×
↓ Freedom Centers

Tag Archives: Communism


The Berlin Wall Is Gone, but Its Lessons Remain

Socialism is not cuddly or compassionate, and it has been tried many times, to ruinous effect. Will today’s young people have to learn this all over again?

By JOHN FUNDNational Review

The Berlin Wall stood for 28 years until in 1989 a wave of citizen protest forced the East German Communist government to open its gates. We’ve now gone longer without the Berlin Wall than it existed.

As we marked the anniversary, on November 9, of its demise, I couldn’t help but recall with wonder how astonishingly quickly the ugly scar of the wall along with its guards, dogs, and mines were all swept away in a wave of euphoria.

I visited the Berlin Wall and crossed into East Germany several times during the 1980s while I worked at the Wall Street Journal. I will never forget the brave dissidents I met on the Eastern side who never accepted the wall, or the bureaucrats who ran the state machinery that sustained it.

While it now appears easy to simply divide the East German population into oppressors and the people they oppressed, I learned that the truth was a bit more complicated even for someone like me who grew up with anti-Communism in his bloodstream.

Here are some snapshots of people I met before the fall of the wall whom I will never forget.

One: Christa Luft, was the last person to serve as minister of economics in the East German government. Appointed just after the wall fell, she faced the daunting challenge of holding together a collapsing centrally planned economy. When I interviewed her just before Christmas 1989, I asked her how long East Germany could have preserved Communism if the wall hadn’t collapsed. With remarkable candor she said: “We had at most six months to a year.” The economy, she explained, was so inefficient at the end that if a machine tool broke down in Leipzig there would likely be no spare part available. A factory manager desperate to produce his quota of goods would often pay to have the needed part stolen for him from a factory in another city.

Excited to hear such a realistic explanation of the collectivist system, I then asked how the American CIA had possibly calculated that East Germany had a higher GDP than Ireland did, and indeed that West German per capita GDP was only 32 percent higher than East Germany’s. A clearly exhausted Christa Luft started to offer a rationalization and then gave up. “We lied,” she suddenly burst out. “But it wasn’t entirely our fault. You in the West believed our lies, and even gave us loans and other money based on our lies.” The wildly inaccurate economic statistics of the regime became so much a part of the system that even the ruling Communist Politburo members were not given the most accurate numbers.

Two: Peter Janz, who was the energetic first secretary of the East German Embassy in Washington during the 1980s and the point man for arranging interviews and journalist visas for me. He was always politem and he never engaged in attempts to peddle the more preposterous of Communist spin.

After the wall came down, he naturally wasn’t kept on by the German Foreign Ministry. I visited him a couple of years later after he’d settled down as owner of a video-rental store in Berlin. I asked him when he first realized that he was working for a regime that didn’t serve its people and was built on untruths.

He explained that as the son of Communist Party insiders, he had gone to high school in Moscow and been trained for a career as a top government official. But a school vacation trip he and four fellow East German classmates earned to the Baltic States changed his perspective.

He explained that he and his friends had been taught that Estonia, Latviam and Lithuania had all been liberated by Stalin from Nazi rule during World War II. They were now proud, loyal republics of the Soviet Union. But when he and his friends spoke Russian on the streets, they were met with hostile glares and suspicion by the local population. When they switched to German, they were approached by curious passersby and greeted warmly. “I suddenly realized my world was upside down. Nazis had indeed brutalized the Baltic States, but the Soviets had been at least as bad and stayed far longer,” he told me.

What did he do with this new knowledge, I asked him. He explained patiently that his options were limited: “I could become a dissident and give up hope of university or a career. I could leave my entire family and try to start over elsewhere. Or I could stay on my career path and try not to become too morally compromised and perhaps even do some good around the margins.” To those who would criticize his choice, he had a tart response: “People who’ve never grown up in a dictatorship should ask themselves how easily they would rebel against it and risk its full wrath,” he said. “Many of us have no idea how we would react until we are confronted directly with such choices.”

Three: Monica Stern, who was one of four teenage girls whom a German friend of mine and I encountered in 1984 while touring an East Berlin museum. Their teacher had brought them from a rural area to see their nation’s capital and had given them the afternoon off. My friend and I knew Berlin far better than they did, so we volunteered to be their tour guides.

By dusk it was time for my friend and I to return to the glittering lights of West Berlin. The girls came along to bid us farewell. They had never seen the Berlin Wall, but they sensed it was close. They stopped on a street corner and said, “We really shouldn’t go any farther. We are not Berliners. If we are stopped, the guards will ask us why we are so close to the border.”

