Ignore the siren voices who defend Marxism
Radicals had long seen government as the problem, not the solution: that to enrich the masses required liberating people from kings and priests.
Along came Karl Marx with essentially the opposite suggestion: a powerful state creating wealth, distributed from each according to his ability, to each according to his need, as a result of which classes would disappear
Russia’s Bolsheviks, seizing power in a coup after the fall of the tsar, set a pattern that would be repeated again and again during the following century. A communist party takes power on behalf of the people, outlaws all other parties, holds no elections and after a sanguineous power struggle is soon dominated by one man. Famine results from the destruction of incentives inherent in the collectivisation of agriculture. Millions die. The nationalisation of all commerce and the cessation of most foreign trade result in shortages of consumer goods.
In 1949 China repeated the Russian experiment with the same result. Mao Zedong managed to kill even more people, probably 45 million in the four years of the Great Leap Forward, through forced collectivisation
In 1959 Cuba tried Marxism-Leninism with a similar outcome: 5,000 people executed, an unknown number imprisoned for dissent and tens of thousands dead after trying to escape on makeshift rafts. Cuba’s GDP per capita was about the same as South Korea’s in 1959. Today South Korea’s is five times higher.
In 1962 Burma followed suit when Ne Win seized power and set out to create a “socialist state”. He introduced one-party rule, nationalised business and isolated the country from world trade, while imprisoning and executing perceived rivals.
In 1974, it was Benin’s turn for the purges and oppression. The economy stagnated for a quarter of a century. Elsewhere in Africa, the Republic of the Congo and Zimbabwe also tried communism, Robert Mugabe having come to power (lest we forget) as an enthusiastic Marxist-Leninist.
East Germany had to build a wall to stop people escaping.
Vietnam, like Cuba, sent thousands to sea in leaky boats.
Cambodia deserves special mention for the thoroughness with which it stuck to Marx’s plan of “sweeping aside” the bourgeoisie. As head of the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot enslaved the entire population on collective farms
North Korea managed to turn communism into a feudal dynasty of unparalleled paranoia, which not only executes supposed dissidents in unusually gruesome ways but managed to starve millions of its citizens during the 1990s, a time when the rest of the world was feeding itself ever more abundantly.
Oil-rich Venezuela has ruined itself through socialism, creating shortages of toilet paper and soap.