I have written several articles on postings related to Reform in America. A list of links have been provided at bottom of this article for your convenience. This article will, however address additional areas rife for reform.
Many Americans agree that for country to attain greatness again we have to reform our school system. Our school system started taking a nose dive in the 1960s. “Socialism, defined on Wikipedia, ‘is a social and economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and co-operative management of the economy,’” wrote Brenner, who serves as the vice chair of the Ohio House Education Committee. “That seems to summarize our primary education system.” Ohio state Rep. Andrew Brenner (R-Powell) has raised some eyebrows with a blog post titled “Public education in America is socialism, what is the solution?” Written earlier this month and published on a right-wing news site founded by his wife, his post claimed privatization is the only solution to what he sees as a problematic “socialist” public education system.
The idea of social-reconstructionist education was based on a 19th-century belief in the power of education to change society. In the last quarter of the 20th century there was considerable pessimism, but the idea that schooling could influence either society or the individual was widely held, affecting the growth of tertiary-level alternatives, management strategies, and education of disadvantaged people, in both industrialized and developing countries.
The international concern with assistance to people in the non-Western world was paralleled by the inclusiveness that characterized education in the 20th century. Education was seen as a primary instrument in recognizing and providing equality for those suffering disadvantage because of sex, race, ethnic origin, age, or physical disability. This required revisions of textbooks, new consciousness about language, and change in criteria for admission to higher levels. It led to more demanding definitions of equality involving, for example, equality of outcome rather than of opportunity.
Expansion of American education
Although such principles remained the basis of America’s educational endeavour, that endeavour—like America itself—underwent a vast evolution. The once-controversial parochial schools not only continued to exist but also increasingly drew public financial support for programs or students. The currency of privatization, carrying the idea of free choice in a private-sector educational market, strengthened the bargaining position of religious as well as other private schools. The issue of equality succeeded the issue of religion as the dominant topic of American educational debate.
Conditions varied markedly among regions of the country. Definitions of equal opportunity became more sophisticated, referring increasingly to wealth, region, physical disability, race, sex, or ethnic origin, rather than simply to access. Means for dealing with inequality became more complex. From the 1950s, measures to open schools, levels, and programs to minority students changed from the passive “opportunity” conception to “affirmative action.” Measured by high school completion and college attendance figures—both generally high and continually rising in the United States—and by standardized assessment scores, gains for African American and other minority students were noteworthy from the 1970s.
Although state departments of education used equalization formulas and interdistrict incentives to reach the poorest areas under their jurisdiction, conditions remained disadvantageous and difficult to address in some areas, particularly the inner cities, where students were mostly minorities. City schools often represented extremes in the array of problems facing youth—generally drug and alcohol abuse, crime, suicide, unwanted pregnancy, and illness—and the complex situation seemed intractable. Meeting the needs of a racially and ethnically mixed population, however, turned from the problem of the cities and from an assimilationist solution toward educational means of knowing and understanding the disadvantaged groups. States mandated multicultural courses in schools and for teachers. Districts introduced bilingual instruction and provided instruction in English as a second language. Books were revised to better represent the real variety in the population. The status of women was given attention, particularly through women’s studies, through improved access to higher education (women were now a majority of U.S. college students) and to fields previously exclusive to men, and through attempts to revise sexist language in books, instruction, and research.
A persistent idea in American democracy is that everyone, regardless of condition, should have a fair chance. Such is the tenet that underlay the establishment of the free, tax-supported common school and high school. As science pointed the way, the effort to bridge the gulf between the haves and have-nots extended to those with physical and mental handicaps. Most states and many cities undertook programs to teach the handicapped, though financially the going was difficult. In 1958 Congress appropriated $1 million to help prepare teachers of mentally retarded children. Thenceforward, federal aid for the handicapped steadily increased. With the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975—and with corresponding legislation in states and communities—facilities, program development, teacher preparation, and employment training for the handicapped advanced more rapidly and comprehensively than in any other period. In 1990 the act underwent revision and was renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA); the law was significantly updated again in 2004. Reforms aimed to place handicapped children in the least-restrictive environment and, where possible, to “mainstream” them in regular schools and classes.
At the turn of the 20th century, American youths attended an eight-year elementary school, whereupon those who continued went to a four-year high school. This “eight–four system” wholly prevailed until about 1910, when the “six–three–three system” made a modest beginning. Under the rearrangement, the pupil studied six years in the elementary school and three in the junior and senior high schools, respectively. Both systems were in use, there being almost the same number of four-year high schools and three–three junior–senior high school arrangements. There was a change at the elementary–junior high connection to include a system in which children attended an elementary school for four or five years and then a middle school for three or four years. The rapid growth of preschool provisions—with the establishment of an immense body of early-childhood teachers, day care workers, new “nannies,” producers of learning materials, and entrepreneurs—secured the place of the kindergarten as an educational step for five-year-olds and made available a wide, but mainly nonpublic, network of education for younger children.
In 1900 only a handful of the lower school’s alumni—some 500,000—advanced into the high school. Of those who took their high school diploma during this early period, some three out of every four entered college. The ratio reversed, as high school enrollments swelled 10-fold over the first 50 years of the century, with only one of every four high school graduates going on to higher learning. As even more students finished high school, demands for access to the postsecondary level increased accordingly.
From such experimental programs as the Dalton Plan, the Winnetka Plan, and the Gary Plan, and from the pioneering work of Francis W. Parker and notably John Dewey, which ushered in the “progressive education” of the 1920s and ’30s, American schools, curricula, and teacher training opened up in favour of flexible and cooperative methods pursued within a school seen as a learning community. The attempt to place the nature and experience of the child and the present life of the society at the centre of school activity was to last long after progressive education as a defined movement ended.
Some retrenchment occurred in the 1950s as a result of scientific challenges from the Soviet Union in a period of international political tension. Resulting criticisms of scientific education in the United States were, however, parried by educationists. America’s secondary school attuned itself more and more to preparing the young for everyday living. Consequently, though it still served prospective collegians the time-honoured academic fare, it went to great lengths to accommodate the generality of young America with courses in areas such as automobile driving, cookery, carpentry, and writing. In addition to changes in the form of earlier practical subjects, the curriculum responded to social issues by including such subjects as consumer education (or other applications of the economics of a free-enterprise society), ethnic or multicultural education, environmental education, sex and family-life education, and substance-abuse education. Interest in vocational-technical education was directed toward establishing specialized vocational schools, improving career information resources, integrating school and work experience, utilizing community resources, and meeting the needs of the labour market.
