I have experience of socialism and didn’t enjoy it; many years ago, I spent a year attending Socialist U. It was a dreary, gray, communist place.
A tight rein was held on everyone; It wasn’t enough that I had to have a tourist visa in order to enter the country and was required to register with the police in every town in which I stayed, I was also required to have a visa from the city giving me permission to live there, along with documentation from the dorm indicating my state of residence.
A head of another state came for a visit, the first time in decades. Due to a previous assassination in the neighborhood
that sparked a tiny little conflagration known to us as WWI,
the government was a bit paranoid and one morning I got a 6 am wakeup call from the guy in charge of the building. He was checking my passport.
It was a precursor to my 3:06 am visit from the state security police who also checked my passport.
It wasn’t special for me; in addition to keeping tabs on all foreigners in the country at any given time, they were checking to make sure all foreigners were where they were expected to be on the eve of the state visit. I didn’t have the skills to read the paper so had no idea of current events; back in the day my friend would send me a tape of her talking and newspaper clippings, as this took place in the dark ages before cellphones, even before Al Gore invented the internet. Or was it Al Qaeda who did that?
This happened a few weeks before I returned home, which I was quite happy to do. At the time, I didnt’ think that sort of thing could happen in America. Now? With people being targeted for belief systems unsanctioned by the current government and its attack on those who truly believe in the teachings of the Catholic church and follow the faith, I’m not so sure.
Personal computers had been invented at the time; the guy from Yemen had one. His was the only one I saw outside of a few at the bank at which my foreign passport entitled me to have an account in foreign funds. The same passport entitled me to enter and shop in a store that was for foreigners, in which I bought alcohol, M&M’s and Legos.
If you remember animal farm, with the manifesto that All Animals are Equal but Pigs are More Equal, I found that to be true. People didn’t have the incomes to support consumer goods and consumer goods weren’t available in the same way that they are in the West; they were limited in both availability and quality. Party members had goods that others didn’t; I had an acquaintance whose dad was a party member and he had a car. He was the only student I knew who had one. His family also had a dishwasher. Most people didn’t; rural areas didn’t have indoor plumbing or telephones.