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Young People Should Hate Marxism

“Tank Man” taken by Jeff Widener/AP in Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989.

On April 17, 2024, Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation requiring Florida’s public schools to teach the “history of communism” including the “atrocities committed in foreign countries” by communist regimes. Sadly, this is now a controversial position for some.

In recent decades, as both schools and churches have neglected the opportunity to equip the next generation with a biblical worldview and wisdom gleaned by previous generations, young people have been drawn toward utopian ideals — believing a centralized government might benevolently redistribute the nation’s wealth and outlaw the ownership of private property to ensure equality and compassion for the poor.

Marxism offers the prospect of a beautiful society, but it is built upon an atheistic and fatally flawed worldview. It only leads to destruction. Marxist thought not only denies each person’s God-given rights, but it also denies the fallen nature of mankind. The Bible shows us that men cannot be trusted with unchecked power. Marx himself understood that Christianity was utterly hostile to his theories, which is why he advocated for the abolition of religion. “The abolition of religion (as the illusory happiness of the people) is the demand for their real happiness,” he wrote. “Communism begins where atheism begins.”

Marxism offers the prospect of a beautiful society, but it is built upon an atheistic and fatally flawed worldview. It only leads to destruction.

If a hero like King David (a man after God’s heart) could not resist the temptation to abuse his throne, just imagine the evils that might be perpetrated by ruthless and godless politicians. Indeed, history shows us that Marxism results in horrific travesties every time it is attempted. Communist regimes of the 20th century were responsible for the deaths of more than 100 million people. Whenever communism was exported to another country, it resulted in tyranny, brutality, misery, starvation, and extreme poverty. 

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn experienced communism up close. He spent eight years in a Soviet gulag, and he earned the Nobel Prize for his literary works recounting the ordeals of ordinary people. In The Gulag Archipelago, he compiled firsthand accounts from survivors of the gulags. He described the Soviet campaigns to indoctrinate the youth, to silence and intimidate political dissidents, to arrest opponents, to abolish individual rights, and, finally, to slaughter millions of political adversaries. He wrote, “They tortured and slaughtered millions of Russians without a shred of human remorse.”

Older generations of Americans, who learned about the horrors of the last century, overwhelmingly reject Marxism. However, Governor DeSantis is right to be alarmed by shifting public sentiments among the youth. In 2017, the Fraser Institute found that more millennials now prefer to live in a “socialist, communist, or fascist nation than a capitalist one.” In 2018, Gallup also found that more Millennials preferred socialism (51%) than capitalism (45%). This seismic shift in ideology caused The Economist magazine to run a cover story with the headline: “The Rise of Millennial Socialism.” A 2019 Axios poll found that 61% of younger Gen Z adults held a positive view of socialism.

This should concern us for the future of America. We have failed to educate our kids. While it’s admirable for younger generations to prefer a political system that helps the poor and vulnerable, the reality is that Marxism is especially devastating for the poor. 

During the 20th century, fifty-seven nations adopted communism. During that era, the life expectancies in capitalist nations soared due to advances in technology and healthcare. Meanwhile, life expectancies in communist nations fell. In the West, rates of infant mortality plummeted, but communist nations saw the opposite results. 

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, a flurry of nations abandoned communism to adopt more free market principles. As a result, between 1990 and 2011, the U.S. Agency for International Development reported that the global poverty rate fell from 43% to 21% with more than a billion people being lifted out of poverty. 

In 1960, communist China was poorer than most African nations. After enacting economic reforms to allow more economic freedom in its markets (e.g. decollectivizing farmland, allowing entrepreneurship, and allowing some privatization), Chinese citizens enjoyed a thirteen-fold increase in real income from 1990 to 2014. Perhaps nothing in history has done more to lift people out of their poverty than freedom. One study conducted by the Foundation for Economic Education found that “the income earned by the poorest 10 percent in the most economically free countries is an astonishing eight times greater compared to the income earned by those living in the least economically free countries.” 

The last three decades have established a direct correlation between economic freedom and the wellbeing of the poor. Free markets are better than Marxism, and it’s not even close. Students need to be educated so they can fend off the radical Marxist professors infesting our nation’s colleges. Young people are particularly susceptible to Marxist teachings because they offer the empty promise of helping the poor and most vulnerable. Tragically, anyone who still believes that centralized planning, economic controls, and forcible wealth redistribution will uplift the poor has failed to learn from history.

Tragically, anyone who still believes that centralized planning, economic controls, and forcible wealth redistribution will uplift the poor has failed to learn from history.

Marxism has always disproportionately harmed the poor and vulnerable. Hundreds of millions of people have learned that lesson the hard way — suffering brutal tyranny, poverty, persecution, and starvation. Students should learn from their miseries.

Likewise, the church should learn from its past failures. Karl Marx knew that a healthy church—armed with truth, hope, and compassion—was the ultimate impediment to the advance of communism. He was not wrong. If the Church of Jesus Christ genuinely cares about the poor, we should stand boldly against any advancement of Marxist ideology.

On this point, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn reflected:

Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.’ Since then I have spent 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened. [1]

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