National prosperity and, even more, the cash value that a secondary diploma was supposed to bestow upon its owner enhanced the high school’s growth. So did the fact that more and more states required their young to attend school until their 16th, and sometimes even their 17th, birthday. However, economic strains, the ineffectiveness of many schools, and troubled school situations in which the safety of children and teachers was threatened led to questions about the extension of “compulsory youth” in high schools.
Criticisms were also leveled at the effects and aftereffects on education of 1960s idealism and its conflict with harsh realities. The publicized emphases on alternatives in lifestyle and on deinstitutionalization were ultimately, in their extreme form, destructive to public education. They were superseded by conservative attitudes favouring a return to the planning and management of a clearly defined curriculum. The dramatic fall in scores on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (a standardized test taken by a large number of high school graduates) between 1963 and 1982 occasioned a wave of public concern. A series of national, state, and private-agency reviews followed. The report of the National Commission on Excellence in Education, A Nation at Risk (1983), set the tone. The emphasis was now on quality of school performance and the relation of schooling to career. The main topics of concern were the curriculum, standardization of achievement, credentialing, and teacher preparation and performance. In order to clarify what was expected of teachers and students, states increasingly detailed curricula, set competency standards, mandated testing, and augmented the high school diploma by adding another credential or by using transcripts to show superior achievement. Curriculum reforms accentuated the academic basics—particularly mathematics, science, and language—as well as the “new basics,” including computers. Computers became increasingly important in education, not only as a field of study but also as reference and teaching aids. Teachers were using computers to organize and prepare course materials; children were taught to use computers at earlier ages; and more and more institutions were using computer-assisted instruction systems, which offered interactive instruction on a one-on-one basis and could be automatically modified to suit the user’s level of ability. In the 1990s the growth of the Internet significantly increased the availability and, in many areas, the quality of education.
The reports on the state of education also expressed concern for gifted children, who tended to be neglected in American education. Until psychologists and sociologists started to apply their science to the superior child, gifted children were not suspected of entertaining any particular problems. Eventually, however, augmented with federal, state, and sometimes foundation money, one city after another embarked on educational programs for the bright child. From the 1970s on, gifted children were directly recruited into special academic high schools and other local programs. American education was still aimed at broadening or raising the level of general provision, however, so neither programs for the gifted nor those for vocational education were treated as specifically as in some other countries.
Federal involvement in local education
Although the U.S. Constitution has delegated educational authority to the states, which in turn passed on the responsibility for the daily administration of schools to local districts, there is no lack of federal counsel and assistance. Actually, national educational aid is older than the Constitution, having been initiated in 1787 in the form of land grants. Seventy-five years later the Morrill Act disbursed many thousands of acres to enable the states to promote a “liberal and practical education.” Soon thereafter the government created the federal Department of Education under the Department of the Interior and in 1953 established the Office of Education in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. As the independent Department of Education from 1980, this agency took a vigorous role in stating national positions and in researching questions of overall interest. Its findings proved influential in both state and local reforms.
Education funding was shared among local districts, states, and the federal government. Beginning with the Smith–Lever Act of 1914, Congress legislated measure upon measure to develop vocational education in schools below the college plane. A new trail was opened in 1944, when the lawgivers financed the first “GI Bill of Rights” to enable veterans to continue their education in school or college.
During the 1960s, school difficulties experienced by children from disadvantaged families were traced to lack of opportunities for normal cognitive growth in the early years. The federal government attempted to correct the problem and by the mid-1960s was giving unprecedented funding toward compensatory education programs for disadvantaged preschool children. Compensatory intervention techniques included providing intensive instruction and attempting to restructure home and living conditions. The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 provided for the establishment of the Head Start program, a total program designed to prepare children for success in public schools. It included medical, dental, social service, nutritional, and psychological care. Head Start grew steadily following its inception, spawning similar programs, including one based in the home and one for elementary-school-age children. In the 1970s, child-development centres began pilot programs for children aged four and younger. Other general trends of the late 1970s included extending public schools downward to include kindergarten, nursery school, child-development centres, and infant programs; organizing to accommodate culturally different or exceptional children; including educational purposes in day care; extending the hours and curriculum of kindergartens; emphasizing the early-childhood teacher’s role in guiding child development; “mainstreaming” handicapped children; and giving parents a voice in policy decisions. Early-childhood philosophy infiltrated the regular grades of the elementary school. Articulation or interface programs allowed preschool children to work together with first graders, sharing instruction. Extended to higher grades, the early-childhood learning methods promoted self-pacing, flexibility, and cooperation.
Changes in higher education
The pedagogical experimentalism that marked America’s elementary learning during the century’s first quarter was less robust in the high school and feebler still in the college. The first venture of any consequence into collegiate progressivism was undertaken in 1921 at Antioch College in Ohio. Antioch required its students to divide their time between the study of the traditional subjects and the extramural world, for which, every five weeks or so, they forsook the classroom to work at a full-time job. In 1932 Bennington College for women, in Vermont, strode boldly toward progressive ends. Putting a high value on student freedom, self-expression, and creative work, it staffed its faculty largely with successful artists, writers, musicians, and other creative persons, rather than Ph.D.’s. It also granted students a large say in making the rules under which they lived.
Such developments in America’s higher learning incited gusty blasts from Robert M. Hutchins, president and then chancellor of the University of Chicago from 1929 to 1951. He recommended a mandatory study of grammar, rhetoric, logic, mathematics, and Aristotelian metaphysics. One consummation of the Hutchins prescription was the study of some 100 “great books,” wherein resided the unalterable first principles that Hutchins insisted were the same for all people, always and everywhere.
The vocationalism that Hutchins deplored was taken to task by several others but with quite different results—notably by Harvard University in its report on General Education in a Free Society (1945). Declaring against the high school’s heavy vocational leaning, it urged the adoption of a general curriculum in English, science, mathematics, and social science.
In the great expansion of higher education between about 1955 and 1975, when expansionist ideas about curriculum and governance prevailed, colleges became at times almost ungovernable. New colleges and new programs made the higher-education landscape so blurred that prospective students and admissions officers in other countries needed large, coded volumes to characterize individual institutions. The college curriculum, like that of the high school, was altered in response to vocal demands made by groups and had expanded in areas representing realities of contemporary social life. Internal reviews, undergraduate curriculum reforms, and the high standards set by some universities demonstrated to some observers that quality education was being maintained in the university. Other critics, however, felt that grade inflation, the multiplication of graduate programs, and increasing economic strains had led to a decline in quality. Financial problems and conservative reactions to the more extreme reforms led some universities to place a strong emphasis on management.
