Communism's Bloody Legacy Turns 100
by Marion Smith
One hundred years ago this month, a train pulled by locomotive No. 293 arrived at the Finland Station in Petrograd (St. Petersburg). Though it was late at night, a large crowd waited waving red flags and flowers. Within a sealed railcar was a passenger who would soon become dictator of the world’s first Marxist state: Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known as Lenin.
Returning from a decade in exile, he was jubilantly greeted by socialist comrades, old and new, who a month earlier had deposed Nicholas II. “The Russian Revolution achieved by you,” Lenin declared at the station, “has opened a new epoch.” A new epoch, to be sure, but certainly not a better one for the more than 100 million people who, over the course of the next century, would be tortured, persecuted, and murdered in the name of communism.
Tragically, these facts are controversial to some—and even unknown by many—in 2017. In particular, a large swath of the millennial generation is unaware of and indifferent to the horrors and deceits of communism as well as those of its fellow-traveling collectivist ideology, socialism.
A recent study conducted by YouGov found only 33 percent of millennials are familiar with Lenin. Of those who are familiar, 25 percent view him favorably. The study also revealed, among other disturbing insights, that 32 percent of millennials believe more people were killed by the administration of George W. Bush than the regime of Joseph Stalin, which was responsible for no fewer than 15 million deaths.
Influenced by educational and cultural systems hostile to free-market economics and willing to whitewash the human toll of Marxism, young Americans are increasingly turning to socialism and other forms of extremist ideology. In a 2016 poll by Harvard University, 33 percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 said they supported socialism while 51 percent said they opposed capitalism. Alarming also are the findings that only 25 percent of millennials now believe that living in a democracy is essential, down from 75 percent for their grandparents’ generation.
At the same time, polls suggest that young people value equality more than democracy. From these data we can infer that many millennials care deeply about the state taking care of them, even if it undermines democratic processes. In a word, collectivism.
In fact, our foundation has tracked the growth of dozens of neo-Marxist organizations active on college campuses and in urban protest movements. Their membership is growing and may now be as high as several hundred thousand. Not surprisingly, these groups are revisionist on U.S. history and spread 21st-century propaganda on American social media—messages crafted or borrowed from those transmitted in Havana, Beijing, and even Pyongyang.
Senator Bernie Sanders and other leaders of a newly emergent left deploy the phrase “democratic socialism” as their new ideal. Yet one word, a mere rhetorical modifier connoting noble intent and good governance, should not suffice when it remains unclear how their vision differs from the bloody and economically disastrous socialism experienced by nearly 40 nations in the last hundred years.
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