The Daily Hell of Life in the Soviet Bloc

This month is the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party’s seizure of power in Petrograd, Russia. British Guardian columnist Paul Mason recent declared that the Soviet revolution provided ‘a beacon to the rest of humanity, no matter how short lived.’ The New York Times has exalted the Soviet takeover in a series of articles on the ‘Red Century’ – even asserting that ‘women had better sex under communism’ (based largely on a single dubious orgasm count comparison of East and West German women.)
Professor Hunt Tooley’s November 1 Mises article on ‘The Bolshevik Great Experiment: 100 Years Later’ vividly captured the stunning death tolls communism produced in Russia and elsewhere. Stalin reputedly said that one death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.
Communism’s mortality toll does not capture its full horror – the daily degradation that its victims suffered. In the mid-1980s, there were plenty of Soviet apologists writing in the western media. Practically any Soviet Bloc reform was touted as the turning of the corner to sustained economic progress. I was mystified why people living in freedom would idealize a system of state slavery.
In 1986 and 1987, I slipped behind the Iron Curtain a half dozen times to study economic perversity and political slavery, writing articles for The New York Times, Wall Street Journal Europe, Freeman, Journal of Economic Growth, and other publications. My final trip – in November 1987 – began in Budapest, Hungary, before heading on to the most repressive regime in Europe.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on 20 Nov 2017.