Probably the most significant change in higher education was the establishment and expansion of the junior college, which was conceived early in the century by William Rainey Harper, the first president of the University of Chicago. He proposed to separate the four-year college into an upper and a lower half, the one designated as the “university college” and the other as the “academic college.” The junior college was sometimes private but commonly public. It began as a two-year school, offering early college work or extensions to secondary education. It later expanded to include upper vocational schools (including a wide range of technical and clerical occupations), community colleges (offering vocational, school completion, and leisure or interest courses), and pre- or early-college institutions. Junior colleges recruited from a wide population range and tended to be vigorous innovators. Many maintained close relationships with their communities. Colleges limited to the undergraduate level, especially in articulated state systems, might not differ much from well-developed junior colleges.
American educators began to organize as early as 1743, when the American Philosophical Society was founded, and continued to do so in increasing numbers. Not a few of their organizations, such as the American Historical Association, the Modern Language Association of America, and the American Home Economics Association, were for the advancement of some specialty. Others were more concerned with the interests of the general educational practitioner. Of these, the National Education Association (NEA) was the oldest. Founded in 1857, it undertook “to elevate the character and advance the interest of the teaching profession.” Despite its high mission, it had little influence until the 1870s, when it began to grow and prosper. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., the NEA conducted its enormous enterprise through a brigade of commissions and councils. A youngster by comparison, the American Federation of Teachers, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, was formed in 1916. Through collective bargaining and teachers’ strikes, it successfully obtained for teachers better wages, pensions, sick leaves, academic freedom, and other benefits. The distinction between a union and a professional organization became neither as clear nor as important an issue as it was in earlier days.
Such bodies as the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the American Association of University Professors, the American Educational Research Association, the National Commission on Teacher Education and Professional Standards, and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education labored industriously and even with a fair success to bring order and dignity to the teaching profession. Nevertheless, teaching became an increasingly arduous profession in the United States. Even the security formerly associated with the profession was in question as waves of teacher shortages and surpluses generated frantic responses by educational authorities. Educational reviews addressed teaching inadequacies by encouraging prospective teachers to earn degrees in other subjects before beginning studies in the field of education. They recommended establishing proficiency tests, regular staff-development activities, certification stages, and workable teacher-evaluation and dismissal procedures. They insisted on the necessity for the reform and evaluation of training programs, and some questioned the institutional context of teacher training.
Since the 1960s Leftists, Progressives, Socialists, and Marxists have migrated to, and have taken positions in every level of public school and college education, including in the National Education Association (the national teachers union), public school teaching positions, public school administrator positions, college professorships, college department heads, college deans, members of Boards of Regents, and in government positions at every level of The Department of Education.
In 2007, four U.S. Communist groups formed an alliance in order to work toward taking control of the Democrat Party in California, and then in other states, with the ultimate goal of taking control of the National Democrat Committee. The long-term plan included the indoctrination of students at all levels of public school education, and in colleges around the country, in order to convince millions of students that the Constitutional Republic had been a massive failure, while at the same time, painting a positive image of Socialism. The goal was to gain the support of generations of naïve students, with the expectation they would eventually help the Communists gain control of local, state, and the federal government. Their detailed plans are outlined in the attachment, labeled The Inside/Outside Project.
“Give me just one generation of youth and I’ll transform the world.” – Vladimir Lenin
Traditionally, for over 200 years, the curriculum in public schools and in state colleges was developed and controlled by local school boards and individual state Education Departments. In 2008, then Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano led a Common Core Task Force composed of commissioners of education, governors, corporate chief executive officers, and recognized experts in higher education. In December 2008, that Task Force developed what became known as the Common Core State Standards, those state standards were then adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.
The Common Core Curriculum State Standards became the mechanism by which the Federal Government took control of public education. The Obama administration required states to adopt Common Core State Standards, implemented by the Department of Education. The 50 state Education Departments were informed that it would be much easier to receive federal aide to state education, if the states adopted the Common Core Curriculum for their public schools.
The newly adopted Common Core Curriculum erased much of the US History once taught in public schools for over 200 years. That required the revision of the accurate US History textbooks once used in public schools. The revision of US History textbooks was funded by front groups, controlled by George Soros. The new US History textbooks disparaged the remarkable history of the Republic, portrayed Socialism as beneficial of the masses, while stating The Free Enterprise System was unfair; yet The Free Enterprise System has been the most successful economic engine in the history of mankind.
The new US History textbooks eliminated events, misrepresented facts, inserted new individuals who were unimportant, defamed the Founding Fathers, criticized the US Constitution, falsely reported the massive genocide of Native Americans, covered up the fact that the US fought wars to free millions of enslaved people, and invented an inaccurate and wholly negative impression of the Republic, as being cruel, racist, oppressive, violent, and discriminatory. US History textbooks now enumerate the contributions of Sikhs, LGBTs, Filipinos, Japanese, Chinese, Mexicans, black Americans, Hindus, and many other group—it’s a modern Socialist handbook.
It became obvious that failure to adopt Common Core State Standards would make federal financial aid to states more difficult to obtain, and/or would delay financial aid to states an unreasonable long period of time. Implementing the Common Core Curriculum also required states to purchase approved textbooks for each course, including a newly revised US History textbook.
The Common Core Curriculum’s re-educated America’s youth, by not only misrepresenting the US History of the Republic, but by misrepresenting the character of Socialism. American students have never been informed that Socialism has failed miserably in 37 countries over the last 100 years, and that it was responsible for the murder of 60 million formerly free citizens in most of those 37 countries. Students are not taught that the current example of a Socialist government is Venezuela and Cuba.
The Common Core Curriculum eliminated Civics Courses previously taught in public schools for hundreds of years. The concepts of Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, and The Right to Bear Arms are regularly attacked and restricted on the grounds of college campuses, in college lectures halls, and in college classrooms.
Today multiple generations of students are not taught the importance of, nor do they understand the Declaration of Independence, US Constitution, Amendments to the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, how the three branches of government interrelate, why the Electoral College is so important, the Judicial System (the Supreme Court, the 13 Appellant Courts, 94 Federal District Courts, 3 Territorial Courts, etc.).
