“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.” – Winston Churchill
The Ronald Reagan lecture series introduced three distinguished speakers, two survivors of communism from Cuba and Ukraine, and the American child of a Vietnamese family who fled communism, to the student body at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, on October 3, 2016 with the idea to warn the audience about the dangers of socialism and communism. The event was hosted by the College Republicans of which less than five were present. Four more GMU students attended “out of curiosity” and the rest of the audience was composed of older adults from the local community.
I could guess the audience would be sparse as soon as I saw the statue of George Mason in front of the Johnson Center. He was bedecked in a carnival mask, green ribbons tied in bows around his ankles, green and yellow balloons in his hands, and various signs were attached to his body announcing a job fair. The center was full of students milling about, drinking coffee, having dinner, and chatting enthusiastically as any young person would.
The basement was quiet; a small sign in front of the theater announced the topic, “Is Socialism the Answer for America?” Apparently the students had better things to do that day or already know from their vast life experience that socialism is good for America because it sounds so socially just in theory. Not one professor, not even a history professor, showed up for the event which was advertised in advance and had to be approved by the administration.
The first at the microphone was Agustin Blazquez, born and raised in Cuba, having left Cuba in his twenties, coming to the U.S. in 1967. He produced over 200 films and documentaries. He had escaped with his family after the fall of Battista and the rise of Fidel Castro.
Agustin lived through the step by step “fundamental transformation” of Cuba from capitalism to socialism, eventually to a totalitarian communist government. After Castro took over Cuba in 1959, even though warnings were coming from China and the Soviet Union, Cubans chose to believe that nothing bad would happen because someone else was in the control and he was implementing socialism correctly. But the techniques of repression and population control were exactly the same everywhere – they used the same manual of coercion.
What emerged was a two-class system, the powerful elites and those supporting them. The equality they promised resulted in an equality of poverty and misery for which they paid a heavy price. Poor centralized planning, low salaries, low morale, no work ethic, and low production eventually cause the economy to collapse. The working class (proletariat) spent their days hoping to get food while the elites got everything they wanted and fattened their bank accounts. Rationing of food and confiscation of private property resulted in more poverty. The workers were crammed in low-income, hastily build apartments while the elites occupied the best houses. Regulations and executive orders left most of the people destitute, at the whims of the socialist government agitators. Rationing of everything was forced on the masses, electricity, water, heat, food, clothing, medicines, medical care, and everything else like toilet paper.
Agustin brought out a roll of toilet paper, a rare commodity under the central planning of socialism/communism. I still have a few strips of toilet paper I brought with me from Romania in 1985 as show and tell to my college students. The paper is pink and has splinters in it. Imagine having to use splinters on your behind! Yet we felt lucky to have it because we were so deprived!
“Progressives kept the people preoccupied with survival from one day to the next, keeping them busy, with no energy to protest against the government,” said Agustine. No freedom of association was allowed, no freedom of speech, guns were confiscated, thus making it impossible to remove Marxists from power.
A powerful military and secret police protected the elites from the people, but the people were told that they were there to protect the people from “evil” capitalism, the enemy of Marxism, a bold face lie.
Venezuela is a more recent example of the disastrous socialist policies of Hugo Chavez. An oil rich country, Venezuela has now devolved into such a poor country that people must stand hours in line each day in order to survive. The military and the police were brought in to distribute food and to keep violence at bay. The oil revenues continue to pour in but they line up the pockets of the elites in control. The bamboozled low information working class keeps voting for these lying socialists thus perpetuating their own poverty.
Venezuelans tried to revolt but, without guns to defend themselves, they were repressed back into submission by the powerful police and the military.
“Cubans always blamed their poverty on the U.S. embargo but there never was any embargo against Venezuela,” argued Agustin.
There are no human rights under communism. The government dictates where you can live, where you can work, where you can move, where you can study, what you can study, what you eat, and the meager salary you earn for the rest of your life. “Communists paint a rosy picture of free education, free college, and free medical care in order to gain votes.”
Nobody trusts anybody, not even your own family. Agustin was afraid to even say good bye to his family members for fear of being reported that he was planning to escape. “The people of today in Cuba are different from me, they have learned to lie and steal to survive, and they have no work ethic.” That is why, when they come to the U.S. now, they commit crimes because that is what they are used to doing in Cuba in order to survive, said Agustin.
Agustin was surprised how entrenched Marxism is now in our capitalist society, thanks to the openly Marxist main stream media, Hollywood, and academia. Colleges are no longer places to debate the free flow of ideas, they are places of brainwashing and indoctrination where snow-flakes Marxist students need their “safe spaces” to protect them from the “micro-aggression” of rational thoughts of non-Marxist students.
“Marxism is the enemy of America,” said Agustin. “These Marxists are subverting your American way of thinking, the very foundation of this country.” They will eventually erase all your freedoms, real or imagined, with the help of Hollywood, leading to an inescapable oppression.
