Answer: all three.
Probably, the average communists you meet, especially the younger ones, are ignorant and/or stupid. The people leading the movement are undeniably evil and power-hungry.
A great example of the former kind popped into my Twitter feed yesterday:
A guy looked at my Corvette the other day and said,
“I wonder how many people could have been fed for the money that sports car cost?
The reply; I’m not sure;
it fed a lot of families in Bowling Green, Kentucky who built it,
it fed the people who make the tires,
it fed the…
— Steven Tsakonas (@steventsak) January 24, 2024
You can see how this line of thinking appeals to uneducated, infantilized people whose level of knowledge not just about economics but about human history is not just minuscule, but entirely wrong due to propaganda.
The fact is that people in the Western world work far less for far better living conditions and food than any group of people who have ever lived on Earth, with the exception of natives on tropical islands whose food literally falls off of trees. We live longer, better, more comfortable lives filled with entertainment, and most of us don’t even have physically demanding or dangerous jobs.
We are able to travel millions of miles over our lives should we so choose. I drive rarely, but still put about 8-10,000 miles on my car a year. I take trips that would have taken months not too long ago in the space of hours. People can fly to Hawaii on a whim–a trip that would have been frequently deadly not too long ago.
In other words, even poor people in capitalist societies have pretty great lives by historical standards unless they are drug addicts or mentally ill. And drug addicts and mentally ill people didn’t have it any easier in earlier times.
My point isn’t that communists are wrong–most sane people have figured that out. It’s that they are wrong because they have been given an absolutely bizarre rendition of human history and the current state of the world and how it works. There really was no time in history when actual humans lived in the Garden of Eden. And it’s not greedy capitalists who made the world a worse place.
Food has to be produced. Housing has to be produced. Almost everything we enjoy but sunshine and air is the result of human labor, and capitalism is simply an extremely efficient way for people to cooperate and maximize the productivity and innovation of human beings.
Perhaps we should have state-sponsored communes where kids are dropped off in the wilderness and invited to enjoy the benefits of living in a society where everybody does as much or as little as they want and live off the land. They need to pay for nothing but can’t demand others produce for them.
That’s been tried. It never works. But let them find out for themselves. These kids clearly believe that food and shelter just appear.
They object to money without realizing money is simply an efficient way for human beings to trade their skills or labor without barter, and money is just another way to trade–and trade is the only way any of us can get others to labor for us.
These are the ignorant and stupid–but the ignorant were made that way because we have universal education and unlimited access to all the information in the world, practically speaking.
That is where the evil people come in–they use propaganda to turn these people into useful idiots. And they do so because creating that narrative and spreading it turns these useful idiots into the shock troops who can empower the evil to shake everybody else down, or in certain places put the “vanguard of the proletariate” in charge. Every communist leader of a country becomes essentially infinitely wealthy and powerful through immiserating others.
That is the irony. Fidel Castro died pretty much a billionaire, and functionally much more than that. He could get anything he wanted at the cost of his countrymen. Soviet leaders, ditto. Xi Jinping? Ditto.
Communist leaders are the ultimate exploiters, often enslaving their populations. Genuine forced labor.
These kids don’t know that, and it is sad. They have been turned into idiots for the benefit of their puppetmasters. And it is happening in our schools.