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Jana Kandlova’s short book, a little over 200 pages – Stalked by Socialism – could not be more timely, largely because the United States has slowly, and one hopes not irrevocably, been sinking into a socialist morass that Kandlova (AKA Jane Benson) had hoped to escape when she emigrated from communist Czechoslovakia in 1988.
Kandlova is married to retired radio talk show host and television reporter Jim Vicevich and joins him on his podcast, RadioViceOnLine, every Wednesday. I have been a guest on the show numerous times.
Kandlova’s memoir of her years under the jackboot of socialist totalitarianism provides us with a view from inside the communist leviathan. And the subtitle of her book, An Escapee From Communism Shows How We’re Sliding Into Socialism, is a timely warning to the United States, a palace of security and comfort for refugees from socialist inspired communism now prowling the byways of the nation that welcomed her and others like her, still lifting the torch of liberty beside the golden door and offering to the dispossessed a refuge against the often arbitrary rule of “men-like-gods.”
Chapter 5 of her book, “How Much Government Is there,” provides a keyhole peek into an encroaching socialism here in the United States that is painfully reminiscent of her years in Communist Czechoslovakia.
The hallmark of socialist states is a liberty throttling social and cultural network of bureaucrats whose principal loyally is to an overbearing state, in Kandlova’s case Czechoslovakia , one among a series of captive nations among the Soviet Socialist Republics, in which personal liberty was ruthlessly subordinated to militarized organs of state security, a vast bureaucratic apparatus touching every part of an artificial state created culture whose prime mover was Joseph Stalin, the Caligula of the 20th century.
Kandlova knows well from personal experience that socialism in its perfection is the totalitarian state defined by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini: “Everything in the state, nothing outside the state, nothing above the state.” And the state is not the pool of people in the state yearning to breathe free. The state is the state bureaucracy, a stalwart servant of the totalitarian mission. The Stalin-Hitler pact of 1939 demonstrates that the historic quarrel between fascism and communism was a dispute over who shall rule, not a dispute over cosmetic differences between two variants of totalitarianism.
The lede graph in chapter 5 of Kandlova’s book reads: “Just how much government is there in the United States on the federal, state and local levels? This is important to know because if we don’t, we can’t tell if the government is too big, too small or just right. Neither can we tell if it’s protecting us from harm without robbing us of liberty or taking excessive amounts of money from our pockets, along with our individual rights.”
That is a question that has been pondered for ages by small “r” republicans. Amusingly, Kandlova sought to discover for her book precisely how many federal bureaucracies were throttling the liberties of a well ordered society in the United States. Muscled from one to another agency, she finally was able to compile a partial list in chapter 5 of Stalked by Socialism that extends to a few pages. The patience of the bureaucrats ran out when she sought to discover the total figure of laws – federal, state and municipal – operative in the United State. “Good luck with that,” one overworked bureaucrat told her.
High taxes, excessive bureaucracy, the flight from rigorous Constitutional observance, the leeching of powers assigned by a so called “limited” government to bureaucratic outliers who can never be body-checked by the citizenry, are all red flags that should summon up for us Ben Franklin’s warning when he was asked by woman following the close of the Continental Congress that produced a limited government, “Sir, what have you given us?”
“A Republic, madam,” Franklin responded, “if you can keep it.”
Such warnings are felt like welts on the skins of those who have fled the violence and corruption of socialist regimes, and Stalked by Socialism is bursting with little heeded warnings that will be, and always have been, ignored by lobsters plopped in to a refreshing pot of cold water – before the heat is turned on High.
Don Pesci is a political columnist of long standing, about 40 years, who has written for various state newspapers, among them The Journal Inquirer, the Waterbury Republican American, the New London Day, the Litchfield County Times, the Torrington Register Citizen and other Register Citizen papers. He maintains a blog, among the oldest of its kind in Connecticut, which serves as a repository and archive, for his columns; there are approximately 3,000 entrees in Connecticut Commentary: Red Notes From A Blue State, virtually all of them political columns stretching back to 2004. He also appears once a week Wednesdays on 1080 WTIC Newstalk radio with Will Marotti.
Don's got it right - Stalked by Socialism is indeed a prescient read. So many who fled Eastern Europe are depressed and terrified with the direction the U.S. is heading. The reality of it becomes more apparent by the month and Jane captures the essence of it in her book.