There wasn’t enough room in my last screed to tell you one story that expresses the very fragrance of Communism. Josef Stalin got off one good salvo that shook my faith in America’s system of democracy and freedom for about an hour and a half. He asserted that Americans have freedom in matters like speech and privacy and political affiliation, whereas Russians have freedom from fear of not being able to pay for rent, higher education, medical bills and the like. In other words, Americans have freedoms that really don’t matter, while those lucky enough to live under Communism enjoy the freedoms that are all important.
If the following anecdote shows what that Communist “freedom” leads to, put me down for those freedoms that “Uncle Joe” found so unimportant.
Americans who lose elections write books, make speeches and live happily ever after. Those who lose power struggles under Communism become “un-persons.” Really. Literally. All evidence that such a person ever existed is assiduously expunged from all available records. And that wasn’t just for nameless peasants. In the early 1950s a Soviet Minister of the Interior was fired and executed. Few tears fell. Lavrentiy Beria had been the very author of gulags and torture chambers and the bringing of misery down upon many innocent heads.
An American diplomat happened to be travelling by train from Moscow to Paris. When they stopped at the Polish border, a special policeman joined the normal customs officers and when they got to the American they zeroed in on the latest edition of the Soviet Encyclopedia among his baggage.
“May I have Volume Three of the encyclopedia, please?” the policeman asked politely. Our diplomat handed it over. The special customs policeman knew exactly which page to turn to. Producing a box cutter, he neatly sliced out the four-page article on Lavrentiy Beria and put it in a garbage bag.
Wait! We’re not through yet!
Communism had no intention of depriving anybody of his rightful possessions. The cop reached into a leather pouch and pulled out an article of almost identical length as the one he had eliminated. That article fit right into Volume Three, and so, instead of learning all about Lavrentiy Beria when the power-folk still loved him, one could now be treated to the entire history of a power station in Soviet Asia whose first three letters were “BER.”