Foreign Policy’s latest piece treats the fall of the Berlin Wall as one of those weird historical accidents that just, you know, happens sometimes – offering as possible explanations a number of completely insufficient possible causes (such as the activity of completely toothless eastern European NGOs) and ultimately suggesting that a bad couple days from an organizational standpoint doomed the Berlin Wall to fall. These explanations of course fail to account for the reason people were clamoring to cross the wall in the first place, and thus Foreign Policy is forced to concede that people wanted social freedom, while arguing that economic freedom was completely beside the point.
A thinking person would rightly interject here that Foreign Policy’s entire argument is a gigantic exercise in question-begging, since the lesson of the 20th century communist experiment – at least to people who are interested in actual facts as they existed – is that social freedom cannot exist in the absence of economic freedom. Reasonable believers in capitalism can disagree about issues that exist at the margins of economic policy, such as the proper level of regulation for derivative securities and appropriate controls on monetary policy. But over and over again, communism demonstrated that wholesale government control of economic production went hand in hand with wholesale government control over the freedom of its citizens. It is not a historical accident that totalitarianism followed communism everywhere it went (or, more accurately, vice versa), it was a necessary element of communist doctrine.