I Saw Socialism at Twenty-One. It Was Ugly. Still Is.
I’ve embarked on an 18-24-month project that will help with some future books.
It involves putting my personal journal on computer. I started writing on October 30, 1972 and continue to this day–over forty-six years of journaling.
I’ve already transcribed the hand-written pages from October 1972 to March of 1975. They’ve been enlightening. One subject I glimpsed with my own eyes in 1974 is in the news these days.
I saw it at age 21–in four nations. It was ugly. Still is.
I Saw Socialism at Twenty-One.
I am very grateful that. nearly a half century ago, a wise New Zealander named Blythe Harper encouraged me to discipline myself in two ways. First, read the Bible from cover to cover each year. Second, keep a spiritual journal of God’s work in my life.
Check. Check. Those two commitments have greatly blessed me. I encourage you to do likewise (no matter how old you are), starting today.
I hand-wrote the first fifteen years of journaling on notebook paper. When IBM and Apple invented the PC, I started typing it on computer. When I finish transcribing, I estimate it will surpass 2500 pages.
I want to distill that into a few books and devotionals in coming years. Stay tuned.
Before I share some eye-witness accounts of socialism from my journal, I encourage you to read two articles to set the stage. The first is by Dennis Prager on “Character” and, finally,Walter Williams on “Capitalism.”
They provide the intellectual back-drop for my discoveries on Marxism/socialism.
Should we be concerned about the ascendancy of the S-word in 2019? Yes, deeply.
Half of young Americans would rather live in a socialist state.
A recent Harris Poll found that 49.6 percent of millennials (those born between 1981-1996) prefer living in a socialist nation. Mike Gonzalez, senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation explains:
“For several decades we have forced-fed American students a love of government interventionism and a disdain for our founding virtues. Our education schools, where our teachers are trained, are especially ideological. Is it any wonder that our youngest generations have no idea about the threats of socialism, how it has failed everywhere it has been tried? They haven’t been taught that.”
The Harris poll also found that three-fourths of young Americans (including Gen-Z, born 1996 – present) think the government should provide universal health care, and two-thirds think the government should pay for college tuition.
The “young” think that socialism is the key to this utopia.
They better think again.
In June of 1974, I traveled with 120 YWAMers throughout Bulgaria, Romania, Czechoslovakia and the U.S.S.R. This was the height of socialist control in Eastern Europe and Russia–before it collapsed.
Here’s my eye-witness account, June 6, 1974.
“In the afternoon, we went into the city of Plovdiv (south, central Bulgaria) and looked around and spoke to some people. A socialist city is really a different kind of place. Very quiet, few cars, and pictures and books on Lenin and communism everywhere. You see signs and placards depicting the cause.”
Few cars–(people had no money to buy them), and signs and placards (propaganda) everywhere. Socialist societies are drab and gray. The color of life is sucked out of the culture. It was depressing.
On June 10, 1974, I wrote: “God has given us much insight into the people and socialist system in this country. What an inside view of things! It has sure been revealing. Socialism has created such fear and bondage in the land.”
Gray, drab, poor, and fearful. Where were the free hand-outs?
On June 16 I summarized what we were seeing:
- “Socialism’s motivating factor is fear…If you don’t change people’s selfish hearts, you must motivate them by force.”
- “One-third of the people here work directly or indirectly with the police” (spying on their friends and neighbors)
- “We had numerous people following us in our travels.”
- “You must keep people ignorant – there is no literature outside of communist propaganda everywhere. People don’t know about the freedom of the West.”
- “It’s a brain-washing system. One college girl said that if there were a Christian at her university, then daily pressure would be put on them to persuade them they were wrong.”
- “Indoctrinate the youth–give them no choice. Put pressure on believers – fear. Always watched – harassment. Allow nearly no outside literature.”
- “Watch the older generation of Christians die off with no leaders to take their place.”
- “Put up a ‘tourist front’ of freedom of religion to trick the West into thinking that there is no problem. Then allow a few ‘show’ churches in the cities.”
- “Cut off necessities to Christians. A pastor suffers from migraine headaches daily. Can’t get medicine—even aspirin. (We gave him all of ours.)”
- “Christians can’t get jobs.”
In one socialist city, “we visited the home of a Christian family, and when neighbors came to the door, they became very nervous and fearful. In another, “We took a van on a round-about detour and parked far from a believer’s home because ‘they were being greatly watched.'”
We found fear and control everywhere.
In another city, “We were greeted by a pastor’s son in a home who wouldn’t go with us but fetched his dad. Both were fearful for going with us.”
I reminded myself through-out the tour: “Had to be careful in homes. Was easy to endanger the locals.” And “In the ‘formal’ (show) churches, there was almost always a policeman (KGB) present, as well as others.”
A few more poignant stories:
- “A believer in a hospital shared her hope in God with a doctor and said she had no fear of death. The doctor told her that the first time he heard a heart-beat, he knew there must be a God. He told her not to tell anybody.”
- Some boys told us they “just hadn’t thought about God because they couldn’t do it and ‘move up’ in society.’ They said, “We were taught in biology there was no God.”
- U.S.S.R (Russia) – June 22 – “Some young thieves approached us at the camp who had stolen many times and possessed 2000 rubles. They wanted to buy most of what we had. They were very nervous and even mentioned the KGB.”
- “Eastern Europe and Russia were much different than I expected. Much poorer and dirtier than I had anticipated. Especially Russia.”
- “Socialism as a system doesn’t work. The east is much poorer in all ways that I can see in comparison to the West.”
Yet, it was leaving these “socialist paradises” that produced the most profound memories:
“June 26, 1974 – “At about 4 am we made it to the Czechoslovakian—Austrian border. What a good feeling. After a long night, as the sun began to dawn on us, we were again entering the Free World. It was a wonderful feeling as we sailed into Austria.”
“There are vast differences between the West and socialist countries. Quite a contrast. I’m thankful to have visited this imprisoned part of the world…Sure makes me appreciate the land of my birth and the blessings and privileges there. For far too long, I’ve taken it for granted.”
I’ll never forget leaving Russia in 1980 after another missions trip. When the packed airplane lifted off from the Soviet airport and burst through the clouds, all the passengers erupted in spontaneous applause. We were leaving bondage and going back to freedom!
Must have been the cry of the human spirit, longing for liberty.
If America heads off in the foolish pursuit of socialism, what I saw forty years ago and what currently exists in Venezuela will be our future.
It’s not about free stuff. That’s only utopian bait. Socialism creates nothing but control, fear, bondage, poverty, persecution, a grayness to life, and lack of hope.
Reject it, America. What they call progressive is extremely regressive in reality.
I’m an eye-witness.
I’ve been to many socialist/Marxist/communist nations, and multiple times. 1974 was simply my first look at government tyranny–and it scared me.
A friend of mine in Belgium reminded me to not forget “Democratic Socialism” as practiced in many European countries. I agreed with him that tyranny exists in varying degrees–and we should reject them all.
Ron..I experienced what you shared re “the airplane passengers started clapping and praising the freedoms (crying, laughing, but mainly just clapping, with some expressions of “freedom.” In 1990 leaving Uzbekistan, and also leaving Moscow for W. Europe. Very “grabbing”, emotionally. Really appreciate your sharing.
I’ve been working on memoirs recently: aerospace (14 years), Naval Air (4 years-Korean “era”; Missions (65 countries-25 years)…so far have shared with the family the aerospace years. Working on “Missions” from my copious, spotty notes.
I have never visited a socialist country, unless you include Canada. But I have seen photos.