It’s the bad idea that just won’t die. Even a century after the Russian Revolution, many including local activists are celebrating the birth of a system that murdered tens of millions in the name of equality
Next week marks 100 years since one of the most consequential events of the 20th century: the Russian Revolution. The takeover of the Russian government by Lenin and the Bolshevik Red Guards marked the beginning of an oppressive dictatorship, replete with famine, gulags, purges, and tens of million deaths.
Australian socialists, showing their historic ignorance, have organised events celebrating the centenary. In Sydney’s Newtown, the Socialist Alternative hosted a ‘*celebration* (their emphasis) of the Russian Revolution, which included ‘poetry, an interactive timeline, (and) art’. They have even been supported by Labor and the Greens, who opposed a successful motion moved by Senator Cory Bernardi which correctly stated that the revolution led to human rights abuses and mass deaths, and that it should not be celebrated in a liberal democracy.
The Soviet system was extremely murderous and cruel. The authoritative Black Book of Communism estimates as many as 20 million people died under Russian communism. (And a further 80 million people died in other communist dictatorships inspired by the Russian Revolution.) In Soviet Russia, opposition political parties were banned, speech critical of the regime was prohibited, and the population was surveilled and controlled. There were purges not just of political opponents, but also of peasants and workers who showed the slightest sign of opposition to the regime. The dissidents not immediately murdered were sent to gulag prison camps where they were worked to death.
“Everywhere people are shot,mutilated, wiped out of existence,” Harvard sociologist and Soviet Union escapee Pitirim A. Sorokin wrote in his diary about Russia in 1920. “Every night we hear the rattle of trucks bearing new victims.
“Every night we hear the rifle fire of execution, and often some of us hear from the ditches, where the bodies are flung, faint groans and cries of those who have not died under the guns.” The socialist system is not just murderous and tyrannical, it also fails to provide the economic basics.
The Russian famine of 1921 killed five million people. A further four million Ukrainians died of starvation between 1932 and 1933. The Great Chinese Famine killed 45 million people from 1959 to 1961.
When we walk into an Australian supermarket it seems only natural to have fully packed shelves and thousands of options. In socialist states, supermarket shelves sit empty as people stave.
Today in Venezuela a supposedly socialist paradise championed by Greens Bob Brown and Lee Rhiannon as well as the CFMEU they face mass malnourishment on top of political oppression. Nine in 10 Venezuelans do not have enough to eat following the failure of President NicolÃ¡s Maduro’s socialist policies.
Just as historically Western leftists were apologists for the Soviet Union, today they support the Venezuelan government and Fidel Castro, the Cuban dictator and human rights abuser who, upon his death last year, teary-eyed lefties, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, expressed “deep sorrow”.
The wide choice and availability of affordable food in the West is an extraordinary contemporary achievement of the free market system.
The system works by us, through what we purchase, sending important signals to producers about what to spend their time and effort making so that they can benefit from our wants.
“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest,” Adam Smith wrote in The Wealth of Nations. In a communist system there is no interest in producing, as you cannot own property and profit from production. The lack of reward for hard work means there is no motivation to invest in crops and grow food for sale. This issue leads to mass shortages across the economy.
The socialist dictatorship organises society by directing what job you must work and tells you what to produce. This removes individual choice and the link between what we, as consumers, want and what we will have allocated to us.
“Fundamentally, there are only two ways of co-ordinating the economic activities of millions,” Nobel prize winning economist Milton Friedman wrote.
“One is central direction involving the use of coercion the technique of the army and of the modern totalitarian state. The other is voluntary co-operation of individuals the technique of the market place.” The totalitarian method is inevitably a catastrophe because a central planner lacks the knowledge to correctly allocate scarce resources.
Rather than admit the failure of their regime, the communist politicians and bureaucrats play their own self-interest, taking what limited food there is to feed themselves, and use force to suppress opposition and keep themselves in power.
The most wealth is created, poverty reduced, and living standards increased when people are free to pursue their own goals and freely exchange. The adoption of free market policies in the developing world over the past 30 years has lifted over 100 million people out of poverty.
Unlike Australian socialists, and their friends in Labor and the Greens, we should welcome a freer, more equal and prosperous world following the rejection of socialism.