History's cruel lessons
The Spanish philosopher George Santayana wisely observed that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. He could have been talking about today’s misguided supporters of Soviet-style communism.
Amidst our turmoil in a divided nation, it might be worthwhile to reflect on the lessons the history that Marxist communism has to teach us today.
Karl Marx’s ideas of social egalitarianism can be traced back to Ancient Greece and later to the Christian Church, which reinforced the ideas of shared property.
Communism as we know it began with Marx’s and Friedrich Engels’ publication of The Communist Manifesto and Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks seizing power after the October Revolution in 1917.
After 74 years of mismanagement, starvation, oppression, imprisonment and murder of its citizens, Soviet communism collapsed in 1991. Here’s why it failed the Soviets and why it would fail in America.
• Private enterprise and ownership were outlawed. Instead of collectively producing more when everyone owned everything – meaning no one owned anything – the incentive to succeed withered and died.
• To each according to his need and from each according to his ability sounds great on paper. But it took even more incentives away. You were assured a job whether you liked the job or not.
• Freedom of speech was considered dangerous to the Communist party.. You openly criticized bumbling state planners and communist bureaucrats at your peril.
• People were dehumanized and jailed or killed for imagined crimes. Under Josef Stalin, millions were sent to labor and die in the gujlags and millions more died of starvation in artificial famines.
• All civil rights ended with the aim of establishing a society that functioned like automatons, followed rules without deviation and worked without question.
• Mass murder became the method to deal with dissent. Communism’s history is riddled with atrocities committed against those who did not embrace its doctrine.
• Utilitarianism was valued above everything else. Creativity was stifled. Art, books, poetry, sculpture and painting had to toe the party line and celebrate the achievements of the state. Artists were suspect. Free thinkers were jailed or executed.
• The Soviets opposed innovation and adaptation to changing needs and opportunities. As a closed society, they insisted on production rather than adaptation and innovation to do anything better.
Soviet communist ideology was not able to adapt to outside conditions.
Communism as practiced in China has survived because it responded to outside forces – modern technology, the global economy and social change.
Although many Chinese businesses are owned by the government, many others are privately and investor-owned.
Our brain-washed young college grads do not seem to know they would swap freedom for a life of tyranny – not utopia.
Got an opinion on this? Please write JerryBellune@yahoo.com
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