Vital Signs

Lest We Forget the Evil Empire

As long as the Soviet Union existed, voices were heard in the United States favoring peaceful co-existence with the socialist bloc, pushing for unilateral reduction in the country's defense expenditures, and protesting the development of nuclear weapons. Some of those voices were well-meaning and naive, while others were serving a "higher" purpose. Seeking to replace individual liberty with collective action, all of them were blind to the gulags, murder, plunder, absence of liberty, and economic deprivations that defined the socialist landscape for most of this century.

In the early 1980's, a television show about a nuclear holocaust, The Day After, captured the essence of this movement which believed in the good intentions of socialist leaders, legislated outcomes, and unilateral disarmament. In response to that show, we published the following short story in 1984 in Pathfinder, a bimonthly magazine published by the Center for Free Enterprise at Texas A&M University. It was republished in dozens of newspapers, student publications, bulletins, pamphlets, and newsletters. The story caught fire because it made the difference between the freedom of choice and the sanctity of law on the one hand and social engineering and totalitarian rule on the other understandable (and observable) to an American audience—especially an audience of young people.

Today, the consequences of the socialist...

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