"How do you tell a Communist?
Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin.
And how do you tell an anti-Communist?
It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin."
by:
Ronald Reagan
(1911-2004) 40th US President
Source:
Remarks in Arlington, Virginia, September 25, 1987
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Reader comments about this quote:
 -- Anonymous      
It's true. If you understand more about communism, you'll see flaws.
 -- James, Penn Hills     
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     -- Steven      
    How can you tell whether Marx and Lenin are wrong if you never read them as Regan suggests. He ignorantly labels any reader of the two as a communist.
     -- Steven     
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    Reagan was retarded. If you read about any economic party you'll see its flaws. Capitalism has a lot more flaws then communism. The society will crumble under capitalism because the corporations don't care about there workers and as soon as they have the ability to they will replace them all with machines so none of them will have jobs. When that happens there will be no one to buy these products. At least with communism there would be equality and the lower classes could survive.
     -- Anonymous, Fort Bragg, CA     
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    Anonymous The word is "than" not "then"... The word is "their" not "there"... Most people care about equality of opportunity...not equality of outcome. You may want to expand your understanding of basic economics.
     -- jh, Seattle     
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    Communism assumes those in power are completely altruistic, have special understanding and know better than anyone else. Capitalism leaves it in the hands of the people (called freedom). Both are flawed because people are involved, but one doesn't work, the other does.
     -- Mr Bob, Denver     
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    Communism: A nice idea, that doesn't work. Capitalism:A mean idea, that works great.
     -- Smcc, New York     
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    Ronnie knows of which he speaks.
     -- Ron, Las Vegas     
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    Ron knew what we were to face in this generation.
     -- Stacy, Michigan     
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     -- Anonymous      
    I think Steven and the Anonymous Tards should go live in a communist country - anywhere but here - They are a disgrace to America! - Sean
     -- Sean, Tucson     
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    Reagan's quote refers to reading Marx and Lenin but not understanding them. If one understands Marx and Lenin after reading them they see what Reagan was suggesting with this quote. Just as a few of the above people couldn't figure out his quote, they cannot figure out Marx and Lenin, their ability for critical thinking and reading comprehension is lacking as one can clearly see. Capitalism has worked for the last 3,000+ years, and will always continue to work, because just as a company can treat their employee's badly a employee can find another job at a better company, therefor telling his employers what he thinks with his own 2 feet instead of expecting someone else to do that for him (such as with a union), if a employer is that bad to his employee's then no one would stick around and the employer will lose their company. But then again telling your employer what you think of them with your own 2 feet is hard work, hence why socialism finds enough idiots to follow that line of thinking.
     -- Jim, Canada     
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    Jim, how exactly does one "think with their own two feet"? In terms of the quote, obviously Reagan was propagating the American side of the Cold War and anything sympathetic towards Russia or Communism would never be allowed. Interpreting this as a fact is a pretty weak analysis. Oh and as for that brutal argument that "capitalism has worked for the last 3000+ years", I suppose that is easy to say on your computer soaking in the top 10% of the global wealth. I wonder what the subjugated peoples around the world, the victims of capitalism would say? I'm sure they'd tout your capitalism as well if they weren't choking on the fumes from your snowmobile and building your Walmart sweater for pennies.
     -- Logic, Reason     
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    Hehe...it is so true. And a shout-out to all you statists on this forum: Get educated in what liberty is, and then return and have a meaningful conversation!
     -- Ben, Orem, UT     
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    Ron wasn't the brightest spark who has ever been US president, then again he's far from the most the stupid also. His quote only underlines the fact that culture and political ideas in the USA since the civil rights movement are issued by some truly stupid people. For pure entertainment value I like this quote; it's typical catch 22 republican rubbish.