Civics in public schools has been replaced by Ethnic Studies. Now grammar, middle, and high schools across the nation are provided with classroom instruction in Ethnics Studies that has been destroying the positive culture of America’s society. Students are being taught that race, class, gender, sexuality, and citizenship status are tools of oppression, power, and white privilege. Students are being misled about state violence, racism, male toxicity, intergenerational trauma, heteropatriarchy, and that there is a common thread that link them.
Students are being graded on how well they apply the above listed concepts they are being indoctrinated with in classroom instruction and are being evaluated on how they apply those concepts in their writing assignments, classroom discussions, and in their community organizing projects. Teachers around the country are offering Ethnic Study classes, units, or lessons on their own initiative, citing a growing urgency to confront racism, sexism, homophobia, white privilege, and other entrenched social inequalities. There is a national movement to require students to have a passing grade in Ethnic Studies, in order to graduate from high school.
Since the Common Core Curriculum courses in US History misrepresents and denigrates the accurate US History of the Republic, the curriculum must be revised. The inaccurate, perverted, and misleading US History textbooks must be rewritten to present an accurate and positive history of the Republic. Since 2008, many generations of America students have never been taught, or have little knowledge of the accurate facts about US History, but have been indoctrinated in how beneficial and superior to democracy, Socialism is for the United States.
Civics must again be taught to all American students as it once was taught to them for hundreds of years. Having a knowledge of the Declaration of Independence, US Constitution, Amendments to the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, how the three branches of government interrelate, and the US Judicial System, would give students an appreciation of the Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, and that all law- abiding citizens have a Right to Bear Arms.
Ethnics Studies demeans the United States and misleads American students to believe the US is racist, violent, oppressive, supports white privilege, homophobic, supports male toxicity, a heteropatriarchy society, etc.; that type of daily misleading vilification of the US being taught in millions of classrooms daily, to American students, must cease. Instead Ethnic Studies should support Freedom of Speech, support Religious Liberty, eliminate Political Correctness, support interracial cooperation, support legal immigration, oppose voter fraud, support Law Enforcement, promote patriotism, promote support for the US Armed Forces, and so much more that is positive.
Unfortunately, many public schools, especially in major metropolitan centers, have been turned into indoctrination centers, and many refugees and Illegal Alien public school students refuse to assimilate, do not agree with US values, and are bad bet for adjustment in the United States, like legal immigrant have been for 100 years. The US Census Bureau released it’s Annual Community Survey, it found that 22 million of the 44 million foreign-born US residents are not U.S. citizens.
Degrading the US History of the Republic, while promoting Socialism to America’s students since 2008, resulted in 51 % of American’s youth preferring Socialism to Democracy. Now 72% of voters between 18 and 34 prefer receiving basic government income (Hill-HarrisX poll), and millions of millennials have demonstrated their support for Bernie Sanders’, Elizabeth Warren’s, and the Democrat Socialist Party’s Radical Socialist policies.
A quote from the late Czech college professor and Communist Party lawmaker, Milan Hübl, Ph.D. explains what the four Communist groups have been working to accomplish, since they created their Inside/Outside Project, in order to gain control and support of many generations of naïve students.
Professor Hübl stated, “The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory, destroy its books, its culture, and its history. Then have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long the nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was. The world around it will forget even faster.”
“If only today’s schools still presented America as a nation of great ideals and progress, instead of a racist failure.”
How To End Socialism in America’s Schools
Many parents recognize that something is amiss in the government-run school system, but they feel trapped because they cannot afford to transfer their child to a private school or don’t have the time or money to homeschool.
It doesn’t have to be that way, however. Parents can break this broken model by demanding universal education choice, which can best be provided through a universal education savings account program.
ESAs allow parents to remove their children from socialist classrooms by providing them with a tax-free account that can be used to pay for education-related expenses at other public schools, private schools, or even for homeschooling. ESAs, which are funded using the money already allotted for public schools, would empower parents to enroll their children in schools that teach our nation’s founding principles of freedom, self-reliance and limited government.
Giving parents and students education freedom would finally bring robust competition to the education sphere, forcing government-run schools to rethink the wisdom of maintaining their socialist-driven curriculum programs, including those linked to Common Core.
The best way to stop the march toward socialism in the United States is to provide all parents the opportunity to choose the educational path that most aligns with their values. Until parents have the freedom to choose their children’s education, students will be unable to escape these socialist indoctrination centers.
As President Ronald Reagan so eloquently warned us: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. The only way they can inherit the freedom we have known is if we fight for it.”
The fate of freedom hangs in the balance. Unless Americans demand education freedom, Reagan’s warning will become reality: “you and I may well spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.”
sonorannews.com, “The Indoctrination of American Students in Socialism,” By Joseph R. John; heritage.org, “What Americans Must Know About Socialism,”By Lee Edwards, PhD.; “The Breakdown of Higher Education,” By John M. Ellis; “Inside American Education,” By Thomas Sowell; huffpost.com, “GOP Lawmaker: ‘Public Education In America Is Socialism’,” By Rebecca Klein; britannica.com, “Social-reconstructionist education,” By Britannica’s editors; westjournal.com, “How To End Socialism in America’s Schools,” By Lennie Jarratt and Chris Talgo;
What Americans Must Know About Socialism
Is a specter of socialism haunting America, especially among our millennials? There is disquieting evidence of many young Americans’ sympathy for socialism. Exhibit A: 2.052 million people under the age of 30 voted for democratic socialist Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primaries and caucuses. Exhibit B: Polls find that, not only do a large majority of millennials have a favorable opinion of socialism, a near majority would prefer to live under socialism rather than capitalism. Exhibit C: The no-longer sleeping Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) now boasts 30,000 members, most of them in their twenties and eager to follow the socialist banner.
We’ve come a long way since the 1988 presidential race when George H. W. Bush buried his Democratic challenger Michael Dukakis by labeling him a “liberal.” Socialism is no longer a parlor game for academics but a political alternative taken seriously by millennials who are not put off by the radical DSA platform.
DSA believes in ending the private ownership of industries whose products are viewed as “necessities.” The production of such products, it argues, should not be left to “profiteers.” It also believes that government should “democratize” private businesses — that is, give workers control over them — to the greatest extent possible. “Socialism,” explains a member of DSA’s national steering committee, “is the democratization of all areas of life, including but not limited to the economy.”
Get exclusive insider information from Heritage experts delivered straight to your inbox each week. Subscribe to The Agenda >>
What is happening in America, once the apotheosis of capitalism?