As we stood in the growing darkness, a feeling of sadness came over me. I wasn’t rich, but I could go anywhere in the world from that street corner for a few hundred dollars. They could not go another 100 yards. Their world ended at the wall. They were trapped in a human zoo.

To keep the conversation going, I asked them what they wanted to be when they grew up. One said a beautician, one said a nurse, and one said a teacher. But the oldest and wisest, whose name was Monika, looked up at me and said very slowly: “It doesn’t matter what we become when we grow up. They will always treat us like children.”

That sentence really defined Communism in its waning years. People were rarely taken away to a political prison. Instead, there was an insufferable and widespread paternalism. It weighed down people’s spirits and prevented them from becoming what was the best within them.

We parted almost tearfully, exchanging addresses so we could swap postcards at Christmas. She wrote that her application for university studies had been rejected because of her views.

Five years later, in 1989, Monika turned 19 and the Berlin Wall came down. I watched in New York as East Germans crossed over, and I wondered if Monika and her friends were among them.

At about ten o’clock the next morning, the telephone rang. AT&T, already trying to introduce a consumer culture to the 84 percent of East Germans without a telephone, had set up phone kiosks near the wall. They gave prospective customers the chance to make a call anywhere in the world for free. Monika called me. Her first words were, “John, this is Monika. I am over the wall.”

We talked for a few minutes, and I reminded her of our talk on a street corner in East Berlin. “Well, does this mean you country has grown up, and you are no longer to be treated as children?” I asked. She responded with a laugh. “I think my entire country has graduated from kindergarten to high school overnight.”

Today, Monika is happily married and a successful veterinarian. But after more than a generation during which civics, Cold War history, and Communism were barely taught in American public schools, today’s young people know very little about this era.

A new poll by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation finds that Communism is viewed favorably by more than one in three Millennials (36 percent). Only 57 percent of Generation Z and 62 percent of Millennials believe that China is a Communist country and not a democratic country. And finally, only 57 percent of Millennials (compared with 94 percent of the World War II ‘Silent Generation’), believe that the Declaration of Independence guarantees freedom and equality better than the Communist Manifesto does.

Luckily, many Millennials either don’t understand what collectivism is, or they want “an imaginary, pure, democratic, cuddly socialism,” in the words of Daniel Hannan, a British member of the European Parliament. “Even where history has given us laboratory-condition experiments — East and West Germany, and Hong Kong and mainland China — they refuse to infer anything from them, airily dismission each actual instance of socialism as ‘not real socialism.’”

West Berlin’s fight for freedom is now part of history, but here’s hoping that the human-rights story of 2019 — the fight of another isolated “island of freedom” called Hong Kong to protect its institutions from an authoritarian takeover — similarly captures the attention of the world and prompts young people to better comprehend the difference between free and controlled societies.


Communism’s Legacy: Tyranny, Terror, and Torture

By Richard M. Ebeling • Foundation for Economic Education

In August of 1993, I was invited to participate in a conference in Vilnius, Lithuania on “Liberty and Private Business.” This was less than two years after the formal disappearance of the Soviet Union as a political entity on the map of the world.

During our time there, my wife and I were offered the opportunity to be given a tour of the building that had served as the headquarters of the local KGB, the infamous Soviet secret police. Our guide was a man who had been a prisoner in its walls in the late 1950s. The most nightmarish part of the tour was the basement containing the prison cells and the interrogation rooms.

Going Through Hell at the Hands of the KGB

As we reached the bottom Continue reading


Socialism’s Bloody History Shows Millennials Should Think Twice Before Supporting It

Socialism demands that we place blind trust in whoever takes the power to distribute society’s goods and services. History shows those who have this power abuse it in horrific ways.

by Stella Morabito     •     The Federalist

Nikolai Bukharin was executed by shooting in Moscow on March 15, 1938. He had been revered as a giant of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, as one who even worked side by side with Vladimir Lenin himself. Alas, Bukharin’s Marxist chickens had come home to roost by the time he was shot like a dog during Josef Stalin’s reign of terror. His execution marked the pinnacle of Stalin’s show trials of high-level officials.

You see, Bukharin invested in building a political system that inevitably puts the reins of power into the hands of just a few strongmen who end up calling all the shots. It’s a system in which suspicion and the smell of treason tend to hang in the air.

