We need to stop idolising communism, says Harvard student

We need to stop idolising communism, says Harvard student
Harvard undergraduate says students need to stop idolising communism. Source: Roya-Ann Miller/Unsplash.com

US university campuses have earned themselves the reputation as left-wing echo chambers. Free speech is being compromised in favour of ‘safe space’ culture, and controversial speakers often aren’t even allowed on campus.

Lauren Nicolae, an undergraduate student at Harvard University, has finally taken a stand against leftist ideologies being glorified as utopian goals.

After hearing about her father’s perils under the Romanian Communist regime, Nicolae believes students have become blinded by “the impression that communism represents a light-hearted critique of the status quo, rather than an empirically violent philosophy that destroyed millions of lives”.

A rejection of capitalism is a hot topic among students. High homelessness and poverty rates even in rich countries such as the US are key indicators that capitalism is not an entirely successful economic structure.

The inhumane result of capitalism has driven students to reconsider anti-capitalist theories such as Marxist socialism and communism.

However, perhaps due to the academic culture on university campuses, students have turned to idealising the theoretical benefits of anti-capitalist regimes while ignoring the thousands of lives that suffered at its hands, Nicolae says.

“Depictions of communism on campus paint the ideology as revolutionary or idealistic, overlooking its authoritarian violence. Instead of deepening our understanding of the world, the college experience teaches us to reduce one of the most destructive ideologies in human history to a one-dimensional, sanitized narrative,” wrote Nicolae.

“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.”

Nicolae said students do not understand the oppressive nature of communism, where creativity is squashed to make room for collective progress.

Capitalism is often referred to as a machine where individuals are cogs generating money. But under communism, people are still cogs except they do not even have the autonomy to choose which machine they turn.

However, History student Ben Broadribb told Study International: “Communism means, in its traditional sense, the abolition of capital and the workplace being controlled by the workers, neither of which was achieved under Stalin. In fact the opposite was achieved.”

Broadribb notes communism in its true sense has never been achieved, and it is often misunderstood due to its threat to the capitalist structure on which the western world is founded.

But this misunderstanding also penetrates the musing of left-wing students who are idolising communism. Theories may be attractive, but this doesn’t bring back the thousands of people who were tortured and killed under its reality. And it doesn’t stop it happening again, Nicolea argues.

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