The first part of that answer lies in two words, not “Karl Marx,” but “Bernie Sanders.” The senator from Vermont captured the hearts and the votes of many millennials with his call for single payer health care, free public college, campaign finance reform, and racial, economic, and climate justice. The prime target of his animus was the top 1 percent in America who own, it is true, some 40 percent of the nation’s total wealth — as much as the bottom 90 percent. What Bernie rarely pointed out was that the same top 1 percent paid 39.5 percent of the individual income taxes. Sanders had a ready explanation for how to pay for all of the freebies: increase the taxes on the rich and their corporations. In Bernie’s world, there is such a thing as a free lunch because the bill will be paid by those at the top.
According to one CNN analyst, millennials rallied in the many thousands behind Sanders because they are socially liberal — especially on LGBT rights — saddled with mountains of student debt, disillusioned with the status quo, “and eager to break with traditional [political] models.” Bernie provided solutions to all their problems — without detailing the price or conceding the lessening in individual liberty. Such details were swept aside by the revolutionary spirit of the millennials who “felt the Bern.” As one Bernista said, “You can build a powerful political movement with a base of 2 million true believers.”
The second reason for the shift toward socialism was the Great Recession of 2008. It tore a huge hole in the American people’s belief in capitalism as the way to a better life and sent them looking for alternatives. Many of them, especially younger Americans, found it in a “soft socialism” that was part welfare state, part administrative state, part socialist democracy.
The most startling poll was the YouGov survey that reported that given a choice, 44 percent of young people between the ages of 16 and 29 would prefer to live in a socialist nation rather than a capitalist country. Another seven percent would choose communism. However, the same poll revealed that only 33 percent of the respondents could correctly define socialism as based on the common ownership of economic and social systems as well as the state control of the means of production. What most millennials mean by “socialism” seems to be a mix of our welfare state and what they perceive to be Swedish democratic socialism. But Sweden and the other Scandinavian countries including Denmark favor the free market and are content with private rather than government ownership of their major industries. However, Danish domestic spending including comprehensive health care has a high price — a top personal income tax of 57 percent.
The millennial trend toward an acceptance of socialism is not new. A 2014 poll by Reason-Rupe, a libertarian group, reported that 58 percent of those aged 18 to 24 had a favorable view of socialism. A 2016 Gallup survey found that 55 percent of those 18-29 had a “positive image” of socialism. But 90 percent were favorable to “entrepreneurs” while 78 percent favored “free enterprise.” How can a group be 55 percent socialist and 78 per cent entrepreneurial? Either through cognitive dissonance or plain ignorance. In any case, it is critical for advocates of free enterprise to make the case against socialism because acceptance of socialism by any name places millennials on a slippery slope. Another recession and/or a well-run presidential campaign by a charismatic demagogue could move America farther down the road to serfdom.
A 2016 Harvard poll determined that 33 percent of Americans under 30 wanted socialism. In January 2016, YouGov asked millennials whether they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of socialism. Eight percent replied “very favorable,” 35 percent “somewhat favorable,” for a total of 43 percent, almost the same percentage as in their 2017 survey.
But would these same millennials choose socialism, if in exchange for “free” education and “free” health care, they would have to give up their personal property, such as their iPhone? Would seven percent of millennials declare their willingness to live under communism if they knew the real costs of communism as practiced in some 40 nations over the past century — the denial of free speech, a free press, and free assembly, the imprisonment and execution of dissidents, no free and open elections, no independent judiciary or rule of law, the dictatorship of the Communist Party in all matters and on all occasions?
For the first time in decades, socialists are taking advantage of the Bernie Sanders phenomenon to organize, raise funds, and field candidates from New York City to Oakland, California. A major instrument is DSA — the Democratic Socialists of America — about which the liberal New Republic asked, “Are the Democratic Socialists for America for Real?”
The most dramatic proof of socialism’s new-found political clout was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s upset victory over veteran Rep. Joseph Crowley of New York, the number four Democrat in the House of Representatives, in the June Democratic primary. Ocasio-Cortez received 57 percent of the vote — to Crowley’s 42 percent — while pledging to back Medicare for all, free college tuition, legalization of marijuana and the elimination of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Attractive and articulate, the 28-year-old socialist announced she would support progressive candidates who challenged Democratic incumbents in primaries. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi cautioned Ocasio-Cortez not to oppose liberal Democrats who had a proven record of results. Former Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Democratic Party’s vice presidential nominee in 2000, warned that “the policies Ms. Ocasio-Cortez advocates are so far from the mainstream, her election in November would make it harder for Congress to stop fighting and start fixing problems.” He noted that Republicans were already referring to Ocasio-Cortez as “the new face” of the Democratic Party. But an ideologue like Ocasio-Cortez is unlikely to be ruled by conventional politics.
The same can be said of Democratic Socialists. Over 700 elected delegates from around the country attended DSA’s 2017 national convention in Chicago, the historic site of many political beginnings from the 1860 presidential nomination of Abraham Lincoln to the riotous 1968 Democratic National Convention. Veterans of the organization were “blown away” by the enthusiasm of the younger DSA members whose priority is to win elections that advance socialism. Chicago City Councilman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, aged 28, is one of DSA’s elected officials. He advised an ecumenical approach for socialist candidates — to run on the Democratic ballot line because it offers access to people who want single-payer healthcare and a $15 minimum wage. As part of its demographic outreach, Bianca Cunningham, the African-American chair of New York City’s DSA labor branch, helped to form a national Afro-socialist caucus.
Until Ocasio-Cortez’s startling win, DSA and its leftist allies concentrated on elections at the state and local levels; they have had success such as the victory of Councilman Khalid Kamau in South Fulton, Georgia. Kshama Sawant of the Socialist Alternative Party won a seat on Seattle’s city council and pushed through an increase in the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. Running as a socialist, thirty-four-year old Franklin Bynum was elected a criminal court judge in Houston. In Pittsburgh, eight Democrats sought the endorsement of the local DSA chapter in this year’s primary. Even in Tulsa, Oklahoma, one of the reddest of states, four Democrats ran as democratic socialists. “It’s not a liability to say that anymore,” commented DSA activist Jorge Roman-Romero.
As proof of their expanding influence, socialists point to the radical magazine Jacobin, which has about 1 million page views a month, and the leftist podcast Chapo Trap House, which delights in ridiculing politicians and journalists on the center left. Following the 2016 election, for example, a Chapo co-host compared Hillary Clinton to race car driver Dale Earnhardt, joking that both had crashed because they “couldn’t turn left.” (Earnhardt was killed in a 2001 racing accident.) It was unvarnished commentary but no rougher than the frequent media comments about (or by) Donald Trump. Socialist publications like “n+1” and the “New Inquiry” have attracted younger readers with their unremitting attacks on capitalism.
