by Caleb Talley
The third, and final installment in a series…
History has laid witness to the millions that have died as a direct result of communism. Yet, today, the ideology continues to reemerge from the ashes, captivating the minds of so many young adults.
On college campuses across the country and on the streets of Washington, D.C., young would-be communists have called for an end to capitalism, the First Amendment and other elements critical to our democracy. If it were up to them, our nation would adopt the ideals laid out by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in their 1848 Communist Manifesto.
Are that many young Americans so clueless of events that took place even just within the last 100 years?
I think the resurgence of the ideology among so many Millennials is a reflection of a public school curriculum that has downplayed or completely ignored communism. Students leave school to continue their education only to be taught by one or more professors that communism is a virtuous philosophy, while ignoring the fact that the execution of it as a socio-economic policy has always proven disastrous.
Communism, as I have outlined in my two previous columns, kills those it wishes to help and those it hopes to control, both directly and indirectly.
Twentieth Century communist leaders like Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong ordered the murder of millions just so they could remain in power and continue their “virtuous” ideology. A young admirer of modern communism might argue that such atrocities are unlikely to ever happen today, given the current state of our global community. And they’re most likely right. The United States would undoubtedly intervene if a political faction within an ally country sought to kill its own people; our allies would likely try to do the same if it were to happen here.
But not all communist casualties were the result of execution. Millions upon millions died simply because the socialist economic policies espoused by communists are only successful in collapsing economies and starving entire populations.
That very thing is taking place in Venezuela, today. Trucks carrying food are overrun in the streets by hoards of fathers trying to find food to feed their families. Counterfeit money is as common as real bills. Since 2008, the infant mortality rate in Venezuela, a country once wealthy with natural resources, has been higher than that of Syria, where civil war and ISIS has torn through every region of the country.
The embrace of communism here in America may in fact be just a protest of capitalism by young adults who feel victimized by it because they don’t yet understand how economies work. Capitalism is an economic policy, not a socio-economic one, like communism. Members of the Red Youth are likely to see it as being driven solely by greed and self interest. It’s evil, and it binds the little guy in chains of poverty with no hope of ever escaping.
They’re at least right about one thing. Capitalism is driven by self interest. After all, why does anyone do anything? As Adam Smith, the father of economics, wrote in 1776, “It is not from benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”
It’s the self interest of each individual within a society that turns the gears of the economy as a whole. But young communists would have you believe that self interest and the profit-making it advocates are immoral. Only under such a foolish ideology is profit-making a sin while murdering your critics in the street a daily routine.
Without the hope of making a profit, what incentive is there for members of a society to bust their humps day in and day out? The only way communist Russia and communist China could keep their citizens working away to keep their countries afloat was through constant propaganda, and it still didn’t entirely work. Lenin learned that. Stalin learned that. Mao learned it, too. The ones that strayed were killed.
So, how does a modern communist state convince workers to work hard when there is no hope of ever advancing in society? They can’t. That’s because a successful economy and a progressive society is impossible under communism. The incentives, the promise of profit-making with threat of competition, are what drive a society forward economically. Even with incentives, the current American labor participation rate has been declining. Without them, society would become stagnant and progress nonexistent.
Under Lenin’s Russia, everyone was paid equally in order to prevent new classes from emerging. As a result, some hard working farmers would keep a little bit more grain to provide for their families. After all, they put in the hard work. To prevent that from happening, Lenin made it illegal for a farmer to produce more grain than he could consume. There was no longer an incentive to work hard, so production dropped dramatically. There was no longer enough grain to feed entire communities. Millions starved to death.
Productivity continued to decline in Soviet Russia, that by the 1980s, an average western industrial worker was eight times as productive as a soviet one. With the same amount of time and resources, a Soviet worker could produce $1 worth of goods while a western worker produced $8 worth.
The lack of competition under communism also puts a stranglehold on progress and innovation. Under communism, the government is the sole supplier. In a capitalist society, however, the consumer has choice. That choice forces suppliers to come up with better and cheaper products – process that benefits us all.
And in order to continue providing better and cheaper products, producers must invest in innovation. By investing in new technologies and creating new companies, they provide society with countless goods and services, create employment for millions and contribute trillions in tax revenue. In fact, China’s slow emergence from communism began when regional provinces were allowed to compete with one another in providing goods to the people. As a result, the economy improved and leaders began to see the benefits of an open market.
Communism may work well in small, Nepali communities made up of devout Buddhist monks. But for communism to work elsewhere in the world would require perfect societies made up of infallible human beings.
As it turns out, human are flawed by nature and no society can aspire to be perfect. Therefore, a successful communist regime is impossible without equal parts terror and starvation.
It may not be a perfect, but capitalism doesn’t have to be held together by brute force and propaganda. When given the opportunity by government, it has the ability to run like a well-oiled machine, driving social mobility, innovation, progress and success.
In Cash & Candor, Arkansas Money & Politics / AY Magazine Editor Caleb Talley aims to shoot it straight when it comes to business and politics in and around the Natural State. Talley comes to AMP by way of the Arkansas Delta, where he called balls and strikes at the Forrest City Times-Herald. He can be contacted by email at [email protected]. Read more Cash & Candor here.