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How will historians explain Communism?

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Hugo Chávez’s passing prompted Thomas Ricks to dedicate a few lines on March 7, 2013 in Foreign Policy to what he sees as the irreversible waning of the Communist era.

The history of the origins of the Industrial Revolution that I’ve been reading led to that question.

My tentative answer is this: I suspect Communism, while it played a major role in the 20th century, will be hardly remembered by historians 500 years from now. After all, it was a blip empire that lasted about as long as a human life. Its significance, I am guessing, will be seen as just one spinoff from the Industrial Revolution. Maybe like global warming but far less important.

In sum: Communism may be the Albigensian heresy of our time. Sure, that belief system covered a smaller geographical area (but I think a larger chunk of the known world). And there is no question that it lasted much longer.

Just the fact that Ricks considers perfectly normal to connect Communism with Chavez’s regime makes me doubt about the rest of his provocative and undoubtedly interesting prospecting. Guess many others would see in his super-long assessment going back 500 years from the future a useless waste of time and thought.

More useful questions would be, in my view, what, if any, contents and practices of Communism, both in theory and in policies, are still alive today and what possibilities are there of Communism coming back strong, in one face or another, out of the gigantic dump of victims generated by the excesses of capitalism and the blindness of Governments in the most developed countries since 2007.


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