Accuracy in Media

It took a worldwide search, but the Washington Post was pleased to announce on the front page of its Sunday paper that there is a place where communism has been successful.

Kerala, a state of 35 million people at the southern tip of India, “remains one of the few places on earth where a communist can still dream,” wrote Greg Jaffe and Vidhi Doshi from Alappuzha, India. “We are trying to build out dream state in this fascist India,” it quoted Thomas Isaac, the finance minister of the Kerala, said.

The people of Kerala succeed where the Russians, Chinese, Cubans, North Koreans, Vietnamese and Laotians failed — because what they’re doing can’t actually be called communism.

First, the communists of Kerala never have banned free enterprise or seized factories. The Post writers even attended the opening of a privately owned driving school. In a communist country, the government teaches people to drive.

Second, they never banned religion. Isaac, the finance minister, said he became an atheist when he joined the party but posed for pictures under a statue of Christ on the cross at his son’s wedding.

Third, they have free elections, according to the Post.

“Instead of being associated with repression or failure, the party of Marx is widely associated with huge investments in education that have produced a 95 percent literacy rate, the highest in India, and a health care system where citizens earning only a few dollars a day still qualify for free heart surgery.”

The decidedly not-communist United States also makes huge investments in education, produces a literacy rate of 95 percent and has a health care system that allows those earning only a few dollars a day to qualify for free heart surgery.

Fourth, the independent, self-sufficient ethic of North Korea and China especially – the notion these countries can take care of themselves with no outside help if necessary – is nowhere to be found. The story talks about Isaac meeting with women at a cooperative that manufacturers coir, a bristly fabric used to make welcome mats, and promising them they won’t go out of business and the government will continue to buy their product even if no one else will. 

But he also acknowledges Kerala could not do this except for those expatriates who send remittances from their well-paying jobs abroad. Remittances accounted for more than a third of Kerala’s gross domestic product last year.

“This modern incarnation of communism also has produced one of the stranger paradoxes of the global economy: millions of healthy, educated workers setting off to the supercharged, capitalist economies of the Persian Gulf dreaming of riches and increasingly finding them,” the Post writes.

Expatriates return on vacation and build elaborate homes, the story said. But they spend the rest of the year out of the country working, and Isaac seeks more housing for the poor even as these palaces bought with money from capitalistic societies sit empty.

There are some trappings of a traditional communist country. Religion is shunned, replaced with a Sunday school that emphasizes secular Indian identity, the story says.

“We are not Christians or Muslims or Hindus,” a children’s song goes. “Hunger is the same for us all; pain is the same for us all. Our blood as the same color; our tears the same taste.”

A professor spoke for more than five hours at a mandatory party-sponsored class, thundering, “The deterioration of capitalism is an inevitability, and it’s happening fast. Humans cannot be so narrow-minded and profit-oriented forever.”

The Washington Post was so anxious to tout an example of successful communism somewhere that it, for all intents and purposes, made up a story about it. Kerala is not communist. Indeed, the story says, “For many, especially the young, communism today is more about the ideal of equal opportunity than the ideology of Marx and Lenin.”

But equal opportunity is not a communist concept.The Post knows that but took the chance to tout actually benefits of communism – even conferred in a non-communist society.





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