Have you noticed how often the media uses the words socialism, communism, and Marxist ideology? Those terms have become popular topics for discussion on radio, TV, and the internet. And that is good; but words are often misleading, and to really understand Socialism, you must have lived through it. I am a survivor of Russian socialism and I know what it truly means.
I came to America to enjoy the freedom and opportunities the country offers to humanity. I love this country and I am concerned about the state of America’s national security, especially during this dangerous time for our country. This is the reason I want to share my personal experiences living under a socio-economic system called Socialism and expose the frequent misrepresentations of what the term means.
For most Americans Socialism is an abstract notion—something they have never experienced. Not coincidentally, Americans wonder about the difference between Socialism and Communism, and it is very hard for them to find the truth on the internet. For those of us raised under the Communist system in the Soviet Union, Marxism-Leninism was a mandatory subject in all universities. Most Russian émigrés know the subject well. I was astonished by the various explanations of Marxist theory offered by American authors. Some of them were pure propaganda. One misleading presentation on Marxist theory and its comparison of Lenin with President Reagan surprised me the most.
Other strange statements I read included such comments as, “Socialism is liberal…Communism is conservative.” This was news for me. We cannot compare liberals of the 19th century with leftists of the 21st century, just as we cannot compare Democrat President Harry Truman with Democrat President Barack Obama. Over the past sixty years, there has been a drastic transformation within the Democrat Party and this transformation itself requires a separate discussion. Because there is an alarming need for real knowledge, I will present my view on Marxism to Americans who hunger for the truth.
The publication of The Communist Manifesto in 1848 provided a road map for the period’s leftist political activists and their comrades in the Unions. Marx was the primary author of the Manifesto, while Engels’ exact contributions are unknown. Both offered their views on how capitalism would eventually be replaced by socialism and then give way to communism, the purest form of socialism. Nevertheless, any potential details about what communism would look like were missing. I would say the Manifesto was a left-wing political program of the mid-19th century with some historical and social information, even more—it had declared a war to Western civilization…
Creating the Theory of Socialism and Communism as a means of rooting out the exploitation of man by man, Marx and Engels purposely divided it into two phases: the first phase was Socialism and the second –- Communism. They identified in detail the tasks, agendas, and ways to achieve them in their “Theory”, as follows.
- First – the tasks and agenda—overthrowing the capitalist economic system and establishing Socialism as a basis for the creation of a classless Communist society in the future.
- Second – how to fulfill the tasks and agenda—through World Revolution.
- Third – the World Revolution would occur under the leadership of the proletariat. “Proletariats of the world unite!” was their slogan.
- Fourth – Marxist Theory can be applied only in industrially developed European countries.
The first task and the agenda, which I call the first postulate is clear—the overthrow of the existing Capitalist economic system and the creation of a new Socialist economic system under which all means of production would belonged to the government. As a survivor of Socialism, I can tell you how this was brought about — through the forcible confiscation and nationalization of all private property.
Private Property is the main target of Marxism. Neither Marx nor Engels, however, identified over what time span Socialism would mature into the evolved and perfect classless Communist society. That is the crux of the matter—a dark hole in the theory and not the only one… The simple truth is that private property is a cornerstone of our democracy and our American economic system. As it’s declared by our Founding Fathers: “that we have been a property-holders’ democracy.” Michael Barone.
The second postulate, how to achieve the task, is also clear—through World Revolution. It is a radical and categorical approach to the matter entailing unrest, chaos, violence, and killings. I am vehemently against such an approach because I know the tragedy that occurred in Russia. Marx’s statement that “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle,” is simply not true. America’s Founding Fathers created a just and fair government and free country without any class struggle.
The third postulate is the leadership of the Proletariat. Class division is the wrong approach to the problem of leadership. And again, the example of America is the antithesis of the Marxist approach and suggests, to the contrary, that only competent, well-educated, and highly respected individuals — leaders who come from all walks of life with all kinds of talents — can provide a country true leadership, as was the case in America. It is individual personality and human qualities that bring a leader to the forefront of a movement, not his or her identification with a certain class.
The fourth postulate is perhaps the only logical and economically sustainable position, i.e. that Marxist theory can be applied only to industrially develop European countries….
Ironically, despite not meeting the requirements of any of Marx’s four postulates, the first Socialist Revolution took power in Russia in October 1917. And despite failing to meet Marxist requirements, and on the contrary by perverting all of them while at the same time using Marxist rhetoric to further his ends, Joseph Stalin created his own ideology and established a criminal syndicate, a totalitarian machine called Soviet Socialism.
A more comprehensive explanation of this complex and important subject will follow. I will offer you a suggestion and a series of articles to read to learn about Soviet Socialism in the 21st century.
Please, read in addition the article Replacing Property as a Source of Wealth Creation, Michael Barone, Townhall.com, July, 4, 2011.