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The Continuing Appeal of Communism in the West

Do the experts’ conclusions sound familiar? Anyone see any resemblance to the calls of Occupy Wall Street? Indeed, the heart of the OWS complaints is the concept of “income inequality,” with the resulting call that income be redistributed so that the “poor” take more from the rich, so that all will be equal. The end result of such poor logic is the call to go to the large homes of wealthy citizens, measure the living space of their domiciles, and by government action move a number of poorer families into their residence to share their large living space. As many of us who know history recall, this is indeed what the Bolsheviks did in Soviet Russia after the October Revolution in 1917.

I happen to have some friends who consider themselves radical activists, but who live in a home for the two of them valued at well over a million dollars, but which has room for at least four or five other families. These people argue vociferously for income equality and redistribution of wealth, because it isn’t “fair,” and everyone deserves a good life. Hence they support a super high minimum wage via a new federal law, as well as every other legislative measure that would tax the rich at the highest level possible and produce equality of result by government action. I am always tempted to ask them to drive to the nearest ghetto, and invite some of the less fortunate to move in with them. Somehow, I don’t think had I made such a request, it would have been acted on. Indeed, I would probably be asked to promptly leave their premises and drive back home. They would have quickly slammed the front door in my face.

When I stayed some time ago at my friend Harvey Klehr’s home in Atlanta, I facetiously noted to him that it was a beautiful home, and that he should open it up to those less fortunate. Harvey looked at me and said, as we all would, “I worked hard for this and it’s mine. Sorry.” But Harvey is no radical, and he responded as most of us would.

I was told in Prague that a few weeks earlier, at the same Institute, the Polish editor and former dissident Adam Michnik, known as a moderate and not a firebrand conservative, spoke and without naming the group he was talking about, talked about the recent calls in America he had read about for equality and fairness. Michnik said he had heard such calls in his youth in Communist Poland, and saw no difference in what the current occupiers were calling for than what the Communists in his day in Poland had demanded.

The OWS crowd certainly don’t call themselves “communists.” If anything, those who get the most comment are self-proclaimed anarchists and others are socialists, radicals of various stripes, demagogues, anti-Semites, members of various fringe ultra-left groups like the Workers World Party and International Answer, and others of that ilk. But put together, they form a sometimes incoherent but nevertheless group of radical activists bent on overthrow of the system -- not banking reform, political change in Washington, or anything remotely possible. Unlike the Tea Party activists, who moved to try and have a political influence, these protestors demand “revolution,” an all-encompassing phrase that means little but which reveals their favored stance.