POLITICS – Communism’s pernicious influence persists despite the evidence

Lenin during Russian revolution.

Senior Fellow
Frontier Centre for Public Policy

A NUMBER of Canadian newspapers recently noted the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. The attention was misplaced and lacked perspective.

Ian Madsen.

In 1917, a small band of fierce, committed and violent extremists seized control of the Tsarist Russian Empire.

They then created the much more oppressive and murderous Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

After the success of that revolution, this nascent communist malignancy spread to encompass all of Eastern Europe, Mongolia, China, North Korea, Indochina and other outposts, such as Afghanistan, Cuba and Ethiopia. An estimated 100 million people died from communist oppression, repression, war and starvation in the 20th century.

Yet the communists still have their western apologists. Support for socialism, communism’s supposedly more benevolent version, has risen in many western nations, abetted by leftist academics and media commentariat. These people have encouraged young people to believe that communism – or its more passable sister, socialism – is superior to free-market capitalism.

On the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, some romantics still embrace the fallacies of communism and its sister socialism

A number of assumptions bolster the apologists for socialism, but they all disintegrate upon close examination:

  • Socialists claim that equality of income should be a government goal. It’s not clear, however, why everyone should be paid the same when people have varying levels of productivity. It may give people some satisfaction to know that their co-workers earn a living wage, but this idea doesn’t have any obvious societal benefit.
  • Socialists say all people are equal. But, in practice, loyal socialist party members have higher salaries and much better lives than others.
  • History teaches us that socialism represses most people in socialist countries. Despite what apologists say, all socialist states have secret police spying on common people. They also have few civil liberties, little freedom of expression, and many prisons and labour camps filled with people who don’t toe the party line.
  • Socialist countries support the redistribution of goods, through generous welfare and progressive taxation. But giving money to people who haven’t earned it – through their labour, ingenuity or motivation – in fact punishes those who are productive and innovative.
  • Contrary to claims, socialist countries don’t provide superior health and education to their citizens. For example, Cubans must bring their own supplies when they’re admitted to hospital. Life expectancy in capitalist countries exceeds life expectancy in socialist countries. And capitalists countries have far less pollution and better working conditions than socialist countries.

Free markets generate superior wealth and higher standards of living than socialist markets. One hundred years ago, before the revolution, Russia’s economy was ranked higher than Brazil’s; today, Brazil is ahead of Russia. North Korea is impoverished while South Korea is rich.

Implicit in much collectivist thought is the idea that profit is wrong, that it’s stealing.

But where there’s progress, there’s profit. The value of what’s produced exceeds the value of what went into that production.

When socialist economies grew, it was because they accidentally generated benefits accruing to the nations. Part of that was in improved plant, equipment and infrastructure, and partly it was in improved living standards. But it wasn’t sustainable.

The superior capitalist system allows individuals to express themselves creatively, imaginatively and productively through their labour and their investment. Individuals create and nurture new endeavours.

In socialist countries, those opportunities are rare. And the rewards, if any, don’t generally go to the people who took the risks and did the work. Consequently, few try, the economy stagnates and those in power repress the discontent that results from the misery they’ve created.

It’s vital to remember the perils of communism on its 100th anniversary.

Ian Madsen is a senior fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

© 2017 Distributed by Troy Media

About Mel Rothenburger (6244 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

3 Comments on POLITICS – Communism’s pernicious influence persists despite the evidence

  1. It’s sad to see such a poorly researched opinion piece posted on one of Kamloops’ remaining commercial arenas dedicated to delivering audiences to advertisers – often mistaken in Canada for “news”.

    This piece is factually incorrect in nearly every paragraph.

    Yes, a group of committed revolutionaries overthrew the Czar (king) of Russia in 1917; the author fails to mention that, included in this group of revolutionaries were leaders of the women’s movement, union leaders, parliamentarians, and many other members of what we would today call “progressives”. And when the other member states of what would ultimately become the Soviet Union began their democratic struggles to overthrow their own totalitarian kings, the Western nations, including Canada, provided arms and soldiers to those kings in order to defeat the democratic worker’s movements in those other countries. That civil war didn’t end until 1923.

    The “100 million” number is often bandied about, but, usually includes all the people that died during WWII. This is a gross revisionist attempt to paint the Nazis as socialists, when, in fact, they were a fascist group that overtook a social democratic party and subsequently persecuted, among others, all the communists and socialists living in Germany and other states they would later occupy. The Nazis worked cooperatively with the western powers right up until Germany invaded Poland in 1939. German industry was also supported by some of America’s biggest corporations including IBM and Texaco (see Oliver Stone’s documentary “The Untold History of the United States of America”). The rise of fascism in Germany was facilitated by the western powers because they preferred a fascist, corporate-friendly Europe over a Communist one, and had hoped the Nazis would destroy the USSR; it wasn’t until the USSR had already lost over 10 million people, and were clearly going to conquer Germany within a couple years, did the Western nations make any meaningful effort to land on mainland Europe and fight the Nazis. The losses of WWII should be laid at the feet of the Western nations that supported Hitler rather than at the feet of the Communist nations that defeated him.

