When my kids were young, we occasionally played a game we called: Good Idea – Bad Idea. It happened like that. Good idea: play the piano. Bad idea: playing the piano in a marching band. Or, Good Idea: fishing for fish. Bad idea: fishing school buses. You get the drift.
We also see this game played in real life. A few years ago, a serial bank robber in Pittsburgh was known for his red beard. In his version of Good Idea – Bad Idea, he thought it was a good idea to dress up with a beard. But he chose a red beard like his own and was quickly apprehended.
And then there was the guy who thought it was a “good idea” to avoid transoceanic baggage fees on his airline by wearing all his clothes: 6 t-shirts, 4 sweaters, 3 pairs of jeans , two jackets and two hats. This “bad idea” led to a trip to the hospital for overheating and dehydration that likely cost more than the $50 he was hoping to save.
More deadly are the Good Idea-Bad Idea implications of socialism. For many, especially young people, socialism seems like a “good idea”. The idea of “equality” is often mentioned. But the socialist vision of equality requires trampling on personal freedom, as the wealth of many is confiscated for the greater socialist “good”.
Other young people embrace socialism with a strong sense of entitlement, believing that the societal privileges earned are in fact rights they should be given on demand. They believe it is a thing like a free lunch, and they want theirs now. Little thought is given to the obvious reality that if everyone gets in the cart, there is no one left to pull it. As one journalist put it, “In the end, most young socialists simply didn’t do the math.”
Socialism is the worst “bad idea” in human history, and young supporters are seemingly blind to the human cost of socialist governments – a cost measured in blood. As Professor Paul Kengor said bitterly: “Communism only killed 100 million people. Why not give it another chance? But surely that’s hyperbole, isn’t it? Afraid not.
In 1999, Harvard University Press published The Black Book of Communism, a respected research effort detailing the death toll of communism in the 20th century alone. Their sad record:
USSR: 20 million
Red China: 65 million
Viet Nam: 1 million
North Korea: 2 million
Cambodia: 2 million
Eastern Europe: 1 million
Africa: 1.7 million
Afghanistan: 1.5 million
Latin America: 150,000
Other highly reputable researchers have called these horrendous totals markedly conservative. Research scientist RJ Rummel estimates that “Soviet governments were responsible for the deaths of 61.9 million of their own citizens from 1917 to 1987”. Years later under the Glasnost inaugurated by Mikhail Gorbachev, Alexander Yakolev, a senior Soviet official, was given the official task of counting the victims of Soviet communism. He estimated 60 to 70 million dead under Stalin alone. This number agrees well with Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s earlier estimate.
A similar underestimation appears in North Korea. the black book of communism did not include the two to three million people who died in the late 20th century famine precipitated by North Korea’s communist policies. Shocking context is important here. These figures represent approximately 10% to 15% of the North Korean population. The equivalent number in the United States today would be 33 to 50 million dead. The same sad story emerges from Cambodia, where Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge government killed around 40% of the population.
Professor Rummel’s total tally for the number of people killed by their own communist governments in the 20th century is an astonishing 140 million. This reality was surely the genesis of President Ronald Reagan’s descriptors of the Soviet Union as the Evil Empire and the Heart of Darkness. Reagan went on to say, “Communism is neither an economic system nor a political system – it is a form of madness.”
Velvet glove. . . iron fist
Socialism has been called by some an iron fist in a velvet glove. Outwardly, his ideas may seem attractive and even rational. Socialists affirm that once in power, the socialist state will “intervene directly to relieve all suffering, meet and anticipate all needs, provide capital for all enterprises, enlighten all minds, balm all wounds, and sanctuary to all the unfortunate.
If that were true, who wouldn’t want it? But this is not true, for the simple reason that the socialist (or any other) government has nothing to give anyone that it does not first take from someone else. Socialism is primarily about the acquisition and concentration of power.
And that appetite may well be the leading cause of human-caused death in all of human history.
Frank Wright, Ph.D., is President and CEO of D. James Kennedy Ministries (DJKM.org), producer of the new documentary, “How the Left is Stealing Your Church: The Woke Gospel Invasion.”