Stretch, grab a late afternoon cup of caffeine and get caught up on the most important news of the day with our Coffee Break newsletter. These are the stories that will fill you in on the world that's spinning outside of your office window - at the moment that you get a chance to take a breath.
Sign up now to save time and stay informed!

Hey Millennials: Communism Sucks, I Lived It

A recent poll found that fifty percent of millennials say they would rather live in a communist or socialist country than in a capitalist democracy. These numbers can’t be laughed off -- they should frighten you. Maybe they don’t know what communism means.

I do. I lived in Communist Poland.

Perhaps those fifty percent of millennials were not properly taught about communism in school. That’s too bad, and dangerous. So here are some examples for those misguided millennials to ponder, all of which I experienced in communist Poland.

Unreliable electricity

Do you millennials enjoy having electricity on demand to charge your devices? Then you would hate Action “O.” Action “O” stood for “Oszczednosc,” which translates to “Savings.” Poland’s communist government would notoriously turn off electricity to various areas of the city to “save” energy.

They had an interesting system which they described as “customer oriented”: they would turn the electricity off for one minute and turn it back on for five minutes as a warning that a shutoff was coming. You had exactly five minutes to find your matches and candles, because after that electricity would shut off for several hours.

If that wasn’t bad enough, we suffered under a shortage of matches.

Fake equality

The most demoralizing part of the communist system was that “all were considered equal.” This was a big lie.

It didn’t matter if you worked hard -- your pay was equal to the guy who barely showed up for work, or came to work drunk. The only way to advance was to join the political elite: the Communist party.

Imagine a system where the key to success wasn’t hard work or merit, but conniving and politics. If you sold your soul to the devil, you were rewarded.

My father worked at a water company in one of the major cities in Silesia Region. He was approached several times by the “party” PZPR with an offer of a promotion to a director’s position. But there was one small requirement.

He would need to first denounce his religion.

Yes, they asked him to become an atheist devoted solely to the communist ideology if he wanted to get a raise or promotion. Neither him nor our family would be able to attend mass or practice our religion in any manner.

Imagine a system where job success comes not from your productivity or character, but from the degree to which you adhere to party orthodoxy.

My dad is a religious and honorable man. He declined the offer and therefore never got promoted, and our lives never got better -- and I am so proud of him for his strong beliefs and integrity.

But the idea of “equality” under communism was a lie.