    The Cuban medical system is far more equitable and humane than the system offered by the great capitalist nation of America (see Michael Moore’s documentary “Sicko”). Even our system in Canada doesn’t do as good a job as the Cuban system. There are, per capita, three times as many doctors in Cuba as there are in BC. While Canada and the USA continue to export/sell/supply arms to oppressive and undemocratic regimes like Saudi Arabia, Cuba has over 42,000 medical health professionals, half of which are doctors, working abroad on humanitarian efforts around the world in some of the world’s most impoverished areas such as Haiti, West Africa during the Ebola crisis, and Pakistan during their massive earthquake. The Cubans even offered to send 1,000 doctors to help the US in the southern states after Hurricane Katrina, but, the US declined the offer as it was preferable to let hundreds suffer and die than to be embarrassed by the “threat of a good example” that Cuba continues to show the world with its humanitarian efforts. And while Cuba gets oil from Venezuela in exchange for medical assistance, Canada gets oil from Saudi Arabia thereby providing the Saudis with the money to buy weapons from Canada – and this is a Saudi Arabia which is now implicated in the war crimes being committed by their illegal bombing strikes against civilians in Yemen.

    It’s moronic to make comparisons between Russia and Brazil in 1917 and then again in 2017. Russia returned to capitalism 25 years ago – and living standards immediately began to plummet in Russia upon said return. Russia was also part of the Soviet Union, which suffered the greatest losses of any country during WWII, but then who also defeated the Nazis: Brazil can make no claim to have fought in such a war, nor to have suffered such casualties. Brazil has suffered under capitalism that whole time and, despite their massive resources, Brazil continues to be mired in mass poverty and exploitation by foreign corporations, including Canadian mining giants. Capitalism has also been terrible for Russia as their economy is now roughly the size of Spain’s. Their remaining influence in the world is largely based on the leftover military and economic wealth and development that was managed under the Soviets. In 1917 Russia was among the poorest nations of Europe with relatively short life spans, high rates of infant mortality, suicide, crime and several other maladies associated with mass poverty. Within 30 years they had developed an economic juggernaut only matched by the efforts of imperialist America. America wasn’t the only capitalist nation, but even the world’s most powerful western nation struggled to compete with the USSR’s advancements in technology and improved quality-of-life. It was in the face of these advancements that the capitalist nations begrudgingly permitted civil and labour rights to flourish, as well as allowing economic benefits to be more evenly distributed to their working class. Ever since the USSR dissolved we’ve seen a gradual disintegration of the gains made by the West’s working class as there is simply no geo-political threat to the capitalist class of the Western nations, especially after decades of rampant anti-communist organizational purges and rhetoric like that expressed by Mr. Madsen.

    I could go on, but, really, I’m sure there are limits to how much I can post. Maybe Mr. Rothenburger can offer me a chance for a counter article.

    I can, and have, debunked these right-wing myths and misconceptions on a number of occasions, however, if Mr. Madsen, or any other virulent anti-communist reactionary located somewhere closer to Kamloops, wishes to have an open, public debate, I am more than happy to take them on. I’ll even provide the venue and media.

    Peter Kerek
    Organizer, Kamloops Club of the Communist Party of Canada

  2. Dawne Taylor // December 2, 2017 at 12:05 PM // Reply

    Hey Mel – if you are going to pass on this type of column, it would be helpful to have contact info for Madsen. His conclusions smack of BS. Rather than generalize and draw assumptions based solely on the socialism in Cuba, he might check out the Scandinavian countries – with their high standard of living, their general “happiness” levels, and their lower crime rates. Don’t know anything about the Frontier Centre for Public Policy but if Madsen’s opinions are any indication, they are a more right-wing think tank than the Fraser Institute. Thanks. Dawne Taylor

  3. There is no defending oppressiveness nor dictatorships, that’s for sure.
    However this account regarding the perniciousness of Communism and Socialism sound much like an apology to me. Perhaps, is it because there is much need to deflect attention away from the inconvenient truth? When everything is accounted for, there is much evidence the world-wide most murderous system was not Communism nor Socialism. It is the Capitalist mode of production captained by the USA with many obedient puppy-states under their control following along.
    There is also much evidence to point to the fact that many productive and innovative enterprises are the ones employing broader equality.
    No, I don’t want any extremism which includes Communism, Socialism, Religion nor Capitalism.
    The goal of a more equitable society is a noble and an obtainable one.

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