After Trump’s victory, commentators such as Michael Kazin, editor of the leftist magazine Dissent, thought that the Left would be on the defensive as “when Reagan and George W. Bush were in power.” Instead, there is a renewed interest in the radical left and the possibility that DSA “might be able and will certainly try to take advantage of it.”
What does all this — the Sanders candidacy, the national polls, the political organizations like DSA, the intense media focus — add up to? Are they the makings of a national movement or merely a passing fancy temporarily fueled by young people who will soon get caught up in the next political fad? Let’s judge them by the five essential elements of a successful political movement: charismatic leadership, a national constituency, adequate financing, media proficiency, and a relevant philosophy.
In some ways, the “new” DSA is reminiscent of Young Americans for Freedom in the early 1960s. Then YAF claimed a membership of 20,000, backed Sen. Barry Goldwater and his promise to offer a conservative choice and not a liberal echo, raised money with the help of OAFs (Older Americans for Freedom), convinced the media (led by the New York Times) that YAF was the wave of the future, and hoisted the anti-communist flag high at every rally and meeting. It was the height of the Cold War and America was engaged in a deadly struggle with the forces of evil.
Like DSA, YAF leaders were mostly white, male, well-educated, and from middle-class families. They were young men in a hurry, certain they could change history, and so they did — first, with the presidential nomination of conservative Goldwater in 1964, and later the election of conservative Ronald Reagan as president in 1980. Bill Buckley was YAF’s luminous hero, the St. Paul of the conservative movement who went where no conservative had gone before — into the belly of the liberal beast, Harvard.
As for DSA, it has a national constituency, principled if aging leaders like Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, fund-raising potential, strong media interest, and a philosophy attractive to Americans tired of sliding down the economic ladder and wondering what happened to the American Dream. Before dismissing the Democratic Socialists of America — and its compatriots — as idealistic and naïve, it should be remembered that the Tea Party had only 60,000 members in 2010 but won 47 seats in the House of Representatives that fall.
On the road to socialism, DSA and its fellow socialists will seek to convert industries like health care into public utilities; regulate coal mines out of existence; subsidize sectors of the economy like solar energy; and operate corporations like Amtrak and Freddie Mac. They will present socialism as the reasonable alternative to the unchecked greed of the captains of capitalism.
However, as it grows in numbers and influence, DSA will encounter a critical discrepancy — the telling difference between its pure socialism and the soft socialism of popular opinion. DSA purists seek public ownership of the means of production as well as centralized control of goods and services. Soft socialists see a limited role for the private sector à la Sweden. Will DSA be able to fuse the two kinds of socialism as conservatives like Frank Meyer and William F. Buckley Jr. blended traditional conservatism and libertarianism in the 1960s and 1970s?
Which brings us to the urgent need to depict the realities of socialism to Americans who have never heard of the Berlin Wall, the Gulag, the killing fields of Cambodia, the Tiananmen Square massacre, or the daily bread lines in Moscow.
According to the YouGov survey, one-third of all Americans would prefer to live under socialism rather than capitalism. Why? Is it idealism — the desire for a classless society in which everyone is equal and envy does not exist because everything is owned in common? Is it a lack of knowledge? When asked how many people have died under communism, only 31 percent of Americans could provide the correct answer — “Over 100 million.” About seven in ten Americans could not define communism.
Commented one millennial about his peers, “They don’t recognize that much of what they enjoy in life is a result of capitalism and would disappear if socialism were to be implemented. They haven’t seen socialism’s failures firsthand.”
Here are the realities of socialism and its grandmaster, Karl Marx.
- Socialism has never worked anywhere.
Socialism in all its forms — Marxism-Leninism in the Soviet Union, Maoism in China, “state socialism” in India, “democratic socialism” in Sweden, National Socialism in Nazi Germany — has never come close to realizing the classless ideal of its founding father, Karl Marx. Instead, socialists have been forced to adopt a wide range of capitalist measures, including private ownership of railroads and airlines (United Kingdom), special economic zones (China), and open markets and foreign investment (Sweden).
Mikhail Gorbachev took over a bankrupt Soviet Union in 1985 and desperately tried to resuscitate “socialism” (i.e., communism) through perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness). He failed abjectly and was forced to preside over the dissolution of the once mighty Soviet empire on Christmas Day, 1991, seven decades after Lenin mounted a truck in St. Petersburg to announce the triumph of the Bolshevik Revolution.
In the late 1970s, Deng Xiaoping abandoned the rigid excesses of Maoist thought and adopted a form of communism with “Chinese characteristics” that was more capitalist than socialist in several ways. Deng, however, also ensured the Communist Party’s control of any new homeland enterprise or foreign investment.
After decades of sluggish growth and bureaucratic inefficiency, India rejected state socialism in the 1990s and shifted to a capitalist approach that spawned the world’s largest middle class of more than three hundred million (nearly equal to the entire U.S. population). Sweden is often described as a “socialist” country, but is not and never has been socialist. It is a social democracy in which the means of production are owned primarily by private individuals. Among the proofs of its commitment to a market economy is that Sweden ranked number 19 worldwide in the Heritage Foundation’s 2017 Index of Economic Freedom.
Socialism’s failure to deliver on its promises of bread, peace, and land to the people is confirmed by the repeated, open resistance of dissidents: in Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, Poland in 1980 with the formation of Solidarity, China’s Tiananmen Square in 1989, and in present-day Cuba with the resolute Ladies in White who parade every Sunday after mass to call attention to the many jailed dissidents including their husbands and sons.
Socialism failed in America in the early 19th century when the English philanthropist Robert Owen launched New Harmony, a “village of cooperation” on the banks of the Wabash River in Indiana. Volunteers flocked to the socialist experiment, but most were better at sitting in a chair than making one. Within a few years, New Harmony collapsed, and Owen went home.
- The founding father of socialism is the messianic Karl Marx.
Marx was an atheist socialist who insisted that his was the only “scientific” socialism based not on wishful thinking but the inexorable laws of history. The whole of history, declared Marx and his close collaborator and friend Friedrich Engels, is the history of the class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. The inevitable collapse of capitalism and the victory of the proletariat would end the conflict and usher in a classless society and pure socialism or communism (Marx used both terms interchangeably). He listed 10 necessary measures as steps along the way to his utopia, including a progressive income tax, the abolition of private property, free education for all, and centralization of the means of communication and transport in “the hands of the state.”
