This year is the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution. The man who orchestrated it died 93 years ago, on 21 January 1924. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin ushered into the world one of the most brutal dictatorship it has ever seen in the Soviet Union, writes Joachim Starbatty.
German Liberal-Conservative Reformists MEP Joachim Starbatty is affiliated with the European Conservatives and Reformists group [ECR]. Starbatty is a professor emeritus of economics at Tübingen University.
This year is the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution. The man who orchestrated it died 93 years ago, on 21 January 1924. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, born Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, ushered into the world one of the most brutal dictatorships it has ever seen, in the Soviet Union. Aided by the Soviets numerous other Communists rose to power, with similarly dire effects for their people; in North Korea and Cuba some still reign. Not just because the ideology continues to claim lives, but because many millennials hold a sympathy for communism borne of ignorance, it is vital we remember its grim reality.
One of the fundamental problems of communism came from the core of its ideology; the belief that ‘capitalists’ served no meaningful task. The reality is that the investments made by capitalists, chosen with care given they have their own money on the line, serve to drive competition, innovation and progress. Without investors innovative firms like Apple or Microsoft would never get off the ground, the variety of goods and services would remain minimal, and the economy would remain stagnant. In communist societies, this is exactly what happened.
It is true that communist nations generally industrialised, but many had begun their industrialisation before communist parties took power; Russia was the 4th greatest industrial power in 1914. Moreover, communist nations were copying an achievement already made; where the West had to invent the tools of industry, the communists merely had to plagiarise them. The greatest caveat is in how industrialisation was achieved. Where the Soviet system paid for its centrally planned industrialisation with blood, famine and poverty that consumed millions of lives, the western liberal model based in property rights, free enterprise and the rule of law had seen industrialisation paired immense reductions in poverty and child mortality with previously unimaginable prosperity.
So, then, communism brought with it oppression, suffering and poverty, without exception. That some celebrate it despite the impoverishment it has brought entire peoples, the ruin it has wrought on nations, and the millions slaughtered, is a testament to a stunning lack of knowledge. If the West is to remain prosperous, free and democratic, the horrors of communism must be remembered.
This year, the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution, the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe will focus on the dark legacy of the communist system, and the divergent developments of post-communist states.