Reading Your Stasi

by Theodore Dalrymple (June 2015)

Nostalgia, that affection for the past that almost inevitably increases with age, is often derided as dangerous or reactionary because it is mistaken for a desire for a return to that past. This is a mistake: nostalgia is not a political programme and would not be nostalgia at all if it did not entail an awareness that the past cannot be returned to, that it is irrecoverable, that Time’s arrow flies in one direction only, and that (to reverse the Leninist justification for the most frightful bestiality), you cannot make eggs out of an omelette. And the fact that many people excoriate nostalgia because they take it for a political programme demonstrates just how politicised our minds and souls have become, probably a consequence of the greatly increased size and influence of the state in our lives. more>>>


One Response

  1. You could inulge two nostalgias at once.

    I recently visited Zimbabwe. Although far removed from the heavy efficiency of East Germany, there are enough elements of the misery making economic daftness and absurd belief in the correctability of historical events to bring back similar memories.

    The border crossing alone is a small set piece in the theatre of the absurd.

    I write this because of a previous article of yours which affected me deeply, that describing your time in the former colony.

    The other emotion, which your essay hints at, could be the schadenfreude, the guitly pleasure that but for the grace of God, you are not suffering the same fate.

    I guess I make light of other recent events in that country, of a far more brutal, violent and distressing nature.

    Would you consider revisiting?

    A lady running a lodge in Bulawayo told me of the time during the hyper-inflation. A perfectly respectable middle class widow. Some friends invited her to dinner, all they could serve her was one potato.

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