Much of the appeal of Marxism was its scathing critique of capitalism and its 19th century excesses, which included 16-hour work days and Dickensian working conditions. It was the early days of the Industrial Revolution when exploitation of workers, young and old, was widespread and horrific. By the end of the century, much had changed. Capitalism was not breaking down under the pressure of industrial concentration as Marx had predicted. To the contrary, economies were expanding and the lives of workers were slowly but demonstrably improving. Rather than developing into revolutionaries (as predicted by Marx), the workers were becoming reformers and even bourgeoisie.
The core philosophical weakness of Marxism was the founder’s insistence that his version of Hegelian dialectic — thesis, antithesis, synthesis — was scientific and without flaw. He asserted that feudalism had been replaced by capitalism which would be replaced by socialism in an irreversible process. But it is now close to 200 years since the publication of The Communist Manifesto, and capitalism rather than socialism dominates much of the global economy. In the Heritage Foundation’s 2018 Index of Economic Freedom, 102 countries, many of them less developed or emerging economies, showed advances in economic growth and individual prosperity. Economic freedom improved globally for the sixth year in a row.
Marx was not the first utopian. Plato had his Republic,and Thomas More his Utopia. They were centrally ruled and devoid of individual choice. More’s Utopia was a highly regimented “paradise” in which all citizens dressed alike and lived in identical houses and where private discussion of public affairs incurred the death penalty. Marx insisted that his socialist Utopia would be different because it would be classless and free of all nationalist sentiment because the nation state would have withered away. Ever melodramatic, he called on the “workingmen of all countries” to unite against the ruling classes — they had “nothing to lose but their chains.”
It was powerful rhetoric, but was Marx’s socialist world any more possible than the utopias proposed by Plato and More and other central planners? How good a historian and how accurate a prophet was Karl Marx?
Contrary to Marx, feudalism broke down, not because of economic contradictions, but because of the new trade routes which helped England and other countries move from a land-based to a money-based economy. Capitalism did not emerge naturally as the antithesis of feudalism but through a series of events including the emergence of the Puritan ethic, inventions like the cotton gin, the individualism of the Enlightenment, and the emergence of classical liberalism in the writings of thinkers like Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill.
Nor did Marx anticipate that workers would become increasingly affluent, independent, and even bourgeois. He did not foresee that capitalists would address problems such as unemployment and inflation, monopolies, Social Security and health care, and the proper balance of private and public control over the means of production.
Furthermore, the working class has not fallen into greater and greater misery. The industrial nations have seen a dramatic rise in the standard of living of the average worker. The middle class has not disappeared but expanded. As the esteemed economist Paul Samuelson wrote: “As a prophet Marx was colossally unlucky and his system colossally useless.”
- Socialism forbids the age-old right of private property.
In The Communist Manifesto Marx says, “The theory of the communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.” He knew that depriving individuals of this basic freedom would not be easy and that dictatorship by the proletariat — and violence — would be required. However, the abolition of private property is necessary, Marx argued, because it is the central cause of the perennial clash between the classes.
But private property is not just any right; it is integral to civilization. There never was a time or place when all possessions were collectively owned. There is no convincing evidence, writes the Harvard historian Richard Pipes, that there were societies that knew “no boundary posts and fences” or ignored “mine” and “thine.”
It is often argued that socialism is a secular version of Christianity, referring to Acts 2-5, which describes the early Christians as having “all things in common.” It is true that following Pentecost, Christians sold their possessions and property and shared the results with “any [that] might have need.” But there is a critical distinction between Christians and socialists: Jesus urged his followers to give up their possessions while socialists want to give away the possessions of others. St. Paul is sometimes quoted as saying that “money is the root of all evil.” What he actually wrote in a letter to Timothy was that “loveof money is the root of all kinds of evil.” His indictment, as the former AEI president Arthur Brooks has pointed out, was of an inordinate attachment to money.
More secular sources about the consequential role of private property can be cited. In The Constitution of Liberty, Nobel Laureate Friedrich Hayek writes that the recognition of private property is “an essential condition for the prevention of coercion.” He quotes Lord Acton as saying that “a people averse to the institution of private property is without the first element of freedom” and Henry Maine as asserting: “Nobody is at liberty to attack [private] property and to say at the same time that he values civilization. The history of the two cannot be disentangled.” In view of the alleged lack of individual liberty in classical Greece, writes Hayek, it deserves mention that in 5th century Greece the sanctity of the private home was so recognized that even under the rule of the “Thirty Tyrants,” a man could save his life by staying at home. The power of private property indeed.
- Socialism insists that human nature is malleable, not constant.
Karl Marx’s attitude toward human nature flows from Enlightenment thinkers like John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who challenged the traditional idea of a fixed human nature bestowed by God. Rousseau wrote, “We do not know what our nature permits us to be.” Locke saw human nature as a tabula rasa —a blank page. Hobbes famously described man’s natural state as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”
Marx borrowed from the Enlightenment to say that human nature is intrinsically malleable. The Communist state established by Lenin in Russia in November 1917, wrote Richard Pipes, was “a grandiose experiment in public education” to create an entirely new type of human being — Soviet Man.
Christian theology with its idea of a fixed human nature infuriated Marx, who was not just an atheist but a God-hater who denounced religion as “the opium of the people.” His disciples, led by Lenin, always targeted the churches when they came to power. They initiated without apology a campaign of terror, shutting down churches, executing priests and bishops and violating nuns. The horrors were justified as part of the class-cleansing Marx envisioned.
The Founders of the American Revolution rejected those who believed that man was born without any imprint and sided with those who accepted that man was born in the image of God. As the Declaration of Independence states, all men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” The Founders disagreed with those who thought man was perfectible and instead took the Christian position that man’s nature was fallen.
As Madison famously observed, “If men were angels there would be no need for government” and “ambition must be made to counteract ambition.” It is a reflection of human nature, Madison said, that “such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government.” George Washington summed up the Founders’ realism: “We must take human nature as we find it, perfection falls not to the share of mortals.”
The essential difference between the visions of Karl Marx and George Washington, aside from the question of human nature, is that in Marx’s socialist world there is a dictatorship of the Communist Party, while in a liberal democracy like the United States “We the People” tell the government what to do, the government does not tell the people what to do.
- Socialism depends upon dictatorship to attain and remain in power.
