This year marks one hundred years since a major event that shook the world and history to its core. On November 7, 1917, the Bolsheviks overthrew Russia’s provisional government in the Great October Socialist Revolution which led to the establishment of the first communist state which became the Союз Советских Социалистических Республик, or in English, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The USSR stood as an inspiration for the establishment of many communist regimes throughout the world, such as Cuba, China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Korea, and Ethiopia. At the same time, the Marxist-Leninist ideology spread through the hearts and minds of people worldwide and still persists to this very day.
The attractiveness of the communist movement’s ideals stems from a variety of factors people find inviting such as creating economic equity, allowing people to pursue passions, and fostering individual empowerment through a large social movement. In this modern day and age where income inequality is a prominent concern, especially since the gap between the rich and poor is expanding, many people feel concerned that the poor are not being treated fairly. One problem Marxists and Leninists face, though, is the real consequences and application of what has been proven to be a dangerous, destructive, and brutal system.
The philosophy of taking people back to their roots of farming and living in communities where all is shared may sound tranquil and amiable, but forcing people to participate in such a program has caused the deaths of tens of millions of people. Cambodia saw at least two million deaths from the killing fields, starvation, the ongoing war, and a variety of other factors that could be directly be related to the rise and the retention of power of the primitive, agrarian communist movement called the Khmer Rouge. What was especially brutal about the killing fields were that the Khmer Rouge murdered anyone who was educated, supported anything Western, or was unable to work. Ukraine saw up to 10 million of its own citizens perish under Stalin’s reign when he attempted to control the means of food production. The Soviet government set up stringent grain production quotas for Ukrainian farmers. If farmers failed to meet the quotas then all the grain they harvested would be taken without any being left for the farmers or their families. This resulted in massive bouts of starvation. The case of starvation in Ukraine was so horrific that it led to thousands of cases of reported cannibalism, where people were willing to kill and eat their children in order to survive. In China, up to 40 million people died as a result of the natural and manmade famine from the Great Leap Forward, which was rife with lies regarding production quotas, catastrophic farming methods, corruption, and starvation.
Not all who perished under communism died from incidental malnutrition or starvation. Communists have systematically killed millions more who disagreed with Marxist policies or did not fit into the Marxist narrative. To put it in comparison, the number of deaths, executions, and imprisonments under Communism easily surpasses the number of deaths seen in the Holocaust, an event many people see as one of the, if not the worst atrocity ever committed. An example of a communist regime weeding out those who did not politically conform to the mindset and societal structure was Mao’s Cultural Revolution in China. A group of communist youth known as the Red Guard destroyed ancient manuscripts and historical sites and tortured and murdered professors, intellectuals, and anyone who may have disagreed with any aspect of the Maoist movement. Additionally, the Chinese government and Mao exiled, starved, or killed many more of its citizens, supporting what was essentially a civil war in China which led to up to 2 million more Chinese citizens to perish. Similar situations occurred under Stalin’s Great Purge and under Castro’s purge of political dissidents led by his chief executioner Ernesto “Che” Guevara. The Great Purge is a classic example of a communist regime attempting to weed out all political dissidents. In the book, “Communism: A History,” author Richard Pipes describes that “when the Great Terror was at its height, the security organs detained for alleged ‘anti-Soviet activities’ 1,548,366 persons, of whom 681,692 were shot - an average 1,000 executions a day.” In communist nations, a clear pattern emerges: where there is political disagreement, dissidents must be silenced in order to “protect” the state.
There are many advocates in the West and America who promote the ideals of Communism, stating that it is the only way for people of all walks of life to live equally. They fail to observe, however, that the communist state can only be created and remain functional if people give the government reigning control over their lives, their actions, and their thoughts. A classless society cannot be formed if power is held by few to ensure the compliance of the many. This is the typical case of communist nations who have sought to ensure equity among its citizens, which is why communist governments have been oppressive regimes that rule their citizens under an iron fist and kill political dissidents. Additionally, the idea of collectivized goods and the abolition of private property by force through a centrally planned economy destroys any optimization that may exist within an economic system. Prices are tools and as signals to notify producers and consumers of scarcity. The signals essentially disappear if prices are removed by the government, which leads to massive famines and food shortages in communist states or any with a strong centralized economy; these problems can be clearly seen in places such as Venezuela today and the USSR in the 20th century. Reduced incentives to work and the elimination of any value are also at the forefront of problems that plague communist states. Many argue that the system of government running the economy would prevent any sort of monopolization that could occur under a more free market; they fail to realize that in the case of the communist government, while it is stated that the people control the means of production, it is, in fact, a monopoly held by the state and the state alone.
Many proponents of Communism will often state that the systems in the USSR, China, Cambodia, Cuba, or any other communist nation were not examples of “real Communism.” In the sense of what Karl Marx believed (a stateless society, private property is eliminated, people can choose to pursue what occupation they wish), this is half true. However, though, the communist nations were a product of what Marx and Lenin saw as a necessary means to establish equity to eliminate the bourgeoisie from society and allow for the permanent and equal stateless society to rise. Those who advocate for a moral means to establish a communist state fail to realize that this is impossible without the coherence and obedience of everyone involved within the society. Even then, this still proves impossible because as history has shown, there can be no morally righteous and peaceful means of control in a communist state- and even if there is one, another revolutionary would likely attempt to seize power and claim that the predecessor had also been morally corrupt, and that the the revolutionary is the true voice of the movement. A common Marxist doctrine is the idea of a permanent revolution, of one group of Marxists overthrowing a capitalist, feudalist, colonialist, or even other communist regime that is deemed to be imperfect until all major powers in the world are “conquered.” This is when “competition between the proletarians of these countries ceases and at least the decisive forces of production are concentrated in the hands of the workers.” Marxism and its related doctrines are evil systems that only seek destruction and the control over the all people in a society as shown by their relentless pursuit for absolute power.
As the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution comes and passes, let humanity not forget the atrocities of the communist movement and the millions of lives lost under its brutal rule. We should not dismiss the last one hundred years of the blood covered hands of communists and the devastating effect such a system has had on the world. Hopefully, we will gain knowledge and understanding of the system and its major inherent flaws so that in the centuries to come, the world will not kneel toward an ideology of selfishness, collectivism, and control, but one of liberty, individualism, and freedom.