This has been the 100th anniversary year of the Bolshevik Revolution, one of history’s greatest calamities. The beginning of Soviet communism’s end arguably came with the founding of the Solidarity trade union in Poland, or possibly with the accession to power of Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985. Whatever the case, it decisively arrived with the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall.
College students today did not live through the Soviet and Eurocommunist years. This grieves and offends Harvard undergraduate Laura Nicolae, whose parents escaped from Ceausescu’s Romania. She writes in the Harvard Crimson about the university’s culture:
Walk around campus, and you’re likely to spot Ché Guevara on a few shirts and button pins. A sophomore jokes that he’s declared a secondary in “communist ideology and implementation.” The new Leftist Club on campus seeks “a modern perspective” on Marx and Lenin to “alleviate the stigma around the concept of Leftism.” An author laments in these pages that it’s too difficult to meet communists here. For many students, casually endorsing communism is a cool, edgy way to gripe about the world.
After spending four years on a campus saturated with Marxist memes and jokes about communist revolutions, my classmates will graduate with the impression that communism represents a light-hearted critique of the status quo, rather than an empirically violent philosophy that destroyed millions of lives.
Statistics show that young Americans are indeed oblivious to communism’s harrowing past. According to a YouGov poll, only half of millennials believe that communism was a problem, and about a third believe that President George W. Bush killed more people than Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, who killed 20 million. If you ask millennials how many people communism killed, 75 percent will undershoot.