In exposing communism for the deadly farce it really is, few have done a better job than Eric Arthur Blair. If you haven’t picked up Animal Farm or 1984 since high school, go back and see how brilliant and insightful Orwell really was. That’s right George Orwell was Blair’s pen name. Despite being an anarchist and atheist himself (never forget that atheism is the official religion of communism), his experience with British anti-Nazi propaganda as well as communist propaganda in WWII gave him a bird’s-eye view of the inner workings of some of the world’s most brutal dictatorships. Why do I bring up communism in today’s post? Only because the editor of one of the oldest and most prestigious medical journal in the world — Britain’s Lancet — earlier today shared an editorial touting Karl Marx’s theories as applied to healthcare.
Because it’s easy for GEEZERS LIKE ME to forget that it’s been almost thirty years since what we now hail as the fall of communism (the Soviet Union); EVEN THOUGH IT IS NOT A VALID EXCUSE, I can at least to some degree understand why this history lesson has been lost on our younger generation — particularly since it’s no longer taught in our public schools (hey; learning about ELVIS and Madonna is important!). How else could you possibly explain its resurgence in the Westernized world — especially here in America?
Born in Prussia (Germany) in 1818, young Karl was educated by his father, who was a student of humanism and the Enlightenment. At 12, was sent to public school to be educated by a friend of his father, who also happened to be an ardent humanist (humanists are atheists who believe that man can solve all their problems APART FROM GOD or religious morality). Having married the daughter of another close friend of his father (a radical in his own right), Marx made his way to Berlin where he fell under the spell of the teachings of Hegel (the philosopher who heavily influenced Jung, Freud, Nietzsche, and many others — all ardent and outspoken atheists). Soon after, Marx met Engels (who had himself become an atheist), and within a few years had become good enough buddies to co-author their magnus opus — the The Communist Manifesto.
According to this tandem, communism would be an all encompassing worldview in which capital, the means of production, and personal property (farms, homes, businesses, banks, money, gold, mines, ships, factories, railroads, assets of all sorts, etc, etc, etc), are owned by the government. The idea was to create a perfected utopia — a “classless” society where everyone is equal (although as Orwell’s pigs warned, some are more equal than others). A society of people working for and in turn being provided for by the state; “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” But unfortunately, achieving such a lofty goal required class warfare and an ongoing revolution of workers against employers. In other words, since capitalism had tainted everything it touched (including people’s minds), things would have to get worse before they could get better. So at least at first, there would need to be a government whose decisions would be made “for the good of the people“. Deciphering the doublespeak, this meant that individuals had no rights, including the right to vote for said leaders. Enter Lenin.
Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (aka Lenin) was born into a wealthy family in Czarist Russia in 1870 (Marx was about 50). Although he grew up in the church, after Lenin’s father died when he was 16, he renounced his faith in God and became an atheist. Having married a Marxist educator, he started or joined numerous radical revolutionary groups, eventually being exiled to Siberia for three years. Upon his release, Lenin established the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP). After years of starting newspapers, founding and running radical organizations, and traveling to constant speaking engagements to promote the RSDLP (in many ways reminiscent of the early life of Hitler as described in John Toland’s 1976 biography, Adolph Hitler), he saw an opportunity and made his play.
When WWI broke out in 1914, Russia, just like what would happen a few decades later in WWII, found itself at war with Germany. At the end of the war, Lenin took power of the Reds or Bolsheviks (the more radical branch of the RSDLP) in a civil war against the Whites or Mensheviks. Lenin’s “Reds” came out on top, and when Lenin seized control of Russia in 1917 he enacted a series of laws, which in most ways were not only extremely oppresive, but 180 degrees opposite of the core principles of our Constitution.
All land and property (everything mentioned earlier) now belonged to the state, with millions of people being displaced from their homes. Farms were “collectivized” with a result similar to the destructive chaos caused more recently in Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe (yep, RM was a self-avowed Marxist). Labor unions were outlawed. Any sort of opposition via the media was abolished, with the press essentially becoming an arm of the government’s propaganda machine. Because Lenin was a rabid atheist, the church was taken over by the Communist government as well, with any and all “non-official” churches outlawed. And finally, Russia’s legal system was totally dismantled and replaced by a series of “Revolutionary Tribunals”. Judges were told to ignore historical law, basing their decisions on a “socialist sense of justice“. And don’t forget, Lenin also established the Cheka — the Soviet’s secret police, which would eventually become the KGB; an organization that made the Gestapo look like Romper Room. Not only were people afraid to talk to others about what was going on in their country, they soon began to fear discussing it in their own homes — especially with their children, who were being brainwashed in public schools (see first video below). The plan to create a Marxist society was carried out by Lenin with ruthless efficiency, which brings us to Stalin.
