I sure have said this many times but I grew up 5km away from the Iron Curtain – luckily on the Austrian side. When the Iron Curtain fell in 1989, my family was among the very first to cross over into the country we had seen beyond the barbed wires for so any years. It was an eerie feeling. We had imagined how it must be many times but no amount of imagination prepared us for what we were hit with. People that have never seen a banana in their lives, friendly, nice and kind people but the state of the villages and towns was desolation. And one thing we never really understood – the stench of lignite coal was in the air. We never smelled it on our side of the border, just kilometers away but there it was omnipresent. I was a young man at the time and I understood that socialism not only destroys economies, it also destroys countries and people.
As the Soviet Union began to collapse, the socialist economist Robert Heilbroner admitted that central planning had failed economically but said we needed “to rethink the meaning of socialism.”