Socialism: The Utopian Dream that is a Nightmare
Whether the calls originate with academia, Hollywood or other quarters, socialism appears to be making a comeback—at least with the intelligentsia.
Before New York recently elected its openly-socialist congresswoman, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, actor Jim Carry was telling Democrats they needed to say “yes” to socialism.
I wonder how such folks can ignore the lessons of history.
For starters, there’s the murderous 20th century regimes of the Soviet Union’s Joseph Stalin. Or China’s Chairman Mao. Then there is the rapidly-degenerating situation in Venezuela, a current “Exhibit A” for why we don’t want socialism.
One past story about the legacy of the late Hugo Chavez was subtitled: “Venezuela’s crushing collapse offers lessons for outsiders drawn to big-government systems that can’t deliver.”
I’ve had some experiences with the nightmare called socialism.
One involved an uncle who left the Ukraine in 1915. He thanked his lucky stars he got out before the Bolshevik Revolution and settled in Chicago, where an ethnic stew of Eastern Europeans thrived.
A few years before dying in 1974, he expressed bitterness over the Soviet government refusing to let his brother visit America.
“If he was young and they needed him to work, I could understand,” my uncle remarked. “But he’s an old man. What can he do now?”
I’ve never forgotten those remarks. They refute the misguided praise for the glories of socialism.
Such advocates should have talked with some of the men whose stories I ghostwrote for a businessmen’s magazine.
Several had lived in former Soviet bloc countries. All described a living nightmare, with one calling its official atheistic doctrine an exercise in madness.
I still wonder how a collective of nations that executed millions of citizens and spread untold misery before collapsing on the ash heap of history can even be remembered in glowing terms.
More recently, I helped a retired businessman in northern California compile his soon-to-be-published memoir.
Among his adventures were smuggling Bibles into the Soviet Union in 1973 and China in 1979.
While that may sound like “ho hum” experiences today, they were hazardous ventures then, with the threat of arrest, imprisonment, or torture.
His visit to Moscow, where he delivered much-needed Bibles to the pastor of a small church, included being tailed by the KGB secret police.
Another encounter occurred at the world-renowned Hermitage Museum. There he met three young adults who wanted to know if he was one of those “oppressed Americans” they had heard so much about.
“Realizing they were intent on discovering if I was sympathetic to Communist doctrine, I smiled and asked questions about their way of life,” he writes. “Then I probed deeper with questions about their freedom.
“In particular, I asked, ‘What is the possibility of your coming to visit me in America as I have been able to visit your country?’ I believe they felt the impact of that question, since they didn’t respond.”
This businessman had a similar experience in China, where he met a doctor who displayed a National Geographic article with pictures of Yosemite and the Grand Canyon.
The doctor then commented sadly, “I will never be able to personally visit such a beautiful country.”
Please Don’t Import It
Yes, I know that capitalism has its problems; former White House aide Charles Colson once said that without Christianity’s leavening influence, it’s just another system of exploitation.
But we can’t forget that while socialism may sound wonderful, it isn’t so great when you scratch beneath the surface.
Commenting recently on the upheaval in Latin America, Heritage Foundation analyst James Robert commented, “The bloom is off the rose of socialism in Latin America. People have seen it for what it is—and it has been a disaster.”
Which is why we don’t want to import it to the U.S.