Communism has failed in Europe because of its lack of care for the individual,
its corrupt leaders and also because it went against human nature. Two novels
that demonstrate this statement are the semi-autobiographical We the Living by
Ayn Rand, and Julian Barnes' The Porcupine. According to Ayn Rand, Communists
were pitiless. When Kira, the protagonist of the story, begged for help to save
her lover's life, the only answer she received from the general was "Why -
in the face of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics- can't one aristocrat
die?" (216). Communists say that they want everyone to be equal and have a
good life, yet they contradict themselves in that they don't acknowledge each
individual, which is the make-up of their so-called "collect." Since
individuals didn't matter, people lived poorly. In Maria Petrovna's words,
"'These are hard times, God have pity on us, these are hard times'"
(27). Communism crushed people's hopes and it also broke them down. " 'We
have no future,'" (27) said Simon. Barnes showed how people didn't matter
in a Communist society by showing how people were exhausted. "People had
been too busy, or too tired, to make love; that was another thing that had
broken down...During the last statistical year, the number of live births had
been exceeded both by the number of abortions and by the number of deaths"
(63). Individual lives just didn't matter. Because people were so unhappy, they
did not support the government. To maintain its standing, the government had to
make sure that everyone lived in fear. This would decrease the chance of
rebellion. In one of his articles, Steven Morewood talks about Gorbachev, a
Communist leader. "Gorbachev concedes 'The totalitarian model had relied on
dictatorship and violence, and I can see that this was not acceptable to the
people'" (33) Neglect of the individual was not Communism's only fault.
Corruption among its leaders was also very common. In We the Living, Pavel
Syerov, a high ranking Communist, gets involved in a corrupt business. This was
the kind of business that he himself might have to seize and break up. The
Communist party itself, especially its high members, became the new-hated
bourgeois class. "The system was so corrupt and decayed as to be
unreformable," explains Morewood (33). They lived well off while the rest
of the people suffered. "Pavel Syerov bought a new pair of boots"
(134), while "Vasili sold the last shade off the lamp in the drawing
room" (135). Andrei Taganov, a "Commie," had more money than he
knew what to do with, while Kira's family could barely get food because they
were once bourgeois. Corruption among Communist leaders is the major issue in
The Porcupine. The novel's main character, Stoyo Petkanov, was the President of
a Communist Balkan state. His government was overthrown and Petkanov was on
trial for various things, including Theft. Embezzlement of state funds.
Corruption. Speculation. Currency offenses. Profiteering. Complicity in the
murder of Simeon Popov....Complicity in torture. Complicity in attempted
genocide. Innumerable conspiracies to pervert the course of justice. (15) His
corruption was so great that his own people hated him immensely. Atanas and
Vera, common people, accuse him of "mass murder" and
"genocide." They also refer to him as "the bastard." This
ironic thing about the trial is that Stoyo Petkanov was not the only guilty of
the crimes. Almost everyone in the courtroom was guilty of one thing or another.
The Presidents of the Court and the attorneys had nice cars and apartments while
the common people were jobless and starving. Everyone was a hypocrite.
Communists wanted everyone to live equally, yet they didn't mind being above the
people. Another reason that Communism failed in Europe was that people couldn't
automatically change. It is very hard to change one's instincts and the ideas
that have governed our society for hundreds of years. Our instincts are selfish,
one may say, because we'd do anything to ensure our survival. In a life and
death situation, the "collect" is the last thing that we have on our
minds. Everyone works for himself or his family, not for the rest of the people.
This is not necessarily wrong. The strong and able should be able to rise to the
top. That's the surest way a person can perform to their fullest potential; if
they know that there's something rewarding for them. Kira says Don't you know
that there are things, in the best of us, which no outside hand should dare to
touch? This sacred because, and only because, one can say: This is mine? Don't
you know that there is something in us which must not be touched by any state,
by any collective, by any number of million? (Rand, 80) Andrei, the Communist,
said " 'No.'" (80). At the end of the novel, however, he finally
understands why people do things. Even the "Reds" do the things that
they do because they believe in their cause. The bottom line is that it is their
cause. Barnes expresses the absurdity of the Communist regime through the
questions of an innocent child. Angelina, a little girl, asks her father
"Why were there so many soldiers when there wasn't a war? Why were there so
many apricot trees in the countryside but never apricots in the shops? "
(26). If this little girl had enough logic to question the conditions of her
environment, then there was definitely something wrong in the society. The
little girl's curiosity represents our nature, and Communism clearly went
against it. Communism did not give people equality and justice. It only gave
them "instability and hopelessness" (Barnes, 69). Ye Albatz states
"The use of cruelty and violence by Communists to establish equality and
justice really justifies its extinction" (7). There are still countries
today that have a Communist government. North Korea and Communist China have
virtually no relations with other countries. The Korean government wants to
"To spur the people to harbor the spirit of self- reliance in coping with
the economic difficulties after the suspension of aid from the Soviet
Union." ( http://www.koreascope.org/english/sub/2/1/nk1_4.htm). Their
people are imprisoned and unhappy. Communism will probably fail there for the
same reasons it failed in Russia. The ideals of this regime might have the
people's good in mind, but people are people and they get carried away. The
leaders became corrupt, they didn't care about the individual people, and the
whole idea of Communism goes against human nature. It was virtually impossibly
for Communism to survive.
Albatz, Ye. "The CPSU was a totalitarian ruler." Moscow News July 12,
1992: v28 n3535 p.7(1) Bernard, Julian. The Porcupine. New York: Alfred A.
Knopf, 1992. Morewood, Steven. "Gorbachev and the Collapse of Communism. "
History Review September 1998: n 31-p.33 (6) Rand, Ayn. We the Living. New York,
NY: Penguin Group, 1959. http://www.koreascope.org/english/sub/2/1/nk1_4.htm