As America continues to stumble headlong toward more government-directed “solutions”, it struck me how awfully people have fared under such actions with the guise of help. While having fewer destructive and deathly effects, the current United States leader’s uncritical neglect of many people’s concerns, and unwavering sense of superiority, certainly mirrors the mindsets and machinations of those leaders who created much larger disasters. Throughout the 20th century, there were leaders who were so convinced of their own brilliance, that they did not need any critical thought or feel any need to change their perfect plans.
Convinced that he knew how to increase the grain output from some of the most fertile farmland in the world, a Georgian leader began issuing edicts and laws to increase food production. His agricultural policies led to the deaths of between five and eight million Soviet peasants. This leader used divisive tactics to play one class against another, telling the poorer that the richer were earning more than they ought to on the backs of the poorer.
The false narrative of kulaks taking advantage of peasants, saw reprisals and animus grow against the kulaks. The class warfare eventually grew so bitter, that the farming peasants were content to let the kulaks die where they lay. The Soviets leaders set up numerous laws, which delivered excessive penalties when they were broken. Something so innocent as harvesting spilled grain from the fields could land a person in a gulag for a year. So terrible were the results of this planning, many of the records concerning it were kept sealed in archives for 60 years.
This “cult of perfect leadership” spread to another Marxist Utopia in the late 1950s. Mao Zedong’s visions for a capable and self-sustaining China met with harsh reality too. Mao followed the same flawed plan that led to the Soviet’s famine in the early 1930s. The “Great Leap Forward” included a period from 1958 to 1961, which saw deaths of between 15 and 43 million Chinese people.
The Chinese leadership simply told the people it would be better for them to eat less – and then attempted to force them to do so. The famine grew so bad in some areas, reports filtered out that people were turning to cannibalism to satiate their hunger (children were reportedly swapped between families, so they would not have to eat their own offspring). Despite the starvation, the Chinese planners kept true to that five-year plan.
Cuba and North Korea are two more centrally planned, dictatorial governments, who fail miserably to deliver on any promises that they make. Stuck in rampant poverty since the 1959 Castro coup, Cuba seems stuck in a time bubble of 1950s technology as well. The Cubans may have seen minor improvements in their economies since the early 1990s, but that could be blamed on forced change, due to the death of their biggest benefactor, the Soviet Union.
Perhaps the biggest event in Cuba was not any economic or humanitarian event, but, due to the closeness of Cuba to the Soviet Union, the near-nuclear war between super powers in 1961. Castro supported missiles in Cuba, and tried to prod Khrushchev into acting against the United States, too.
Xenophobic North Korean leaders rely on boogeymen to instill constant fear into their populace, and keep the people united against anyone but their oppressors (North Korean leaders). North Korea’s military is far more important than their civilians (but leaders have trouble feeding the military too). The government’s response to the disaster was to re-brand it – calling it the “Arduous March”, and attempting to equate lack of food to a willing sacrifice for the betterment of the country. As it stands now, North Korea still is very close to sliding into another famine, their children now suffer retarded growth, and the country relies heavily on grain imports from the U.N. and South Korea to feed its people.
So – these instances of flawed, failed, and fruitless leadership – what should we take away from them? That leadership is not perfect, should go without saying. The takeaway is this: that unquestioned leadership is a very dangerous thing. Whether the leadership uses force or charisma to further its aims matters little. Leaders in echo-chambers, without frequent and legitimate challenges to their authority, who hold a sense of superiority, can lead countries into very bad situations.
While the American media continues to fawn over Obama, and hang on his every word, the people who must live with the results of his executive orders and fellow democrats’ misleading words know better. America still has the checks and balances that the Founders gave us, but it remains more than ever, up to us to use them, despite what the media cheerleaders tell us, and despite what our politicians promise us.