     -- WILL, UK     
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    Socialism (or any form there of - communism, fascism, progressiveism, etc.) has economically destroyed every country where it was allowed to dominate for any length of time. Capitalism has been the motor that has fed the masses, created a middle class, and gave hope to the poor. Freedom requires personal responsibility. If you don't like your employer, find another job or go into business for your self. Only the slave of mind and heart can defend any form of socialism.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Marx and maybe not Lenin perceived a state or government imposed communism. They theorized that the modern world was on a path via the industrial revolution that would lead to greater distribution of wealth. They saw a Europe that emerged from feudalism to capitalism and figured it could advance to still another higher (in their value system) level of economic activity and success. Marx and Engels generally perceived that this "advancement" would mostly occur peacefully from the ground up, not from the top down via dictatorship. For sure Americans ownership of the means of production through stock companies could be described as "people owning the businesses" if it were not for the frequent rip offs by the fraudulent "capitalists". The question is did Reagan ever read or really think about anything. (The best anti-communist I remember was a guy who had a Christian Church and College under his contol in Oklahoma I believe. He had to gospels religion and anti-communism. He had a great following around the country until a male and female church/college couple got married and revealed to each other that the Preacher/Anti-Communist had slept with both of them. Sadly it is often good business to be both noticeably religious and anti-communist.) It worked well for Reagan and Nixon too!
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    The quote stands very well all by itself. It is exactly correct. The reading of Marx and Lenin is meant to be an indoctrination and it works on simple people. Once you understand that, you will oppose it as a free thinking individual. And I get a real kick out of those who criticize capitalism. They might as well be talking about the weather on Mars...because we've never seen it. All we have ever known is fascism. The only true capitalists we've ever seen are the government and their buddies. And that is true in both democracies and communist countries. And that's why I'm a Libertarian. The alternatives make me sick.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    One need not read Lenin and Marx to understand communism-we have seen the results already!
     -- cal, lewisville, tx     
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    Communism is the great leveler. It levels 97% of the people into poverty and misery while the 3% in control live in luxury. Waffler, what on earth does a preacher in Oklahoma have to do with Communism? As to Ft Bragg and Logic, talk to someone who has lived under Castros rule and see how much they love Communism.
     -- jim k, austin     
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    Reagan was amazingly accurate.
     -- Alexia, Englewood, Florida     
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     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA, US      
    So just where on this site do we get to see the source of this or any quote? Sometimes I have seen a load of crap posted. Is it true cause you say it or can we get a source to research?
     -- Question All, Whoville     
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    There is an old Chinese proverb that states: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Unfortunately we now have a modern version that describes the results of socialism: Give a man a government entitlement and he will return the next day with his friends and family wanting more and complaining “what have you done for me lately?” as he promptly forgets how to fend for himself and slowly relinquishes his freedom. - Doug Stevenson
     -- Doug, Calif     
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    Statements must stand alone or this must be a joke or its next to the Bush sayings - like when he wanted to know how much is a Brazilian - What an asinine statement.
     -- RBESRQ     
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    No citizens under communism want more communism -- it is the destruction of the middle class. Communism is the end result of a people and a nation completely buried in debt -- it is rarely the goal, but often the end. Ask for socialism and get fascism, ask for communism and end up dead or a permanent slave. There is no capitalism when there is a central bank -- it is merely a banker-oligarchy.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    What is to be avoided by a free and thinking people is censorship. Jimmy I was simply trying to point out how folk demogogue the dicotomy of communism/anti-communism. The abuses of the industrial revolutiohn in England is what turned many against that system of tyranny over people. We have farmers co-ops and corporate farms in this country. We abhor the term "collective farm" as we called it in the former Soviet Union yet we have our own "collectives". All I suggest is intelligent dialogue and not the censorship mentality that Reagan would promote.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Umm Steven...like the communist in the quote, you've read the quote but don't understand what you've read. Ronnie is suggesting that people who read and do understand Lenin and Marx...will be "against" it.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    Capitilism is not the same as free enterprise and it is greed that first destroys free enterprise thus allowing for the state to back capitalist monopolies through the corruption of legislators by special interest lobbyism.
