SAS: 10 Things No One Tells You About Living Under Socialism

To learn more about the Stand Against Socialism (SAS) campaign, click here.

1. It’s really difficult to get online

In a country like Cuba, don’t count on being able to use Google Maps to find your way around. As for using your phone to order a takeaway or find that special someone on a dating app - forget it. The internet is slow, expensive, and primarily provided through crowded government-approved WiFi hotspots.

If you do manage to log on, then good luck tweeting, streaming videos or generally finding out what’s going on in the world. Socialist regimes frequently censor internet use.


2. You have to wait a long time to get literally anything

Shortages and rationing in socialist countries means that you have to be prepared to wait to get your hands on even the most basic items. People living in socialist countries often queue for hours just to buy milk, coffee, sugar, corn flour, cooking oil, soap and even toilet paper. As for the latest gadgets, such as the new iPhone, these are basically unaffordable for most normal people.

3. It’s really tough being a woman

(Mostly male) politicians controlling the means of production is not good news. Central planning failed to take into consideration even the most basic products for women. Sanitary towels, for example, were not available in the Soviet Union. What is more, in modern day Venezuela, sanitary products are in short supply. Still, she’s literally communist.


4. It’s also really tough being LGBTQ+

In Venezuela, gay couples were excluded from the government’s food bag scheme. Transgender people are struggling to find food supplies, because the Venezuelan government does not issue identity documents that recognise their gender identity.

Under Castro’s regime, gay men were rounded up by the police and put in prison camps. Openly gay men were banned from joining the Communist Party and fired from their jobs. LGBTQ+ students were expelled from university. Because equality, apparently.


5. Childhood is no fun

Won’t somebody please think of the children.  Due to malnutrition, kids in Venezuela often have to resort to begging, digging in dustbins and crime, in order to survive. Many of them take drugs in order to cope. There are also nappy and milk shortages.

Children in North Korea are punished for the crimes of their parents and are sent to prison camps with them. School children are forced to undertake hard labour and watch public executions.


6. Going to university doesn’t improve much

Safe spaces are not a thing. Student protests in China calling for more freedom and democracy were brutally cracked down by the government. Over 10,000 people were killed and 40,000 injured.

Lecturers in socialist countries who do not teach material approved by the State are removed from their positions and sometimes imprisoned and killed. What is more, certain fields of research are sometimes banned.


7. You can’t have a decent night out

Due to beer shortages, it is very difficult to get a pint in Cuba and Venezuela. Even if you manage to find a place serving alcohol, curfews and crackdowns by the governments in various socialist countries can mean that your night out ends pretty quickly.

Even in the UK, electricity shortages meant that clubs and pubs struggled to keep the lights on in the 1970s.


8. Going on holiday can be tricky

In many socialist countries, going on holidays abroad is not possible, due to bans on leaving the country. Cubans, for example, have only been able to leave the country without permission since 2013.

Want to buy a gift for mum while you’re away? Few mementos from your trip? Nope. In the 1970s, the UK government introduced capital controls. As a result, UK passports had a page listing how much money people could take out of the country (£50 a year).


9. Public services are rubbish (literally)

In the UK in the 1970s, rubbish collectors went on strike. Local authorities eventually ran out of space for storing waste and so used local parks. Leicester Square became a massive rubbish dump, overrun with rats.

The gravediggers went on strike in Liverpool with the local council being forced to store corpses in a factory. At its peak, there were 150 corpses stored there. Absolutely grim.

10. Getting around can be a nightmare

The wait time for a car in the Soviet Union was ten years. People would have to go to their manager or the trade union office and submit a written request. Simples, right? Well then a background check would then be carried out, to ensure that you were a good socialist. After approximately one year you would find out if you were allowed one.  When the car finally arrived, it was poorly made and would frequently break down. Seriously, Google ‘soviet cars’.  

The railways in the UK were nationalised in 1948, and the government pumped in £30 billion in order to improve them. It did not work. The railways were generating heavy losses, and so swingeing cuts to services and standards had to be implemented. Train journeys were often unsafe, frequently delayed, or shockingly bad quality.

Despite having the world’s largest oil reserves, fuel shortages are now common in Venezuela. It’s often not possible for people to fill up their cars with petrol.

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