Sunday, December 27, 2009

My Pendulum Theory

This is my last theory for 2009. Actually, it's not really mine, as during the research for this post I found another blog that explains this social pendulum from a different angle. My example is on a much larger social scale, specifically related to what happened 20 years ago, in 1989: the revolutions of 1989. Back in 1989, I followed the revolutions on TV. Actions that were unimaginable before, were really happening. The masses courageously took action.

Many documentaries were broadcast to mark the anniversary and I watched one describing the fall of the Berlin Wall.  One little story in this documentary made a big impression on me. It was about an East German lady in her fifties, working for the local ice cream factory. Apparently, there was a constant ice cream shortage in East Germany and the entire quantity this factory produced was always sold in an instant. When western goods started to be sold in eastern shops, people stopped buying eastern products, among them ice cream. After the eastern ice cream could not be sold, the shopkeeper asked the factory to take its products back. This lady came and tried to convince clients to buy her factory's ice cream by explaining that otherwise the factory will be closed down and the workers will become unemployed. The clients couldn't care less. One client even replied that he was fed up with this ice cream for 40 years while it was the only one available and now he was taking his revenge. This woman disposed the refrigerator and its contents. A few month later the factory closed down and she was unemployed.

Lately, people are nostalgically reviving former East German products, including Trabant cars. A new word, "ostalgie", has been coined for the phenomenon.

These days people are buying agricultural products from local farms, for helping them stay in business and for saving transportation carbon dioxide, and non-profits help the unemployed, although volunteering and civil society are much weaker in the east than the west.

Initial large pendulum swings are human and understandable, but after 20 years, the pendulum motion has slowed down, swings are more moderate.

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