Socialism, by the way, is just such a system. This is the case whether you call it by any other name, whether communism, utopianism, or collectivism. Oh, go ahead and slap some lipstick on that pig and call it “democratic” socialism or “progressivism” or “communitarianism.” Continue reading


The Difference Between Capitalism and Communism


The Beginning of the End for the People’s Republic of China

by Dr. Miklos K. Radvanyi China Money Dollars

Contrary to the erroneous opinions of most politicians and Sinologists, the People’s Republic of China, well into the seventh decade of its existence, is facing severe political and economic crises.  Maoism, the gibberish amalgam of twisted socialist ideas and hard-core Han racism, had never been about Marxism-Leninism with “Chinese characteristics.”  Rather, Maoism was designed to be a double edged political sword.  On the one hand, Maoism meant autocratic contempt for the “politically incompetent” and “economically immature” subjects who could not be trusted with affairs of any importance.  On the other hand, Mao wanted to establish, maintain and protect his “thorough revolution” by excluding intellectuals with “bourgeois mentality”, whether inside or outside the party, and base his autocracy on inexperienced and uneducated workers, peasants and soldiers, self-evidently comprising of incompetent and immature individuals. Continue reading


China’s Secret Strategy Exposed

Beijing Plots to Surpass U.S. in Coming Decades

by Bill Gertz     •     The Washington Free Beacon

ChinaChina launched a secret 100-year modernization program that deceived successive U.S. administrations into unknowingly promoting Beijing’s strategy of replacing the U.S.-led world order with a Chinese communist-dominated economic and political system, according to a new book by a longtime Pentagon China specialist.

For more than four decades, Chinese leaders lulled presidents, cabinet secretaries, and other government analysts and policymakers into falsely assessing China as a benign power deserving of U.S. support, says Michael Pillsbury, the Mandarin-speaking analyst who has worked on China policy and intelligence issues for every U.S. administration since Richard Nixon.

The secret strategy, based on ancient Chinese statecraft, produced a large-scale transfer of cash, technology, and expertise that bolstered military and Communist Party “superhawks” in China who are now taking steps to catch up to and ultimately surpass the United States, Pillsbury concludes in a book published this week. Continue reading


The Flickering Shadows of Russia and Ukraine

putin russiaby Dr. Miklos K. Radvanyi 

In his Allegory of the Cave Plato asserts that the universe revealed by our senses is not the actual world but the shadow of reality. Thus, this virtual reality is merely an illusion designed to obscure the true differences between the causes and the consequences of events and phenomena. Today too, politicians and peoples alike stare at the walls of their own caves where shadows fight shadows with deadly intensity, while realities are ignored, or even ridiculed. Indeed, in our hyper-ideologized and hyper-mediatized domestic and international politics the fallacious appearances of the shadows are perceived to be more authentic than the blunt facts. In this manner, the silhouettes present enticingly idolatrous images that partially or completely conceal the truth. Continue reading


The Great Income Inequality Sham

When it comes to Thomas Piketty’s Income Inequality Good-Time Jamboree, helping people is not really the point. Feeling better about yourself—and maybe even mentally positioning yourself as a victim now and then—is.

money income inequalityby Heather Wilhelm

If you’ve ever met a Texan, you know that Texans love bragging about their state. You’ve probably heard the endless list—the bigness, the freedom, the trucks, the barbeque, the pride, the football—and, like many others, you’ve probably rolled your eyes. So please forgive me, for as a new-ish resident of the Lone Star State, I’d like to add one more item to that long, rambling list: No one in Texas seems to be talking all that much about Thomas Piketty.

If that name rings a bell, it’s because you’ve been reading the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, or basically anything on the Internet for the past few weeks. Piketty, described by the Times as “the latest overnight intellectual sensation,” is a French economist whose new book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”—you know, as opposed to the Kapital that Marx wrote about—bemoans income inequality, exposes various flaws in our global economy, and calls for confiscatory global wealth taxes in order to stop Richard Branson from having all that fun. Continue reading


Whitewashing the Horrors of Communism

Russia Olympics Soviet Union CommunismNBC should be ashamed of the way it’s covering up Soviet horrors.

by Peter Roff

Is there some kind of unwritten law that says the IQ of a sportscaster can be no higher than the average combined score of the ten previous Super Bowls? After listening to NBC’s Bob Costas speak fawningly about the history of the former Soviet Union during the opening of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, you really have to wonder.

