Today’s Naive Enthusiasts for Socialism Should Heed Its Reality
As a teenager, every year I had to sit through indoctrination classes on “scientific socialism.” This ersatz science was invented by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels as a theory to explain the processes of transforming society from capitalism to communism, to define the “laws” of the revolution that would occur, and to describe the tactics to be employed by the “proletariat” against the “bourgeoisie.”
I watched my bleary-eyed classmates sit through these sessions, knowing full well that the theory discussed in class had nothing to do with the reality outside.
The constant rhetoric about how we should transform socialism from Utopian theories into “science” using “historical materialism” was heard on empty and growling stomachs. We were told that if we merged scientific socialism with the proletariat’s turmoil, then workers would become a conscious revolutionary class and communism would be built.
Knowing how many people have died trying to escape oppressive socialist countries, I am shocked at how many “useful idiots” today are clamoring for this political and economic system that has killed millions who naively believed the Marxists.
Perhaps my experience may help others understand what “socialism” is.
Socialism runs the gamut of social and economic systems defined by control of the means of production and social property. Social property can be public, collective, or cooperative.
Socialist doctrines focus on opposing individualism and installing “equality and solidarity,” and seek a variety of economic goals. Several types of socialism are advocated, including Marxist socialism, communism or “Utopian socialism,” libertarian socialism, reformed socialism, and social democracy.
The socialism I experienced offered us equal misery, equal exploitation, and equal jail time if we did not obey the Communist Party rulers. And certainly, there was no justice for the “proletariat.” We obeyed and accepted our fate and the decisions made by the communist elites ruling over us.
Socialism claims to be organized around the interest of the collective and not the interest of a group of individuals and is designed to give power to the people. To say that this theory is a joke is an understatement.
We had no power, and if we had tried to claim any—or our share of ownership of the means of production—we would have been met with the barrel of a gun, held by the police, who were cadres of well-fed, well-remunerated, and well-armed goons hired by the Communist Party. We no longer had as much as a hunting rifle, as all firearms were confiscated long before the state took complete control of our lives.
A socialist economy advocates for the state as the supreme administrator of all common goods. The state is in charge to assure that “every individual has conditions to live, to perpetuate the species, to enjoy life, to have dignity and respect for self and others, to find happiness, and to participate in the well being of the nation.” This is canned socialist rhetoric.
The socialist reality I’ve experienced was quite different. The state told each citizen how much they could eat, through inadequate distribution and production of food; how much they could consume in other goods, through inadequate five-year plans whose goals were always met and exceeded on paper while goods on the market were insufficient and were shoddily made because nobody really cared. Workers pretended to work, and the state pretended to pay them “living wages.” People tried to supplement their food supply and income through black market activities and by stealing from work and bartering with others for things they needed.
The state told us through the central communist planning how much electricity, heat, and water we could have by cutting them off several hours per day, how much personal property we could amass through its ever vigilant economic police that knocked on doors and confiscated anything they deemed excessive, and how much medication we could have by leaving pharmacies empty.
The Communist Party even issued legal guidelines in the 1980s of how many calories per day each person should consume. You were hard-pressed to find an obese person, unless the person had some other underlying health issue.
A 1989 video showed the socialist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu visiting a Bucharest grocery store and a bread store. In the film, the shelves are bursting with food, bread, pastries, salamis, cheeses, meat, sugar, cooking oil, and other items that the poor citizens fought over in endless lines every day.
This abundance had just been delivered and neatly arranged for the dictator’s visit. As soon as the dictator left, the food was taken away, leaving behind the empty and dark shelves that the equally miserable and exploited “proletariat” were accustomed to seeing.
The employees looked mortified, standing at attention in their white lab coats, applauding the dear leader like he was a celebrated rock star. The cult of personality had to be fed constantly by the pretend-adoring crowds who were forced to stand in sun, rain, or snow to applaud him wherever he happened to pass by.
Under socialism, there is no private property, supporters say. In the 20 years I lived through the transition from socialism to communism, elites had their private property while the proletariat had nothing. The state run by the Communist Party controlled everything, including our speech.
Marx, the ever-clever theoretician and parasitic thinker who survived on the generosity of rich friends and patrons, wrote that socialism is an imperfect transition between capitalism and communism in which goods and pay are unequally distributed, according to work done.
In reality, doctors and proletariat labor were paid approximately the same, removing the incentive to spend the years in college needed to become a doctor. The Democrats and leftist denizens say today that it is obscene for a doctor to make a profit and that care should be free.
“Socius” is Latin for “comrade or ally.” You had to be very careful whom you allied with, lest you found yourself in jail or dead. “Communis” is Latin for “shared.” In practice, nobody shared anything under communism except misery and poverty. Although communism is described in textbooks as having no classes, there were actually two: the proletariat (the majority) and the ruling elite (Communist Party members).
Under socialism, there is no “leveling of the playing field,” to use the Democrats’ euphemism. There is no “economic security” but insecurity. There is no “living wage,” just a surviving wage.
Socialism and communism create repressive societies. There is no “universal health care,” but instead the rationing of it. There is no “public good,” only the communist party “good,” and goodies at specialized Communist Party-only stores. There is free public education mingled with forced indoctrination into Marxist theory.
We define Western civilization by our humanity. Under communism, life was worthless unless it was the lives of those in power. If a baby was born with a fixable handicap, the state spent no resources to save the child—he or she was left to die unattended.
Students were vaccinated in school with the same three or four syringes and needles that were boiled in rusty pans every morning, not autoclaved. Hepatitis was rampant. Hospitals washed and re-washed bandages.
Hospital personnel, from orderlies to nurses to doctors, had to be bribed in order to properly care for patients. Medical treatments and drugs were free, but families had to provide sheets, towels, round-the-clock care, food, and drugs bought on the black market. The patient who had no family caring for them lingered in a metal frame bed unattended for weeks until they got better on their own or died.
‘Small Doses’ of Socialism
H.G. Wells, the prolific British sci-fi writer who described himself as a socialist left of Stalin, interviewed the infamous Soviet dictator for three hours on July 23, 1934. The interview was recorded by Constantine Oumansky, the chief of the Press Bureau of the Commissariat of Foreign Affairs.
The scope of the interview was to find out what Stalin was “doing to change the world.” Wells told Stalin that he tried to look at the world through the eyes of the “common man,” not the eyes of a politician or a bureaucrat.
Indicating to Stalin that “capitalists must learn from you, to grasp the spirit of socialism,” Wells stated that a profound reorganization was taking place in the United States, the creation of a “planned, that is, socialist, economy.” He had witnessed Washington building offices, new state regulatory bodies, and “a much needed Civil Service.”
The Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev said in 1959, “We cannot expect the Americans to jump from capitalism to communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving Americans small doses of socialism until they suddenly awake to find they have communism.”
Today, those “small doses” of socialism have grown ever larger and now are being pushed by politicians, the legacy media, and academia.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.