VOC Educates Dozens on Perils of Marxism in Springfield, MO Workshop

The Victims of Communism – St. Louis Commission (VOC-STL) hosted an interactive workshop, “Marxism in the World:  Workshop on its Perils, Past and Present,” in Springfield, Missouri on Saturday, September 18. Nearly sixty residents joined VOC-STL to learn more about Marxist theory, understand the history of communism, and to draw comparisons between communism in Cuba and China and various groups and political supporters of socialism and communism in the United States.

VOC-STL Education Outreach Coordinator Kerri Flynn facilitated the workshop which began with an interactive presentation of VOC’s curricular resource, Communism: Its Ideology, Its History, and Its Legacy. An alumni of VOC’s National Seminar for Middle and High School Educators, Flynn has been using the curriculum in her social studies courses following her participation in the National Seminar in 2017. In addition to this presentation and discussion of the deadly ideology of Marxist theory, VOC-STL Strategic Development Chair Dan Powell shared information on communist activity in St. Louis and in Springfield, allowing participants to draw comparisons between current activities and the global history of communism and socialism. VOC-STL’s Cuba Specialist Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo presented on his experience and perspectives on communism in his native Cuba and VOC-STL volunteer Karen Tian presented on her experience living under communism in China.

The workshop drew strong reactions from participants. Springfield resident Cindy Holcomb said that the personal testimonies were enlightening, and she could have used a two-day workshop. “Orlando’s four fallacies of Communism gave me the arguments to communicate against such ideas. Also, learning about the Communist party election strategy has lit a fire under me! I do not want to just be passive and let these things happen. There is a lot of work to do, and education and communication will be the key,” said Holcomb.

Another participant, Dr. Mary Byrne said that the VOC-STL workshop “was extremely helpful in uncovering the deceptive strategies of socialists/communists who say they want to alleviate social ills, when their real agenda is increasing power to control others (not themselves).”

In her presentation on the theory and history of Marxism, Flynn used activities from the VOC curricular supplement to illustrate strategies on talking about communism and its deadly history and talked about the importance of engaging young people with the materials.

In their own words, Flynn’s students have been exposed to the realities of communist theory and its implementation. This includes Maci who said she has learned that communism creates a “society in which goods are no longer owned by individuals, they are owned by the community.” Another student, Isaac, explained that a communist government “controls everything and attempts to make everyone equal. It does poorly because it becomes very corrupt,” and Megan knows that under communism, “all property and money belong to the government.”

In her presentation, Flynn underscored the importance of understanding students’ environment and popular U.S. culture which sometimes celebrates figures like Che Guevara without sharing the deadly outcomes of their actions.

Saturday’s workshop showcased the VOC curricular supplement and brought history to life through personal stories from local residents who have experienced or witnessed communism around the world.

Also covered on local news radio station 104.1 KSGF with Nick Reed, the event broadened the commission’s efforts to include the Springfield area which is about a three hour drive outside of St. Louis. Attendees were encouraged to support VOC-STL by volunteering to serve on a committee or get involved in other ways.

Local resident Mary Griffith, who was instrumental in bringing the VOC-STL workshop to the Springfield community, was pleased with the turnout and glad for the event. Griffith noted that “Many Americans are drawn to Marxist ideology [and] even in our town there are multiple communist and socialist groups. People need to hear [witnesses of communism’s] their stories. The VOC curriculum should be taught in every school district.”

Located along the Illinois/Missouri border and home to numerous universities, including top research institutions Washington University and Saint Louis University, St. Louis Missouri is an educational hub and ideal setting for this first and centrally located Commission of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC).  VOC-STL is comprised of volunteers from across the St. Louis region, including community leaders and others who have fled communist oppression for a better life in the United States.