When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation this week in Miami (of course) establishing a “Victims of Communism Day” on Nov. 7 and decreeing that Florida public school students will receive 45 minutes of indoctrination about the victims of Josef Stalin, Mao Zedong and, of course, Fidel Castro, my first thought was, We need a Victims of Capitalism Day — and fast!
Come to find out there already is one. Or, more accurately, there is a movement already extant to defend capitalism and deny its victims. I know, shocker, right?
If you do a Google search for “victims of capitalism,” the first link on the page is to the Nassau Institute. The banner at the top of the institute’s website is the cover of Ayn Rand’s “Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.” Triggered!
This is from the institute’s “About” link:
Founded in 1995 The Nassau Institute is a research institute – a think tank – that promotes capitalism and free markets. Our mission is to formulate and promote public policies for The Bahamas based on the principles of limited government, individual freedom, and the rule of law.
So, a country that is historically majority Black and that was a slave state until the British Empire outlawed slavery in 1833 — in other words, has a population that would not have been in the Bahamas if it were not for capitalism — the slave trade — has an “institute” that perpetuates capitalism? What’s wrong with this picture?
Dr. Jaana Woiceshyn PhD has an essay on the Nassau Institute’s landing page titled “‘Victims’ of Capitalism,” which asserts (while invoking Ayn Rand) that “capitalism is the only victimless social system.” She gets to that point via some verbal gymnastics that pull helpful bits from dictionaries while ignoring the unhelpful bits, and using Rand as a trusted resource. To summarize: “victims” are physically harmed in some way by another individual or a natural disaster; “capitalism,” as defined by Rand, is “a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned.”
On the other side of the issue is PeoplesWorld, which is a continuation of The Daily Worker, founded by communists and socialists in 1924. An article from 2007 notes the following:
On June 12, George W. Bush inaugurated the “Victims of Communism Memorial” within view of the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
At the ceremony, Bush described communists as “followers of a murderous ideology that despises freedom, crushes all dissent, has expansionist ambitions and pursues totalitarian aims.’
Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of Bush’s War on Terror, the Patriot Act or any of the numerous other regressive policies he has pursued in his two terms in the White House should see the great irony of his description of communism.
The Victims of Communism Memorial was established by a 1993 act of Congress to commemorate what the memorial’s official web site calls the “more than 100 million victims of communism.”
And we’re just halfway down the first page of Google results!
As we know well, Republicans are notoriously immune to irony, hypocrisy and the truth. So, DeSantis is on solid Republican ground here: he prohibits discussion of race and slavery in public schools, then requires the teaching of the horrors of communism. Welcome back to the 1950s!
While Woiceshyn argues that there hasn’t been a truly capitalist nation in the world since the United States in the 19th century and there can’t possibly be one now, the commies argue that there are many more victims of capitalism than there ever were of communism. If you count up the numbers of enslaved people, indentured people, the working poor, the homeless, the people who have died in war (because wars are always about accruing land and treasure), then you have to side with the socialists, Stalin, Mao and Castro notwithstanding.
But the real victims of the DeSantis regime are the Florida schoolchildren who will continue to be taught a Bowdlerized, white supremacy version of United States history, now tinged with propaganda designed to make them hate communism, which actually only exists in the minds of wannabe authoritarians like Ron DeSantis.