Monday marked May Day, which was punctuated by scores of “workers” marches around the world, but one of the leading experts on communism says movements like this always end in death, poverty and misery.
More than a quarter century after the end of the Cold War, political movements at home and abroad are once again embracing ideas of equality for all and casting the wealthy as villains who keeping working people from climbing higher in society.
Lee Edwards is the chairman of the board of trustees for the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. He spearheaded the effort for a national memorial to those victims that was dedicated in 2007. Edwards is also a distinguished fellow in conservative thought at the Heritage Foundation and a prolific author on the conservative movement.
He told WND and Radio America the promises always sound so good.
“People say: ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be wonderful. Let’s do away with all classes. Let’s do away with all conflicts and have some utopia in which we’re all going to be friends.’ That just works against human nature,” Edwards said. “Even (Karl) Marx said the only way we’re going to get to communism is through a dictatorship of the proletariat.”
But 100 years of communism and practice expose the promises for what they really are.
“The communists are the biggest liars in human history,” Edwards said. “If you think about it, they promised peace, land and bread to the people in the beginning, way back in Russia and then in China. Instead of peace, they got them involved in wars. Instead of land, they took away their land. Instead of bread, they gave them bread lines.”
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Lee Edwards:
Perhaps the most chilling result of a century of communism is the death toll.
“There are over 100 million victims as a result of communism. One-hundred million,” said Edwards, noting that China’s Mao Zedong and the USSR’s Joseph Stalin are by far the most murderous of dictators, killing their own people by the tens of millions.
And why does communism lead to systematic government genocide?
“Because they say that we’re going to arrive at this Utopian society, and if you get in our way and you deny us, then we’re going to kill you,” said Edwards, pointing out how Stalin starved 5 to 7 million Ukrainians to death by ordering the communizing of agriculture there.
In short, Edwards said everyone suffers under communism except the leaders. He said rationing was rampant in the old Soviet Union, except for vodka.
“Everything else was rationed,” he explained. “Everything else was only available to what we call the nomenclatura, the members of the party and members of the army, who were running things in Soviet Russia and still in communist China.”
And while just five official communist governments exist today (China, Vietnam, Laos, North Korea and Cuba), many others are de facto socialist dictatorships, most notably Venezuela, which is currently in a state of major unrest.
But Edwards is concerned about the rise of communist and socialist sympathies in the U.S., starting with how Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., attracted a great deal of enthusiasm and support during his 2016 presidential campaign.
“The line between Bernie Sanders’ democratic socialism and socialism outright is probably pretty thin,” Edwards said. “Frankly, I’m concerned that too many young people are not adequately educated or informed about the real failures, about the deaths, about the murders, about the purges.
“They never heard about the gulag, for example, that series of forced labor camps in which Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and millions and millions of people lived in and many of them died. So this is really an educational process that we need to get into,” he said.
That in itself is difficult because, he said, academia is often sympathetic to communism.
“There are still Marxist professors who are saying: ‘Oh well, communism is this marvelous idea. It’s just never been tried adequately and, therefore, we can’t dismiss it.'”
The issue also hit close to home for Edwards recently when protesters in Washington posed while extending their middle fingers to the Victims of Communism Memorial. He said education has to be the answer, and his foundation his leading the effort.
“We have created a curriculum on communism from Marx to Mao, which I’m happy to say is being used in high schools, public schools, private schools, home schools,” Edwards said. “We’ve got to begin very early on. We can’t wait for colleges and universities to begin to tell the truth.”
While he acknowledges a major battle for the direction of young minds, Edwards is fully confident freedom will win.
“I believe there is an instinct within all of us, within our breast, for the desire for freedom,” he said. “We can see that with people challenging, even today, challenging China, challenging the authoritarian ways of Russia. I believe that is there, but it must be encouraged. It must be educated. It must be developed. It’s not going to develop all by itself.”