As the granddaughter of a survivor of communism and socialism, I find it almost unfathomable that the political ideology my family left a continent for is creeping into my neighborhood.
I was alerted to an event on Facebook called “Summer Socialism 101 classes,” which will be hosted at the Indianapolis Central Library this August. The group will offer the following classes: “Why we need a revolutionary party, Introduction to Marxism, and Contradictions of Capitalism.”
You can imagine my disbelief and frustration when I saw this event shared on Facebook by people urging others to learn more about a political ideology that killed at least 100 million men, women, and children — more than all the deaths of all the major wars of the 20th century – combined.
Published by Harvard University Press, The Black Book of Communism documents the victims of each Marxist socialist regime in, but not necessarily limited to,
China under Mao Zedong
North Korea under Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-il, and Kim Jong-un
Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh
Cuba under Fidel Castro
Cambodia under Pol Pot
Ethiopia under Mengistu Haile
Venezuela under Nicolás Maduro
Greece is no exception.
After World War II, a civil war broke out in Greece between the Greek government (backed by the U.S. and the UK) and the military branch of the Communist Party of Greece (supported by then-socialist states Yugoslavia, Albania, and Bulgaria).
During the war (1946-49), Greeks either publicly supported or joined the Communists or were thrown in jail. My Yiayia’s (grandmother’s) oldest brother and both of her parents didn’t join the Communists, so they quickly became political prisoners.
(My great grandparents – the Antonakes family.)
As best as my Yiayia can recall, they were held as political prisoners for more than three years.
When the war broke out, my Yiayia was the youngest of the family — just eight years old. While her parents were in prison, she and her siblings were raised by family and neighbors. Although this conflict started after World War II, the internal political struggles began during the German occupation of Greece in the early 1940s.
She remembers Nazis occupying her village, one of them shooting a neighbor’s goat in the head in front of her and others while saying something to the effect of “If you don’t fall in line, this is what will happen to you.”
My great uncle lost part of a finger and some of his scalp during the occupation of another village. That is the only injury I’m aware of — or at least the only one anyone is willing to talk about. Miraculously, not only did the family survive World War II and the civil war, but the three were released from prison.
In total, 80,000 Greeks were killed and another 700,000 were left homeless. Soon, parts of my family left for better opportunities. Some went to Canada and others eventually got to the United States. Some stayed in Greece and are still there today.
My immediate family and I are only in Indiana because our first relative who came here from Ellis Island wanted to get to Chicago but didn’t have enough money to get there. Instead, he made a life in Elkhart, Indiana — 108 miles short. From there, four generations have worked to achieve the American dream, which wouldn’t be possible without the free market.
Senior AIER fellow Michael Munger says it best:
“The problem for Marxists is simple: every flaw in markets is worse under socialism. At the micro level, every flaw in consumers is worse, and in fact much worse, in voters. Unless you are willing to advocate monarchism, or actual communist dictatorship, markets and democracy are the only two mechanisms we have for organizing society.”
For those in my home state flirting with Marxist ideals, I suggest you read Munger’s forthcoming book from AIER, Is Capitalism Sustainable? along with the other brilliant publications we offer.
After all, capitalism is what truly lifts the masses out of poverty and into freedom.
Just look at my family.