Fidel Castro’s recent statement that communism doesn’t work in Cuba anymore was a stunning admission on his part – kind of a deathbed conversion to the efficacy and morality of freedom and free markets. It was, of course, a horrific blow to the far left, particularly in the United States. Here we are, hurtling full speed toward a communist utopia in America, while Cuba, Vietnam, China and other previously hard-core communist countries are moving just as rapidly toward capitalism.

Some may have warm and fuzzy feelings toward good ol’ Fidel, kind of like a Charlie Rangel “retire-in-dignity” thing. But what about the untold numbers of Cubans who have been imprisoned, tortured and executed since Castro’s takeover of Cuba in 1959? And the hundreds of thousands of Cubans who had to flee their homeland and leave most of their possessions behind?

If I were a Cuban-American who lost family members – or wealth – during Castro’s reign of terror, I would be very angry right now. Fifty years of oppressing an entire nation, and now he says communism doesn’t work? Sorry, Fidel, but your old-age enlightenment doesn’t bring back all the lost family members and stolen wealth. Nor does it bring back the youth of those who have lived under his oppressive regime for more than 50 years.

Like other communist countries, Cuba will increasingly implement “reforms” that will move it more and more in the direction of freedom and free markets. And, as in most other communist countries that have collapsed under the weight of an unworkable system, Fidel, brother Raul and their fellow thugs will slip into the night and “retire with dignity.”

So, where does this leave the Michael Moore, Sean Penn, Oliver Stone crowd? Embarrassed? Never. Leftists have a stand-pat response whenever they are confronted with yet another communist failure. They simply argue that Karl Marx’s model has never been implemented correctly, which is why all communist countries have failed.

A nice, convenient excuse, to be sure. But the real reason why every communist regime in history has brought death, enslavement and economic disaster to its people is because communism is a political and economic system that was conceived in failure. Plain and simple, it defies human nature. People – all people – seek to better their existence, and it takes the brute force of a Joseph Stalin or Kim Jong Il to suppress that instinct.

When people are punished for producing, they simply stop producing. Within a few years after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, conditions were so bad in Russia that Lenin was on the verge of being confronted with a counter-revolution.

To ward it off, he invited Western capitalists to help industrialize the Soviet Union. And, sadly, many major U.S. corporations accommodated Lenin and saved him from his own communist system. (Which leads one to think of Herbert Hoover’s all-too-true statement that “The only thing wrong with capitalism is capitalists.”)

Dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn, author of “The Gulag Archipelago,” explained that without the help of the United States, Russia’s communism would almost certainly have collapsed much sooner:

It is American trade that allows the Soviet economy to concentrate its resources on armaments and preparations for war. Remove that trade, and the Soviet economy would be obliged to feed and clothe and house the Russian people, something it has never been able to do. Let the socialists among you allow this socialist economy to prove the superiority that its ideology claims. Stop sending them goods. Let them stand on their own feet, and then see what happens.

Where otherwise well-meaning people get off track is when they buy into the far-left rhetoric that “the poor” are exploited under capitalism. The truth, of course, is that those on the lowest rung of the economic ladder benefit more from capitalism than from any other system, for a variety of reasons.

First, every person is free to take a job at any wage available to him, and, in fact, both employment and wages normally increase in a free market.

Second, in a free society devoid of most government regulations, a person with little or no capital is able to start a business much easier, without the necessity of obtaining a license or having to comply with costly regulations that only large companies can afford.

Third, free-market capitalism keeps prices down, which allows a low-income person to buy things he would not be able to afford in a government-controlled economy.

Fourth, the more profitable a company is, the more it is able to invest in expansion of its business, which results in more employment, higher wages, more products being produced and lower prices – all of which are good for low-income people.

As a country moves toward socialism (which Karl Marx defined as a transitional stage between capitalism and communism), the only way government can prevent producers from revolting is through the use of force. That is why all socialist/communist revolutions and evolutions end in enslavement and bloodshed.

We see it now in Greece, where the spoiled masses are, in effect, saying to the government: “We don’t give a damn if you don’t have enough money to pay our entitlements. We want them anyway!”

Right now, the United States is a “mixed-economy” country – i.e., part socialist and part capitalist. But it is now moving rapidly toward more and more government control of both the economy and people’s lives.

If Americans do not hold the next Congress’ feet to the fire and demand that the government get out of people’s lives and out of the economy – if they allow the progressives in the Republican Party to co-opt the new tea-party members in the House and Senate – it will surely ring down the curtain on the last best hope of mankind.

Perhaps Don Meredith, of Monday Night Football fame, was prescient when he sang, “Turn out the lights, the party’s over.” Just the thought of Meredith being remembered as the Nostradamus of our time would be enough to make Howard Cosell turn over in his grave.

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