April 27, 2009

Opium for The People

In Berlin, a referendum to re-introduce religion as a school subject failed. So the students will go on attending "ethics courses", which had been introduced three years ago.

Over at CathCon, Chris Gillibrand states under the header Communists defeat Religion in Berlin:
Lower turnouts in the East, all former Communist parts of East Berlin voting against and all of West Berlin voting for.

Two interpretations- either East Germans are rejecting what they see as another imposed ideology after they so enthusiastically embraced first Nazism and then Communism or all those years of atheistic indoctrination worked, "Religion is the opium of the People". But is it then democracy?

What a world we live in! There are now restaurants in West(!) Berlin where you can "relive the East German experience". Clearly the residents in the East have still not got over communism.
My reply: I am from West Germany (the Protestant part of Westphalia) and I am living in the East (Saxony) now since September 2006. I think that qualifies me to make an educated guess. Actually, it's more than a guess. You say: "Two interpretations- either East Germans are rejecting what they see as another imposed ideology after they so enthusiastically embraced first Nazism and then Communism or all those years of atheistic indoctrination worked, "Religion is the opium of the People".

It is certainly not the first one. Germans love totalitarian ideologies. They can't exist without one. That is why they are embracing Islam so enthusiastically.

The extent of the destruction of the souls of the people in East Germany is fathomless and the worst is that they are really feeling nostalgic about it. (Which supports the first point I made.) A side-issue in this context is the implied hypocrisy. Everybody would get a seizure if somebody would open a restaurant where you can "relive the Third Reich experience". But the second German dictatorship is quite alright. (This is a legitimate comparison, not an intellectually dishonest and ethically doubtful equation.)

Don't get me wrong, the people in Saxony are kind, helpful and friendly. They have never been, after all, Prussians. But they have been robbed of the core of their being. The only group that managed to resist to a certain extent were the Catholics.

This soullessness, the Communist nostalgia and anti-Christian sentiments of the people from the East are now exploited by demagogues from the West and Atheism and Socialism/Communism are speedily filtering down from the East to the West to form a Brave New Germany.

"But is it then democracy?"

Why, yes! Who says that democracy doesn't support the self-destruction of the people? [End of my reply.]

I have forgotten who said that people who don't believe in God anymore believe not in nothing but in everything. That may be true for the "hip" new Left in West Germany who consider themselves avantgarde. In the East they really and truly believe in nothing. Only a small minority has escaped the virtual death of mind and soul, a sizeable intersection of which is Catholic. The rest just vegetates along from day to day, in a way happily so, or at least not unhappily. Happiness and unhappiness are, in a way, concepts too complex to be applied to that way of life. Maybe it will take forty years again to revive them, they had, after all, had to live under Communism for forty years, but I doubt it. Almost half of that time is already over. The next generation, who has not consciously experienced Communism, if at all, ist just as bad, if not worse. The regime has erased any trace of joy, discernment, good taste and manners ("style"), of responsibility, achievement and optimism.

I am sad.


fpb said...

people who don't believe in God anymore believe not in nothing but in everything
That was GK Chesterton. (Who else?) But you misquote him slightly: what he means is that people who don't believe in God can be taken in by anyone and will accept any swindle, however ridiculous - and I regret to say that recent European history gives infinite amounts of evidence in his favour.

The_Editrix said...

Yes, who else indeed!

What you say is exactly how I take the meaning of that quote, but now I re-read that entry I see that it can be misleading.

A bit off topic: A few weeks ago I took my car for an aimless trip along the Czech border to the next major border crossing and back on the German side. (I am living less than 20 km away from one.) I went through deepest countryside. What I found disturbing are the many dead churches, some alone on a hill, most in a village. That is far beyond what you see here in East Germany. I doubt that the churches here have been as well kept as they are now, but they simply can't have been that derelict. I travelled in May 1990, shortly after the borders were opened, through the then GDR. I didn't look out for it, but I can't remember a single church like that. Czechia is supposed to be the most atheist country in Europe. What I saw would support that.

fpb said...

The Czech Republic suffers from an overhang of Hussite nationalism. The religion is long forgotten, but the prejudice lingers on. It is always the last thing to die. Jansenists passed their arguments against Rome to Voltaire and the Encyclopedists; and the heirs of Cromwell's Kingdom of the Saints called in the homosexual enemy of Christianity, William III, under whose reign anti-clericalism and the debunking of Christianity became England's official church. The arguments against Rome made by Luther and his followers became the official doctrine of Prussia, then of Hitler, then of the DDR - all entities whom Luther would have consigned to a warm spot. But in the Czech Republic the meeting of Communism and anti-Catholicism has had its most fruitful results. The persecution of the Church was, to the very last - even as the piper had begun to play in neighbouring Poland and Hungary - unmatched in its ferocity and thoroughness throughout the Communist East; by the time the Communist regime finally collapsed, only three elderly bishops were left in all Czecho-slovakia. The artificial union of Bohemia-Moravia and Slovakia may have worsened things, in that the ancestral Czech hatred of CAtholicism may have been kept alive and stimulated by the presence in the commonwealth of backward, rural, clerical Slovakia, whose social life and mentality embodied everything the Czech post-Hussites hated. It may not even be a coincidence that the man who tried to humanize Czecho-slovak Communism, Alexander Dubcek, was a Slovak.

I have more hopes for much of Europe than most Catholics entertain. But as for Czechia, and France as well, it will take centuries before Catholicism is reborn there.