     -- Anon     
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    Steven apparently can not read himself or he is an idiot or more likely both. Waffler you are right. The original idea of Communism was very pretty. The problem was that it could only work with a group of perfect people. With out that the only to approach Communism was by force. The only successful Communists are bees and ants. We have yet to discover the pheromones necessary to enslave the human population with out the backlash of discontent. It seem that some think that Obama has those pheromones but most are beginning to realize that it was just a bad smell. Waffler your socialist dreams are crap because you and your cohorts never take into account human nature. That is why capitalism and freedom with all its flaws is superior. With few exceptions our system corrects and recovers from the corrupt while the socialist system is conducive to the taking of power by a tyrant. Your hero Obama and his cohorts intend to try to shove socialism down our throats before we have a chance to throw them out. If they are successful we will be stuck with them and whom ever A.C.O.R.N. selects for us as our leaders. You think that the corrupt that gets to the top in our system is proof of how bad it is but you do not consider that they are often exposed and removed. Your socialist dream would become a nightmare as soon as you realized that the corrupt would not only be irremovable but it would be made a crime to suggest it.
     -- warren, olathe     
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    Great Ronald Reagan. He played with the words a little bit, but said something that is true and very serious. Governments have ways to help people thrive and governments have ways to curb their prosperity.
     -- Elisabeth, Astoria, NY     
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    Recently I have been reading The Naked Communist by W. Cleon Skousen, first published in 1958. It has greatly increased my understanding of Marxists thinking. The Communist model is extremely flawed. Reagan's comment is very accurate, maybe he also read this book. Here is a link to a list that is in this book; http://www.uhuh.com/nwo/communism/comgoals.htm
     -- Dave, Kansas     
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    I also have a copy of the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels. Their words and ideas are a lot like Obama. On the surface they sound very good. But once you start thinking about them and scratch below the surface for logic and substance, you won't find any. They make way too many assumptions that are not realistic. Here is an article by the people who voted for the destruction of America, excuse me, "change". http://www.cpusa.org/article/view/1054/
     -- Dave, Kansas     
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    1. Capitalism emerged around the the end of European feudalism (approx. 1500 AD), thus it is not 3,000 years old 2. Obama is as bourgeois as they come. 3. Marx didn't necessarily define communism as an alternative to capitalism, but as a stage of human development which is as inevitable as the shift from feudalism to capitalism was. Too many of you are viewing it in terms of the world's current social, political, and economic conditions. It's not that workers would function like ants that serve only the collective and the leadership, but that the primative idea of competition, i.e. for jobs, between corporations, etc, would be replaced by collaboration in order to survive. As a result, the individual is still just as important as the collective. In addition, governments would inevitably be smaller and would have to function on a grassroots level so that way an altruistic leadership wouldn't be necessary because the group of individuals would be forced to work together in order to survive. Just how the general understanding of how things worked in a feudal society, and every previous economic system, had changed as it entered into a new one, the human psyche would be forced into thinking a little more about the community then just the individual and understand that it would be necessary for survival. The idea of survival, in this day and age, in a "developed" nation is very different to that of survival in an "underdeveloped" country. As a result, many of us can't even began to imagine the hardships of survival in countries in which people don't have computers in which to argue marxism, which is the reality in the vast majority of the world.
     -- Jon, Pennsylvania     
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    The majority of the posts that are thumbs down support Reagan's point. I don't think they are communist necessarily, but thinking in the way Reagan labeled them. "Working together=a good thing, communism=working together, so communism=a good thing". (I wish I could set off a game show "wrong" buzzer right now!) Reading more Marx/Lenin/Engels explains controlling media/education/religion to control the masses.
