It might be fun and beyond fun; instructive, useful and with lots of good fallout if I reopened my Cold War notebook and detailed some of the things the Russian people had to put up with when socialism conquered them.
If Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressional Candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, our two most prominent avowed Socialist politicians, were to read this, they’d be horrified. They’d swear I was a running dog of the Wall Street oligarchy of atomic maniacs and that nothing like this could even happen in America if they and their ideological brethren took power. Maybe not, but that’s what a lot of well-intentioned revolutionaries in Russia and every other Communist country believed. And they believed it all the way to the gulag prisons and the mass graves.
Let’s straighten out a few terms we’re going to need if Socialists/Communists ever rule America. First of all, an apt synonym for “Socialism” is “control.” Once “Socialism” took root in America, our beloved Bernie and attractive Alexandria would have as much influence as a butterfly’s belch. “Communism” describes their nirvana, the Grand Destination of Socialism, which is the “Beginning,” the early steps en route to their final goal of Communism. Don’t forget, the name of the first country to fall victim to this political misfortune called itself “The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.” Your chaperones and handlers in Communist countries made it clear that “I am a Communist” really meant “I am a Socialist en route to my dream of becoming a Communist.”
This first item affected only those elected to the “Supreme Soviet,” a relatively powerless group that gathered delegates in from all parts of the Soviet Union every now and then to make people feel good, make them feel like they had some power. After the Supreme Leader Josef Stalin spoke, nobody in the crowd wanted to be the first to quit clapping. Or second or third. Applause went on and on to ridiculous lengths. That problem was solved by the installation of a gong that sounded after the Supreme Leader had been treated to enough applause in the opinion of the real power-holders.
Let’s say you wanted a friend’s phone number. You didn’t just call information and wait ten seconds. You had to go down to the main telephone office and fill out a lengthy application telling the authorities why you wanted that person’s number, how often you intend to call him, how long you have known this person, that kind of thing.
Let’s say you and I met on the street and we stopped and talked. So far, so good, but not much further. If a third friend were to come along and join us, an “agitprop” man (agitation and propaganda) would show up and give us the old, “Move along now. Nothing to see here.” Communism was paranoid about crowds. You might be exchanging dirty jokes about the regime. And you might even be up to something more threatening to that regime. So, no crowds except at ordained rallies.
Suppose you lived in one of the thousands of towns and villages sprawled across the eleven time zones of the Soviet Union, and you wanted to move to someplace more to your liking. Forget about it. Every habituated point in the Soviet Union had a ranking. Moscow was Number One. Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) and Kiev were Numbers Two. A collective farming community in Soviet Asia near the Arctic Circle may have been Number 5,090.
With years of special pleading, excellent Communist behavior, and the endemic briberies and shakedowns of Czarist times (that Communism failed to eradicate), you might possibly be allowed to move from a high-ranking place to a much lower one. But there would be no pursuing your dream of waving goodbye to little Velikiye Luki or Krasnoyarsk or Krivoy Rog and seeking your fortune in Moscow, where the action was. Few Soviet subjects believed Americans could load up the van and, on a whim, move to the destination of their choice. And that’s a good thing, or they may have been incapacitated by sharp pangs of envy.
Suppose you wanted to organize a stamp-collecting club. If that was your first stupid mistake of supposing you could do anything of the kind, you wouldn’t be severely punished. You’d be called before the political police, who would tell you the way to go about organizing a stamp club or anything else was to go to your Communist block captain (sort of like Hitler’s “Gauleiter” system) and state your case. If your party block captain thought your idea worthwhile he might refer it to his boss, the neighborhood Communist gauleiter, and so on upward until it got lost in the Communist clouds. The only certain result would be the entry in your party dossier warning the authorities that you were “restless”!
I could go on and on, but so could you. You now see how hunger for control devours, with its sharp teeth, inorganic things as well as people.
Once, in the midst of the Great Depression, the Communist bosses thought they had the coup of all time when they found newsreel footage showing police in Detroit beating workers outside a closed factory. They ran it in a movie theater only once, and then ordered it destroyed. They had overheard the Russian moviegoers leaving the theater saying, “Wow! Did you see the shoes those ‘oppressed’ Americans were wearing? I mean, they looked like real leather shoes that don’t have to be stuffed with old newspaper like ours do!”