How ’bout Communism?

Note: Most of my adult life and all of my childhood were dominated by the threat of Communism. People of my generation who wanted to know understood well the horrors of Communist societies. We knew of the slave-labor camps, of the mass executions, of the constant spying on ordinary citizens by the secret police, of the betrayals of friend by friend that were everyday life in Communist countries. We were well aware also of the grinding poverty in those countries.

I am concerned that thinking individuals who are in their twenties and even in their thirties now might know little about the reality of Communism as it was practiced. It seems to me that no one asked them to study the matter. A Russian friend of mine is going back to Russia this summer for a couple of months. If a few readers ask, I will request of my friend that he contribute to this blog from there, drawing on the memories of older friends and relatives who survived the Soviet period.

There was once a “Communist” movement whose followers were often motivated by generous impulses and by economic ignorance, in more or less equal parts. There has never been a Communist state, whatever that would be. Historically several Communist parties did achieve political power. None did so through democratic means, although the Czechoslovak Communists may have come close, in 1948. We will never know because the presence of a large contingent of the Soviet Red Army in the country forever mars the analysis. Continue reading