     -- Mike, Wisconsin     
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    The problem with communism is that it has a very lofty ideal of people coming together, working together and becoming self-sufficient to the point where they need no government. Sounds fantastic, doesn't it? And it's so simple, too! So what's wrong? There is one catch: you must embrace a high level of self-sacrifice virtually all of the time to make such a society possible. That's where you run into a particular snafu: the level of self-sacrifice required will clash against the inherent selfishness of human nature. Nobody can be self-sacrificing of the type required for such a society, but this is what's essentially required to allow true communism to develop and prosper as Karl Marx intended. And, just in case people are thinking of selfishness as a bad thing, it's not so long as you don't allow your selfishness to go out of control; your selfishness is a way for you to recognize and achieve that which you need and desire in your life so long as what you do doesn't interfere with the liberty of others and you're willing to earn what you want as well as to assume the responsibility and consequences for your choices and actions. Because of the inherent selfishness of human nature, people will deviate from communist self sacrifice, which means the society either fragments and crumbles to failure or, as we have seen consistently throughout the history of communist nations, it changes to oppress the people back into conformity. Either way, the communist society fails because it disintegrates or it perverts itself into totalitarianism, making the goal of self-sufficiency without government impossible to realize. It's well-intentioned but, referencing back to communism's simplicity, it's TOO simple as it fails to consider that people have hopes, dreams and desires in life and that those things will have a bearing on how and why each individual will want to live. The problem with self-sacrifice under communism: you must sacrifice those kinds of personal choices for the greater good of a collective society and, more or less, individuals won't stand for it sooner or later, especially those who want to to do more than merely exist as basically no more than a cog in a machine. Sooner or later, individual spirits will clash with the collective order in much the same vein as individual workers clashing against a crummy corporation. Whether it be by corporatism (oft confused with capitalism but, rather, is a perversion of it) or communism perverted into totalitarianism, you're crushing the human spirit. And that's why, ultimately, Mr. Reagan's quote is eloquent and, above all, correct.
     -- Ashram, Central Florida     
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    If you like communism then go live in china or north korean and see how you like living there.
     -- freedom, liberty     
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    Capitalism is the unequal distribution of wealth. Communism is equal redistribution of poverty. If you want people to rise, achieve, and innovate, there must be a prize at the end of the tunnel. Those who strive in this life, should get what they earn, not give it to a man who didn't try. Capitalism has made this country what it is. Seeing a person receive something they've earned makes you want to try. Pretty simple and timeless principle. If you take that away, there is no motive to try, to succeed. No growth will come. Survival of the fittest is necessary in society. There will always be poor, there will always be people who don't try. This entitlement era must stop now. Why are sports or all competition at that matter so interesting to watch? Because there is a winner, there is an achievement made! Can you imagine watching Jeopardy, and afterwards Alex Trebeck says, well Dave you would've won, but I'm gonna give you all the same amount of money? Or after a football game. Well the Packers dominated again, but we'll give everyone a championship. It doesn't make sense, and it doesn't make anyone better. The same with Communism. Ask the North Korean folks, Russia, China. Do we really want to model after that? It's so ironic that Marx says that the U.S. Capitalist system was made and prospers at the expense of the rest of the world when his ideal has not prospered at the expense of the rest of the world, and it's very own people.
