Contributor: Stefani Allegretti. Lesson ID: 13236
Are you free to practice religion or speak your mind? Must you wait in line for bread or shop in a store with no food? Learn what communism is and what it is truly like to live in a communist country.
"Communism is the death of the soul. It is the organization of total conformity - in short, of tyranny - and it is committed to making tyranny universal."
~ Adlai E. Stevenson II, 5th United States Ambassador to the United Nations
Unfortunately, people living under communism do not have the same freedoms people in democratic countries, like the United States, do. In this lesson, you'll learn what it's like to live under communism.
First, however, we need to understand what communism actually is. Communism is an extreme form of socialism wherein all wealth and resources are divided among everyone either equally or based on need. Its purpose is to eliminate class from a society. It is a political and economic system that removes private ownership and instead gives complete control entirely to the government.
For a more thorough explanation, watch What is Communism? from Reading Through History:
While the concept of communism might sound fair and maybe even beneficial for all citizens, this political and economic system is very different in practice. In reality, communism is only beneficial to specific people, and those people are usually the ones in power.
For example, the people of Poland lived under communism for decades during the 20th century. Living under communism during that time led to great suffering and poverty. Learn - and see - what it was like with 24 Pictures Examining Life in Communist Poland, by Jacob Miller for History Collection.
History has shown how communism is in opposition to true freedom and can lead to many hardships.
In communist countries, power is taken away from the people, free speech is censored, and wealth is controlled and therefore belongs to those in power. In some communist countries, even the freedom to practice certain religions, such as Christianity and Islam, are restricted.
Studying modern-day China can help us better understand what it is like to be a Christian living under communism. Review the article, Chinese government accused of burning crosses in Christian crackdown, from CBS This Morning or watch the video.
Because of the lack of religious freedom in communist countries such as China, the government can close or demolish churches and even arrest citizens simply for worshiping. In many cases, Christians are persecuted simply because of their faith. Watch a video about the persecution of Christians in China from Open Doors UK & Ireland, a nonprofit organization that helps persecuted Christians around the world.
Why did persecution of Christians in China increase last year?:
There are only a handful of communist countries in the world today (2019). According to the World Population Review, those countries include:
Watch this next video from The Bush Center to hear a first-hand account of what it is like to live under communism in North Korea.
The George W. Bush Institute's Freedom in North Korea Initiative:
In this lesson, you have learned what it's like to live under communism. While the definition of communism might sound like a fair system for everyone, hearing from people who have actually lived under communism raises questions.
Great work in the Get It! section. Now, let's move on to the Got It? section to test your knowledge!
Resources Referenced in the Lesson