Josef Stalin’s use of political power made Lenin look like an angel. His purges are legendary for their scope and depth, slaughtering millions upon millions of those who disagreed with him (alongside those he thought might disagree with him — those with any higher education were usually the first to go). After victory in WWII, the Soviet Union immediately and aggressively began exporting communism around the globe. Much of Europe became communist. China, North Korea, and numerous other countries in the region rapidly followed. And more recently, parts of Africa (ETHIOPIA for a number of years) and Latin America (VENEZUELA, Honduras, Cuba, El-Salvador, etc) have come under its spell. How has communism worked out for Joe-average citizens in these countries?
Over the past 100 years (1917 to 2017), Communism, under leaders like Stalin, Lenin, Khrushchev, Ceaușescu, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, the three Un’s, along with numerous others, is directly responsible for the deaths of at least 100,000,000 people. That would be one hundred million human beings, although I have seen estimates that are significantly higher than this. This means that communism is the world’s leading cause of “unnatural” death over the course of the past century — and this doesn’t begin to count those who were killed indrectly (poverty, exposure, starvation, sickness, etc). Let that sink in all of you Che Guevara t-shirt-wearing Millennials. And let that sink in Richard Horton.
Richard Horton is the editor of The Lancet (a journal which I have been watching increasingly promote leftist causes for the last decade), and just this morning wrote an editorial piece called Medicine and Marx, in which he gleefully stated, “Marxist ideas have re-entered the political debate.” Although Horton is unfortunately correct, I simply have to scratch my head and ask; do these folks ever learn? I am going to cherry-pick from Horton’s third and final paragraph (he is at least partially quoting from Terry Eagleton — a university professor and outspoken British communist, whom I would assume is making money off the books he writes, about his collectivistic belief that people should not be able to make money off of the books they write).
As Terry Eagleton argued in Why Marx Was Right (2011), Marxism isn’t about violent world revolution, tyrannical dictatorships, or unachievable utopian fantasies. I think Marx matters to medicine for three reasons. First, Marx offers a critique of society, a method of analysis, that enables explication of disquieting trends in modern medicine and public health—privatized health economies….. Second, Marxism defends a set of values. The free self-determination of the individual, an equitable society, the end of exploitation, deepening possibilities for public participation in shaping collective choices, refusing to accept the fixity of human nature and believing in our capacity to change, and keeping a sense of the interdependence and indivisibility of our common humanity. Finally, Marxism is a call to engage, an invitation to join the struggle to protect the values we share. You don’t have to be a Marxist to appreciate Marx. As the centenary of his birth approaches, we might agree that medicine has a great deal to learn from Marx.
Are you kidding me? Marxism, by its very nature, leads to tyranny, exploitation, and abject poverty. This is true 100% of the time and in 100% of the cases except for the ruling class living at the top of the food chain, stifling individual expression, often to the point of torture and/or death. It’s why everyone in communist countries WANTS TO FLEE! As for Horton’s assertion that people in communist nations are “free and self-determined individuals,” he’s delusional — YouTube is full of videos of people who risked everything to escape from communism and likewise warning about letting it into this country. The term “collective choices” is the best example of Orwellian doublespeak I’ve heard in quite some time (see videos below to witness a “Collective Farm” in action, and listen carefully at the very end of the first video to hear the communist leader talk about those who would be first on the list for the “Killing Fields” — doctor, professor, and student — quite similar to Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution in Communist China). And let’s be honest with each other; when has communism ever increased public participation in anything good? Sorry, but public executions don’t count.
Horton is right about one thing however. Since society has forgotten just how terrible this political system really is, we do have a great deal to learn from Karl Marx. We should all be students of history (as opposed to 21st century revisionist history) so that we don’t, in the words of Marx himself, repeat it. For all the problems we have in American healthcare today (they are legion, and I have ROUNDLY AND REPEATEDLY LAMBASTED THEM — including HERE), I would challenge Horton to show me a communist nation where healthcare for the common man is even the remotest semblance of what we have access to here in the United States of America.
In fact Richard, show me a country where communism has worked out at all? Unfortunately, there are at least 100,000,000 people we can’t ask this question of. In fact, with all the recent research on “PHYSICIAN BURNOUT,” it’s interesting to note that the most ‘burned out’ states also happen to be the bluest (see link). The Lancet is lying when it tries to tell you that communism isn’t about utopian fantasies. The truth is, Horton and his ilk are living on FANTASY ISLAND. But when he needs that emergency appendectomy, he should pray (I’m not sure who to) that he doesn’t have to go to Cuba or North Korea to have it done!