What truly amazes me is how many apparently educated and seemingly smart (not the same thing) people are mesmerized by the vison of socialism, which they imagine is about “free stuff” for everybody: from healthcare to education and free lunch, to paid vacations, guaranteed pension, even a guaranteed wage.
They have never lived under socialism. They have never visited a socialist country. They have never read Hayek, Orwell, Mises, Arendt… In fact, all they know about socialism is from what they have heard their “liberal” college professors tell them about Denmark or Norway (which, by the way, have never been “socialist” countries in any vaguest sense of the word).
Unlike them, I lived under socialism for 18 years. I have written and spoke on the topic extensively, but those who should read what have said have failed to do so. Nevertheless, I have been pleasantly surprised to see and hear conservative commentators on Fox News and OANN describe socialism extremely well, so it is not entirely a matter of personal experience – you may prevent evil by learning about it vicariously.
Everyone knows what socialism means: it is a centralized system of government, where this abstract entity called the government, takes all your money and redistributes it as “it” deems fit. The government is called “the State” under socialism, and the State is identical with the Party. It is a one-Party system where the Party is the State – which is also why the much-touted Nordic countries are NOT “socialist” countries. They are multi-party parliamentary democracies: coalitions must be formed, and bills presented to the king for signature. However, the latter is only a formality.
On the other hand, in Socialism, there is usually a king-like figure. For example, in North Korea, it is the “Dear Leader” Kim, in Venezuela, it is the omnipotent Maduro, Cuba had Castro… We know the rest. Those leaders are elevated to the position of an Idol, the Idol – much more than a king – a God. There is only one God, the Leader of the Party. The entire ideology of socialism is based on a simple premise: you must identify with the Idol – hence, the identity politics. If you stand out, if you think for yourself, you will be cut down to your size and made to obey, toe the line.
That is the psychological impact – a complete and purposeful erosion of human self-respect, self-reliance, and dignity. It is not evil to steal, because everybody does it. It is not evil to break windows, smash cars, attack the police, because everybody does it. That is socialist thinking. Except, in real socialism, everybody obeys – the police is the right arm of the Party, with omnipotent powers. There is no Miranda or right against self-incrimination. There is no Bill of Rights at all. The only right you have is to keep your mouth shut and do as you are told, as the Party deems is the best.
Practically speaking, everything is “for free” – but, there is a catch: the government has the monopoly power over everything. Hence, there is no competition allowed, because you would be competing against the government, which means the Party, the State, the people – to compete means to be a capitalist, which means you are against the people! The government deems that you need one type of bread, one type of butter, one type of everything… so long as the supplies last. If not, it shall be allotted to you based on your needs, which are determined by the government. If you have one child, you will be allowed one quart of milk a week. If you have “medical issues,” you may receive a doctor’s note for a piece of meat.
You think I am making it up? I experienced a milder version of this in socialist Czechoslovakia. We had 3 bananas for Christmas (1 kilo allotment) and bell peppers only in summer when we were allowed (on special permit) to travel to Hungary, sometimes Yugoslavia. Castro sometimes sent us oranges – and what a feast it was when the school lunch was served with one half of a small, thin-skinned, seed-riddled Cuban orange! I sometimes stole one more half or bartered it for a potato with a boy. We were not starving: there was plenty of sweet rice, potatoes, sometimes that tough frozen beef you could chew like a chewing gum. Once a week, on Friday, my mother bought five slices of ham – and I could only eat one provided that I put it on the nasty white rubber-like roll (one type of rolls the socialist bakeries made en masse for the people.
We lived in paradise compared to the full version of socialism I experienced when I travelled to Rumania in 1987: the Dear Leader Ceausescu was painted on billboards literally everywhere. The only thing they had to eat was beans and alcohol, and one type of Black Sea fish, which tasted like burnt rubber. Milk and bread was allotted only to families by tickets… Had Gorbachev and Reagan not been so wise, strong and perseverant, we would have had Rumania-style socialism in about, I guess, ten years.
Yes, that is socialism. It is a system of redistribution based on theft. Those on top, Party apparatchiks, they are omnipotent – they can send you to the uranium mine or coal mine just for speaking (or writing) anything “uncomfortable.”
And, beware, everyone is listening – you do not know if you can trust your neighbor or speak out loud at home, because the neighbors are listening with an ear on the central heating pipe at all times – yes they are – and if you want to listen to a Free World radio, over the government jammers, you have to do it at night and very quietly. When my parents discussed Gorbachev and Reagan, they would turn up TV or radio so that no-one could hear anything… the walls were thin, the walls had ears. That is not paranoia, merely survival sense under socialism.
