The Horrors of Communism: A Timely and Necessary Reminder

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  • 03/02/2023

 On March 8th, there occurred the live panel, “Paying the Price – Understanding the Life of a Political Dissident.”  The event was coordinated and hosted by Human Events and the Liberty Forum of Silicon Valley, and enjoyed the sponsorship of the Victims of Communism Foundation.   

Human Events’ Managing Editor, Brent Hamachek, moderated “the five-person panel (comprised) of people who have lived under totalitarianism in Cuba, the former Czechoslovakia, the former East Germany, the former Soviet Union, and Vietnam.”  These survivors of totalitarian communism “share(d) their stories of life under communist oppression, their efforts to resist, some of which include resulting prison internment, along with their warnings to today’s Americans.”

To further record and amplify the five survivors’ experiences with, and warnings about communism, Human Events has also commenced publishing their essays.  These essays, such as the initial offering by professor and author Frank de Varona, who spent two years in Castro’s gulag being tortured following the Bay of Pigs, will record the intrinsic evil of totalitarian communism, which the five survivors endured and transcended; and are now sounding the alarm about the metastasizing communist menace threatening the free world from without and within.

During these dangerous days for freedom, this emotionally wringing endeavor by the five survivors of communism with the conscientious facilitation of Human Events and the Liberty Forum of Silicon Valley and the generous sponsorship of the Victims of Communism Foundation provides a timely and necessary reminder, because even in the best of times, we humans have an immense capacity both to forget and to overlook the obvious.

During the unconscionable Russian invasion of the Ukraine, there has been much discussion of the conditions that informed Vladmir Putin’s decision to invade a sovereign democracy.  Much of that discussion considered Europe as a singular entity.  And, whether lauding or calumniating against it, the mind conjured visions of Britain, France, and Germany, etc. – i.e., Western Europe.  Yet, in so doing, there is a crucial distinction missed.

Of the almost unfathomable 20th Century horrors Europe unleashed upon the world, the vast majority of the continent experienced all or part of them.  There was one area, however, which was geographically circumscribed and endured for decades: the totalitarian communist Soviet Union’s occupation of Eastern Europe.

This experience of Eastern Europe’s suffering under an externally imposed and martially enforced totalitarian, communist regime; and these occupied nations’ miraculous emancipation from it has hardened their conviction to never, ever allow a revanchist communism to subjugate their once again free peoples.  In essence, for Eastern Europe their former occupation and emancipation constitutes a painful lesson taken to heart that instructs their present and future policies, both foreign and domestic.  It is also why the United States – who throughout bi-partisan administrations during the Cold War provided unflinching support of occupied Eastern Europe to aid these oppressed peoples’ in seizing their freedom – receives their enduring gratitude and respect.  For a multiplicity of reasons and instances, Western Europe receives far less from the emancipated Eastern Europe.

Contrast the Western European Cold War experience.  Following World War II, the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Western Europe (which Winston Churchill deemed “the most unsordid act in history”) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) were created to shelter these nations under an American-led collective security umbrella to prevent the Soviet conquest of these free peoples.  Throughout the Cold War, this led to the ironic situation of Western Europe oft bemoaning the U.S. and bucking its leadership for domestic and international political consumption; all the while knowing America’s commitment to defending them was intractable.  (General Charles DeGaulle was the poster boy for such political posturing.)  In Western Europe, this persists to the present.

The latent effect was that, for decades, both Western and Eastern Europe thought of themselves as distinct entities with different existential aims.  (Recall that, after the fall of the Berlin wall, it was then West Germany balking at reuniting with East Germany, not vice versa.)  In sum, succored by the American military, Western Europe set about on its course of establishing a common market (later the European Union) and – because the U.S. military spending covered them – expanding and perfecting a socialistic welfare state within its boundaries.  Subjugated Eastern Europe’s sole goal was to shake off the soul crushing yoke of Soviet socialism.  

True, this difference in how Western and Eastern Europe view each other is centuries long.  But their differing Cold War experiences deepened it.  While usually latent, this difference rises to the fore in times of crisis; and it manifests itself in Western Europe’s paternalistic, patronizing attitude to Eastern Europe.

In the instance of execrable crime by Russia upon Ukraine, Western Europe’s superiority complex continues unabated.  For instance, while Poland and Hungary are two nations that have been on the front line of opposing Putin’s revanchist Russia (while Germany has been a mendicant begging for Russian energy) and has been providing sanctuary for the bulk of Ukrainian refugees, The European Union (EU) has chosen this perilous moment to slap sanctions on… Poland and Hungary.  At stake are billions in EU funding.  (In the instance of Hungary, it is just in time to influence the outcome of a domestic election.)

True, one can blame Poland and Hungary for putting themselves in this position by joining the EU back in 2004.  However, the “rule of law conditionality regulation” only became effective in 2021; and, after decades of Soviet oppression, their nations’ economies are still not capable of foreswearing EU funding, as did Britain with Brexit.  While one may question the domestic policies which Poland and Hungary have adopted, the question remains as to why the EU applies their “values” (read, “Leftist, socialist agenda”) upon only member states and not upon say, communist China?  (The answer is because the EU controls the money with regards to Eastern Europe; the EU covets the money from communist China.)  

For Western Europe, the question arises: do you not see at the very time you are demanding the preservation of freedom and sovereignty of the Ukrainians, you are attacking the freedom and sovereignty of the Poles and Hungarians?

For Poland, Hungary, and the Eastern European nations who suffered the oppression of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the crux of the matter arises: do you really wish to trade your freedom and sovereignty to another external, Leftist, socialistic entity?

For the European Union an existential question comes to fore: as you are now on the verge of becoming the singular governing entity for the whole of continental Europe dreamt of by rulers from Charlemagne to Stalin, can you resist the temptation to destroy the sovereignty of nations and the dignity of its citizens, so as to avoid devolving into the European Soviet Union?

Yes, the five survivors’ testaments as to the horrors of communism and their warnings of its recrudescence are timely and necessary, indeed.

As he describes himself:  The product of a misspent youth, the Hon. Thaddeus G. McCotter (M.C., Ret.) is a guitarist, author, occasional radio co-host, and recovering politician.  He is a former U.S. Congressman from Michigan having represented that state’s 11th Congressional district from 2003-2012.

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