There are many versions of the phrase: ‘The Only Good Commie, is a Dead Commie’. They mostly derive from America, and can be seen on T-shirts, bumper stickers, badges, and other places. To me, this begs the question, can there be good and bad ‘Commies’? Well of course there can, and history has shown us that this is true. In the same way that there can be good and bad Christians, or good and bad in any walk of life. Some people take a concept, or a faith, even a political belief, and corrupt it to their own ends. Some have used the principles of Communism to do good for the majority, even though this has made them unpopular with many others. Others have simply hidden behind the ideals, as they carved out personal empires, irrespective of the cost to their country.
There are others claiming to be communists, and perceived to be so, when they obviously are not. A good example of this would be the regime in North Korea, since the cessation of hostilities there, in the early 1950’s. This regime has a lot more in common with the dictatorships of the extreme right in the 1930’s, and the cult of personality that accompanied them. The leaders follow a dynastic principle, based on the right of one family to rule, echoing the ancient claims of royalty, in countries all over the world. It has little or no foundation, and is maintained by fear, lack of education, and intense propaganda.
An example of the opposite to this might be the leadership in Cuba, since the fall of Batista. True, there is no opposition to speak of, and it is not a democracy, in any accepted sense. The leaders live well, and better than most of the population, as is evident. However, they come from a background of communal struggle, and have kept the respect and admiration of most of the people, particularly the working classes. Those criminal elements, or wealthy landowners who resisted them, have mostly departed to America, to carry on their campaign of vilification from elsewhere. For many Cubans, the revolution gave them education, employment, and freedoms that they had never know. This may have been at the expense of many things that other counties consider to be essential, and it is true that the economic development of Cuba depended greatly on outside help, from sympathetic governments elsewhere. It is easy to forget that this is equally true of almost any country existing today, as there are few that can ever expect to ‘go it alone’. Cubans could easily have sought help from anti-communist countries to overthrow Castro, but they chose not to. This has not been driven by fear, or isolation, as with North Korea, but from the realisation that life is better for the majority, under the current system there.
Look past the red flags, and the iconography of Communism, and you will soon see that it is mostly driven by intellectuals, and well-educated individuals, who manifest their social conscience by the application of egalitarian politics. To make this work, they empower the working classes, and attempt to educate the traditionally conservative rural population. They unashamedly adopt the position that they will do right for most, at the expense of some, but that they must be allowed to do so unencumbered by the diversions of unnecessary elections, haggling landowners, and destructive opponents. These leaders are the opposite of those in other systems, where they use accumulation of personal wealth, the creed of acquisition, fear of change, and Nationalism, to promote their Capitalist philosophies.
Much is made of the so-called ‘secretive’ methods employed by Communists; closed borders, non-transferable currencies, and control of the media. Is it really so different elsewhere? Do we really believe that the so-called open policies of the British Secret Service, do not simply hide a huge system underneath? Because they have a website, and a photo of the head of operations, does this mean that we are free to act and feel in any way we wish? It would be naive to fall for this, in the same way that it would be childish to believe that our media is not subject to control, at every level. Propaganda works in two directions, so we are essentially no better informed than others in any country. We just think that we are.
To discount Communism as an idea, quoting the excesses of Stalin, Pol Pot, and Mao Tse-tung, is no different to dismissing Christianity over the Crusades, right-wing fundamentalists, or Vatican political involvements. In the right place, and managed by the right people, it may well hold the key to the future of man, as a social being.