11 Days Remaining

Saturday 21st
posted by Morning Star in Arts

On the road with Attila the Stockbroker

(A Trump inauguration poem)

9 November 1989:
Fall of the Berlin Wall.
9 November 2016:
‘Election’ of Donald Trump.
Cause and effect.
The ghastly end
to a chain of events
going back to the 80s.
Gorbachev’s reforms.
Yeltsin’s kleptocratic coup.
9/11. Gulf War.
Islamic State.
and the rise of the populist Right.
This is a pivotal moment.
In the centenary year
of a Red revolution which shook the world
the Left needs to reclaim its
and move forward.
But in order to do so with clarity
we first have to look back.

Not right back to the beginning.
That path has been well-trodden
by thousands of writers
in millions of words:
the victories and the travesties,
the advances and the betrayals.
I’m going back just 28 years:
to February 1989 in East Berlin.
I was there.
On my four tours of the GDR
between 1986 and 1989
I had watched the East German Left
organize to growing effect
against the fossilized Party leadership
and now, inspired by Gorbachev’s Soviet reforms,
they were openly demanding change.
More democracy —
more socialism.
(I’ll never forget the banners:
‘Mehr Sozialismus, bitte!’)
Of course things couldn’t stay the same.
Gorbachev was right to say so.
But he was betrayed.
The good went with the bad.
The baby with the bathwater.
And the people paid the price.

The Wall fell.
The brave  activists of the Left
who brought it down
were swamped by hordes
blinded by Bild Zeitung,
fighting over bananas.
Across Eastern Europe
worlds collapsed overnight.
People celebrated.
In many ways they were right to.
Party by all means, we shouted
— but organize as well.
Take control of your own
Don’t believe the lies of the West.
They promise you exotic travel
but you will have no money to travel
They promise exotic cars
but you will have no money for cars
They will destroy your industries
privatise your futures
and make you paupers in your own lands.
But too few listened.
The cold, cruel masters
of a new world smiled.
It’s the end of history, they said.
Socialism has failed
the red banner has fallen
and now, workers, we are your masters,
East and West.
We’ll close down. Sack. Downsize. Relocate.
Ship in cheap labour. Outsource. Bring in robots.
Force down wages. Crush spirits.
Cast you aside
secure in the knowledge that your champions are dead
and that our pet media mouthpieces
can save us from your wrath
by blaming your fate on others:
immigrants, refugees
and your sacked co-workers
now recast as your enemies ­—
as scroungers off your taxes.
Slowly the vice tightened:
slowly the penny dropped.
Twenty years on from the fall of the Wall
opinion polls stated
that a majority all over Eastern Europe
(not the liberal elites of course
— they laughed into their
lattes —
but the forgotten masses
ignored by the world’s media)
believed that their lives were better before 1989.
That what was allowed to go into their mouths
mattered at least as much
as what was allowed to come out of them.
That without economic
without jobs, healthcare,
education, housing
political democracy was
and that globalisation, free trade
and neoliberalism
were the enemies of working people everywhere,
East and West.
But the mass Red parties of the European Left
had disappeared in a welter of apology
leaving an open goal
for the populists of the Right.
And now
it is the likes of Trump, Le Pen,
Wilders, Farage
who steal our clothes —
who use progressive-sounding weasel words
to spread the politics of hate.

Elsewhere in the world  
the modern secular movements
for liberation and education
slowly collapsed without their Soviet mentors
leaving a void.
A people still oppressed and poor
searched for
their own champions,
their own protectors.
Enter the fundamentalists.
For Trump and Le Pen
read ISIS and the Taliban:
the same weasel words,
the same dead-end reality.
Literally in the case of
the latter.

This is the challenge.
A hundred years on
From the great stand
in Russia
Let’s make another stand.
A stand against globalisation and neoliberalism.
Against nationalism and division.
Against racism and homophobia.
Against fundamentalism and misogyny.

So, comrades, come rally
And the last fight let us face.
The Internationale
Unites the human race.