Is Communism A Bad Thing?

Communism: the political theory or system in which all property and wealth is owned in a classless society by all the members of a community. A system where all property and  facilities belong to the state and the needs of the state are always superior to the individuals.

Once the scourge and fear of capitalist societies the world over, Communism has, in recent years, fallen by the wayside. Communism has been branded, over the years, as evil, despicable, and unwholesome; vicious words that do not aptly describe a simple utopian idea that fails to account for individual spirit and the less desirable traits of greed, power, and wealth.

A political system that was inspired by the writing of Karl Marx, a German philosopher and political theorist, Communism was born in the wake of a people’s revolution; the Russian Revolution of 1917.

The Russian people, impoverished under the rule of ineffectual Russian Tsar Nicholas II, longed for effective change in their ailing society; and after a bloody conflict which lasted years between several factions, sided with the victor, one Vladimir Lenin, and his introduction of a Karl Marx based political system; known then as Marxist – Leninism; recognized today as Communism. Communism was to be the antibiotic to the capitalist, money-driven society that Russia was before the revolution: a society in which now all it’s members would be equal as human beings, would be educated and would productively serve the state. Debt, demand, inequality, and the “rat race” would no longer exist.

Although in theory the Communist system may sound utopian, in practice, the system was not perfect; and it’s flaws were solely driven by the corruption of the hearts of men. Such a fact is best illustrated by a case study of one man: The Man of Steel; Joseph Stalin.

Stalin, having worked as the secretary of the now communist Russian state for years,  himself, after Lenin’s death, to become the new de facto leader of the United States of Soviet Russia.

Through the course of his leadership, Stalin proved how fragile and easily manipulated the communist system truly was: building a cult of utter worship over his personality, Stalin industrialized the backwards Russian state and in under 15 years, had brought Soviet Russia to a technological level comparable to the United States of America.

Stalin, as an individual, was exceeded only by his own greed and fear: Stalin was directly responsible for the deaths of twenty million people, as he ruthlessly ordered any being who he believed stood against his government to a Gulag; known today as a Concentration Camp, in which human beings did not often survive past two months. Stalin also sided with Adolf Hitler, Nazi Furher of Germany, in a bid to gain territory from the conquered state of Poland. It was not until Germany’s betrayal of Russia, in which Nazi forces invaded and conquered most of the state, that Stalin sided with the Allies, driving the Nazi forces back into the heart of Berlin, where the war was won.

Stalin died in 1953, bringing the reign of the man who believed death was the solution to all problems to an end. But his cult of personality exceeded him as new leaders emerged in his wake; uniting Russia in Stalin’s name.

It was evident through Stalin that communism, as a system, was easily manipulated to serve a single person’s desires. Communism, after the war, had spread to American chagrin across the globe; adopted in China and led by the vicious Chairman Mao; a dictator who, like Joseph Stalin, established his own state that lived on his whims.

From the 1960s to the 1990s, America and Russia were engaged in a Cold War; an ideological battle, in which there was no physical conflict, where a Capitalist, money driven America stood against a communist, united Russia.

It was not until Communist Russia’s inexplicable and sudden collapse in the 1990’s that communism could not properly be examined: without a strong leader at the state’s helm, such as Vladimir Lenin or Joseph Stalin, a communist system could not survive. Without the reign of a revolutionary hero or a despicable dictator, the system would show an inherent flaw; in a society in which all people were equal, no human being was fit to lead; and without a leader, no human society could last. Through such a study of communism, we can glean one fact; Communism, itself, a flawed utopian dream, is not a bad thing; no human dream of freedom, happiness, and equality is.

However, the nature of the system is ultimately dependent on the individual who leads it; and the world today only recognizes Communism as a system under the direction of tyrannical madmen who live to make the world their own, or revolutionary heroes who hold their dreams in their hearts, but could not let their dream exceed their lifetime. Communism, therefore, is not something to be feared; but is rather to be acknowledged as a flawed system which truly reveals the motives and minds of men, behind the facade of human equality, freedom, and peace.

