What's Wrong With This Picture: You Know It's Socialism When… Edition

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

The “S” word became one of the more popular words in online discourse this year, typically derailing discussions way off topic and resulting in the kind of partisan screeching that drives everyone bonkers. More often than not, these fruitless debates settle around a single major point of contention: the definition of Socialism. Well, thanks to a 48-picture gallery of auto ownership in the former East Germany at Autobild, we now have a distinctly automotive definition of Socialism. Autobild’s thesis is that automobiles helped destroy Socialism, and certainly being forced to choose between a Trabant, a Moskvitch and a Lada would be enough to turn Che Guevara into Milton Friedman. But the gallery also includes images of the Neo-Trabant, an EV concept that plays on Germany’s strange quasi-nostalgia for the bad old days. Or at least the bad old cars of the bad old days. Which indicates that the most typical response to all forms of politics is ambivalence.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Martin Schwoerer Martin Schwoerer on Dec 31, 2009

    Yes yes, but to pose a more interesting (albeit off-topic) question, why is the Autobild homepage so ugly? Everything Springer (its giant arch-conservative publishing house) touches turns to unappealing crap. As a magazine, Autobild is really quite good: cheap to buy, up-to-date, well-informed, well-written and relatively uncorrupted. But its appearance is socialist in the second, sad sense: not "beauty for the masses", but "we are down to earth and so we don't worry about bourgeois aesthetic trifles".

  • Bertel Schmitt Bertel Schmitt on Dec 31, 2009

    Rarely known, but true: East Germany's nomenklatura drove Western cars. First to import cars to the GDR was Volvo. A Volvo 140, 160, or 240 branded you as one of the chosen few. Erich Honecker's daily driver was a 264 TE, customized by Bertone. Later, Citroen delivered thousands to East Germany. Volkswagen delivered 10,000 Golf I to East Germany. In the early 80s, Mazda sold a similar amount. There were also Renaults, Ford Orions and Fiat Unos.

  • Panzerfaust Panzerfaust on Dec 31, 2009

    Some were gifts from Western leaders. Leonid Brezhnev had several western cars, I think it was Richard Nixon who presented him with a Lincoln, and Brezhnev proceeded to take Mr. Nixon on a hair-raising ride through the Russian countryside.

  • VanillaDude VanillaDude on Dec 31, 2009

    What's with the praise of the Trabant? Ever have to deal with them? They spewed oily black exhaust and polluted like a tire fire! Cute? Maybe sitting still. But cars are supposed to move. When the Trabant moved, it wasn't cute at all. They were EPA Superfund sites on wheels! Good lord people!

    • Panzerfaust Panzerfaust on Dec 31, 2009

      Yeah, I've had to deal with them, yes they smoked were generally a hazard to sit in much less drive. And a Lada Riva as well, horrid brakes and steering that made one wonder if it was some secret Government program to assure all Russian males had a certain level of upper body strength. But its not so much praise (at least on my part) as it is a fascination with all things mechanical and in this case peculiar things mechanical.