The tragic Bol­she­vik legacy, 100 years on

The spawn of Marx­ism now gnaw at the roots of Amer­i­can lib­erty

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By Erich Reimer Erich Reimer, a lawyer, is a Repub­li­can ac­tivist and com­men­ta­tor.

This year marks 100 years since the Bol­she­vik Rev­o­lu­tion took place in Rus­sia. That year, the cen­turies-old czardom of Rus­sia and the brief lib­eral democ­racy that re­placed it col­lapsed and was soon re­placed by the Soviet Union, the world’s first sta­ble com­mu­nist state. It was that year, a long, bloody, cen­tury ago, that the class war­fare and rev­o­lu­tion­ary ideas of Marx­ism went from be­ing the fan­ci­ful talk of dis­af­fected in­tel­lec­tu­als to a se­ri­ous international po­lit­i­cal and his­tor­i­cal force. Since that fate­ful event, which the ti­tle of John Reed’s “Ten Days that Shook the World” so aptly cap­tures, com­mu­nism through its var­i­ous forms and ad­her­ents has di­rectly led to the deaths of well over 100 mil­lion peo­ple and the sub­ju­ga­tion of count­less more across the world.

With the end of the Cold War, many Amer­i­cans may be­lieve that com­mu­nism has now been rel­e­gated to the his­tory books, and as a tragic hold­out in na­tions like North Korea and Cuba or as a cu­ri­ous aber­ra­tion in na­tions such as China and Viet­nam. Yet on this 100th an­niver­sary, it is worth the time for Amer­i­cans to re­flect on the lessons of the in­cred­i­ble hard­ships of this past cen­tury as well as the chal­lenges the fu­ture may pose.

Over the course of the 20th cen­tury, the United States was the cen­ter of hu­man free­dom and God-given lib­erty in po­lar con­trast to to­tal­i­tar­ian ide­olo­gies, most no­tably com­mu­nism.

Tens of thou­sands of Amer­i­can ser­vice mem­bers lost their lives fight­ing for the free­dom of peoples around the world from com­mu­nism.

Con­flicts in such places as Viet­nam and Korea, and other count­less anti-Com­mu­nist ex­pe­di­tions and en­gage­ments, were unique be­cause these were not con­flicts in self-de­fense like al­most all of Amer­ica’s other wars but were wars waged in the name of moral dig­nity and truth.

The stark con­trast be­tween Amer­ica and to­tal­i­tar­ian regimes such as the Soviet Union clar­i­fied in our minds and hearts the ideals and val­ues that made us dif­fer­ent from them. This con­trast also of­ten pushed us to live up to our ideals when­ever we strayed.

Yet we are al­ready show­ing wor­ry­ing signs of for­get­ting our past. In 2012, move­ments such as Oc­cupy Wall Street at­tempted to cap­i­tal­ize on the real hard­ships many Amer­i­cans were feel­ing in the wake of the fi­nan­cial cri­sis. How­ever, rather than pro­mot­ing more in­su­la­tion in the sys­tem, many sought to throw out the sys­tem all to­gether.

Since then, many of these at­ti­tudes have not dwin­dled but grown.

A 2016 poll by YouGov showed that while mil­len­ni­als still saw com­mu­nism “very un­fa­vor­ably,” they did so at a rate (37 per­cent) that was sig­nif­i­cantly lower than Amer­i­cans as a whole (57 per­cent).

Fur­ther­more, many mil­len­ni­als ex­pressed wor­ry­ing sen­ti­ments, such as dis­trust of cap­i­tal­ism, ig­no­rance of com­mu­nism’s record and his­tory, and sup­port of Marx’s quote “from each ac­cord­ing to his abil­ity to each ac­cord­ing to his needs.”

“Demo­cratic” so­cial­ist Bernie San­ders ran on re­dis­tri­bu­tion­ist poli­cies and class war­fare rhetoric. The shock­ing level of sup­port he and other sim­i­lar can­di­dates and move­ments did and still re­ceive, as well as the rise of far more ex­treme trends such as “An­tifa” and cam­pus free speech sup­pres­sion, are warn­ing signs for the di­rec­tion some in our coun­try are slid­ing to­ward. It is in­cred­i­bly tragic that such be­liefs are tak­ing root in the cen­ter of lib­erty and free­dom in the world. Over the course of this past cen­tury, the idea of class war­fare and to­tal­i­tar­ian ideas gain­ing trac­tion in the United States was laugh­able. Ef­forts not only by the gov­ern­ment but by the cit­i­zenry it­self en­sured that such ideas would never be able to take root in this fortress of hu­man lib­erty.

Iron­i­cally, the fact that com­mu­nism has never taken root in Amer­ica is likely a ma­jor cause of cur­rent in­creas­ing com­fort with and in­ter­est in some of its tenets. Many other na­tions have di­rectly ex­pe­ri­enced the hard­ships of com­mu­nist tyranny and war, and have been hard­ened against the ex­treme left’s siren song through direct per­sonal, fa­mil­ial and so­ci­etal ex­pe­ri­ences. In con­trast, in mod­ern Amer­ica com­mu­nism has largely only been an ab­stract idea seen on TV or read about in books.

Now that the press­ing ex­is­ten­tial threat of na­tions such as the Soviet Union has seem­ingly been al­le­vi­ated, many have stopped com­bat­ing the col­lec­tivist ideals which fuel Marx­ist thought. How­ever, many of those on the ul­tra-left have not stopped push­ing their anti-lib­erty ideas.

On this 100th an­niver­sary of the Oc­to­ber Rev­o­lu­tion, it is time for all of us to re­mind our­selves and oth­ers of the ideals that de­fine Amer­ica — in­di­vid­ual lib­erty, the Con­sti­tu­tion, rule of law, and God-given free­dom. The lessons of this past cen­tury have been learned with too much sac­ri­fice to be for­got­ten so eas­ily.

IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY HUNTER

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