The benign-sounding words, “white privilege, social justice, equality, environmental justice, racial justice,” are a ruse that will lead to the same disastrous result. Liberals no longer believe in freedom, they believe in government control usher in the same Marxist totalitarian rule. They are not progressives, they want to regress society to a failed and foreign ideology.
The gradual control of everyday life was incremental and slow. Long-standing problems could suddenly only be solved by government intervention; and the solution was always emotionally presented, preventing people from actually thinking clearly and rationally and realizing that the solution would never work. Those who resisted, were treated with scare tactics, disappearance, and jail time.
“You don’t want these people to hack into your phone, why do you want to let these people hack into your life,” concluded Agustin. “Send them to the trash bin of history this November.”
Jaroslaw (Slavko) Martyniuk of Ukraine came to the U.S. when his family made a narrow escape from communism at the end of World War II, legally immigrating to Chicago. A retired energy economist and sociologist, Martyniuk has conducted “intelligence work and undercover public opinion polling with visitors from the Soviet Union on behalf of Radio Liberty.”
His extended family did not fare so well, they were sent to gulags, “the largest killing machine in history,” where most perished from torture, malnutrition, exposure, and overwork behind barbed wire. Martyniuk described the gulags in Siberia, the Soviet concentration camps for hard labor that were not really meant for re-education but for extermination.
The political dissidents sent there who worked underground in the gold mines had a survival rate of 2-4 weeks. He described the horrific and constant cold, the back-breaking labor on two rations of bread per day, the size of a person’s fist, and watery soup. The bitter cold, the unsafe working conditions, and the hard labor killed so many that the estimate of those buried in the permafrost is at least 3 million. Nobody could keep accurate count, he said, because records were constantly scrubbed. The gulags were the “the ultimate legacy of the communist experiment.” The worst of the re-education camps in the Arctic region was Kolyma, the place with two seasons, “12 months of winter and summer,” the Arctic death camps which served as a model for Hitler’s concentration camps.
Martyniuk expressed his disappointment that Americans know so very little about gulags and the mass killings that occurred during the Bolshevik and Soviet purges. How could 25,000 Bolsheviks control 25 million people? They confiscated their guns first.
Martyniuk explained that socialist ideas continue to live on in America because:
- “institutions of higher learning promote socialist thinking”
- “communism has never been fully discredited,”
- “revisionist historians avoid black deeds of communism,”
- Marxist professors continue to say that “the idea was noble”
Martyniuk identified disturbing trends in our society that are similar to those that led to communism and tyranny in the former Soviet Union:
- Gradual loss of free speech
- Restrictions on the right to bear arms
- Expansion of the police state
- Promotion of collectivist thinking
- Disparaging individualism
- Denigration of liberty and religion
- Authoritarian method of governance through expansion of centralized bureaucracy, “governing wars,” inciting class warfare, denigrating free markets, i.e., “Free markets have never worked”
- Centralization of government
- Loss of faith in free-market capitalism due to crony capitalism
- Redistribution of wealth and promotion of “class warfare” based on race and ethnicity
Martyniuk spoke of authoritarian regimes that first remove weapons from the hands of the people and how important it is to guard our Second Amendment. He gave examples of the 1932-1933 Ukrainian famine-genocide called Holomodor, and Germany and Austria’s gun confiscations in the 1930s.
He pointed out that the most egregious was the restriction of First Amendment free speech through the doctrine of political correctness, a type of Orwellian “1984 thought control.” PC guidelines are now everywhere in universities and colleges around the country. “European speech codes led to arrests and persecutions of high-profile individuals.” Noted were Leonid Plyushch (The Case of Leonid Plyushch) and Juan Williams in the U.S., both of whom were deemed as two men in “need of psychiatric help for speaking the truth.”
Nhan Lam’s parents fled Vietnam before he was born, surviving navigational errors and being robbed by pirates six times. When they made safe shore, they were sponsored by a Lutheran church in the U.S., and his family arrived in Buffalo in 1979 where his educated father worked part-time as a janitor. Even though his family was very poor at first, they eventually prospered through hard work.
Nhan Lam became an aerospace engineer and reached his American Dream through untiring effort and entrepreneurship. He now runs several real estate companies. He admits being a liberal in his teens but later becoming a conservative once reality hit him. He never forgot the lessons about Vietnam from his father. “Never settle with being good, when your potential is to be great. Never settle for another’s opinion, when you have the ability to think for yourself.”
One hundred million victims of communism, including my Dad, disagreed with the Communist Party Marxist ideology and protested the confiscation of their homes, land, guns, personal possessions, and the loss of their God-given freedom. They bitterly complained about the lack of food, heat, water, proper medical care, medications, and a decent treatment as human beings.
Will young Americans today who are turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to reality eventually repeat the fate of millions who fell for the “pie in the sky” promise of communist utopia?
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