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The collapse of the Soviet Union between 1988 and 1991 was hailed as marking the end of Great Power competition and the victory of democracy. But in retrospect, it now seems that the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was not the end of the Communist movement, but rather Marxism, rid of the millstone of failure represented by the Soviet Union, gathered strength and now threatens to end the American era.
Communism (and its handmaiden, Socialism) failed in the Warsaw Pact, failed in the USSR and continues to fail - economically and politically, sometimes dramatically, everywhere it has taken hold. More importantly, it has inevitably led to tyranny, oppression, imprisonment of opposition and vast numbers of violent deaths. Even now, the last major “Communist” regime - China - is imprisoning millions of “dissidents” in both the Uyghurs and those it deems subversive (i.e. anyone who dares openly oppose the tyranny of “The Party”).
Even China’s vaunted economic resurgence is built on a regime of state-owned enterprises, a massively distorted economy, and a new form pf predatory mercantilism that threatens to leave nations across the globe financially dependent on Beijing, even as the economic bubble continues to grow.
The biggest perceived threat of the last 100 years was the former USSR, which under the tyranny of Stalin killed untold millions (some expert estimates are more than 20 million “excess deaths”), and went on to build a nuclear strike capability second to none. And at least 65 million deaths are attributed to Mao Tse-Tung during his reign as “Chairman” (read Tyrant or Emperor) - the numbers may be substantially higher. These staggering figures give some idea of why the Western world, especially democracies, regarded communism with fear and loathing. Communist regimes in Cambodia, Romania, Cuba and elsewhere practiced their own forms of centrally controlled economies and brutal suppression of human rights.
The feelings of fear and loathing were reciprocated in full by the party members of the communist regimes, because they recognized the threat freedom posed to their privileged rule. So, one of their prime tenets was always to spread their philosophy, dressed in the disguise of equality for all, as far across the world as they could, and by any means necessary.
Now communism has even been tried in small ways In America, where because this was the Land of the Free, those who choose to move to collective communes (some prefer the term “intentional community”) of shared property can live out their “dreams.” There are a few such enclaves that have survived for more than 50 years and quite a number scattered across the nation, but many thousands have come and gone since the impetus of the “Flower Power” movement in the 1960’s compelled many to seek paradise in a communist community of their own creation.
Most who experimented with the lifestyle spent less than a year before returning to mainstream lifestyles; that trend continues to today. Apparently it takes less than a year for most wannabe communists before reality begins to set in. Well over 90% of intentional communities fail within the first two years. The few “successful” communes need some members to work in the “outside” world to bring in an income to supplement the communist lifestyle – to varying degrees, not quite the full-on communal experience of which most members dream.
Communism has none the less had its share of short and medium term successes in taking over numerous countries. In fact, the principles of communism have never worked on large or extended scales, inevitably leading to poverty, starvation and equal misery for all (except the party elites). The lessons of Cuba, North Korea (which it is worth noting calls itself a “Democratic People’s Republic”) and most recently Venezuela should sound warning bells in the minds of every free spirit, everyone who thinks they are a liberal, a believer in democracy, a conservative or indeed anyone who believes that All Men are Created Equal.
But whereas it has failed economically and politically, communism, in it’s most practical manifestation - centralized government and defacto government control of the economy and most facets of the society, remains popular among many elements of society, in particular academia and the media. In part, that is because some see Communism for what it is, Totalitarianism in workers clothing and they will be part of the ruling regime, but for many, they believe the siren song.
There is a natural, even visceral attraction to totalitarianism that is clearly captured in the current manifestation of Communism: Progressivism, or the Progressive Movement. By rejecting absolutes, focusing on membership in the group and loyalty to the group above all else, individuals who are otherwise alone are drawn into a sense of belonging. To do so they must surrender individual thought, and in so doing they adopt the values, the ethos, of the group. But in exchange they get to belong.
And there is, clearly, a great need to belong. Just the simple example of the popularity of social media, which allows people to form communities and find “belonging” with much greater ease than ever before, demonstrates just how much the need to belong is desired by so many. Progressivism, that is Communism, and its Realpolitik doppelgänger Totalitarianism, use this desire to belong to build followers. They always have and always will, even though in the end the Totalitarian regime always ends up punishing its own members.
It is Western Civilization’s role now to stop their advance. The real problem is that while communism has equality nominally as its basic principle, the equality of Communism is one that puts equality of all material needs on par with equality under the law and with the protection of fundamental rights. But to place material needs on a par with a fundamental right means that the non-material must be given a material value. This quickly morphs into tyranny as “civil” leaders determine that this or that need must come before this or that right, in order to ensure that everyone is “equal.” And of course, as the civil leaders exercise their powers “for the good of the many,” those leaders become “more equal” than the people they lead.
