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100 Years. 100 Million Lives. Think Twice

Goldhedge

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#1
100 Years. 100 Million Lives. Think Twice
By LAURA M. NICOLAE November 20, 2017
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In 1988, my twenty-six-year-old father jumped off a train in the middle of Hungary with nothing but the clothes on his back. For the next two years, he fled an oppressive Romanian Communist regime that would kill him if they ever laid hands on him again.

My father ran from a government that beat, tortured, and brainwashed its citizens. His childhood friend disappeared after scrawling an insult about the dictator on the school bathroom wall. His neighbors starved to death from food rations designed to combat “obesity.” As the population dwindled, women were sent to the hospital every month to make sure they were getting pregnant.

My father’s escape journey eventually led him to the United States. He moved to the Midwest and married a Romanian woman who had left for America the minute the regime collapsed. Today, my parents are doctors in quiet, suburban Kansas. Both of their daughters go to Harvard. They are the lucky ones.

Roughly 100 million people died at the hands of the ideology my parents escaped. They cannot tell their story. We owe it to them to recognize that this ideology is not a fad, and their deaths are not a joke.

Last month marked 100 years since the Bolshevik Revolution, though college culture would give you precisely the opposite impression. Depictions of communism on campus paint the ideology as revolutionary or idealistic, overlooking its authoritarian violence. Instead of deepening our understanding of the world, the college experience teaches us to reduce one of the most destructive ideologies in human history to a one-dimensional, sanitized narrative.

Walk around campus, and you’re likely to spot Ché Guevara on a few shirts and button pins. A sophomore jokes that he’s declared a secondary in “communist ideology and implementation.” The new Leftist Club on campus seeks “a modern perspective” on Marx and Lenin to “alleviate the stigma around the concept of Leftism.” An author laments in these pages that it’s too difficult to meet communists here. For many students, casually endorsing communism is a cool, edgy way to gripe about the world.

After spending four years on a campus saturated with Marxist memes and jokes about communist revolutions, my classmates will graduate with the impression that communism represents a light-hearted critique of the status quo, rather than an empirically violent philosophy that destroyed millions of lives.

Statistics show that young Americans are indeed oblivious to communism’s harrowing past. According to a YouGov poll, only half of millennials believe that communism was a problem, and about a third believe that President George W. Bush killed more people than Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, who killed 20 million. If you ask millennials how many people communism killed, 75 percent will undershoot.

Perhaps before joking about communist revolutions, we should remember that Stalin’s secret police tortured “traitors” in secret prisons by sticking needles under their fingernails or beating them until their bones were broken. Lenin seized food from the poor, causing a famine in the Soviet Union that induced desperate mothers to eat their own children and peasants to dig up corpses for food. In every country that communism was tried, it resulted in massacres, starvation, and terror.

Communism cannot be separated from oppression; in fact, it depends upon it. In the communist society, the collective is supreme. Personal autonomy is nonexistent. Human beings are simply cogs in a machine tasked with producing utopia; they have no value of their own.

Many in my generation have blurred the reality of communism with the illusion of utopia. I never had that luxury. Growing up, my understanding of communism was personalized; I could see its lasting impact in the faces of my family members telling stories of their past. My perspective toward the ideology is radically different because I know the people who survived it; my relatives continue to wonder about their friends who did not.

The stories of survivors paint a more vivid picture of communism than the textbooks my classmates have read. While we may never fully understand all of the atrocities that occurred under communist regimes, we can desperately try to ensure the world never repeats their mistakes. To that end, we must tell the accounts of survivors and fight the trivialization of communism’s bloody past.

My father left behind his parents, friends, and neighbors in the hope of finding freedom. I know his story because it is my heritage; you now know his story because I have a voice. One hundred million other people were silenced.

One hundred years later, let us not forget the history of the victims who do not have a voice because they did not survive the writing of their tales. Most importantly, let us not be tempted to repeat it.

