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Museum to Failed Socialism Like a Tour Through Sean Penn's Brain


So over Thanksgiving I went to Berlin, which is in Germany. I went there strictly for fun, for it had nothing to do with hormonal treatments. Those ended years ago. Anyway, the high point was the DDR museum, otherwise known as The Museum of the German Democratic Republic.

There you could experience a sad moment in history – when East Germany existed (if you could call it an existence).

The museum offers the visitor a typical day in socialism, featuring real artifacts from clothes to coffee. You can sort through closets, walk through a concrete slab living room, fiddle with a lonely pressure cooker on a stove.

Imagine crawling through Sean Penn’s brain.

You can steer an actual Trabant, possibly the worst car ever made. Legend has it, that there was no such thing as a new Trabant. A dead one was just patched back up and sent out on the road. Like Joan Rivers.

And of course, there’s GDR’s first and only attempt at creating a microchip. It cost 100 times more than ours, which was already an antique by then. East German leaders beamed with pride over the prototype, while the actual chip NEVER got made.

The museum is worth the long flight, for it is not simply a wry commentary on life without aspirations, but a salute to capitalism, a salute to us. From every corner of the museum, the displays told the viewer why their economy failed, why nothing worked, and how a desperate people dreamed of western goods.

Who was at fault? The culprits are obvious – but the big one here? Unions. The big lie of socialism: it’s about the worker, when it’s really about power. And the government kept control of the people through the bullying power of unions. In return, for stifling dissent, the unions had their own power. And with it, they did nothing but engage in slothful incompetence. In the end, you had a country with piles of worthless money, and no goods to spend it on.

But what was most strange, was how vastly entertained the museum visitors were by this grim world. They looked at it like a carnival freak show – you know – the two headed rabbit, the bearded lady, the lizard-skinned man, Joy Behar.

I might say that socialism belongs among that menagerie, except those other freaks never killed anyone.

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