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South Africa: A Situation Through My Eyes

Recently, I was aboard a Boeing 737, on a flight headed towards Cape Town, in South Africa. It was a domestic flight, as I do live in the country. However, during this flight something remarkable happened – a process that I would collectivley dub in it’s entirety as “the moment my eyes were open to the world.”

As we began our descent, and as the structures, people and vehicles below became clearer and clearer, I looked outside the window, having the luxury of a window seat. I could make out farms, mountainscapes, and all in all, absolute beauty. You could call me slow and non-observant, but for possibly the first time in my life I appreciated the world. 

As we got nearer and nearer to the runway, my fascination and wonder could only grow accordingly. However, just before we touched the ground, I saw something that startled me. Right outside the fence that would cut the airport off from the outside world and therefore making the runway protected, I eyed informal settlements. Now, I ask you, the reader, if you were a tourist arriving in the country, and on your way to land you eyed shacks and heart-rending poverty, what would you think? Surley this site would only compliment the common, incorrect association with South Africans and the belief that they do, in fact, have wild animals in their back garden, and we’re all a plain bunch of farmers who have a history of racism and a system called ‘Apartheid’ that one day gained the world’s attention. 

However, this is truly not the case. Although South African does suffer from poverty, informal settlements and a high rate of crime, I rate that people, when they think about South Africa, don’t even know what the country is truly like. Allow me to give you a brief run through of the positive aspects of our country: We have beautiful landscapes, beaches, you name it. For the most part, we’re damn well friendly people. We often go out of our way to help one another. We have beautiful settled areas, generally have great weather (depending on location in the country) and we just get on with our own business. Speaking of business, it generally thrives here. 

However, on the negative side, our soon-to-be president, Jacob Zuma, whom I shall remain impartial to for the sake of this article, has been accused of rape, been involved in an arms deal, (although the charges for both were later dropped) stated that he has ‘taken a shower to reduce the chance of being infected with HIV/AIDS’  and has sung a rather dubious song about violence and suggestive killing that only has two lines repeated over and over, while on campaign. We have our President of the ANC (Our ruling political party) Youth League, a young man (whom I shall also remain impartial to) who has stated that we should kill for this president elect. This ruling party has always been the topic of conversation over it’s policies, a good example being that they wish to rename many of the roads of the country against the will of the majority of the people. 

Strikes and rallies are common here, and crime is a day to day occurance. All in all, I can see why people would tend to stay away from our country due to what is seen and heard on the media. But, just for know, consider us as Susan Boyle – the amazing Britian’s Got Talent contestant who is now a YouTube sensation – Before she sang to her audience, virtually all of them shook their heads, thinking that the 47 year old could probably not sing a note. However, during her performance, she earned several standing ovations from nearly the entire audience is now a household name. Consider us as something not seen at face value – an amazing country, a true rainbow nation, as so adequately described by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

So, journeying back to my flight, I wondered: Why have these settlements shown to prospective tourists, and have them right outside an airport? (To prevent dispute, I do not agree in any way with the option of demolishing these settlements or forcefully relocating their residents) But the real question that ached on inside of me was ‘Are we really in such bad shape?’

Furthermore, it seems our government, upon landing, has chosen to renovate this airport, bringing it into a modern and advanced design. But was this a good way to improve the area? Should the poverty stricken informal settlements less than a kilometer away not have received first priority? I do hope that Helen Zille, the new Mayor of Cape Town and Premier of the Western Cape would address this, although judging by what she has done in the past, I am confident in her ability.

Our country has, over the past 8 years, been under the subject of controversial government from our past president, Thabo Mbeki, who, rather that be criticized for wrongdoings like most political leaders today, is constantly criticized for his apathy on many situations, the Zimbabwe crisis being a good example. 

In these times, I often look upon United States President Barack Obama as a source of inspiration: A good man who sees that our world, more specifically his state of America, needs change in order to be a thriving nation. He dreams of a new America, albeit a changed one, and this is the same way I choose to look at South Africa – a great country, that needs change in order to endure and prosper.

