It’s interesting how the appeal of Marxist principles wanes with increased proximity to the horrors of its practices.
While comparatively privileged students and activists stateside fill the ranks of ‘Young Marxist’ clubs and similar organizations in universities and localities across the United States, its always quite telling that the people who have lived under that ideology such as Cuban refugees or ex-Eastern bloc immigrants tend to be the staunchest opponents of such mobilizations.
Indisputably, however, the experience – and misery – of those unfortunate souls forced to still toil under lingering decrepit institutions of the USSR is the most striking, and indicative, display of where disastrously unchecked collectivist implementation can lead; slavery.
For indeed in this year of 2018, nearly half a millennium since America was one of the last western nations to outlaw the practice, forced servitude on pain of imprisonment/death still thrives in ex-Soviet Satellite Uzbekistan, they might just call you ‘comrade’ instead…
Once again as the annual State-run harvest reaches full swing to reach mandated quotas, millions will once again be coerced by government officials to toil in the field picking a darkly ironic national cash crop: cotton. The Wall Street Journal reports,
“As part of a legacy left by the Soviet Union’s command economy, the cotton harvest remains a defining feature of life for many Uzbeks. It constitutes the largest mobilization of seasonal labor in the world, and authorities marshal more than 2.63 million people every year to fulfill state cotton quotas, the United Nations’ International Labor Organization said.
The Central Asian country has faced years of international isolation for forcing more than a million teachers, doctors and others to labor in its cotton fields each year since Soviet times, often without proper shelter or food. The practice triggered an almost blanket ban on Uzbek exports over the past five years by almost 300 of the world’s biggest clothing brands.
It is difficult to quantify the impact of the ban on Uzbekistan’s overall economy, but Oleg Kouzmin, Moscow-based chief economist on Russia and the CIS at Renaissance Capital, said it wasn’t large. In response to the ban, Uzbekistan has turned to second-tier buyers in Turkey, Russia and Belarus.”
Communist state-run harvests and their implicit failures aren’t particularly surprising news. After all who could forget the horrors of fellow Soviet communes in Ukraine during Stalin’s reconstruction or the atrocities committed under the command economy of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge Regime that exterminated a third of the population? However, what’s particularly appalling about this Uzbek practice is that it’s still happening, quite literally right this moment.
The conditions under the archaic communist system are unsurprisingly horrid, leading many watchdogs to rally against the regime that continues to march millions to work in the fields (in some cases to their death) despite repeated assurances the practice would be ended. NGO antislavery.org is keen to illuminate the human rights abuses of the communes,
“Every year the Governments of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, two of the world’s largest exporters of cotton, force hundreds of thousands of people out of their regular jobs and sends them to the cotton fields to toil for weeks in arduous and hazardous conditions. Some have even died in fields from extreme heat and accidents.
“You work like a slave from morning till night, not enough food, [we] sleep and wake up hungry again.” – student of Andijan Agricultural Institute, Uzbekistan, September 2016.”
Thankfully there appears to be some hope for those forced to toil reaching their government quotas. Despite the fact that 3 million pseudo-slaves have taken to the field this year the practice is on the decline, or at least conditions for those headed to the field have improved somewhat. The Wall Street Journal continues from earlier,
“The government says its biggest step to cut forced labor is boosting salaries to make the work more attractive. Mr. Mirziyoyev signed off on doubling wages for the for the second year in a row, despite the impact on profit margins, so a worker can earn as much as $350 in a season, which goes far in areas of rural Uzbekistan.
Progress in overhauling the cotton industry has been steady since President Shavkat Mirziyoyev in 2016 succeeded Islam Karimov, who ruled the country for nearly 30 years.
“This is still a problem,” Labor Minister Sherzod Kudbiyev said of the forced-labor issue. “But we’re fighting with it. There’s political will now and there’s no way back.”
Perhaps it’s (inexplicably) too much to ask of proponents of Marxist ideology to concede the injustices such systems lead to when they reside within the confines and comforts of a free economy — but for those rounded up by their local authorities to slave away in the field, liberation from communism’s shackles can’t come fast enough.
One would imagine the tunes of ‘Young Marxists’ might change their minds were they subject to forced labor in the cotton fields of Uzbekistan by their comrades…