There has been a lot of talk in the news lately about Capitalism verses Socialism or Communism. Capitalism is clear-cut from the other ideologies, but the same cannot be said about communism and socialism. Socialism and communism are often used in place of each other despite being fundamentally different from each other. Capitalism puts the control of one’s assets in the hands of the individual, while socialism and communism put all or most assets in the hands of the government to hand out…or not…as they see fit. In my opinion, the government agencies we have really haven’t done such a great job that I would want to go back and give them more power and control.

These days there are many people who would like to switch to Socialism or Communism, but I think it’s because they don’t understand these ideologies. The United States used to understand them very well, and when some of the immigrants tried to bring Socialism and Communism into this counter, in late 1919, and into January 1920, President Woodrow Wilson directed the United States Department of Justice to carry out a series of raids to capture, arrest, and deport these immigrants, because they should never be allowed to come to our country and they try to change it in the country they chose to leave…especially because the reason they left was because it wasn’t working in their country.

These raids were called the Palmer Raids. The primary targets were Italian immigrants and Eastern European Jewish immigrants with alleged leftist ties, with particular focus on Italian anarchists and immigrant leftist labor activists. Attorney General A Mitchell Palmer spearheaded the operation, and the result was that 3,000 people were arrested. Of the 3,000 arrested, 556 foreign citizens were deported, including a number of prominent leftist leaders.

As often happens in government, what one department likes another doesn’t, so Palmer’s efforts were largely frustrated by officials at the US Department of Labor, which had authority for deportations. They apparently objected to Palmer’s methods. The Palmer Raids during the time of the First Red Scare, a period of fear of and reaction against communists in the US in the years immediately following World War I and the Russian Revolution…the Cold War era. The Palmer Raids were strikes that garnered national attention, and prompted race riots in more than 30 cities, as well as two sets of bombings in April and June 1919, including one bomb mailed to Palmer’s home. Whether the methods were good or bad, I agree that no immigrants should ever expect to come into this country and then fundamentally change how we run things until it becomes just like the nation that they worked so hard to escape.

Unfortunately, Palmer’s raids became the subject of public criticism and led to the rise of the ACLU. Because very little evidence of terrorist bombs was uncovered during the raids, and people were held without legal representation, and some of the raids were carried out without search warrants, the whole operation took on a bad light, even if some of those who were arrested and deported were, in fact, terrorists.

When the nations of North and South Korea were split, it was much like when Germany became East and West Germany…people were caught in the crossfire…so to speak. Despite being unified off and on for nearly 1,500 years, the Korean peninsula was divided into North and South as a result of the breakup of the Japanese empire at the end of World War II. The United States government knew that it would have to administer the Philippines, as well as Japan itself. It was a big job, so the United States was reluctant to also take trusteeship of Korea. Basically, Korea just wasn’t a very high priority for the United States. The Soviets, on the other hand, were more than willing to step in and take control of lands that the Tsar’s government had relinquished its claim to after the Russo-Japanese War (1904–05).

The Soviets wanted to set the country up as communist, and the United States wanted the country to be capitalist. The sad truth about the difference between communism and capitalism is that capitalism is about freedom, and communism is about slavery. The country was divided along the 38th parallel with a demilitarized zone along that line. The North Korean side of the 38th Parallel was ruled by communism, and the South was ruled by Capitalism. The economic impact was most unfortunate, in that two separate and “necessary to each other” industrial areas were now on opposite sides. The two countries were now both poor.

That was a sad state of affairs, but the worse state of affairs was what happened to the people. Communism being what is was, worried that if the people were allowed to cross the borders freely, they would not come back, and they were probably right. So the people who lived in North Korea and had family in South Korea were no separated from each other, and those in the south were equally separated from loved ones. It is a horrible situation, but there seemed to be no remedy for it. The separation went on for many years. Finally on October 31, 2010, the North Korean government relented to a degree. Four hundred and thirty-six South Koreans were allowed to spend three days in North Korea to meet their 97 North Korean relatives, whom they had been separated from since the 1950-1953 war. The three-day reunion was wonderful, but also bittersweet, because it was followed by a sad goodbye. The separation had been excruciating, and they had no recourse. They were at the mercy of the ruling government. Nevertheless, they were also thankful for the time to spend together, even if it meant a tearful goodbye following a luncheon meeting during inter-Korean temporary family reunions at Mount Kumgang resort.

When you look at the realities of Socialism, Marxism, and Communism, you cannot really be surprised by the many people who are trying to escape from it’s grip. Most are willing to give their life to get out in the hope of giving their children a better life than that. Many lessons could be learned from the situation between North and South Korea, if we will only pay attention.

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