Back In The USSR -Perspectives Of A Russian Immigrant 2
Too many people think that freedom, opportunity and a variety of choices are ever-present features of life in the U.S. — that fundamental transformation of America will not affect accustomed standards.
When we lived in the U.S.S.R., locked away from the world, kept from traveling abroad and surrounded by government-controlled sources of information, we couldn’t imagine what kind of life people had on the outside. Simple things, like tomatoes in stores in winter, seemed improbable.
When we immigrated to the U.S., I realized that most of what we were taught about capitalism was false. I was surprised how uninformed and downright clueless Americans were regarding communist ideology and history.
The platitudes of communist propaganda that were all around me in the Soviet Union were accepted as something new and wonderful by well-meaning people in the U.S. While Soviet citizens were excluded from the external world by their government, liberal/progressives in the “free world” were insulated from reality.
In the 1930s, when communists were starving the Russian people with regulations on farmers, New York Times correspondent Walter Duranty reported, “Any report of a famine in Russia is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda.” For his stories, Duranty won a Pulitzer Prize.
Through the late 1950s, liberal newspapers in America ignored stories about work prison camps in the Soviet Union. But more than 20 million people accused of opposition to centralized government perished.
In 1956, Soviets brutally suppressed a revolt against the Soviet-imposed socialist government in Hungary. More than 2,500 Hungarians were killed. In 1968, Czechoslovakia lived through a similar uprising and suppression.
From late 1960s, Soviet dissidents raised their voices against the oppressive, inhumane rule of the communist government in the U.S.S.R. Dissidents were imprisoned, condemned to psychiatric facilities and expelled from work. Their families were persecuted.
Meantime, enjoying the freedoms of the U.S., Weather Underground radicals were calling forces to unite for “the destruction of U.S. imperialism and achieve … world communism.” By 1980, the centrally planned economy of the U.S.S.R. was in shambles. By American standards the population lived below poverty level.
It’s stunning for an immigrant from a socialist country to hear in the speeches of Democratic Party leaders platitudes taught in socialist countries. Even more stunning is how they resonate with people born in the free world.
At the end of 19th century and the beginning of 20th calls for “equality,” “fairness,” “sacrifices for collective good” and “social justice” aroused communist revolutionaries in Russia and ushered in the U.S.S.R. They demonized and obliterated any religion that interfered with government authority. They erased individualism and entrepreneurship from society. Animosity among ethnic groups was insidiously cultivated.
In the U.S., fascism and socialism are classified at the opposite ends of the political spectrum; in reality, these two ideologies have a lot in common.
Fascism is “a political philosophy, movement or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition” (Merriam Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary).
That definition of fascism can easily be applied to the socialism I experienced. The only difference is that to organize communities of fateful followers, German fascists used an ideal of racial purity, and communists used class warfare. Fascists confiscated properties of non-Aryans, and communists confiscated all private properties.
Free market capitalism, which created a large, prosperous middle class in America, and government-centered ideologies have nothing in common.
For more than 100 years, old and tired socialist propaganda brought out the worst in societies: envy, hate, intolerance and disrespect for human life, just as these traits have increased in the last four years in the U.S.
The U.S. is not 19th century tsarist Russia, but it is being transformed into something far different from the “land of the free.” The softer-styled European welfare societies are falling apart, leaving future generations broke. Is there a chance Barack Obama’s vision of centralized government, surrounded by a web of sclerotic bureaucracies, will create a fair society?
The same reader who commented on my July article continued: “Or is the grim description of life in the former Soviet Union meant to paint Obama and his party as communists/socialists/fellow travelers bent on destroying America and all it stands for?”
Yes, that’s exactly what I mean — and Obama’s rhetoric, actions and results confirm this point.