April 16th 1917 – A train pulls into the rail station in St. Petersburg, Russia. One of its passengers finally returns home after 17 years of exile in Switzerland. The man climbs atop the train car to address the thousands of his followers who had gathered. Vladimir Lenin told the crowd that the Bolshevik (later Communist) Party must use armed force to seize control of the government.
Lenin’s return to Russia would unleash a chain of events that would cause more death, suffering, and loss of freedom than any single human event in world history. This was the beginning of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic; more commonly known as the Soviet Union.
Lenin’s rule was short lived. He supposedly died of health related problems. However, his predecessor would rule for decades. The iron tough and brutal Joseph Stalin would bring some of the ideas conceived by Karl Marx in The Communist Manifesto into the world with such force that he ended up murdering far more people than Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini combined. It would take the leadership of Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush to finally defeat the Evil Empire.
The five main objectives that were implemented by Soviet leaders were:
- Abolition of private property such as firearms and land;
- A heavy income tax on those considered “rich”;
- Abolition of all rights of inheritance;
- Free education and healthcare for all (although this failed); and
- The end of capitalism and free markets.
The brave Russian men and women who opposed losing their property, natural rights, and freedom were taken to remote prisons in Siberia or just murdered.
In 1990, when the Soviet Union collapsed financially, militarily, and politically, the world finally understood that communism simply did not work. Humans are born with the natural yearning for freedom to work toward their dreams, keep the fruits of their labor, protect themselves and loved ones, and to speak freely without the fear of prison or death.
The story of communism and the Soviet Union is important today because in America, the sudden rise and popularity of socialism is a major concern. While communism and socialism are not exactly the same, they share many of the same philosophical ideas and are considered to be far left political philosophies. The main difference between the two is that socialism does not call for a violent overthrow of a government. (I am also not suggesting that any particular socialist or communist in America would carry out the atrocities mentioned above.)
Most concerning is that many of the younger supporters of far left politicians like Bernie Sanders and the widely popular socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are unaware of the history and suffering associated with communist and socialist governments.
History repeats itself when it is either unknown or forgotten. The only way to prevent repeating devastating mistakes is to look to the past.