Mr. Ryan thinks there's nothing wrong with communism. In a way, he's right. The Brothers of the Christian Schools and the Jesuits who educated me could be said to have lived a communist form of life: they had taken a vow of poverty and shared whatever it was they had. There have been other groups who have practiced a communal lifestyle, sharing all they had, each according to his or her needs. Nothing to fault there. They chose to live that way; it wasn't imposed upon them. Most didn't last long. Are we less inclined to share than were our ancestors? Or, is it that we don't appreciate being forced to do so?
As for “communism” to be reviled and feared, why? Because the examples we have over the past hundred years, have been catastrophic for individual liberties. The USSR comes to mind, as do Nazism and Fascism. The last two were a different kind of egalitarian statism, but just as totalitarian and dictatorial. They co-opted capitalism instead of exterminating it, much as we now see in Russia and mainland China.
So, the campaign against “communism”, that so puzzles Mr. Ryan, is not the work of Know Nothing bigots, racists, or class exploiters. It's simply a very natural self-preservation mechanism at work. Middle class taxpayers are fed up having pseudo-intellectual closet authoritarians decide for them how best to provide for their families and the needy in their communities. They're concerned that the gradual replacing of community (self-reliance, self-respect, responsibility, caring, compassion) with a sterile, distant, bureaucratic approach to the treatment of social and economic problems is serving to promote envy, prejudice, and entitlement. None of that do they see as weaving a stronger social fabric.
Aylmer NOTE: Nowhere in my editorial is there evidence for “Mr. Ryan thinks there's nothing wrong with communism.” My question, artfully avoided by this letter-writer, carries the opposite messages: who is promoting communism today (not in the 1930s)? Why are millions of “middle class taxpayer” dollars to be spent on a monument to its victims, while millions/billions are cut from transfer payments for health and schools? Where’s the threat? “Self-preservation”, says this letter-writer! From whom? So why spend millions on a monument against an agreed failure? (FR)