The Fall of the Berlin Wall
Socialism is often associated with humanity and equality. On the other hand, we present capitalism as fueling greed and injustice. How baseless this claim is, is best shown by the example of Germany.
In a period of 28 years, one country and its capital was divided, ruled by two governments, and organized with two completely different systems.
The eastern part was ruled by the Soviet Union, and the western part was occupied by United States, Great Britain, and France. The economic and social differences that resulted from the division were astounding, affecting every aspect of life. There are countless examples of how the market grew with astonishing speed, as well as the quality of life on the west side of Germany. In the next few years, the unevenness become more and more noticeable. Free market, volunteer exchange and competition encouraged producers and entrepreneurs on West. This led to lower prices and more variety of products. The standard of living rose to a higher level, and innovations were present in every field.
In the meantime, on the opposite side, dissatisfaction grew and the economy stagnated. There was a shortage on the market, and products were hardly accessible to people. The government of Soviet Union imposed an agency, whose goal was to frighten and control people. Their plan was successful, and people lost even the right to speak.
Although initially skeptical about capitalism, people realized its value, and an increased number moved every year, running away from socialism. It was taking place in Berlin simply because it was the easiest, most feasible, and most obvious way. Berlin let people see a better life on the other side. These were young people, aged under 25, each of them smart, capable, and brave. The government had to do something, and that is how the Berlin Wall was built on Aug. 13, 1961. Its purpose was mispresented to the public, as a thing intended to protect them from a fascist system. In fact, it was a tool to keep them captive. Eastern people needed to wait more than 10 years to be able to purchase an overpriced car of poor quality, while the westerns were driving Volkswagen, Mercedes or BMWs. A free market in a free society with less government interference resulted in a more developed and flourishing society.
We can also take an example of architecture, which was more modern and better preserved through privatization. Statistics show that 99% of people owned a phone on West, while only 16% could afford that luxury in the east. I could list endless examples, but you get the point.
Thousands of people lost their lives desperately trying to cross the wall. They were ready to sacrifice their lives in order to reach the capitalism that we today take for granted. With support of the United States and tireless protests made by millions of determined people, they managed to break down the wall. They gave millions of people a chance for a better life and freedom. They also taught us a lesson for today; how we should value people, their work, voluntary exchange, free market, persistence and diligence, competition, and all other features of a free society more than any government law.
Danijela Danilovic is a freshman at Northwood University who hails from Subotica, Serbia. She wrote this piece as part of the next In Defense of Freedom, an upcoming series of essays by Northwood students.