Letter to the Editor: A response to “The Case for American Communism” published in Opinions on May 26, 2023

Samuel Blake ’80 in Opinions | September 9, 2023

          Mr. Gupta’s article, “The Case For American Communism,” is a laudable exercise in scholarly debate and an opportunity for diversity of views. All high schools need not just diversity of students, but diversity of opinion. I write with this principle in mind.

          I’ll state right off: in a communist system, as seen in practice in the 20th century and beyond, neither Mr. Gupta’s article in The Lawrence, nor my letter in response, would be published. If we tried to disseminate it privately, we would be arrested, imprisoned, if not liquidated. There would be no Lawrenceville School, no The Lawrence, no diversity of media and opinion. Religions outlawed. A band of unelected, violent intellectuals would form a vast secret police and military that would snuff out all dissent. That is Communism in action.

          The government would rubber stamp all decrees and laws handed down from the Dictatorship of the Proletariat (See The Communist Manifesto by Carl Marx; the writings of V.I. Lenin, Joseph Stain, Mao Tse-Tung, Fidel Castro, and Kim Jong-Il; and The Black Book of Communism).

          As I learned from decades of study in the field of international history, the writings and statements of repressive regimes are harbingers of future action. On the international scene, Communism has proven aggressive, hegemonic, and brutal, leaving whole societies and ancient cultures in turmoil and despair: witness Tibet and Eastern Europe between 1945 and 1990.

          Liberal Democracy has many faults, but it is as Thomas Jefferson said, “The last great hope of mankind.” It is a mere sliver in human history. Other great Americans and international leaders have extolled the benefits of Democracy: Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru, Lech Walensa, to name a few.

          In 1776, the greatest revolution in history, which led to so many democratic revolutions and movements thereafter, occurred in America. It’s been a rocky ride, with great turmoil at times; and yet it brought forth the greatest growth in incomes FOR ALL AMERICANS that the world has ever seen.

          Yes, vast wealth inequalities exist in capitalist countries, and this can be addressed, as it has been aggressively in the western world through taxation, income distribution through social programs like Welfare and Medicaid, and tax breaks for businesses that then create good paying jobs. Wealth is invested in companies, they in turn expand and bring on job growth.

          Let’s look at Cuba since 1959, which is cited as an example for America to follow.
In 1959, Fidel Castro made a speech to the community at our Lawrenceville School chapel. He was jocular and full of platitudes. He talked of a new society with democratic goals. The crowd loved him. He became a beloved leader for many progressive intellectuals around the world. It was chic to like Castro.

          But soon, Castro’s Cuba turned inward, repression became the norm, and a political and economic party elite would steer the country into the hands of the Soviet Union. All institutions in civil society were subordinated to the state. A command economy was decreed. This led to an economic elite of party members at the expense of the people they claimed to be helping.

          Cubans began to flee the new regime. In 1980, 125,000 immigrants escaped to the United States. U.S.-Cuban relations deteriorated over Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba and Cuban foreign adventures to Africa and Latin America.

          Since 1959, upwards of two million Cubans have fled the island due to low economic growth, stagnant wages, lack of opportunity, and repression. On the surface level, Cuban education is impressive, and yet, it is mostly science and math oriented without any open discussions. And to what end is education anyway if you cannot build a better society?

          Education is central to Cuban Communism. “Revolution and education are the same thing,” said Fidel Castro. To build Communism, a new man must be created. . .” And yet, objective testing by international experts has been eschewed by the Cuban government.

          Finally, the case for Communism, as seen in practice, is an exercise in folly. Communism unleashed the worst in societies around the world. And what are we left with? A repressive revanchist Russia, China on the verge of war with its neighbors, North Korea speaks for itself. And let’s not forget the victims: the 100 million souls that died. Alone, bereft, starving.