To this day, there are numerous Westerners who harbor romantic fantasies about communism, yet they’ve never lived in a communist country and borne the suffering there, and thus have no understanding of what communism actually means in practice.
During the Cold War, many intellectuals, artists, journalists, politicians, and young students from the free world went to Russia, China, or Cuba as tourists and travelers. What they saw, or rather were allowed to see, was completely different from the lived reality of the people of those countries. Communist countries have perfected their deception of foreigners: Everything the foreign visitors saw was carefully crafted for their tastes, including the model villages, factories, schools, hospitals, daycare centers, and prisons. The receptionists they encountered were members of the Communist Party or others considered politically reliable.
The tours were rehearsed. The visitors were greeted with flowers, wine, dancing and singing, banquets, and smiling young children and officials. Then they were taken to see people hard at work, able to talk freely and as equals; students studying hard; and lovely weddings.
What they didn’t get to see were the show trials, mass sentencings, mob lynchings, struggle sessions, kidnappings, brainwashing, solitary confinement, forced labor camps, massacres, theft of land and property, famines, shortages of public services, lack of privacy, eavesdropping, surveillance, monitoring by neighbors and informants everywhere, brutal political struggles in the leadership, and extravagant luxuries of the elite.
They especially weren’t able to see the suffering of ordinary people.
The visitors mistook what had been staged for them as the norm in a communist country. They then promoted communism in the West through books, articles, and speeches, and many of them didn’t know they had been taken in. A small number did see cracks in the edifice, but many of them then fell into another trap: They saw themselves as “fellow travelers” and adopted the Chinese attitude of “not airing dirty laundry in front of outsiders.” The slaughter, famine, and suppression of communist countries, they reasoned, were simply part of the cost of transitioning to communism. They were confident that while the path to communism was crooked, the future was bright. They refused to tell the truth, because that would be blackening the name of the “socialist project.” Lacking the courage to tell the truth, they chose a shameful silence.
Everyone is “free and equal,” where there is no oppression or expropriation, where there’s great material abundance, where everyone gives according to their ability and receives according to their need—a Heaven on earth, with every individual able to develop himself or herself freely. A human society of this sort exists only as fantasy, and that fantasy has been used as bait by the devil to deceive man.
In reality, power falls in the hands of a small elite. Real communism is a totalitarian apparatus controlled by a small group who use their monopoly on power to suppress, enslave, and deprive the majority. The time has not yet arrived for this in some socialist countries, and so they appear to be moderate. When the conditions are ripe, all of that will change, and the naïve supporters of a socialist utopia will find it too late for regrets.
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