Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man. Anything built by man, can be destroyed by him.
-- George S. Patton
(Political Orphan) -- A nation’s story can be traced in its art. For many, France is defined by the Eiffel Tower, its steely resilience tamed by precision engineering into a latticework so graceful it defies gravity. Similarly that French immigrant, the Statue of Liberty, symbolizes the promise and power of America. Positioned at America’s gateway with chains at her feet and a light held aloft, she embodies a nation brimming with righteous confidence.
What work of art or engineering defined East Germany? The Berlin Wall.
No one remembers the old Communist bloc for Sputnik or universal
health care. What we remember is innocent civilians gunned down as they tried
to flee to a better life. Overshadowing every message or intention of the
Communist world, the Berlin Wall was honesty in art. At the point where the “People’s
Republic” met free people, that system produced gray concrete misery, a monument
to oppression that sears the eye. Art is truth.
Losers build walls. For much of Rome’s history the city had
no functioning walls. It was defended by its ever-expanding projection of power;
military, economic and diplomatic. Its residents scrambled to build walls to forestall
defeat as its other modes of power collapsed. Do walls work? Sort of. Walls can
buy a little time, a breathing space in which a people can reorganize. However,
walls usually fail because they constrain their builders as much as their
targets. Once a culture starts pouring its resources into walls, it has little energy
for growth. A wall is a symbol of failure.