Without exception, every socialist leader from Vladimir Lenin to Fidel Castro promised to initiate basic political freedoms such as free elections, a free press, and free assembly. None fulfilled those promises.
Personal experience with this common falsehood has been eloquently provided by six famous intellectuals in The God That Failed. They describe their journey into Communism and their exit when they encountered the gigantic gap between their vision of a socialist Utopia and the totalitarian reality of the socialist state. All of them, points out editor Richard Crossman, chose Marxist socialism because they had lost faith in democracy and were willing to sacrifice “bourgeois liberties” in order to defeat Nazi Germany. Their socialist conversion was rooted in despair with Western values that produced the Great Depression and permitted Fascism.
Their conversion was greatly strengthened by what Crossman calls “the Christian conscience” even among those who were not orthodox Christians. The emotional appeal of Marxist socialism lay in the sacrifices, material and spiritual, which it demanded as well as the unswerving obedience to the socialist line no matter how radically or quickly it changed. A case in point: Communists condemned Adolf Hitler throughout the 1930s until the summer of 1939, when Joseph Stalin and Hitler signed a non-aggression pact. Immediately, all “true” socialists were obliged to reverse course and hail the agreement as a major step toward peace. It was, in fact, a cynical deal that allowed the Nazis and the Soviets to invade and divide up Poland, thereby precipitating World War II.
With the Hitler-Stalin pact, scales fell from the eyes of the six intellectuals, starting with the Hungarian novelist Arthur Koestler, who now condemned the infamous show trials ordered by Stalin: “At no time and in no country have more revolutionaries been killed and reduced to slavery than in Soviet Russia.” The American black writer Richard Wright wrote, “At that [socialist] meeting I learned that when a man was informed of the wish of the Party he submitted, even though he knew with all the strength of his brain that the wish was not a wise one, was one that would ultimately harm the Party’s interests.”
After visiting the Soviet Union, the French Nobel Laureate André Gide said bluntly, “I doubt whether in any country in the world — not even in Hitler’s Germany — have the mind and spirit ever been less free, more bent, more terrorized and indeed vassalized — than in the Soviet Union.” Gide said that “the Soviet Union has deceived our fondest hopes and shown us tragically in what treacherous quicksand an honest revolution can founder.”
The American journalist Louis Fisher, once an enthusiastic chronicler of Soviet economic advances, recounted how much the Soviet Union had changed: “Ubiquitous fear, amply justified by terror, had killed revolt, silenced protest, and destroyed civil courage. In place of idealism, cynical safety-first. In place of dedication, pursuit of personal aggrandizement. In place of living spirit, dead conformism, bureaucratic formalism, and the parrotism of false clichés.”
So it was in the Soviet Union under Stalin; so it has been in every socialist experiment since the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. The Soviet-Nazi agreement was the cracking point for many intellectuals in the West, including the American Louis Fisher, who accused Stalin of building an imperialistic militaristic system in which he is, and his successor will be, “the Supreme Slave Master.” How then, Fisher asked, can anyone interested in the welfare of people and the peace and progress of humanity support such a system? “Because there is rottenness in the democratic world?” he asked and answered, “We can fight the rottenness. What can Soviet citizens do about Stalinism?”
It took decades, but the citizens of all the nations behind the Iron Curtain finally threw off their chains in 1989, and wrote finis to Soviet communism. Tragically, there are still more than 1 billion people living today under the Marxist socialist regimes of China, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, and Laos.
- Socialism is responsible for the deaths of more than 100 million victims.
If you were asked how many Jews died in the Holocaust, you would probably respond, “Six million.” We learned the correct answer in our schools and universities, through the books and articles we have read, the movies and television programs we have watched, our conversations with families, friends, and colleagues. There is a continuing campaign to remind us of the Holocaust and to declare, “Never again.” And rightly so. The holocaust carried out by the Nazis — their deliberate campaign of genocide — was the greatest evil of the 20th century.
But if you were asked, “How many victims of communism have there been?” You would probably hesitate and respond — “Five million? Twenty million? Fifty million?” Few of us would know the right answer: at least 100 million men, women, and children, more than all the deaths of all the major wars of the 20thcentury. Communism committed the great crime of the last century.
It is a number difficult to comprehend, let alone accept. Surely, you might say, there could not have been that many. But we can be certain of saying that there have been at least 100 million victims of communism because of the painstaking research of the editors of The Black Book of Communism, published by the Harvard University Press. They document that each and every Marxist socialist regime has prevailed by way of a pistol to the back of the head and a death sentence in a forced labor camp.
There is no exception whether in China under Mao Zedong, North Korea under Kim Il Sung, Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh, Cuba under Fidel Castro, Cambodia under Pol Pot, or Ethiopia under Mengistu Haile Mariam.
According to Stephane Courtois, the editor in chief of The Black Book of Communism, the leading mass murderer is Pol Pot, whose attempt to communize Cambodia resulted in the deaths of one fourth of the country’s population. His closest rival is Mao, under whom as many as 40 million Chinese died in just one socialist campaign — the grossly misnamed Great Leap Forward. Of the Soviet Union’s first two dictators, Lenin and Stalin, Courtois says, “The blood turns cold at its venture into planned, logical and ‘politically collect’ mass slaughter.”
What price socialism? We must not limit ourselves to numbers.
The Chinese philosopher Lin Yutang listed the “little terrors” that prevailed in China — making children of 12 subject to capital punishment, sending women to work in underground coal mines, harassing workers during their lunchtime with threats of prison if they were late returning to work.
There were the costs in terror. One Soviet defector wrote about Soviet life: “We lived in a world swarming with invisible eyes and ears.”
There were the costs in thought control. The content of everything in print and broadcast was limited to authorized “truths.” The Soviet press dismissed the 1932-33 forced famine in Ukraine that took the lives of seven million innocents as an anti-communist myth. One Western apologist for the regime, Edouard Herriot, wrote: “I have crossed the whole of Ukraine, and I can assure you that the entire country is like a garden in full bloom.”
There were the costs to the world. There was no crisis anywhere in the world from Southeast Asia to the Caribbean, from sub-Saharan Africa to the Middle East, in which the ideological ambitions of Moscow and its imitators, driven by Marxist-Leninist thought, were not involved throughout the 20th and into the 21st century.
This is the reality of socialism — a pseudo-religion grounded in pseudo-science and enforced by political tyranny. This is the case against socialism — a god that failed, a science that never was, a political system headed for the ash heap of history.