Sunday, January 16, 2011


January 16, 2011

Socialism leads to communism. I keep hearing this nonsensical statement from two kinds of people, those who don’t know what they’re talking about and those who do but seek to mislead the rest of us. Shame on both kinds, especially the latter.
The two systems are glaringly different. Before going any further I should mention that I know because in 1975 I helped boot the Soviets’ most feared secret policeman out of Britain. Seven years earlier I spirited a person to freedom from right under the Marxists’ noses. More about this later, but yes, I know the difference.
And it’s not only that the road repairs in Commie countries are done by beefy old babushka belles running jackhammers and steamrollers.
How many who speak so confidently about communism have actually been behind the Iron Curtain? I have. Several times. And I‘ve argued against the Reds about their flawed egalitarian system.
How many who rail against socialism have visited a socialist state and not even known it? I grew up in a land that elected a socialist government when I was two years old...
It was Britain. That’s right, America’s best buddy; the country Russia was going to nuke first during the Cold War, when the threat of Soviet attack was frighteningly real. In fact all of capitalist Western Europe - on the front lines, facing the Red Army head-on - embraced socialism as well.
Here’s a list of those staunchly anti-communist countries that ran socialist agendas and still do: France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Belgium, Greece...
Sufferin’ Stalinists! All of them are friends of ours. And all but three - Finland, Sweden and Ireland – are in NATO.
Funny, but socialism didn’t turn a single one of them communist. Why? Could it be because no way is socialism “merely a transitional step into communism” as I saw in this newspaper in a recent guest column urging us to “put God back into government”. The writer, clearly uninformed, was hereby also looking to reverse the First Amendment, which I’ll re-state: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
So Congress said faith is take-it-or-leave-it. Same as Europe, whereas Commie regimes just stamp on religious worship; they don’t want to share any of their citizens’ fealty, even with God. Theirs in the only voice they permit their people to hear.
Bolshevik countries have always been easily identified by their aluminum alloy money, so light wearing a hole in your pocket would be a miracle – that is if they believed in miracles. Never flip a coin because a gust of wind might carry it to the next desolate town.
An East Berlin ticket clerk told me all rail travel was third class. If they had only one, then why not call it first class? That’s communism: everything’s third class..
But the real difference is one we see in Cuba, North Korea, China and in the new totalitarian Russia. Once in power a communist government is nigh impossible to remove, certainly not at the ballot box. They say it’s “a dictatorship of the people by the people” but it really boils down to a few of the nastiest people dictating to all the rest. By contrast, socialist governments are voted in or out by popular demand. And that’s democracy at work.
We already have some socialism here. Social Security, Medicare, the VA and state programs like education. Even when right wing administrations come to power, both here and in Europe, they keep many of the socialist programs in place.
Hello again. Been expecting you. Here come the Big Business boys and their fellow travelers, hollering: “We don’t want the government sticking its nose in.” They may not. But we sure do. Because without any kind of controls we get the sort of financial anarchy that’s plunged us into the mess we’re in today.
We’re experiencing a kind of creeping McCarthyism, more insidious than Senator Joe’s in the early 1950s. It’s not just reds under the beds now, it’s community-spirited folks being branded as quasi communists.
It irks me when folks who don’t know, and those who don’t want us to know, try to link democratic socialism to dictatorial communism. Why should anyone who believes in looking after our old, our sick, our poor huddled masses be labeled a virtual Commie?
Those who never open the book see only the dust jacket. No, Walton County won’t be all collective farms and no, we won’t see the hammer and sickle flying over our courthouse as a result of being a caring society.
What we don’t know hurts us, so let’s find the truth. Here’s Glenn Beck distorting the nature of Nazi Germany’s National Socialism, ignoring the fact that Hitler used the second word to disguise the first. In reality Nazism had nothing to do with socialism and everything to do with nationalism.
And the USSR taking the respectable word ‘socialist’ to cover their own repugnant one. Theirs should have been the Union Of Soviet Communist Republics. Even the ‘union’ part of that was enforced with steel talons. Ask the Hungarians and the Czechs about Russian ”union”.
In closing, I should explain briefly the 1968 escape. Using passports I’d doctored, I smuggled an East German woman through Hungary and Austria to liberty. She was my previous wife.
And as a Daily Mail journalist I led my newspaper’s successful campaign against KGB director Aleksandr Shelepin, who had entered Britain posing as Russia’s labor union chief. By the way, the Harold Wilson government that kicked the communist out? Socialist.

© 2011 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.