Speaker analyzes historic effects of socialist regimes
Aidan Lewis | Tuesday, November 8, 2016
George Harbison spoke about the dangers he sees in socialist ideology during his talk titled “Victims of Socialism” on Monday night at DeBartolo Hall. Harbison, the Chief Financial Officer at Unitek Information Services, said his goal is to warn people of the atrocities a socialist regime can cause.
“This evening, we’re going to tear the veneer off intellectual, self-serving pathology and shine a bright light on the reality of the terror, death and destruction inflicted on the world by the perpetrators of this hideous ideology,” he said.
Harbison focused largely on a few specific examples of socialist societies gone awry, rather than on flaws in the ideology. One prominent example of communism’s failings, Harbison said, was the reign of communism in Russia for much of the 20th century, starting in 1917 with Vladimir Lenin’s rise to power.
“Lenin and his fellow communists nationalized industries, seized private land property from their owners, and redistributed the property to peasants,” Harbison said. “Religion was officially eliminated from Russian society, as Russians were forced at gunpoint to worship the power of the state.”
Harbison said the evils only increased under Joseph Stalin, Lenin’s successor. According to Harbison, one of the most catastrophic aspects of Stalin’s rule was his forced collectivization of Soviet agriculture.
“Under collectivization, peasants were forbidden to eat even their own crops, which were deemed socialist property,” he said. “The resultant and inevitable upheaval in agriculture disrupted food production, and directly led to the catastrophic Soviet famine of 1932 and 1933, known as the Holodomor.”
Similar famines have occurred in other socialist societies, Harbison said, including China under Mao Zedong.
“[Zedong] forced the collectivization of China’s agricultural sector in an attempt to accelerate growth in the country’s industrial sector,” Harbison said. “Not surprisingly, the expropriation of private farms, and with it, the elimination economic incentives to produce food, led to famine and mass starvation.”
Because of this, Harbison said he considers Zedong “the greatest mass murderer of the 20th century.”
Harbison said Cambodia under the rule of Pol Pot further demonstrates the menaces of communist regimes. Pol Pot attempted to institute a system of agricultural collectivization similar to that under Stalin and Zedong.
“To make way for Pol Pot’s vision of an agrarian utopia, money was abolished, books were burned and most of the countries teachers, merchants and intellectual elite were murdered, as they were viewed as potential enemies of the state,” he said. “One need only be seen wearing eyeglasses to be branded an intellectual and shot.”
Harbison said he strongly disagrees with the argument that capitalism could lead to similarly horrific regimes.
“To deny socialism’s evils, or to invoke the argument of capitalism’s moral equivalency, is to engage in abject intellectual dishonesty,” he said.