As part of his color commentary, Costas called the 1917 Russian Revolution that eventually brought Lenin to power a “pivotal moment” in history. He did so, however, in a manner that glossed over just why that was the case. It should never be forgotten that more than 100 million people around the world – and that’s a conservative estimate – died as a result of what that one event put into play.

Reporters have been telling lies about what the Soviets and their allies did for years. From the New York Times’ Walter Duranty and Herbert Matthews – who wrote admiringly about Stalin and Fidel Castro – to television’s contemporary “superstar” journalists, far too many of those in whom rests the responsibility for telling the truth about world events have slanted their coverage in ways that benefited communist aims. Even today, the New York Times refuses to return the Pulitzer Prize Duranty won in 1932 for his dishonest account of the mass starvation in Ukraine. Continue reading


More by and about Lady Thatcher

by Scott L. Vanatter

Please see below for few items from our website by and about Margaret Thatcher.

~

Continue reading


Margaret Thatcher’s Eulogy for President Reagan

“Nothing was more typical of Ronald Reagan than that large-hearted magnanimity, and nothing was more American.”

by Margaret Thatcher

We have lost a great president, a great American, and a great man, and I have lost a dear friend.

CHEERFUL, FRESHNESS, OPTIMISM

In his lifetime, Ronald Reagan was such a cheerful and invigorating presence that it was easy to forget what daunting historic tasks he set himself. He sought to mend America’s wounded spirit, to restore the strength of the free world, and to free the slaves of communism. These were causes hard to accomplish and heavy with risk, yet they were pursued with almost a lightness of spirit, Continue reading


Ronald Reagan on Churchill

“Out of one man’s speech was born a new Western resolve. Not warlike, not bellicose, not expansionist — but firm and principled in resisting those who would devour territory and put the soul itself into bondage.”

by Scott L. Vanatter

A rarified world exists where most can only peer inside.

In sports, world champions have earned a unique perspective of achievement. No matter how otherwise accomplished, regular participants can only imagine what champions experience. No matter the obstacles, champions impress their will onto their fellows in their chosen field of competition.

In world affairs, there exists a brotherhood — now including a few sisters – of rare leaders. These leaders have impressed their will on the times and circumstances they inherited. Through their bold decisions and their clarion words they lead where others equivocate or obfuscate.

Of particular interest is when one great leader comments on another. In November 1990 former president Ronald Reagan came to Fulton, Missouri, the place where Winston Churchill warned a modern world of an Iron Curtain falling across Europe. Churchill spoke on March 5, 1946. Not quite fifty years later the Iron Curtain, the Berlin Wall fell. It seemed like much longer. It would have been much longer; but for two leaders, and others.  Continue reading


Ronald Reagan’s address: “Tear Down This Wall”

Our differences are not about weapons but about liberty.

by Scott L. Vanatter

The world has changed a couple times over since President Reagan spoke at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin on June 12, 1987. At the time the President’s staff debated whether to include the searing challenge to Mr. Gorbachev and to the Soviet Union. The President decided to issued the challenge. It provided the cultural impetus needed to cause the fall of the Wall. This impetus combined with economic and military factors combined to effect the change Reagan saw when he was asked what is strategy was to defeat Communism. He replied, “My strategy is: We win, they lose.”

Continue reading


Ronald Reagan’s address: “The Evil Empire”

“The real crisis we face today is a spiritual one; at root, it is a test of moral will and faith.”

by Scott L. Vanatter

President Reagan’s address March 8, 1983 at the Annual Convention of the National Association of Evangelicals in Orlando, Florida has become known as the “Evil Empire” speech. The speech also included many other insights into who Reagan was, and into his considered wisdom on things of this world, and of the world to come.

Apropos to this year’s campaign, Reagan declared this truism, “If history teaches anything, it teaches that simple-minded appeasement or wishful thinking about our adversaries is folly.” Continue reading


Communist China on the verge of collapse

by Dr. Miklos K. Radvanyikina-thumb-large-e1323304577872

The People’s Republic of China appears to be a normal nation-state on the surface. Yet, alarmingly close to this tranquil surface, society is in a volcanic turmoil. Total political control by the party, the state and local authorities is becoming increasingly unacceptable. Opinion surveys regularly conducted by universities and the printed media have found that almost 50 percent of the Chinese are unhappy with their living conditions. While giant state-owned and state-controlled enterprises in industries that the party and the military considers “strategic” prosper, private and joint public-private entities are steadily subjected to official meddling and harassment. Continue reading


WP2FB Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com