     -- Austin Firth, Woods Cross, UT     
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    There are a few massive flaws with capitalism. For a start, it's all based on money, but also on gaining as much of it as possible. From no age we are taught to strive to be rich and earn lots of money. And a society that obsessed with money is a society that is eventually going to topple. And here is why. The stock market is for the most part the centralized measure of what money is worth, corporations are large and in charge. Exchange rates rely on stock values. A countries wealth and power resides in its bank balance and stocks. The minute the stocks go boom, the cycle begins. The government cuts back spending. Generalized poverty increases, as does unemployment. Insurance goes up, people can't afford it. Oil prices rise. Money loses its value due to inflation. And so on and so forth. Every time the stocks have taken a large dip, society has suffered. Yet, what is striking is that stock market valuations are highly based on rumour, hear say and investor/shareholder psychology. People sell or buy on hunches, or on business projections, which really are a complete farcity. Nobody see's around the next corner. Nobody can predict the future. And for this reason, it only takes time. Eventually, the monetary based system will fail. It can never be sustained. It is also heavily based on debt. America's debt is so large that they needed to get more debt to stay afloat and manage the debt they already have. And the corporations and companies also suffer under this pressure. Yes, death for corporations do I hear? Well not so fast. These corporations and companies. They are the taxpayer. Without businesses, there is no system. Because the government and the employee both get their money from the companies. Every cent the government spends comes directly or indirectly from companies or self employed folk. And when the stock and banking system inevitably goes to pots, so does government spending power as a result. Cue America's Downgraded credit rating. Which in turn, lowers the ceiling of debt America can have. Lots of debt, messed up stocks, high unemployment and a newly downgraded credit rating that makes it almost impossible for you to get out of your hole. And lots of important taxpayers closing their doors. So USA, got yourself in a nice little pickle now. Hooray for capitalism!!l
     -- GBO, London     
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    Also, Communism and Marxism are two different things. When money fails, we'll all hope we have a windmill generator and farming skills. That's what real communism would be. No doubt someone would pervert it for profit though and we'd be back trapped in the same old pointless monetary system yet again. Marxism is completely ridiculous, it would never work, communism either, and it's because of human gluttony and greed. 'There is enough on earth to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed'. Hence debt, poverty, and insanely rich people.
     -- GBO, London     
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     -- Me      
    Giving up your liberty and freedom to be taken care of, is self imposed slavery. I think we should give the liberals an island with no resources to " exploit" and let them figure out their utopia. Or we can look to history for all of examples and understand government does not know best for the individual and everytime it thinks it does it fails shortly there after
     -- Anonymous, Paso robles     
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    I would suggest that President Reagan didn't understand Marx. Serious study of Marx was not something he was known for.
     -- Brandon, Maine     
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    I agree with Pres. Reagan(r-CA)(the greatest US President) but would say that Communists believe in the Communist Manifesto (written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels) but Capitalists understand it.
     -- Mike Harrison, mesa, az     
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    Capitalism is why we have the luxury of watching commie fanboys defend the bankrupt notion that your money is better spent by other people.
     -- Mike, NY     
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    It isn't clear how much Marx that Reagan might actually have read, but judging by what little he said and the depth of Marxist knowledge by Reagan's supporters here, it probably wasn't much more than "The Communist Manifesto" (1848). The reason that this is important, is that most of Marx's volumes of writings are on a criticism of socio-economic implications of class relationships under capitalism, and "The Communist Manifesto", while not unimportant, is essentially a pamphlet. Most of Marx's writing is philosophy and criticism. To characterize Marx simply as one of the creators of the idea of Communism is to broadcast your ignorance about Marx's work. To say you understand Communism and Marx by reading "The Communist Manifesto" is like saying you understand Christianity solely based on the song, "Silent Night".
     -- Marc, Chicago, IL USA     
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    Communism would be the perfect form of government if human nature were not flawed. What works is a system that capitalizes on the fact that people do not naturally want to share and they naturally want to get ahead. I wonder what sort of name would work for such a system.
     -- Tim, Columbus     
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    Well said Marc from Chicago. Ronnie had some good script writers though.
     -- Mick, Manchester     
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     -- Ronw13, Oregon      
    This mf clearly has never read Marx or Lenin. Or if he has, he one a those mfs who read Manifesto and go "haha, I have the knowledge of all communists worldwide" without understanding the context of the words in it, their meanings, and wtf marx & muh boi engels are actually on about.
     -- Noneofyourbusiness, Bumfuckville     
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    It should be noted, and basic reading comprehension would have told you, that Reagan was not suggesting the anti-communist does not read Marx and Lenin. In fact, one would suggest that reading Marx and Lenin would be quite necessary to understanding Marx and Lenin. That said: With the ample evidence of the flaws of Marxism, anyone still sticking up for the concepts clearly fails to understand them.

    Steven demonstrates what Reagan meant quite well. Steven was someone that read the quote, but did not understand it.
     -- Joe, T-Town     
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