In 2017, the Pew Research Center published key findings on religion and politics in Central and Eastern Europe revealing some alarming trends in attitudes towards the former U.S.S.R. and democratic government. For example, several former Soviet-bloc countries consider the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union to have been a bad thing for their country Armenia (79%), Moldova (70%), Russia (69%), and Belarus (54%). Further, of the 18 countries surveyed in Central and Eastern Europe, only two countries, Greece (77%) and Lithuania (64%), have clear majorities on the question of whether democracy is the most preferable form of government.
In the United States, according to a study by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, an astounding 51% of millennials would prefer to live under either a socialist (44%) or a communist (7%) government.
As the memory of the human rights abuses and totalitarian oppression fades, it appears that attitudes towards socialism are changing. But has socialism or communism as an ideology changed?
Some consider themselves “socialist” and not “communist” as if to exempt themselves from the violent totalitarianism implicit in communism. However, the Russian communists considered themselves “socialist” because they perceived communism as the “ideal” in which the entire world, free of all the dissidents, would be socialist. This, of course, would be accomplished after the Lenin’s followers had murdered all the opposition.
Millennial socialists and communist supporters ignore this basic fact of communism’s dark and merciless history: Violence. It has been documented that communist governments murdered over 100 million people in the last century, transforming entire countries into prisons with no freedom, no rights and untold human rights abuses. To put it into perspective, the German Nazis murdered 6 million people during the brutal Holocaust. The horrors of communism killed 94 million more people than the Nazis, a figure as incomprehensible as it is astounding. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a Russian writer who lived through the Soviet prison camps observed the implicit violence of communism stating, “For violence has nothing to cover itself with but lies and lies can only persist through violence.”
Despite these facts, the concept of communism still evokes an idealized version of love and “sharing” in the minds of some self-proclaimed socialists. They cite the New Testament book of Acts in which many in the early Christian church held things in common. For these misguided people, communism appears to be the Christian ideal.
However, a huge difference exists between people volunteering to share property and a dictatorial regime seizing property for “the state” (which really means for the ruling elites). Communist theory is less about people sharing, and more about the strong forcing the weak to “share” with them, but by “sharing” they mean “seizing” and destroying the concept of private property.
Yet, when did private property become the enemy? Plato’s Republic and Thomas More’s Utopia both charged ownership of private property as the root of societal ills, and sought to remedy this problem by simply taking it away, while failing to mention the violent and coercive methods by which private property would be seized. This idea seeks to fix the human envy problem by merely assigning everyone equal amounts of possessions, or as radio host, Dennis Prager puts it, “Equal amounts of zero.”
Even in real life this proves to be a fallacy. Take three children and give them each the same toy. They will inevitably find a way to compare one to the other. Is the issue the toy or the children’s attitudes towards the toys? Will abolishing toys make the children stop comparing themselves? Everyone knows the answer is “No.”
Thus, it is with private property. Abolishing private property as the solution to human envy does not address the problem. It only hubristically proposes that no property means no envy, without ever confronting the envy problem itself…or accepting it as a natural part of human nature.
And what about greed? Uninformed young socialists fail to understand that under communist “sharing,” he who divides the pie gets the biggest piece. Dictatorial elites always take from others and “share” it with themselves.
The key question regarding communism is this: Did it fail because of human error or because of internal flaws? The verdict is clear: Communism’s internal flaws run counter to human nature, leverage the wrong incentives, and encourage more greed and lust for power than any other economic system in the world.
History reveals truth, but if left to the corridors of libraries, it cannot shape our future. History must be understood and shared. Thus, in spite of the dismal statistic of European attitudes towards the former U.S.S.R., the less than enthusiastic views toward democracy, and the American millennial preference for socialism and communism, hope can be found in the many people speaking out against both the fallacies of communist theory and the human rights abuse implicit in communist practice. The White House, for example, issued a statement on November 7 acknowledging the 100 year anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. Noting the barriers to freedom, liberty and the 100 million lives lost under violent, totalitarian dictatorships, it correctly identifies communism as “a political philosophy incompatible with liberty, prosperity, and the dignity of human life” and further notes that “These movements, under the false pretense of liberation, systematically robbed innocent people of their God-given rights of free worship, freedom of association, and countless other rights...”
As the lamp of history lights the path of the future, may we be wise enough to understand the fallacies of communism and bold enough to speak against its violent practices, for our generation and for generations to come.
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Caroline C. Lewis
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