Steve: I think the worst thing about 20th century communism was not the economic system but the totalitarianism, the police state and the spying and prison camps.
Maybe it was the revolutionary origins, the utopianism, the materialism, the fact the government had too much power because it owned and controlled everything BUT if it were possible to have communism with democracy, free speech, freedom of religion, trial by jury etc it really wouldn’t be so bad, you could live with the economic system.
Remember the communist countries had the cold war and sanctions and stuff to contend with too.
They have a certain amount of free speech in China, Vietnam and Cuba, but maybe not as much as you would like. They have anti-government demonstrations in Vietnam, and there are 100 protests every day in China.
There is critical press in Cuba that no one does anything about (check out Havana Times) and dissidents are mostly allowed to publish openly (check out the famous Cuban woman dissident blogger). There is freedom of religion in Cuba, and believers can now join the Party. They have trial by jury in Cuba. I am not sure how fair it is though. But there are some defense attorneys who are taking anti-government cases right now, people accused of criminal charges, police brutality cases, etc. You can read about them in Havana Times. Nobody does much to them.
In Cuba it was supposedly inside the revolution, total freedom of speech, outside of it nothing. But it never really worked out that way, and they went after a lot of loyal opposition types. In Cuba today, you can’t try to overthrow the government and you can’t advocate getting rid of the socialist system. Outside of that, you can supposedly say what you want, but even that may be limited. Check out Havana Times though. There are some very government-critical people there being published all the time, and I think they are mostly left alone.
Every time they try that, the capitalists go berserk, cause chaos and make endless coup and assassination attempts. Also they engage in mass economic sabotage. But this was only tried in places where the economy was still capitalist. The US starts flooding the country with millions of dollars to the dissidents and spends more millions setting up countless “democratic” pressure group that mostly spend every second of their time trying to overthrow the government. You going to let people own newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations. Guess who’s going to buy up all the media? In Venezuela even today, 75% of the media is privately owned. OK you will allow free elections. How about campaign contributions? Guess who’s going to buy the elections?
You can’t have Communist democracy. That’s why Lenin talked about parliamentary cretinism.
You can’t have somewhat socialist democracy in a lot of places. Look what happened in:
- Brazil (military coup, parliamentary coup)
- Guatemala (military coup + 200,000 murdered over 40 years)
- Iran (military coup + 150,000 murdered)
- The Congo (military coup + assassination)
- Haiti (military coup + chaos + contras + 3,000 plus murdered)
- Dominican Republican (US invasion to topple regime)
- Guyana (regime toppled by British)
- Honduras (military coup + 1,000 murdered)
- Syria (military coup)
- Greece (military coup)
- Italy (election fraud)
- Indonesia (military coup + 1 million Communists murdered)
- Colombia (assassination + death squads)
- Panama (assassination)
- Mexico (election fraud)
- Afghanistan (contras)
- Nicaragua (contras + sanctions)
- El Salvador (military coup followed by 75,000 murdered)
- Chile (economic sabotage, chaos, military coup, 15,000 murdered, defense attorneys tortured to death)
- Venezuela (military coup, economic coup, constant riots and chaos), endless assassination plots, assassinations and murders, death squads, economic sabotage)
- Argentina (military coup, 30,000 murdered)
- Uruguay (military coup, 300 murdered)
- Peru (military coup, 1.5 million arrested)
- East Timor (military coup, invasion to topple regime, 300,000 murdered),
- Paraguay (legislative coup + death squads)
- Zimbabwe (sanctions)
- Ukraine (coup)
Mao warned about this. He said there were always capitalist elements in the party trying to restore capitalism. That was the reason for the cultural revolution. Mao thought you would have to have cultural revolutions all the time to keep weeding out the reactionary elements in the party because they would keep springing up again like weeds.
Look what happened when Mao died. The reactionaries in the party around Deng took over and restored capitalism (sort of). Mao was right.