25 | Permalink

    I was in Berlin when the wall came down. All you need to know about how popular the DDR regime was could be found on the faces of the East Berliners coming through the holes that the wrecking balls had knocked through the wall. And on the faces of the children holding an orange in their hands for the first time.

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