Some time ago I saw an elderly man take a fallen branch from a path in a small park near a residential building and put it on a pile of branches next to the path. As such an event is not a common sight, I decided to talk to him and offer him one of my brochures advertising my website and containing some of my thoughts on life and faith. He declined, saying (I am paraphrasing), ‘I do not believe in God. I am a communist, but a real one, unlike those who only pretend to be such. Real communists collect garbage and do good deeds without expecting to be paid. This is the only way for the world to be saved.’
I have lived under communism (which was called socialism then since it wasn’t what it should have been according to its creators), and I testify as someone who has experienced it firsthand – not as someone who has only seen films or read articles about it. I know that there were people who really believed that it was possible to build an ideal human society and there was even a deadline set when this was going to happen in our school books, but the fact is that not only did communism not happen, but even socialism failed, and had to be replaced by a system taking into account the fact that man is neither perfect nor good enough to do good for free, but a being that puts his own interests above everybody else’s, and who might become interested in theirs only after he has satisfied his first. It is true that there were idealists during socialism too, but, as ‘one swallow does not make a summer’, so also a handful of idealists do not make socialism (which is the first phase of communism).
This was agreed upon by the real communist when I asked him what he thought the reason for the failure of socialism was, who said something like, ‘Because people are not conscientious enough.’ He agreed with my next observation too, ‘What is the use of an ideology that is impossible to realize? If I am ill and the treatment prescribed by the doctor is impracticable, it is useless to prescribe it altogether and speaks for lack realism and unprofessionalism!’ If there is garbage that needs to be removed and we don’t do it because we can’t or because we don’t want to, or because of both, the problem remains and becomes worse, which is practically happening with garbage dumps all over the world whose number is constantly increasing! And if taking a branch from a path and placing it on a pile of branches near the path is easy, removing evil from us is not easy at all and is absolutely impossible if we say we are garbage-free and as diligent and productive as a honey bee.
My dullness and my shyness prevented me from asking the man if he thought that there was garbage inside him too, and if he did, what he was doing in order to get rid of it, but probably his own words prompted me not to, as they clearly showed he didn’t think so and the problem existed not because people were incapable of being real communists (analogous to ‘idealists’) but because they didn’t want to. In my opinion, people are not only incapable of being idealists but most of them do not want to be, because they don’t like idealism, and the few who do, do not completely know what true idealism is and how it can be lived in reality. Why do I think so? Because that’s what I see happening in the world. Anyone who decides to examine his or her life honestly will agree with me when they see the many bad things they have done while trying to do only good. The evils done by the whole of mankind as a result of the joint efforts of separate individuals or the societies in their entirety are more than horrifying, and the thousands of graves of people who have been killed in conflicts or concentration camps stand as an irrefutable proof that man is not perfect and is not only unable to build an ideal society but would only build exploitative and repressive societies if no one prevents him to do that. Our reluctance to remember the evils done by either us or the people before us because of the fear and insecurity this remembrence brings, gives rise to the false assurance that if we do what we think is good and if we observe what we think is right, we will succeed in making the perfect society. It is widely believed that dictatorial regimes with their repressive apparatuses, cult of personality and concealment of information belong to the past and that they will certainly not reappear in the future, because man is wise enough to learn from his mistakes and never repeat them again, thus making the world a better place with every passing day. But is that really so?
It is true that man can work wonders on earth and conquer planets in space and it is also true that he has made great discoveries and achieved phenomenal success, but this does not negate the truth that he can cause huge problems as well and that if a certain problem does not exist here, it does not exist somewhere else. Poverty, ignorance and underdevelopment are plagues that poison the lives of millions of people, in addition to evils such as corruption, violence, crime and exploitation which no society can get rid of.
