Monday, September 3, 2012

The Dream that Won't Die

Pres. Santos meeting recently with communist leaders. (Photo: El Tiempo)
A poster on the National University's campus
celebrates the communist ELN guerrillas. 
North Korea is a totalitarian dictatorship whose leaders live in luxury and develop nuclear bombs while millions of their citizens go to bed hungry. Cuba, another dictatorship, lacks light bulbs and toilet paper and is incresingly opening up to private enterprise.

But here in Colombia, communism's flame keeps on burning, in seeming contradiction to reality, at least in a few spots.

Newspapers, including communist ones,
on sale on a Bogotá sidewalk.
'Worker Revolution' doesn't let
an issue go by without announcing
capitalism's impending collapse.
The other day, Pres. Juan Manuel Santos, a conservative whose government is battling rebels with a Marxist discourse, met with Communist party leaders. Santos isn't turning communist, of course. His goal was to warm relations as negotiations begin with the FARC guerrilla group. Also, over on the National University campus, which is famous for its radically-leftist politics and graffiti, I saw these new posters defending communism's accomplishments.

Posters on a National University wall
defend communism's accomplishments. 
Plaza del Che on the National University campus.
I don't have the time to investigate the posters' claims about communist China's having raised life expectancies, reduced infant mortality and increased literacy. But I do agree that communist nations, including China, the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and Cuba accomplished lots of things. But those came at the cost of lack of civil rights, huge forced labor camps and millions upon millions of deaths. Haven't they read 'The Gulag Archipelago'? No, of course not.

Plaza Lenin on the National University Campus. 
This sort of deliberate blindness about history seems to prove the saying that 'If you're under 30 and not a communist, you don't have a heart. If you're over 30 and still a communist, you don't have a brain.'

Communism was a beautiful dream, of course. But nearly everywhere it's been tried it's failed - often horrifically - because it's clashed head on with most humans' laziness, selfishness and self-centeredness.

The persistance of the dream is a testament to either human blindness or faith. I'm not sure whether to feel depressed or inspired.

Welcome to North Korea: A poster promises democracy and the right to dissent for everybody - except for opponents of the communist regime. 

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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