I have no clue why I get into arguments on Twitter. It's like masturbation, i.e. even if successful, one ends up feeling like having wasted valuable time and resources in exchange for a fleeting joy. But into arguments I get, though. And the last one was one of those that make you wonder if there's any hope for humanity after all.
It was some self-proclaimed communist located in the U.S. It was likely a young dude toying with his local Antifa chapter and who's a few pages into the Communist Manifesto. I usually smell the posh college kid who's trying to be edgy or has a Marxist teacher as college, but this guy was definitely blue collar and, as such, one can tell that the resentment at the system is there. Living in a capitalist world is not a joke. You have to be really competent and hardworking in order not to fall down to the bottom of the hierarchy. If you're not sharp, lack marketable skills or motivation, or aren't a winner in the sperm lottery, one day you will find yourself doing $10 an hour at a McJob, balding and sporting a beer belly, with over 40 years and one or two divorces on your back, living in an RV and rocking an incipient opiate habit. That's when resentment kicks in. And, let me tell you, in those circumstances, anything that promises to deliver you the head of the CEO of Goldman Sachs on the chopping block will rock your world. This guy was of that type. Resented, and you could tell that he was sincere in his belief that communism is the answer.
There are lots of people like that and they don't deserve to be mocked as the spoiled, sniveling brat iPhone Socialists of Berkeley or Ryerson do. These people, the genuinely resented, really, really need to see "the thing" from inside or at least spend some time with people who live or have lived under a communist regime. It isn't pretty. Spreading the misery is not precisely a beautiful form of equality, and even less when there's a bunch of sharks (the apparatchiks) living like Roman emperors at the expense of everyone's misery. It's a total shit fest. The lies, the scarcity, the oppression, and the murderous control of thoughts and actions aren't a joke.I am not talking about a few lives here and there due to clumsy government planning or the odd war here and there. I'm talking about the real deal. Holocaust-level type of horror. The Red Terror, the Gulags, the Ukrainian Famine, the Great Leap Forward, etc. They are all well documented and, like it or not, are all a logical conclusion of true, legitimate and literal class warfare. In the impossible mission of delivering utopia, anyone threatening the "promised land" with "exotic doctrines" is an enemy and, thus, expendable. Hundreds of millions were exterminated due to their lack of faith in the utopia. And the orders, like it or not, were given by Lenin, Stalin, Mao, etc. All of them straight out of the little red book. There are no two ways about it and I don't care how red you are, historical facts are there. And, yes, that was real communism.
Having experienced full time and full immersion life in former Soviet republics, nobody can tell me that Utopian collectivism isn't anything else but freaking bonkers. And then one day the Soviet soldiers just walked away, all crimes unpunished, and the sharks stayed behind doing business with the scraps of nuclear submarines or anything that could be stolen, traded or sold. One minority of sons of bitches was replaced by another gang of thugs (many times the same people) though now all of them were, by the magic waving of a fairy wand, democrats and capitalist and freedom lovers. And that is the part that anti-communists need to take into account. There was one selfish element to the otherwise joyful and necessary demise of the USSR, the beacon of communism: it brought misery as well. Like a sandwich of shit garnished with shit pickles and sprinkled with shit bacon. Even though the embodiment of the Marxist ideology failed morally when Khrushchev recognized the crimesby Stalin and then the tanks rolled over Hungary, and then failed economically, the murderers. thieves, snitches, and oppressors were never punished... they even became the new entrepreneurial elite, the oligarchs, if you may. And the weaker or older elements of society were left to their own devices. One day, their rubles were worth nothing, nada, and that's where you can still find the nostalgia for the USSR. It exists and it is understandable.
One day, walking through the streets of Riga, I saw an old lady dancing for coins. She was well dressed in what could be described as the high fashion of Soviet days. She had a violin case for passersby to drop coins into --the instrument likely gone time ago at some pawn shop. And she was just one of the dozens and dozens I saw everyday, from the day I arrived until years later when I left. The young, the adventurous, got a well deserved freedom the day the wall came crashing down. But there was an army of older, non-dominant people, the vulnerable ones, whose lives came crashing down together with the iron curtain. I have no answers for them and, sincerely, I wish someone had done something so their lives would not have gone from one misery to another. Untrained in the harsh realities of capitalist competition, it was like releasing sheep among the wolves. Yeah, the young ones got their McDonald's, Levi's, mobile phones, rock & roll, and the freedom to be Western if they so wished. They got to experience the liberty to speak one's mind without the NKVD snooping and shipping them into gulags. Capitalism has huge trade-offs and those young ones got it just in time to make their choices, whether stupid or not, and live with the consequences, succeed or fail, feel or survive, thrive or get killed. But millions didn't want to, or were too old to endure such a gigantic shift, or their position in the Soviet structure provided them with a secure, comfortable life that they suddenly lost and had no tools to reinvent themselves.
I've seen enough to say without grinning that everything was good about communism failing together with its crown jewel, the Soviet Union. It wasn't. Of course, for many of us it was wonderful to see a genocidal utopianism crumble, but it is naive to think that everything became great after that or that there weren't any casualties from its demise. Still, I've seen enough of both sides to assure any young communist on Twitter that if they think capitalism produces victims (which it does) they haven't seen how better communism is at doing the same job, at a bigger scale, and with much more cruelty.
Be careful what you wish for. The $10 per hour for flipping burgers may not be the worst that can happen to you if you've never learned about the Gulags.