• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Life Behind the Iron Curtain: The Ultimate Exercise in Big Government (VIDEO)

    More than 20 years have passed since the Soviet empire collapsed. Telling its history to new generations here and in the countries of Eastern and Central Europe—generations who have at best dim personal memories of this tragic era in world history—has become an important task.

    Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1945–1956, Anne Applebaum’s most recent history of the Soviet era, was the topic of a book event this week at The Heritage Foundation. The event was hosted by Lee Edwards, Heritage senior fellow and distinguished president of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

    The questions posed by Applebaum boil down to this: “How did the Soviets do it?”

    First of all, Applebaum noted, Joseph Stalin had a firm belief in the revolution he was fomenting. Hard as it is to comprehend today, the Soviets, who took over half of Europe after the Yalta agreement, believed they would be successful. Furthermore, the devastation of countries like Poland and Eastern Germany after World War II was so profound that many of their citizens had little else to believe in.

    Applebaum identifies three elements of Soviet totalitarian tactics:

    1)      Secret police forces were being assembled even before the end of WWII and started identifying potential future enemies to be dispensed with. Anyone with the capacity to organize—from intellectuals to the former resistance—was seen as a threat. Even boy scouts were targets.

    2)      They grabbed the media (primarily radio) as a means of mass communication and had some success in propagandizing the devastated populations.

    3)      They undermined and attacked every institution of civil society. Even before the nationalization of industry was complete, the parameters of civil society had shrunk. From sports clubs to leisure time to children’s activities, everything became dominated by the state. Catholic youth leaders became an endangered species.

    Other, even more brutal methods included ethnic cleansing, mass deportations of whole villages, forced labor camps, and elimination of intellectual elites. And yet the Soviets failed to crush all dissent, as demonstrated by Hungary in 1956, East Germany in 1962, and Czechoslovakia in 1968.

    Does Iron Curtain offer lessons for us here today?

    “This is not an allegory of America,” Applebaum stated yesterday when asked if her book contained a warning for Americans. This is still a free society whose dynamics are very different, and thank goodness for that.

    Yet one of her points did hit close to home. Applebaum argued that the Soviet totalitarian system sowed the seeds of its own destruction, because by trying to control every aspect of life, it made enemies everywhere. Artists could not paint what they wanted; boy scouts could not organize themselves; Catholics could not worship. In other words, civic groups that might otherwise have had no political agenda found themselves in opposition to the totalitarian rulers.

    Today, American government, while not totalitarian, has expanded into many spheres of life that, by nature and constitutional principles, should be private. This creates strong opposition among those who believe in individual freedom, individual choice, and individual responsibility. Iron Curtain offers a reminder that the price of that freedom continues to be principled vigilance.

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    3 Responses to Life Behind the Iron Curtain: The Ultimate Exercise in Big Government (VIDEO)

    1. Kat Hoffman says:

      Many young folks think there's nothing wrong with communism. That have not been taught the truth about this form of totalitarian government that feels the need to control everything and where there are no individual liberties. Had these kids been given a more truthful teaching of communism I seriously doubt we would be moving towards it so quickly . . .

    2. carlwk3c says:

      She's wrong when she asserts that our government is not yet totalitarian.

    3. Bobbie says:

      It sure is sad to see America fall at the hands of totalitarianism when America was open tor everyone. Especially for those that took advantage of her, now taking her down. If America was her own lady these people and their perverted government ideologies to rule over man wouldn't exist to implement or even try in this country and only people of honor and dignity would qualify to lead.

      When opportunity was just starting to submerge in America and more expected opportunity to come with the influx of immigrants and their added diversity, the American government leadership took the opportunity to take the immigrant hand under direct influence to assume America according to government! This governing socialism submerged unbeknown to the American people who were also influenced to take pity and trust the same government who's duty it is to protect America's constitution.

      Instead, through government resources/services/ education within government authoritative control beyond the American peoples' control, falsified the American constitution to convert into government control. Misleading Immigrants and all they can.

      America is the only country that has a PEOPLES'' constitution that protects her from the government “ISMS” that subject human life to the government. The American Constitution is as valid to the American born as it is to the immigrant American. The words of the American peoples' Constitution are just as strong today yet taken over by a conflict of a disingenuous people who stand cowardly and dumbfounded to it's truth and so to their oath while they think they're going to get away with their trampling on America by positioning themselves in governing roles and throughout society.

      America has a Constitution that has been severely raped by human weakness. She's in dire need of people with strength and courage that understand principle and what America means.

      Why let Obama's government weaken the abilities of man when there's an expectation for them in America?

      America needs to collapse the unprincipled, unpatriotic, racist, 3rd world government leadership she struggles under this leadership that has tainted her well being, innocence.

      This is not the kind of "change" America//PEOPLE needs, wants or expects from the ongoing rape by those who choose to be content as the weaker kind. "America land of the free home of the brave" if you can't take part in one or the other or both, you're not welcome. Remove the costs of the unconstitutionality of this governing force and their governig control and their governing threats that pursue and America will regain the strength of her people which is where it never should've left and would grow stronger under honorable leadership!

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×