This article on his visit to Havana is one of the best—and one of the saddest—essays Michael Totten has ever written. Communism destroys nearly everything it touches, not just physically but emotionally and spiritually.
Totten’s essay put me in mind of this famous quote by Winston Churchill:
Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.
On the same page as the Churchill quote are a bunch of other people sounding off on the topic of socialism. Some of their quotes seemed worth highlighting, as well. Here’s one from Albert Einstein which reminds me (not that I needed much reminding; it’s one of the recurrent themes of Thomas Sowell’s work) that geniuses in one field are not necessarily geniuses in other fields:
The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labour…I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals.
To counter Einstein, we have Roger Scruton’s: “It is not the truth of Marxism that explains the willingness of intellectuals to believe it, but the power that it confers on intellectuals, in their attempts to control the world.”
From L. Neil Smith:
Socialists get bees in their bonnets. And because they chronically lack any critical faculty to examine and evaluate their ideas, and because they are pathologically unwilling to consider the opinions of others, and most of all, because socialism is a mindset that regards the individual — and his rights — as insignificant, compared to whatever the socialist believes the group needs, terrible, terrible things happen when socialists acquire power.
And for those who label Hitler as having been on the right, we have this from the horse’s mouth:
We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions.
“But what about Western Europe, for example Scandinavia?” my leftist friends might say. Well, what about it? Not only is the US different culturally and demographically, and therefore cannot be easily compared, but I have been singularly unimpressed by the state of both liberty and initiative in much of western Europe (which in any event is starting to run out of other people’s money, and which has been protected economically by the fact that the US has been providing its military security). As for Sweden, that paradise of welfare, see this, this, and this.