Why Divisions Work


At the Potsdam Conference in the last months of World War II, Britain, America, and the Soviet Union agreed to a division of Germany. The three nations termed the partitioning of Germany as "Administrative Areas". The U.S. administered three provinces, Bavaria, Württemberg, and Hessen in the south, and two Freistädte, Bremen and Bremerhaven in the northwest. Great Britain also administered three provinces, Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony), Nordrhein-Westfalen (Rhineland-Westphalia), and Schleswig-Holstein, and France took the rest, Baden, Saarland, and Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland Palatinate). Their goal was the eventual reunification of Germany.

The Soviet Union did not play by this plan, however. They occupied eastern Germany and used the territory to create a separate nation, East Germany. Most historians know it by the English name Germany Democratic Republic or the German name Deutsche Demokratische Republik. East Germany consisted of five eastern provinces: Thüringen,(Thuringia), Sachsen (Saxony), Sachsen-Anhalt, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and Brandenburg. The victorious powers also divided up the administration of Berlin. In 1961, to confirm East Germany's separate, independent status, the East German government erected the infamous Berlin Wall.   

The refusal of East Germany, backed by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, to allow Allied military personnel to travel into the Soviet Sector nearly led to World War III, until negotiations between the powers disarmed the crisis, but permitted the stalemate to endure until the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. I will never forget how eagerly East Germans fled past the border guards into West Berlin, then returned with sledgehammers to the Berlin Wall to hasten its removal. Karl Marx always said History stood on the side of Communism and had ordained the collapse of the Capitalist West; but you might say that Capital stood on the side of the West and defeated History, or something like that.

For me, the Berlin Wall will always delineate the basic philosophies of governing. The Western nations created freedom-loving societies. They enhanced the average citizen's freedom of choice, but also required risk and personal responsibility for definition. The Soviets tried to dispense with risk and limit the average citizen's personal responsibility for anything; but that required a government--centered society that minimized private ownership of anything and limited rather severely the average citizen's personal initiative and ability to live an independently directed life. The government wanted to protect its citizens from corrupting Western influences. Instead, it dispirited and intimidated them into submission. Not surprisingly, in 1989, East Germans voted in the most basic way people have voted since ancient times--with their feet!

                                                                                    Border personnel seize Western publications from East-bound mail

I have read extensively on modern American leftist luminaries like Howard Zinn, Arthur Miller, Sheldon Wolin, and others who profited from the American freedom-loving society. They all enjoyed unparalleled success. They voted consistently Left, rarely made any secret of their sympathy for the Communist Party in the U.S., and expressed outrage over the so-called "Anti-Communist Witch Hunts". Curiously, none ever joined the Party--because if they had joined the Party, they would have had to admit to owning much wealth, which they could not do. Their superiors in the Party would have shamed them for choosing wealth over concern for the poor and disenfranchised. The leftist luminaries had worked hard all their lives, and damned if they were going to give up their trappings of success! 

I would like to admonish the Republican Presidential nominee to see Republican voters as battered-spouse. If the nominee can stoop to address his voters and evaluate their circumstances, he might find that they want a divorce from their abusive spouse. Like the East Berliners, they would gladly vote with their feet, if not in the ballot booth. They can no longer afford to keep caving in to their abusive partner's intimidation, putdowns, and ridicule, although they would probably never admit to it publically, to just anyone! They need a way out of an intolerable situation.