In communist Yugoslavia, where I lived for a year, Marshall Tito claimed at least 34 villas as his "home," though officially all were "owned" by the state. Many of these palatial homes were seized from the nation's former royalty, the Karađorđević family. Just like communists everywhere, Tito appropriated both the properties and the lifestyle of his predecessors. As far as ordinary Yugoslavs were concerned, the only difference was that the communists were more brutal than the royals. of Yugoslavia
In reality, the "vanguard of the proletariat," as Marx called them, live like members of a royal court headed by a monarch. Like Ceaușescu in Romania or the Kim family in North Korea, Marxists everywhere construct huge palaces while working people go hungry. Their goal is to perpetuate their rule and secure it through spending on internal security (the purpose of which is not national defense but the defense of the ruling family or leadership).
A nearby example is communist Cuba, where Fidel Castro amassed a fortune estimated at between $500 million and $900 million while his brother Raul possessed $100 million. Fidel's son Antonio was photographed vacationing on his yacht in the Aegean in 2015, where he lived in luxury while his countrymen lived on $20 a month. There is speculation as to the net worth of Cuba's current president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, and as to how much he may amass in the future.
Marxist disdain for one's people is not the exception — it's the rule for all communist leaders and their families. Vladimir Putin, who has been variously compared to Stalin, Brezhnev, and the Russian tsars, has amassed a fortune at between $70 and $200 billion, according to recent estimates. Putin is not a communist per se, but he is an authoritarian who resembles Russian communist rulers and tsars.
There is little evidence that Marxists attempt to make life better for their people. By definition, the USSR, PRC, and PRK were or are workers' dictatorships, not free-market economies in which workers can easily enter the middle class, as they can under capitalism. In these and other communist states, the existence of an educated and prosperous middle class, capable of dissent, would threaten the ruling class. An educated and affluent middle class is essential in a democracy, but it is poison to communists.
For this reason, communist rulers demand that workers remain in their place, which is vastly beneath that of the leadership and party membership: the difference between $20 a month and Fidel's $500 to $900 million is greater than any "wealth inequality" in America. Surprisingly, Soviet-era art is quite forthright about this: it shows the proletariat as impoverished, struggling, and collectivized — working and living under harsh conditions, marching to war or to work in sinister, inhuman factories, exhausted from labor — and in this sense, it is entirely realistic. At the same time, Soviet art concealed the sybaritic lifestyle of the communist leadership, including that of Joseph Stalin, with his fine wines, tobacco, luxury cars, and endless choice of residences, and of mistresses. A recent biographer describes Stalin as "a promiscuous and faithless serial seducer and libertine" — a description that applies to many communist leaders, from Mao to Castro to Kim Jong-un, with the revival of his grandfather's "pleasure troupe."
The income inequality that exists in a communist system is not just a matter of degree greater than exists in Western democracies. It is a qualitative difference separating workers and rulers. Rulers and ruled are separated by the great difference in their material well-being, by their opportunities for education, travel, and social connections, and even physically by the right to live in gated compounds vs the necessity of living in block housing or worse. In the communist state, the ruling class has access to luxury goods sold at special stores that are off-limits to workers. The elite drive luxury cars, enjoy protection from arrest, and behave in every way like the princes and princesses of times past. And it is not just the difference in wealth — it is a matter of life and death. Every communist state has its gulag and its firing squad, a genocide that does not exist in the US or in Israel, despite Kamala's nodding to the contrary.
Beyond that, the very bodies of the poor are at the disposal of their betters. Men are forced into what amounts to slave labor or deadly military service. Attractive women become playthings of the elite, as they were in Communist China where Mao was said to have taken thousands of mistresses. In The Private Life of Chairman Mao Li Zhisui, Mao's former personal physician reveals the extraordinarily privileged life Mao lived. As Andrew J. Nathan writes in the "Foreword" to Li's book: "Women were served to order like food…Mao's sex life was a central project of his court." (ix). Li's Private Life documents the fact that Mao enjoyed a lavish lifestyle at his many villas, surrounded by servants, mistresses, and armed guards. His life reflected a contempt of the masses similar to what was known in China's imperial courts.
While communist rulers like Mao exhibit an extraordinary contempt for their own people, Marxists in democratic states must appear more restrained. Those who set themselves above the people, as did Hillary Clinton with her "deplorables" moment, find themselves quickly dismissed. But that doesn't make them any less arrogant.
The very nature of Marxism, in which a "vanguard" is supposed to govern perpetually in the name of the masses, creates an inevitable gulf between rulers and ruled. In every case, Marxists reward themselves with lavish comforts at the expense of common people. This principle applies in America as well. It is liberals like JFK, Clinton, Obama, and Biden, along with Nancy Pelosi and John Kerry, who claim the spoils of political victory. Working-class Joe has never, to my knowledge, worked an hourly job, and he is not only living in luxury but appears to be amassing millions by selling access and influence.
Ideally, democratic capitalism is a system in which the masses enjoy the greatest possible opportunity. In practice, that is not always the case, and especially today — with the advent of huge unelected bureaucracies ruling beyond the control of elected officials, we face a situation that is not unlike the rule of communist elites of the past and present. Whether Biden is another Tito, Castro, or Stalin is not the issue — clearly, he is a Marxist.
Marxism is the greatest threat to democracy and to ordinary citizens in America, and it is the opposite of what should exist under democratic capitalism. Biden's administration is the most radical expression of the Marxist ideology ever to exist in our country. And with plans for an additional $5 trillion in spending and huge tax increases to pay for it, America is closer to communism than ever before.
Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).
Image via Max Pixel.
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