Born in the mid 60's I grew up with the most tangible example of the term Iron Curtain an already-established reality. As primary and high school students during the latter end of that (Berlin Wall) era, young people in my age group lived with the constant reminder that not only did Marxism fail miserably, but that states with that system were left with no option other than hem their own subjects in for their own good or face collapse from an exodus of people who did not know what was good for them.
We all knew, and had seen, some of the accounts of people who had been killed or imprisoned as a result of trying to get through or over the "anti-fascist barrier". As a consequence of the (very possibly a purposeful) failure of the West to demand an Nuremberg-type account of the crimes committed by Communist states, many are not aware of the penalties meted out by the Stasi to would-be escapes, and in some cases, the families of these. Some of course will remember the inspirational 80's movie Night Crossing, which portrayed the courageous efforts ( I will not spoil the end) of one family to "get out of Dodge".
I was discharged from the Marine Corps in mid-1989. By the autumn of that year, the predictions of political writers ( I vividly recall one from either Time or Newsweek around the year 1983 but have since been unable to locate an archive of it) were coming to fruition much more quickly than predicted. With neighboring Warsaw Pact states opening their borders, people were leaving Honecker's paradise - where Socialism was said to "work" at a pace that forced the issue.
By the time I left work on November 9th, 1989, the news was covering one - and only one event, The German Democratic Republic had ordered that traffic would no longer be impeded by those seeking to enter West Berlin. Tears welled up in my eyes as I watched one news anchor after another being unable to maintain their usual stoic demeanor - some of them had had smiles the entire time that they were speaking.
By chance, the next day was the Marine Corps birthday ball. November 10th is a big deal for Marines. As a new reservist, my then-wife and I attended our units celebration at a wonderful event hall. We all were still elated.
Readers of previous posts will know that I am a magnet for Marxists, anti Catholic Fundamentalists, anti-Catholic Catholics, radial atheists and proponents of eugenics, etc. If I don't run into them, they find me like honeybees that have been directed to a target by scout bees. My Marine reserve unit was no exception; we had more than our fair share of college student reservists who were dyed-in-the-wool Marxists. One is particular was a Haitian immigrant who I found to be one of the very few Marxists with whom I could speak without desiring to subject him to an overhand right. It is of course wrong to rub salt in a wound, but I could not resist giving him a parting (or Parthian) shot with a good-humored remark about the Wall. He took it well and hugged me as we left the ball.
Four the last seven or so years, however, I have wished that I had kept in contact with him as he deserves his chance to return the favor.
For the next two years, though, I was certain that there would never be any reason to admit that I was wrong. The USSR folded late in 1991, as did Yugoslavia and other Marxist governments such as Albania. USSR-subsidized states such as North Korea and Cuba foundered in the wake of Marxist collapse I also have vivid memories of holding my one and a half year-old daughter while the music video Wind of Change by the Scorpions, which understandably was played very often at that time, blared on the TV. I knew that changes were coming and that they arrive soon, but still I truly felt that my oldest, being one one the "children of tomorrow", would have far less to fear than we did.
When Bill Clinton unseated G.H.W. Bush (history has since proven him to be no friend of real Liberty nor of the US) for the presidency, I wrote the event off as a reflexive reaction to a bad recession and the usual post-war (First Gulf War) tendencies of voters to drop the guy they trusted when things were bad. I still firmly believed that all of the Marxists in the Halls of Academia would be "laughed out of court" for their continued assertions that Socialism is inevitable and indeed feasible.
So convinced was I with this belief that I was even naive enough to assume that pigs like Venezuela's Chavez would be voted out of office once he had proclaimed his desire to bring about Socialism enough times. What I mean by that was I could not conceive the possibility that so many people would be evil or stupid enough to want something that was proven to be stifling, unworkable, and a guarantee of poverty and stagnation.
Where I went wrong was in a failure to realize that all modern Marxists are Trotskyites at heart. As Trotsky understood, Marxism's only chance of succeeding was if free market/capitalistic nations were eliminated from the playing board. "Communism just hasn't been tried/done right" would be the new mantra for Western Socialists. The latter have long recognized the crucial reality that, in order worldwide Socialism to work, three things are needed.
Make every nation Socialist, and there are no longer any places to which ungrateful citizens can flee.
Gone will (so they say) be the gulags and killing fields, but the totalitarianism will nonetheless be there, only in a softer form. You will own property, but you will have no control over it. You will have families, but you will have no say in how these are managed either. Churches will not be closed, but they will be forced to pay for abortions and officiate at gay weddings (or have to required newlyweds to also have civil ceremonies of they don't want to lose tax-exempt status). Your children will be forced to attend public schools (home schooling is already banned in Germany) where they will learn that the West in the only source of truly bad cultures and that nothing good ever came of the greatest civilization in the history of the world. You will definitely not be able to defend yourself as firearms will be restricted to the cops and the military.