Every person who is thoughful and sensible will agree that the problem is not caused by a lack of resources or progress, but by human wickedness and the inability of man to control his selfishness and overcome his weakness. The one who does not acknowledge this or acknowledges it, but refuses to solve it or tolerates it, contributes not only to its existence, but to its exacerbation as well. This is proven by what is happening with the people living under communism now and by what has happened with the people who have lived under communism before. We remember only what we want to remember, and the fact that we do not remember (or do not want to remember) the horrors of communism does not mean that they have not happened and have not inflicted immense suffering to an enormous number of people.
There is not and there can never be an ideal human society, but there are possible and impossible societies. Communism is impossible not only because it is based on the erroneous assumption that man can be perfect, but for many other reasons as well, one of the most dangerous of which is the belief that there is a human being who can be absolutely perfect and act as a ruler and leader of the whole society and whom everybody else must obey and admire. All past leaders with such claims have unequivocally proven this to be false by their own lives and the ruined lives of thousands of their countrymen who have been tortured in prisons or forced labor camps or have been killed without a trial or proof of their guilt. A great part of the truth about these atrocities is hidden or destroyed in order to avoid taking responsibility and help revive the idea of a bright communist future. But if one thinks logically and observes carefully, one will understand that this is not possible. Does anyone of us know someone who is absolutely perfect? Can anyone say about himself or herself that they are absolutely perfect? How many absolutely perfect people who have lived before us do we know? The answer to these questions is obvious and we know it: None; with one exception: Jesus Christ, who is not only a Man, but God also!
There is a proverb saying ‘a fish rots from the head down’ and it is a very true illustration of what happens with societies ruled by dictators. As the dictator is a man like everyone else with all his faults and vices, but who does not acknowledge them and even presents them as merits and virtues and imposes them on the others, the best thing that the others can do is to refuse to accept them and bear the respective consequences, which might include loss of property, work and even life… The worst thing that they can do is to accept the leader’s faults and vices and live them in their lives, thus making the majority of society evil and ruled by fear, disappointment and distrust…
What happens when someone is frustrated or scared? One becomes disillusioned and stops doing even the little good he or she has been doing or has been allowed to do. Mediocrity doesn’t like expertise because it discredits it by showing its true nature and insifficiency. Its stupidity makes it think that if it removes the expert it will remove the problem as well, not realizing that the problem is it itself – not the expert. The suppression of expertise (alongside other restrictive policies) reduces productivity and output and and the society becomes more and more unable to meet its basic needs due to the lack or shortage of products and services. Often this leads to different types of crises, among which social and environmental disasters. I myself have experienced several periods of electricity and water rationing, one food coupon system, a nuclear accident and a number of shortages of basic necessities. These, however, were not experienced or were experienced to a much lesser extent by the people in power or their supporters who enjoyed special rights and privilleges such as high salaries, big apartments, travels to other countries, etc.
Although equality, brotherhood, freedom, and the distribution of goods according to need were the slogans most loudly preached, none of these existed in reality. And none of them could have existed. They cannot exist even now, under the democratic form of government or under any other form of government, executed by man, because nothing that has been designed and performed by someone who is imperefect can be perfect. Man is not only good (and not only bad either) in order to build a society that is aboslutely good, but he can build societies that are good and bad in varying degrees.
