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Communism Was OK

THE ECONOMIC ISSUE

Same as with freedom, when people from both sided argue about communist economic conditions they conveniently forget to mention the whole story. Same as with freedom, we need to ask which geographic location and which time frame we are referring to when we talk about economic conditions under communism.

Geographically speaking, it is possible to argue that Slovenia (one of the former republics of Yugoslavia) was the most economically-developed region (or country) under communism. This was so due to its proximity with Germany and it's long history (about 1000 years) of discipline and hard work imposed to it by the Austro-Hungarian empire.

On the other extreme of the scale, we again find Romania which was, arguably, one of the poorest communist countries in the world, being only rivaled perhaps by North Korea.

In historical terms, the worse economic conditions probably existed in Ukraine during the period immediately prior to WWII and later on during the last days of the USSR. Although we must point out that the concept of "bad economic conditions" is purely subjective.

HOW MUCH WEALTH?

If we want to understand the true economic conditions under communism, we must again refrain from looking at propaganda and take a hard look at actual facts. The fact is that throughout most of the USSR economic conditions were difficult (to put it mildly) until the death of Stalin. Once this took place, the new soviet leaders took a much more people-oriented economic direction. Khrushchev, for example, much of an apparatchik he was, believed that communism was "heaven on earth". He genuinely attempted to provide people with a better living. He vastly improved the lives of millions of people through better housing, food, clothing, schooling and so forth. He did so. Throughout the USSR.

Also, we must never forget that a great deal of wealth was actually created by western technology under contract by the USSR. No, we did not say stolen (this happened latter on) but directly purchased by the USSR through legal and valid contracts.

Additionally, many communist countries enjoyed a far higher standard of living through loans from the west. The king of all borrowers was… Yugoslavia! This was so because Tito understood geopolitics. He simply blackmailed the US by stating that he will get funds either from the USSR or US. It was, of course, a bluff. Tito had distanced from the USSR ever since Stalin attempted to murder him. But this is a story for a different article. The point is that many countries in the USSR received loans from the West and with those loans the maintained a relatively high standard of living for their population.

We must also remember that eventually, when all the money run out, economic conditions deteriorated suddenly until the fall of the USSR.

It is for these reasons that when former communist citizens are asked about economic conditions, their answers vary wildly. It is not only necessary to ask where, it is also necessary to ask when.

People under communism suffered from the same delusions as people under democracy. They blamed the government. In communism it was much simpler because it was a system which in fact took responsibility for everything! However, all those people did not have the information to fully understand where wealth was coming from. Thus, they associated economic good and bad times with communist administrations. Same as in democracy.

ON BALANCE

If we take all those facts into consideration, we must conclude that on balance communism wasn't the "Evil Empire" as an opportunistic former US president label it. Communism truly attempted to provide people with a good life. Its problem was not the intention, its problem was not even the execution (which was quite good), its problem was that it did not work.

However, for as long as it lasted, communism was, in fact, OK. Not at all times and most definitively not in all places, but it did contribute to the wellbeing of its population. For those people, communism was most definitively OK.

Communism was also OK in the sense that it was an unavoidable political evolution. Without the failure of communism human beings would not have been able to evolve beyond it.

Communism is also full of tragedies, murder and corruption to a level seldom heard of, outside massive military conflicts. In this sense communism was also OK because it provided a painful historical lesson to people. To a degree, its damage was large enough to immunize people to it. It did so quite successfully. Thanks to communism very few people in the world today actually take communism seriously. And this is a good thing. It demonstrates that people have evolved passed communism.

THEN WHY?

The reason why we despise all political theories is because of the damage they produce. Communism did not work because its economic system wasn't based on free markets. Yes. It's that simple. As such, any and all political systems that meddle with free markets will achieve the same outcome. The more they meddle the lower our standard of living becomes.

Communism was OK in the sense that it provided some degree of standards of living as opposed to none. But communism is not OK when compared to the standards of living that even crippling democracies can provide. People living in democracies have standards of living orders of magnitude superior to what people in communist countries used to have (and in some cases still have - see Venezuela or Cuba).

THE HARSH REALITY

Our current political world is spiraling into one direction: Communism-light. It could not be otherwise since as our Political Evolution theory dictates (see The Three Laws of Political System Change), all evolutionary steps are transitional in nature. People may have evolved passed communism but they have not rejected it entirely. Most people still believe in socialism, the redistribution of wealth (limited), the "social causes", the "social wellbeing" and so on. As such democracies will continue to slide deeper and deeper into communism-light. It is inevitable (see for example Socialism - The Most Addictive Drug). However, at some point in time, politicians will overdo it and then the next evolutionary step will take place. Towards Libertarianism. This is, again, unavoidable.

CONCLUSION

We stated that communism was OK because it was, in fact, a necessary political evolutionary step and it did provide (at least to a limited degree) for their citizens. But we cannot stop here. We must also unquestionably state that communism is NOT OK when it comes to our future. And this is a difficult point to make.

For the reasons previously exposed, many people were more-or-less OK living under communism and they remember it so. We must understand how they lived and when they lived in order to provide clear historical facts for comparison. It is simply not possible to condemn communism as a whole without stating explicitly why and when. The concepts of "freedom" and "liberty" are theoretical ideas which may sound great in speeches but have little to no effect on our daily lives. What interest us are the effects of communism in peoples' lives. And the truth is that the less goods and services there are to increase our standards of living, the more control governments will exercise on those goods and services. Rationing is the word you may be looking for.

The simple reality is that for as long as wealth is widespread and reasonable, we, the people, do not care. But if we don't care, governments cannot get a hold on us. We are blackmail-proof. Seriously? Yes. Take a look at what happened in the USSR. The KGB had an absolute control over the population and what happened? The economy collapsed. And what happened then? USSR leaders realized that no matter how strong the terror may be, it reaches a point at which people have nothing else to lose. There is no possible win scenario. The USSR crumbled. It was the economic conditions that finally destroyed the USSR, not a shiny new political theory!

It is for this very reason that free markets are the engines of freedom. Because they liberate us from our physical needs and as such from rationing imposed by governments. Communism was the master of rationing and as such held an iron grip on its population. Communism was OK in the sense that it provided rations for their people, but it was NOT OK in the sense that people could have had so much more.

Communism was OK but it no longer is.

We want much, much more, don't you?

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

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