How Voting For Socialism Caused Czechoslovakia 40 Years Of Misery

How Voting For Socialism Caused Czechoslovakia 40 Years Of Misery

Americans should heed the lessons of Czechoslovakia, a democracy that voted for a socialist utopia only to wait four decades to win its freedom back.
Carina Benton
By

Democrats are now stooping to seduce voters with neo-Marxist promises to end “systemic racism,” “reimagine” policing, guarantee “free” health care, and “pay” for higher education. The lure of a socialist utopia in which the individual finds ultimate fulfillment in the state has deceived countless people throughout the 20th century. Yet in the end, that promise has delivered nothing but unprecedented atrocities and abuses of freedom.

In 1946, Czechoslovakia became the only European nation to bring communism to power through a legitimate democratic process. Czechoslovakia boasted a successful interwar democracy between 1918 and 1939. But after six years of Nazi occupation, a disillusioned, war-weary, and idealistic people fell prey to the false messianic promises of the communists.

Popular aspirations for a better, fairer society became conflated with the Communist Party mantra, and individual freedom and dignity were substituted for the oppressive power of the State.

Making The Same Mistakes

Today, Americans are witnessing a forecast of such horrors, as Democrats leverage Antifa terror tactics to threaten opponents and foist the radical left’s ideology on a bewildered population. As one Black Lives Matter insurgent recently proclaimed, “It’s time for revolution.”

Don’t expect Democrats to change tactics once in office. Vice-Presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) threatened as much, insisting the rioters weren’t going to stop. “Everyone beware,” she proclaimed, “they’re not going to stop until election day and they’re not going to stop after election day … They’re not going to let up. Nor should they. And nor should we.”

The social justice quest of today’s Democratic Party is a barely disguised power grab. Unfortunately, the disastrous course they’re charting won’t be easily redirected. Instead, Americans should heed the lessons of Czechoslovakia, a democracy that voted for a socialist ideal and would have to wait more than 40 years before they won their freedom back.

Socialism, the fool’s gold of political systems, assumes that the world’s moral well-being can be guaranteed through structural change. This is what radicals like Rep. Ilhan Omar mean by “dismantling the whole system of oppression” or when Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez advocates “reimagined systems of immigration and foreign policy” and “deep systemic solutions to our crises of eviction and unemployment.”

The socialist promise is intoxicating. It has been craftily adapted by cunning and power-hungry politicians throughout history, to varying conditions and diverse peoples: only through the state can the individual become a happier person, living a better life in a fairer world.

The Democrat crusade for the progress of humanity may sound enticing. But there is nothing progressive about using Marxist hate groups to impose radical left groupthink and destroy competing ideologies and viewpoints. Democrats are exploiting class and race antagonisms while lecturing Americans on the inherent evil of their country.

The Lessons of Czechoslovakia

When the people of Czechoslovakia voted the Communist Party into office in 1946, they too believed they were building on the ruins of a failed system. Czechoslovakia had functioned as a successful democracy from its founding in 1918 until it was occupied by Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich. It emerged from the war with a thirst for freedom but a loss of faith in the old order.

Communist Party propaganda convinced people that the free-market economy and the democratic political system had caused the economic crisis of the 1930s, the rise of Nazism, the Second World War, the deportation, imprisonment, and mass murder of Jews, and the defeat and destruction of Czechoslovakia. Marxism was heralded as the only solution for and safeguard against injustice, racism, violence, and war. The Communist Party urged a transformation of the system and a change within the individual if they were to progress toward fairer, better humanity.

The people willingly embraced a culture of martyrdom, sacrificing individual freedoms for the collective good and personal redemption. The Party fostered a pseudo-religious zeal in which people purged themselves of their shameful middle-class values and capitalist mentality and devoted themselves to the New Order.

The Lie of ‘This Time It Will Be Different’

People were aware of the Bolshevik terror that had been unleashed in Russia but naïvely believed that their bespoke, national road to socialism would be different. Although ethnically diverse, Czechoslovakia was relatively unified and had experienced stable democracy. It was industrially and culturally advanced with an educated population. The idea that a communist dictatorship would ever be imposed was unthinkable.

In 1946, the Communists won a decisive victory, promising a progressive, moderate, and inclusive sort of socialism. In 1948 they staged a coup and established total control. Elections would not be held again until 1990.

Democratic traditions were swept aside as political opponents were ousted, basic freedoms relinquished, and rule of law eroded. Arrests, beatings, interrogations, “reeducation” camps, and “disappearances” became a matter of course. Businesses were privatized and farms were nationalized. A planned economy run by a corrupt and inept state led to shortages in housing and basic materials.

But the Party was beyond reproach. It concocted its facts, reality, and set of behavioral norms. Faith in the system became more important than truth. Václav Havel, a writer, dissident, and first president of post-communist Czechoslovakia, explained that because the main pillar of the system was living a lie, the truth had to be suppressed more severely than anything else.

Political disobedience, real or perceived, was punished by persecution, torture, and death. It wasn’t just ordinary people who suffered. During the Slanksy show trials of the 1950s, 14 senior party officials were arrested on fabricated charges of conspiring against the Party. They were interrogated, tortured, and all save one were executed.

Some found it easier to doubt themselves rather than accept the truth that the socialist system they had devoted their lives to building was corrupt to the core. Before he was hanged, the last words of Rudolph Slansky, former general secretary of the Communist Party, were: “Thank you. I’m getting what I deserved.”

One of the other men executed was Rudolph Margolius, former cabinet chief in the Ministry of Foreign Trade, whose wife Heda Margolius Kovály details the experience in her haunting memoir “Under a Cruel Star.” The story is a must-read for anyone deluded enough to believe that socialist regimes are concerned with improving conditions for the average person. They’re interested in consolidating power for themselves. As Margolius Kovály observes, vast power reinforced by the fear of losing it is a deadly combination.

A Long Night of Tyranny

Czechoslovakia’s experiment in pursuing a socialist utopia entailed 41 years of one-party rule. Only after the collapse of the Soviet Union and a peaceful revolution was democracy restored. The fear, lies, envy, persecution, and oppression that characterized the regime followed the same pattern as every society that has suffered at the hands of socialists.

What distinguishes Czechoslovakia’s experience is that a people who had thrived under a superior form of government, and should have known better, unwittingly voted this evil into power.

Today, the Biden campaign is dangling its brand of socialist candy in front of voters, as politicians like Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders offer straight-faced lectures about the mission to “preserve” democracy and decency. But the chaos and violence in our cities paint a more accurate picture of what we can expect under a Biden administration. It bodes very poorly, indeed.

From Democrat Rep. Ayana Pressley calling for “unrest in the streets” to Marxist mobs chanting “death to America,” nothing about the left’s platform evokes the safeguarding of democratic principles. It is about reengineering the country at the expense of anyone who rejects this radical movement.

As Kamala Harris warned, this isn’t going away. With God’s grace, it will. But four decades would be a long time to wait.

Carina Benton is a native Australian living in Washington state. She is a practicing Catholic and has taught for many years in Catholic and Christian schools. She is a mother of two young children. 

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