It was sometime in middle school that I was introduced to Communism via a lesson in Social Studies. As the teacher explained Communism, it’s birth and evolution and then the revolutions, I couldn't help but be impressed with the system. It looked picture prefect and the school text book laid a wonderful picture of Utopian nations like China, Russia and some other communist’s countries. This seemed like such a nice system where everyone had a job and everyone was equal and there was happiness and contentment all around. I could almost feel the contentment oozing out of the text book. So it was with stars in my eyes that I came home that day and as usual regurgitated the whole thing to my Dad. My Dad didn’t say anything as I was too young then to talk of government owning the means of production, principles of supply and demand etc.
Then I heard an observation by my cousin sister who used to fly with ‘Indian Airlines’ in the eighties. This observation opened my eyes in a way no book could. She talked of plane loads of Russians who came in droves to India on holiday in the 80’s. After flying for many years she had by now learnt to classify passengers at first sight. From these commie hordes she clearly discerned three or four types of people, which I later realized was a type of class system followed in communist countries.
The first class, was well educated, spoke good English and would refuse anything served on board. They would insist on French Coffee, Swiss Cheese etc which ‘Indian Airlines’ did not carry. So they preferred to eat nothing on board. They wore the latest fashion from Paris and Milan and they were attired from head to toe in designer clothes. They reeked “wealth”. This type also stayed in 5 star hotels as she would see them checking in when the crew checked into the same hotel.
The second class was the bureaucrats who had uniformed army men escorting them and given preferential treatment etc. They were polite and would take whatever was offered to eat. But the crew was intructed to take care of them as they were ‘Diplomats”. They would be met at the tarmac with cars that would whisk them off.
The third type was a little less high brow. They were polite and spoke a little English and usually checked into two and three star hotels.
The fourth type was a boisterous junglee type. This class formed the largest number among the Russians tourists. They were the laborers of the Communist economy. They were uncouth but friendly and grabbed whatever was on offer for free like sweets, cotton, Saunf etc. They were herded like cattle and stayed in really cheap hotels. They were treated real badly by the accompanying Russian escort and were used to being treated like crap.
From my cousin’s sisters observation I couldn't help but feel that no matter what the system we follow, we cannot escape classification. How much ever we try to create an equal society, we will fail as no man is made equal. There are some of us who are physically fit, while some are mentally superior. Some are good in business while others are good in numbers. When such disparity lies among humans, a system like Communism was bound to fail or flourish only under duress.
In the case presented above it is clearly visible that a sort of caste system is in practise in Communists countries. Besides an unofficial reward system exists to reward the intellect and productivity of outstanding citizens among them. It is a sort of invisible Capitalism. Unbelievable!!
( One of the best posts on this issue is here)