Laura M. Nicolae ’20 is an Applied Mathematics concentrator in Winthrop House.
 

Area51

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#2
The only thing worse than propaganda is factually incorrect propaganda.

Joe Stalin was most definitely NOT a communist. The guy was a fascist dictator who exploited the working peasants for the benifit of the ruling class of elites.

Rural America was built on communist idealogies far more than most realize - - or want to acknowledge.

Farmers in the community would all work together sharing their tools, equipment and labour. They'd all work together for barn raisings. They'd all work together as a threshing crew going from one farm to the next at harvest.
 

viking

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#3
The only thing worse than propaganda is factually incorrect propaganda.

Joe Stalin was most definitely NOT a communist. The guy was a fascist dictator who exploited the working peasants for the benifit of the ruling class of elites.

Rural America was built on communist idealogies far more than most realize - - or want to acknowledge.

Farmers in the community would all work together sharing their tools, equipment and labour. They'd all work together for barn raisings. They'd all work together as a threshing crew going from one farm to the next at harvest.
Was that voluntary or coerced?
 

hoarder

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Communism is a weapon. The stated intentions are not the real intentions. If you were to invent an ideology to facilitate conquest, Marxism would be it. Class warfare by instilling in the lowest denominator that they will get something for nothing and be elevated to the same level as his superior....and that it will be deemed legitimate by the authorities. The perfect bait to get others to do your fighting for you. The power of envy.
The end result reveals the original intention.
 

brosil

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#5
The only thing worse than propaganda is factually incorrect propaganda.

Joe Stalin was most definitely NOT a communist. The guy was a fascist dictator who exploited the working peasants for the benifit of the ruling class of elites.

Rural America was built on communist idealogies far more than most realize - - or want to acknowledge.

Farmers in the community would all work together sharing their tools, equipment and labour. They'd all work together for barn raisings. They'd all work together as a threshing crew going from one farm to the next at harvest.
That's co-operatism, not communism. It's still fairly common among religious groups that stress service to others.
 

hoarder

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That's co-operatism, not communism. It's still fairly common among religious groups that stress service to others.
Socialism in small groups often works quite well because of two important ingredients: the groups are small (so there is accountability) and the members are loyal to each other. Try to apply it to a large and multicultural nation and the results are great for the new rulers and horrible for those who would oppose them.
 

FoundingFathers

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#7
The only thing worse than propaganda is factually incorrect propaganda.

Joe Stalin was most definitely NOT a communist. The guy was a fascist dictator who exploited the working peasants for the benifit of the ruling class of elites.

Rural America was built on communist idealogies far more than most realize - - or want to acknowledge.

Farmers in the community would all work together sharing their tools, equipment and labour. They'd all work together for barn raisings. They'd all work together as a threshing crew going from one farm to the next at harvest.
You forgot the word "voluntarily" before "all work together". Communism doesn't give you that option.
 

gringott

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The actual history of real communes in America is eventual failure. Small homogeneous groups in rural America working together and sharing tools is not the Communism that enslaved millions and cost so much misery and death. To compare the two is ludicrous.

My wife was a refugee from Communist Poland. Her cousin served time in prison for activism with Solidarity. The Poland I saw for the first time in 2002 still suffered from the effects of Communism, the Poland I saw in 2017 is a vibrant culture with a sense of optimism about the future. The former dark and poor Communist country has transformed into a beacon of freedom and liberty, standing up to the EU fascists and refusing to be invaded by the third world hordes. There is a thriving middle class. Medical and dental devices and services can be bought on the open market for cash - at a substantial discount to the same things in other parts of Europe or the USA. For example, my wife has got many types of blood tests for peanuts there, WITHOUT A DOCTOR'S ORDERS, surprise surprise. Insurance not needed, the cash price is so low.

When the Soviets fell, the world was a better place for it. When our [America's] trip to Communism started it's fast climb, many Russians pointed out they had their 70 years of national nightmare, and TPTB were about to present the USA with it's own 70 year nightmare.

