Have you been surprised by the acts of vandalism during the Occupy Wall Street "events" across the country? Perhaps you will remember the many occasions when President Obama reaped political dividends by posing as a modern day Robin Hood, and the fact that all rotten ideas have rotten consequences. Or perhaps the following story will teach us something.
My paternal grandfather was a Cossack officer who fought against the Red Army in Russia's civil wars of 1917-1923. He ended his life in poverty as an exile in Bulgaria. When the Soviet Union invaded Bulgaria at the end of World War II and imposed a Stalinist regime, my father faced two choices: joining the Communist youth organization and getting access to food, housing, education, and a job, or being harassed for the rest of his life as a son of a "class enemy." He chose the former so that he could provide a better life for his mother.
In those days, the government had launched a Marxist campaign to eradicate the inequalities between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, between the village and the city. The property of the big industrialists and landlords was confiscated and managed by appointed commissars in the hope that this would elevate the conditions of the poor masses. Instead, it brought severe shortages of food and manufactured goods.
My teenage father and his friends in a small-town Communist cell were ordered to raid the neighboring villages and take by force any food they could find. In this, as in many other policies, the Bulgarian puppet dictator was replicating his Russian master's class warfare from the late 1920s.
When nationalization of the property of the super rich did not result in prosperity, the government found new scapegoats for its failures: the rural middle class who hoarded their surpluses in a time of economic hardship. In the Soviet Union, these enemies of the revolution were known as "kulaks." The result of Stalin's "dekulakization" was the worst famine brought about by man in history and it should give me pause before I decide to support a policy that punishes people for being more successful than me.