Communism is alive and well. The Berlin Wall - the symbol of a divided Europe during the Cold War - fell on Nov. 9, 1989. Celebrations will be held Monday to commemorate the 20th anniversary of that historic event.
The fall of the Berlin Wall is widely considered the defining moment marking the collapse of communism. Eastern Europe was liberated from Russian occupation. Two years later, the Soviet Union disintegrated. From the rubble emerged newly independent states. The Baltic nations - Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia - regained the freedom they had lost during World War II. Even Ukraine escaped from Russian subjugation, attaining its dream of national statehood. The Soviet empire’s implosion represented a great advance in human freedom, enabling hundreds of millions of people to escape communist tyranny.
“The world can sigh in relief. The idol of communism, which spread everywhere social strife, animosity and unparalleled brutality, which instilled fear in humanity, has collapsed,” Russia’s first post-communist president, Boris Yeltsin, said in an address to the U.S. Congress. “It has collapsed, never to rise again.”
Mr. Yeltsin was wrong. Far from being dead and buried, communism remains a potent force - one that is still a threat to Western nations that value freedom and capitalism.
This is because the ideological roots of communism have not been defeated. Rather than being polar opposites, fascism and Marxism are evil twins. They are both socialist ideologies that espouse one-party rule, economic collectivism and social regimentation. They are implacably opposed to capitalism, the sovereignty of the family and Judeo-Christian civilization. They are aggressively imperialist, seeking world domination.
The major difference between them is that while Marxism champions the creativity of class conflict, viewing the working class as the engine of historical revolution, fascism embraces the primacy of primordial impulses - race, blood and soil. Yet it is no accident that the most important fascist leaders, such as Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, considered themselves to be men of the left. They were “national socialists” who fused statism with xenophobic nationalism.
History is repeating itself. Today, the communist virus has simply mutated into its fascist offspring.
Russian strongman Vladimir Putin is an ex-KGB official who has called the breakup of the Soviet Union “the greatest tragedy of the 20th century.” He has erected a militaristic, authoritarian petro-state that seeks to restore the Great Russian Empire. Moscow is meddling in the internal affairs of its neighbors. It has waged a genocidal campaign in Chechnya. It has launched a war of aggression against the republic of Georgia. It has swallowed up Belarus. Mr. Putin told former President George W. Bush that Ukraine is “not even a state,” demanding that Kiev join a new pan-Slavic union.
Moscow is also using economic blackmail, especially by exploiting Europe’s growing dependency on Russian oil and natural gas supplies, to intimidate its former satellite states. Mr. Putin even forced President Obama to scuttle a missile defense system for Poland and the Czech Republic - effectively abandoning Eastern Europe to Russia’s sphere of influence. In short, Mr. Putin is slowly reconstituting the old communist order under the veneer of nationalism.
So is China. For the past several decades, Beijing’s communist regime has jettisoned central planning and collectivization in favor of market-driven growth under a one-party Leninist state. Yet economic liberalization has not led to political pluralism. In fact, the very opposite has happened: The ruling elite have become more entrenched, gaining increasing legitimacy from China’s booming economy. The country remains littered with slave-labor camps. Dissent is crushed. Christians and the Falun Gong are persecuted. Dissidents are rotting in jails.
More ominously, Beijing is using its newfound wealth to embark upon a massive military buildup. It champions ultranationalism and ethnic revanchism. It threatens Taiwan. It continues to suppress Tibet, slowly strangling the conquered nation. It is systematically ethnically cleansing Muslim tribes in the western borderlands, importing Han Chinese to dilute the native populations. China’s goal is to become the master of Asia, eclipsing America as the dominant power in the Pacific.
Moscow and Beijing have not abandoned their rivalry with the West, especially the United States. They are at the heart of an international neo-Marxist alliance that aims to curtail and undermine American power. They have provided economic and military support to Stalinist North Korea. They are aiding Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela to export his Bolivarian socialist revolution across Latin America - including the building of a nuclear program. They are helping prop up Fidel Castro’s Cuba. They have sold vital missile and nuclear technology to Iran’s apocalyptic mullahs. They are constantly obstructing the global war against terror. Whether it be Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan, Hezbollah or Hamas - American and Israeli efforts to defeat Islamist militants have been opposed vigorously by the Russian-Chinese axis.
Communism did not die in 1989. Like a chameleon, it changed from Marxist internationalism to national socialism; Leninist red became fascist black. Its core, however, remains the same: hatred for America and everything for which it stands. The West may have smashed the Soviet empire, but not the monstrous ideology that spawned it. That lives on. Call it Cold War 2.0.
Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute, a Washington-based think tank. He is the radio host of “Lunch Times With Jeff Kuhner,” which can be heard Monday through Friday on WTNT 570-AM from noon to 3 p.m.