I’ve been saying for a long time that it is beyond absurd to compare communism/socialism to capitalism and the free market without considering geographical, socio-cultural and historic factors in each particular case.
Everyone laughs at North Korea and their quasi-communism. Yet nobody takes into account that the country has been under brutal economic sanctions for decades, and that it is geographically situated in a region where you can’t farm anything substantial. And almost no-one talks about the regional geopolitical configuration that explains the strictness of the current North Korean regime. And yet, despite all those unfortunate circumstances, North Koreans still manage to develop submarines, ballistic missile systems and thermonuclear weapons. Can the capitalist and the natural resource rich Democratic Republic of the Congo develop its own missile system and build thermonuclear weapons? I doubt it.
When people attempt to compare communism/socialism to capitalism, they always compare Cuba to the United States and the European Union. Nobody compares Cuba to, say, Haiti, which is a fully capitalist country under the US influence. How come nobody compares poor and “miserable" socialist Cuba to “rich” and “happy” regional capitalist states such as Columbia? Or the capitalist state of Mexico, where there is a huge gap between rich and poor, and where they’ve been having totally capitalist drug cartel wars, with death toll estimated to go over 100 thousands in the last 10 years? Shall we compare the 1960s version of quasi-capitalist state of Iraq with, say, the socialist state of the Soviet Union?
“Socialism is a retarded system that doesn’t work.” some retarded far right cuckoos say on the Internet. Well, that “retarded” system managed to defend itself and crush the world’s most advanced war machine in the 1940s and then proceed with developing world leading nuclear and space programs.
Many people in the West are not aware of this nowadays, but in World War II, the Soviet Union wasn’t just fighting Nazi Germany. It was fighting all of Europe with a combined population of around 400 million, while the USSR had less than 200 million. Further, about a third of Third Reich tanks were produced in Czechoslovakia, most of the occupied countries were providing resources, working hands and soldiers to Hitler. There were more French soldiers serving in the Nazi forces in the Eastern Front than there were people in the entire French Resistance.
The Soviet Union was fighting Nazi Germany more or less alone until 1944. The Red Army was already advancing through Europe when the Allies finally decided to launch the Normandy Landing. Then the Soviet Army singlehandedly defeated the Manchurian army of Imperial Japan (which was a capitalist power too, by the way), kicking them out of mainland Asia in just a few weeks. That happened before the US “stopped the war” and “saved lives” by nuking 400,000 civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
And then, after the devastating war, the socialist Soviet Union managed to rebuild everything. Then this “retarded” system conducted its first successful nuclear test in 1949. And then it successfully conducted the thermonuclear tests in 1953, proving again how “retarded” and “impotent” it is. Then the “retarded” Soviets did it again when they launched the first man-made space satellite, Sputnik-1, in 1957. Then again, in April 1961, when “retarded” socialists sent the first man to space.
Not to mention the healthcare and the nearly 100% literacy rate. Before the 1917 October Revolution, about 70% of Russian population was illiterate with average life expectancy hardly exceeding what is observed in Central Africa nowadays.
So much for “Socialism failed every time it was tried.”. Those “retarded” socialists managed to build the World’s second most powerful superpower in the second half of the 20th century. Ignoring that is to ignore the historic reality.
Yes, the Soviet people didn’t have all the luxuries enjoyed by the citizens of America, but they still lived better than 80% of the world's population, most of whom lived under global capitalism, despite relatively harsh climate conditions.
“Oh, but how did it all end for USSR?”. The Soviet Union collapsed, indeed. I am not going to go into details of why it happened now. It wasn’t because of the objective economic reasons, but I just want to say that, arithmetically, there have been more capitalist regimes and empires that ceased to exist in the last 150 years compared to socialist/communist states.
Oh, and let’s not forget about China! Far from being strictly socialist nowadays, as China has greatly relaxed its policies and largely hybridised its economy since the late 1980s, it is still officially ruled by the Communist Party, it has government exercising control over the economic sector and it has been one of the world's fastest growing economies. Just to illustrate the point, some sources say that they build about a thousand airports every year. Needless to say that China is now emerging as a global superpower.
“Oh, but what about all those who died under communist/socialist dictatorships?” What about them? Yes, many people died in socialist countries when the system was forming, but 1) people almost never get the figures right, overestimating the number of victims by 10s and even 100s of times, for ideological and propaganda purposes and 2) people misattribute and misinterpret the causes from objective historical processes that occur after any regime change by strictly blaming it all on communism/socialism.
Throughout history, whenever there was a revolution, or a regime change, it has always been accompanied by a bloodshed, usually in the form of civil wars and repressions. In such light, we can talk about the horrors of the French Revolution, where they were executing so many people they had to invent guillotine to behead people faster and that was considered humane at the time! We can talk about the victims and all the people executed during the land reforms in England, and similar events in Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, and everywhere else around the world. If we take each case and compare it to what was happening in the Soviet Union and Communist China in their early years, percentage wise, the figures will be comparable. In fact, the soviets weren’t as bad as their European counterparts from a century before them.
It’s the genesis of history, the history itself that has always been forged in blood, pain, and suffering. Take a look at the American history, for instance. See how many native tribes had to perish and how many people had to die in America’s own civil war for the US to form in its current shape.
That brings us to the next point. If you want to talk about the victims of communism, you should also talk about the victims of capitalism. It’s hard to tell when it started exactly, but, for the argument’s sake, let’s go from 1776, the year in which Adam Smith formally explained the mechanics of the capitalism and the free market in his “Wealth of Nations", although, de facto, capitalism formed centuries before that. We can talk about Triangular Slave Trade in which African slaves were initially used by capitalists to work on their sugar plantations and how that resulted in millions of deaths. We had the Chinese Opium wars and the subsequent opium epidemic when the British companies forced China to buy drugs. There are some estimates that say that up to 10% of the Chinese population fell victims of opium. We had all the imperial wars, including the World War I. We had the colonialism and all the colonial wars, the effects of which are still experienced by Africans because the current civil wars come as a result of national borders being thoughtlessly marked by old European powers who had no regard for the organic ethnocultural/tribal configuration of those lands. These kill thousands every single year. If we were to estimate the numbers of victims of free market and capitalism, the figures would be, literally, in the hundreds of millions.
So lets stop perceiving the world and the history in black & white, peddling the scary tales about “evil communist regimes” and how “Marxism is responsible for over a hundred million deaths!”, and other ideological bullshit that tends to replace genuine analysis and understanding. Let’s not put simplistic labels on everything.
I am not advocating Socialism. It would be somewhat stupid and naive to think that the United States, Australia and Western European countries would be able to go full communism at this stage. It’s just not realistic, given the current socio-economic configuration and the Western mindset. Capitalism isn't as bad after all; much better than, say, feudalism, that's for sure. Besides, each country/society has its own destiny, and I don’t think that the Western world can/should accept communism any time soon. There are some intellectuals, such as Anatoly Wasserman, who argue that “Digital Socialism” would be achievable on a global scale through smooth transition and that it will be too good to resist, but such concepts are still within the realm of science fiction and I don’t think it would be possible within the next 20-30 years.
I just want people to stop viewing history and reality in simplistic cliches that were developed by Goebbels and then consolidated through decades of Cold War propaganda.
Think. Be aware of the context. Look for analogies. View things in a wider perspective. Compare everything with everything. We, as humanity, will never be able to go forward if we don’t start thinking and analysing things holistically. We can never move forward if we don’t see history objectively and understand our past genuinely.