By Anthony Ramirez
Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin was a member of Russia’s Communist Party from 1961 to July 12, 1990. 1. Eleven months later, on June 12, 1991, Yeltsin won an election to become Russia’s first president. 2. This is the story of how one grocery store changed his mind about communism forever.
On September 16, 1989, after a trip to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, Yeltsin decided to walk through a Randalls grocery store in the Clear Lake region. 3. While looking in amazement at the vast amount of items available for purchase, along with the fact there were a multitude of stores just like it scattered around the city, Yeltsin told the fellow Russians with him that “There would be revolution” if citizens of Russia saw the contrast between their grocery stores and the ones in America. For you to contrast, here’s a video of a grocery store in Moscow in 1990: 4.
According to the Houston Chronicle, who were there taking pictures of Yeltsin’s reactions to the products at the time, he commented that “Even the Politburo (policymakers of the communist party) doesn't have this choice. Not even Mr. Gorbachev” (leader of the Soviet Union at the time). The Houston Chronicle article also quotes Yeltsin as writing later on that "When I saw those shelves crammed with hundreds, thousands of cans, cartons, and goods of every possible sort, for the first time I felt quite frankly sick with despair for the Soviet people..."That such a potentially super-rich country as ours has been brought to a state of such poverty! It is terrible to think of it." 3.
This is furthered in an interview with the Soviet Union immigrant Yankl Garelik for the Yiddish Book Center. Garelik recollects on his arrival in America: “We went in a store and all we could do was stare. It was the greatest shock. From Russia, where you can’t buy anything, to where you can buy anything you like in the store. In America, when we would go in a supermarket like King’s Super, it was overwhelming to see so many products. It was like a holiday for us to go shopping for food and other things. In Russia, you couldn’t just buy something like sausage; you needed to have an ‘insider’ contact…” 5.
Tyler Watts, for his YouTube channel Lights on Econ, interviewed Yuri Maltsev, the former economic advisor of Mikhail Gorbachev. 6. When discussing the issue of how motivation creates a flourishing economy, Maltsev states: “You can never make people work for somebody else for free. And that was the most important thing - the absence of economic calculations, economic incentives, absence of the price system. What happens is that not only means of production, not only all factories, land, plants, and everything else is nationalized; people are nationalized. They became slaves of their own government. 7. On the topic of freedom and choice, Maltsev states: “The more socialism you have, the less goods on the shelves, the less freedom people have. Because what is freedom? Freedom is choice. In the United States, unfortunately, many people do not realize that. And they’re giving away their freedom, giving their choices. They think that the big government can be helpful. You cannot centralize information.” 8.
When I research stories like the ones above, hear the first-hand experience of people who immigrated to America from socialist and communist countries, while simultaneously seeing young Americans preaching about a utopian society fueled by the very Marxist ideology these immigrants fled, it absolutely baffles me. However, I believe a possible answer can be found in Yuri Bezmenov’s words on demoralization as the first stage of political subversion:
“Exposure to true information does not matter anymore. A person who is demoralized is unable to assess true information. The facts mean nothing to him. Even if I shower him with information, with authentic proof, with documents, with pictures, even if I take him by force to the Soviet Union and show him a concentration camp, he will refuse to believe it until he is going to receive a kick in his fat bottom. When a military boot crushes his balls, then he will understand, but not before that. That’s the trag[edy] of the situation of demoralization. So basically, America is stuck with demoralization and unless - even if you start right now, here, this minute, it will still take you 15 to 20 years to turn the tide of ideological perception of reality back to normalcy and patriotism.” 9.
No matter if you show them true stories from people that were in actual socialist countries, photos of what they went through, news articles of poverty-stricken countries that are now shells of their former selves, many young Americans choose to deny it. “That wasn’t real socialism.” “Communism was never fully realized.” “We would do it better!” “It’ll work this time, trust me.” Their ideas are not based on statistics or evidence of flourishing economies and happy citizens post-socialism implementation. It’s based on the real world’s naivety, and false ideas of a utopian society told to other young adults decades ago in those very countries in shambles today.
It seems ironic. The immigrants that have actually experienced socialist countries seem to be more pro-capitalism than Americans that lived here their entire lives tweeting on an iPhone about socialism and how much they hate the country while a family in Venezuela has to eat their pets. 10.
Anthony Ramirez is a proud Latino Texan who has worked with his community on physical fitness to better their hearts and writes articles to better their minds. Anthony writes and researches to get out the facts and disprove misinformation. Anthony has researched, and debunked myths regarding Herbalife, student loan debt, UBI, and he looks to do the same with socialism.