Democracy is better than socialism because it upholds pluralism and provides greater freedom and because the society is governed by more than one person and party. Pluralism tolerates the existence of different ideas for the construction of society and opens up opportunities for proving them in practice, which reveals their true nature as only deeds can prove the truthfulness of the words. This is one of the reasons why communism doesn’t allow the existence of other ideologies, as it very well knows that their realization will clearly manifest its defficiencies. If it had the confidence of being the right ideology, it would not be reluctant to do that. Any ideology with such a claim should be able to allow another ideology with the same claim to realize itself and, if it proves to be better, to step aside and allow it to become the leading ideology in order that everybody can live better (including communists). If it proves to be worse, people will again choose communism on account of it being better and making life better for everyone (including non-communists). God Himself did that by letting man establish another way of government in which He does not have the main say, so that man can experience how wrong his choice was and return to Him. This is a rough and dangerous road, laden with suffering and death, but is is the only effective way to learn truth by experience. The warning and prohibition of knowing evil while it was outside man proved to be vulnerable because of the possibility of manipulating the process of thinking, which God’s adversary took advantage of to instill doubt in man (the woman acturally) and to incite him to taste it in order to corrupt him and subjugate him. Knowing evil personally puts man in a situation of having to make a conscious choice between two opposite things with consequences for eternity, which he cannot change or invalidate: the one who has chosen the respective option – good or bad – turns into what he has chosen because it becomes part of his own being through his thinking and doing it and makes him up as such. That same thing, but on a much larger scale, happens with human societies consisting of separate individuals who choose to be one of the two things and who make up the whole.
Why do some people choose to be bad instead of good when the former is so obviously superior to the latter is a question that does not have an easy answer. The answer requires logic whereas this choice is illogical. Lack of logic obstructs truth and manifests itself as a lie that can take on many forms. Truth is one, and its falsifications – many. In any case, evil is a fact and the people who choose it are also a fact, as well as communism, one of the indeologies most hostile to God, and the question is, why do people choose it and will they continue to choose it?
I have known and I know many honest and honorable people and who choose communism out of idealism. Most of them do not know or do not want to know the truth (because it is horrible or because they reject it), and prefer to live in an imaginary world filled with windmills and good deeds, believing that they change the bad people by their upright lives. Unfortunately, idealism is inept, because it does not solve the problem of sin, which is part of even the best of people and which – if not exterminated – will grow and acquire enormous proportions, defiling not only its upholders, but the whole society as well. Because the speed with which this is happening can be different, in the beginning it can go unnoticed, but gradually and with increasing swiftness it becomes more and more visible and irreversible, causing death in everything it affects and gets hold of.
Some people choose communism out of interest and because they can make profit and enrich themselves at the expense of others more easily. Such people would do that in all kinds of societies, but communism provides them with greater possibilities because of its lack of publicity, favorization of the convenient people and concealment of truth. These people will always choose communism because it is advantageous for them and will oppose any other ideology that would endanger their interests. Left unchecked, they will become some of the greatest imposters and exploiters who will ultimately destroy not only communism but their own selves, because no undertaking which is based on abuse and victimization can exist for long.
As stupid and cruel as they are, these people are not half as bad and dangerous as those who choose communism in order to enrich themselves with human souls. Often many of them occupy prominent positions with a significant impact on society. Most prefer to live in luxury and affluence, but some can lead very poor and ascetic lives, considering themselves to be superiorly elevated and spiritual. In them, the difference between outward piety and inward depravity can become so huge that they may even start to think that they are gods.
There are certainly other reasons for choosing communism, but they all contain the above mentioned reasons in different proportions. And now the question is, can man get rid of this depravity and how many people will want to do that? The answer is obvious and it is as disheartening as it is promising: Communism is present in each one of us, and no one can oust it except the One who exists outside us if we ask Him to do it because He has made us and loves us as a Designer and Creator and as part of His Own Being, in “whom we live and move about and exist… ‘For we too are his offspring’” (Acts 17:28). He will clear the garbage from His “park” and turn it into a paradise, as He originally intended it to be. Let us not be so foolish as to think that we can outwit Him, because if God decides to do something, He will surely do it, and no one will stop Him from doing it, even if the whole world becomes communist! For it is not only garbage that it is composed of; there are also many good and valuable things, among which are the people who seek and love God. It is for their sake and for His Own that He will collect all the garbage on a pile next to the “path” along which mankind treads, in order to burn it in a place away from the “park” and make the “park” a paradise that will be inhabited by good people, good animals, good plants and good everything. The question that stands before each one of us is: What do we choose to be – garbage that will be turned to ash or humans that will be freed from trash?
October – December 2020