America and Western Civilization has always rejected the idea that material needs can be made equal to fundamental rights; simply put the principle that All Men are Created Equal enshrines equality of opportunity rather rather than equality of outcome, that rights and equal justice trump material goods or status.
How Communism is Conquering America
Communist regimes, and virtually all totalitarian regimes, love plans: 3 year plans, 5 year plans, 10 year plans and even 50 year plans – for every topic you can imagine. These plans include those for dealing with foreign relations as well as for energy, agriculture, water, housing, social engineering and every other aspect of life in a centrally controlled country.
If you want to begin to understand the sheer lunacy of such an idea, draw up a plan this afternoon for what you will need for the next two years - everything that you will need. Now, do the same thing for everyone on your street. Now consider doing that not for 50 people who all live more or less as you do, but for millions and millions of families.
Communist regimes also produce(d) plans for dealing with external threats. Most of those plans were aimed at the biggest threat, which they perceived as America. While some of that planning involved open hostilities (war), many of those plans were based on changing the political system in America. Some of those plans were adopted by Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and some were shared with China (and may well have been adopted and “improved”).
What were those plans? One can only speculate as to the specifics, as they were kept secret, both because of the secretive nature of tyrannies even after the collapse of a regime, and because it would be highly politically embarrassing should they ever come to light. But, based on what has emerged since the collapse of the USSR, and understanding the nature of totalitarian regimes, one can easily see the principles on which they might well be based and the success they might have had, and may still be having!
Those plans would have addressed both short and long term efforts, and followed simple strategic principles. 470 years ago Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, is said to have stated “give us a child until he is 7 and we have him for life”. In simpler terms, control the education of children and you eventually gain control of a nation. The fundamental roots of Western thought have been under attack in the public schools of the West since Jules Ferry began the reform of French schools in the 1880s. Could it be that the political shift in our schools and colleges to the left has been affected by Marxist plans?
Another example: “Divide and conquer”. Enhancement of political divisions to cause strife is a tactic well known to every military strategist, and hence to every political strategist. Has this country ever been so focused on so-called social injustices based on ethnicity, wealth, education or “fairness”? And this regardless of the fact that none of the proposed solutions is likely to improve matters to any significant degree, many include establishing de facto social quotas, and most will likely actively make things worse?
Along the same lines: “If you can’t beat them, join them”. Infiltrate the opposition and suborn them by going along, but shifting their focus by small increments until they align more with your own principles. Does this sound familiar? Look at the trajectory of both the liberal and conservative movements in the US over the last 100 years and many would recognize a shift by both parties toward the political left. The modern conservative movement looks closer to the Democrat party of John Fitzgerald Kennedy while the Democrat party of today is openly practicing socialist principles and being urged by “progressives” to ever more Marxist policies, with ever-decreasing tolerance for opposing views and dissent, or even questioning their wisdom (never mind history, transparency, tradition or consequences).
How much time, effort and treasure have been expended by unfriendly powers to change America? However much it has been, and continues to be, surely those in charge of such matters regard it as well-spent if they have changed the trajectory of American politics in ways more accommodating to their own needs.
An openly admitted “Democratic Socialist”, Bernie Sanders was a highly popular candidate who still wields considerable power within the Democrat party, albeit now mostly behind the scenes (as far as any serving Senator works in such manner). Of perhaps greater note, many of Mr. Sanders’ followers seemed both ignorant of and little troubled by the legacy of the communist ideology for which Mr. Sanders was campaigning. And Vice President Kamala Harris was rated “most liberal member of the Senate” by GovTrack.us in 2019 for following her socialist principles (as demonstrated by a more "liberal" voting record than Sen. Sanders!)
The facts are plain – the United States has shifted significantly to the political left over the last 70 years. Rule of Law appears to take second place to social justice, history is subject to adjustment, equality applies only to certain groups and the role of government in every aspect of the lives of ordinary American citizens increases on a daily basis. Self-reliance is discouraged, even to the extent of self-defense being carefully scrutinized in numerous political subdivisions. Fundamental Constitutional rights, such as free speech (especially when used to question those in power), free assembly, religious tolerance and the right to keep and bear arms are all under serious pressure, either being eroded or ignored.
It certainly looks like some of those communist plans are bearing fruit!
About Tim Wilson
Tim Wilson is a former British Army officer who served in a variety of command appointments on numerous operational tours during a 32 year military career. Having retired from regular military service in 2003 as a Lieutenant Colonel he moved to the USA in 2005 where ...