Becoming the communist dictator of a school project started as a joke, but taught me a valuable lesson about freedom and democracy.
I took civics back in my senior year of high school. It was required to graduate, and all about politics. I enjoyed it, but literally no one else did (even though I already knew ninety percent of it).
Our first assignment was pretty simple: we’d form three groups and each try to independently form a government for a fictional island-nation. By design, it was democratic, because we were all supposed to work together and come to a consensus — but that quickly changed.
The people I hung out with at the time had a natural aversion to labor, so I was nominated as the chief political advisor. I was basically given free reign to do whatever I wanted, so long as no one else had to do it.
An idea popped into my head: what if I made a communist dictatorship — they certainly wouldn’t accept that! The idea started as a joke, but quickly became reality.
While the other two groups were busy discussing the intricacies of their governments, I was busy outlining my far-left dystopia, with minimal input from the others.
When it came time to present our work: the teacher called upon one member of each group to give a short explanation of how they answered the questions he prepared for us (which I’ve mostly forgotten).
The first group was a pretty standard democracy, mostly copying the US government to save themselves from having to do too much work. If I had to choose a country to live in, out of these three, it’d be this one.
The second group didn’t even have a government, adhering to Anarcho-Capitalism. They truly believed in a laissez-faire economy, but they didn’t actually want to abolish the state — just their burden of creating a state.
The third group, my group, was a carbon copy of the Soviet Union. I appointed myself General Secretary — Joseph Stalin’s official title — for life, nationalized all property, and established a secret police force to crack down on dissent.
I can’t remember if I banned elections or just banned anyone except me from running. I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone else voted for me regardless of my extremist policies, though.
When the teacher asked how my subjects could go about protesting the actions of my government, I simply replied, “they disappear.” When he asked what happens to criminals, I responded, “we send them to labor camps.”
At least loyalists got free stuff.
Of course, none of this was material, but it made for a funny presentation (not even our stoic teacher could keep a straight face). I didn’t even believe in any of it, I just had a dark sense of humor and wanted to prove a point.
This project taught me an important lesson: people are willing to trade freedom for free stuff and democracy for expediency. It was all too easy for a bad actor — me — to come in, overthrow democracy, and establish a communist dictatorship.
This should be a warning to America, and to the whole world: watch your elected officials very closely, and never hand over your freedom or your democracy — no matter what they promise in return!
Don’t let the USA become the USSR.