Sure, Liberalism is a healthy pursuit – but to what degree should it be taken to and what should we remain conservative about? Should South Africa see the return of the Death Penalty? Should a firmer stance be taken on crime? Can corruption be stopped? And most of all – in these times, can we hold on to the one thing more dear than our credit cards, wallets and fast cars – our honesty and values? Could we hope for this in South Africa?

I recall once asking my grandfather about what is different about this day and age from his own time when he was in his youth; and rather than talk about money, technological advancement, or the breakthroughs in medicine and media, to which he replied: “People have lost their honesty.”

That, for me, is the key question about living in South Africa. Not something along the lines of “Will the price of petrol and living go down?” or “Will this economic recession end?” but something more along the lines of “Will the new South Africa, in generations to come be a country regarded for it’s refined state, it’s ability to finally end and seek creative solutions agaisnt disease, elecrticity crises, abuse of leadership, corruption, arms deals, crime, and poverty, or is it more likley that we’ll end up following in the footsteps of a country like Zimbabwe?” 

I’m fairly sure that’s the question that faces every South African and every one of our prostpective citizens, but with Jacob Zuma set to become president, can he redeem our country – and himself in the eyes of many – or shall he take us on a rollercoaster ride of ridicule from the world? All I could say is, is that’ll I’ll be following his every decision – good or bad, and I’ll just have to place my trust in the man. Either way, I’m sure South Africa will make history, as it has done so in the past.

I’ll be watching.

Valkyrie… Gears of War 2… Far Cry 2… Mulitmedia month!

Well as the title suggests, this month I seem to have expanded my media forte! 

I’ve watched the new Tom Cruise movie out – Valkyrie – and although the

Valkyrie postermovie hasn’t been ascertaining such spectacular reviews, I must commend it as I thought it was excellent – I thought the Hitler scenes were beautifully orchestrated as such as you felt your stomach tighten with sheer anxiety whenever he was about – and the overwhelming sadness at the end when one sees the plot come to an unsuccessful end – one almost wishes there could be a Valkyrie II! If you’re into suspense and a delightful historic romp, then I believe Valkyrie is for you. I thoroughly enjoyed it, so much so that I even watched it a second time. Before actually watching the movie, I sat down for a quick 30 minutes and watched the History Channel’s Days That Shook The World, as they featured an episode on the actual July 20 plot that the movie revolves around, I must commend how the film’s director, Bryan (Yes, I know, he must be a nice chap!) Singer, pain attention to detail – virtually no incident on the day has gone unnoticed, and the only issue regarding the storyline that I can think of is that the plot might no have come to as close success as it did in reality 

I’ve also bought Epic Games’ Gears of War 2, which I must say is the most amazing, spectacular game I’ve ever played on my ‘360 – even dethroning Halo 3 as being my favourite game. It is difficult in describing as it has all the right elements in all the right places – the plot, the gameplay, the overall length of the campaign all roll beautifully into a gigantic mix of well… Epicness! 😛 (Although I played with the gore inactive – I don’t like seeing blood that much :P)

A few months ago I aslo bought Far Cry 2, which I also enjoyed. I thought the setting was well conceived, as I live in Africa and rural spots as seen in the game usually aren’t that far away from civilization – so it was something I really grew to appreciate. I enjoyed the open world feeling of the game – and I feel that more first-person shooters should follow in Far Cry 2’s wake. The game managed to leave me exhilarated until the very ending – and was incredibly realistic.

I’ve also decided to can the idea of a Too Human review, as I still haven’t finished the game and now being in my senior phase of school, time is of the essence!

So, thus far, my eyes have rarely been separated from a screen! But, rest assured, I have been keeping myself busy otherwise – my guitar studies are coming along really well and I’m thoroughly enjoying it! Otherwise, I do not have much else to report… I am thinking of entirely re-writing Jorran Skorm now, as I have a few good plot ideas in place… but, until next time, I shall leave it at this cliffhanger!