Let me return to these Party big-wigs. They are rich, because they steal most of the money before it is redistributed. They have Swiss bank accounts, several residences, prostitutes on call.. you name it. (A little known fact: many socialist “leaders” have suffered from Syphilis.) They also determine how much everyone is paid: there are “scales” for this, and everything is based on how long you have been doing work assigned to you: a judge is paid the same as a shop assistant or a car wash hand, provided that they have been in the trade for the same time. The pay is minimal, sufficient to buy the monopolized necessities. Once a year, you will get a Christmas bonus and kiss the hand of your Party-member superior: “Thank You Comrade.”
Yes, everyone is a Comrade – just like everyone was a “citizen” in France during Robspierre’s days. Imagine your six-year-old saying “comrade” with every word: “comrade teacher…” Yes, indoctrination starts as soon as children can learn. And let us never forget: “To punish the oppressors of humanity is clemency; to forgive them is barbarity,” as Robspierre said – which is the motto of all socialists: “Punish the evil capitalist oppressors, punish those who speak against the Party because the Party is the State and the State is the People!” That too is emphasized to children ever since they can speak and listen.
I could tell you much more about socialism, but will you listen? Let me skim the surface here: there is one Party-approved TV and one radio station. They play brain-washing music and censored news. There is no unemployment because everyone is forced to work. There is no social care or healthcare unless you are a valued, deserving Party member, or the doctor that you “pay” with a dozen secretly home-grown eggs or one of your precious chickens you killed as a special gift writes you a recommendation. There is one type of antibiotic, one kind of treatment. It does not work for you? Too bad – unless you are a big shot Party member and can travel to a capitalist country to receive the treatment, or you obtain the medication you need on the black market. Of course, you need the “hard currency” which you must obtain from the “wechsel-men” on the black market (similar, I assume, to obtaining heroin today in our country).
There is no home-schooling. If you do not send your children to school, Comrade Principal will send the comrades from the local police station to your little kennel of an apartment (only big shot Party members have real houses) and literally pull your kids out and drag them to school. Yes, they will also do a thorough search and beware should they find “forbidden literature” or a capitalist catalogue! They will call the Secret Police on you, and you know what that means? Ah, you do not? Cross-interrogation with lamps shining in your eyes and two gestapo men yelling at you till you admit that you are a capitalist agent. I forgot the strip-search, and two other comrades pointing rifles at me. Yes, I was there, I lived through it. I was sixteen years old – and I have memories of comrades to last me several lifetimes.
You have no rights – it is your duty to obey. If you repeat this offense, your children will be taken away from you by social services and institutionalized. So may you be, perhaps also jailed. Yes, education is for free but you have one school, one college, and no choice in subjects or books. The books are mandated, and aids and resources scarce, so your children “inherit” the books from the grade above. They must carefully wrap them in newspapers and cover them because they must last to the grade after them, and after them. They can underline in pencil, but all must be erased and “as good as new” when the books are handed in at the end of the year.
Shall I go on? I could go on forever. I can still taste socialism, I can smell it a thousand miles away. It is the most destructive system Man has ever created. It is worse than the atomic bomb. The bomb kills you fast, evaporates you. Socialism eviscerates your soul. You remain a shell, a puppet, dependent on alcohol and cigarettes, grateful for the little alms the Party mercifully allots to you. You have no spirit in you, there is no meaning to your life.
Have you ever seen the gray photos of East Berlin? I lived in that for eighteen years! Those photos are not black-and-white. It is the grayness of socialism: people gray as ghosts, exhausted from the meaningless routine, from kowtowing and yes-Comrading, from the same “good news of hope of glittering tomorrows,” living in gray panel kennels, staring at gray news listening to the annual address of the Dear Leader whose eyelashes are coming off, heavy makeup nearly peeling off, till it comes off entirely when his Comrade Party Vice-Comrade kisses him twice on the cheek then the mouth… He has been your Idol for 20 years and will be until he dies when his son or Party Comrade Favorite takes over, telling you how Your People’s Socialist Republic has “completed another 5-year plan with 200% success, and these Comrades are going to receive The Order of Socialist Labor! Good Work, Comrades! Long Live Our Socialist Leader! Through War to Peace! Toward Glittering Tomorrows! Hope, Comrades, Hope! We Shall Defeat the Capitalist Pigs!”
No, you cannot say “Amen” because God and all religions have been banned. We used to say: “With Russia Forever After and Never Any Other Way!” You had to say that out loud so that the Comrade Teacher could hear you – otherwise, you might be “suspect…” And then we would sing the International. Oh, yes, beware of symbols, icons, music… they are all trojan horses, intended to manipulate your psyche. Please, don’t let me go on. Please, read, educate yourself, learn your past, learn from history, and never lose self-reliance, personal judgment, pride in your work – because, if socialism comes, those will be the first victims of your “persuasion.”