I think they were right.
 

Area51

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#9
The actual history of real communes in America is eventual failure. Small homogeneous groups in rural America working together and sharing tools is not the Communism that enslaved millions and cost so much misery and death. To compare the two is ludicrous.

My wife was a refugee from Communist Poland. Her cousin served time in prison for activism with Solidarity. The Poland I saw for the first time in 2002 still suffered from the effects of Communism, the Poland I saw in 2017 is a vibrant culture with a sense of optimism about the future. The former dark and poor Communist country has transformed into a beacon of freedom and liberty, standing up to the EU fascists and refusing to be invaded by the third world hordes. There is a thriving middle class. Medical and dental devices and services can be bought on the open market for cash - at a substantial discount to the same things in other parts of Europe or the USA. For example, my wife has got many types of blood tests for peanuts there, WITHOUT A DOCTOR'S ORDERS, surprise surprise. Insurance not needed, the cash price is so low.

When the Soviets fell, the world was a better place for it. When our [America's] trip to Communism started it's fast climb, many Russians pointed out they had their 70 years of national nightmare, and TPTB were about to present the USA with it's own 70 year nightmare.

I think they were right.

Poland was also NOT a communist regime when it was ruled by Stalin. Not even close.

Being ruled by a foreign dictator should have been your first clue. The Hitler style "purification" should have been your second.
 

Area51

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Communism is a weapon. The stated intentions are not the real intentions. If you were to invent an ideology to facilitate conquest, Marxism would be it. Class warfare by instilling in the lowest denominator that they will get something for nothing and be elevated to the same level as his superior....and that it will be deemed legitimate by the authorities. The perfect bait to get others to do your fighting for you. The power of envy.
The end result reveals the original intention.
You've just described "capitalist" America, my friend.

Stated intentions of a free market are clearly not the real intentions of a rigged market - - high frequency trading, insider trading, corporate bailouts.

Class warfare - - pitting white against blacks, Christians against Jews, liberals against conservatives, straights against gays.

Getting something for nothing - - put your money into the stock market/casino and get rich. Put your money into virtual currency and get rich.

The power of envy - - look at my McMansion in suburbia. Look at my shiny new SUV.

Ultimately, there's ZERO difference between "communist" Russia and "capitalist" America - - both are ruled by a small group of wealthy elites who exploit the lower class peasants.
 

gringott

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#11
Poland was also NOT a communist regime when it was ruled by Stalin. Not even close.

Being ruled by a foreign dictator should have been your first clue. The Hitler style "purification" should have been your second.
I think you are confusing the generic term for communism with the reality of rule by the Communist Party.
Communism as implemented in the Soviet Union and later behind the Iron Curtain is simply Gangster-ism.
The name of the mob is the Communist Party.
 

gringott

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Ultimately, there's ZERO difference between "communist" Russia and "capitalist" America - - both are ruled by a small group of wealthy elites who exploit the lower class peasants.
I may be an exploited lower class peasant, but I have the most comfortable life and standard of living of any peasant or serf in history.
I have lived in and visited many countries around the world, and in the end I chose to live here. I am not happy with the hidden hand behind our political system, but there is a hidden hand behind EVERY political system I have investigated in every country.

If you don't see a difference between Soviet Russia and the United States, you are blind.

The Nordic countries are often mentioned as the happiest in the world, yet I personally would not be happy living there under the political and economic system they have implemented. They are so happy they have invited in the third world to make them happy too. Check back on Nordic happiness in 50 years or so.
 

arminius

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#13
Small groups are tribalism, not socialism, and the way our ancestors lived for 99.9% of history. When you try that in huge nation-states, that's when you start to have real problems.
 

brosil

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Somewhere out there is The History of American Socialisms. It's the surviving part of a massive work that went unpublished after the author died of cholera. It might be on the Gutenberg Project. I recommend it.