It's obvious that socialism, Marxism, and communism are words with derogatory connotations in the collective mind of the United States; the evil United Socialist Soviet Republic did, after all, influence the bulk of 20th century U.S. rhetoric.
Calling Mandela a Communist or a terrorist shortly after his death is mean-spirited, but it is a bigger condemnation of the moral blindness of much of U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War than it is a criticism of Mandela.
When I started working on U.S.-Soviet relations in the 1980s, I encountered my first GONGO. This was a "government-organized non-governmental organization." It was like something out of Alice in Wonderland.
While the entrepreneurial, professional and managerial middle classes are close to the Party-state having emerged from within its ranks, the Party-state has also certainly acted to ensure their loyalty.
The irony of holding an event on communism and Marxism in Gangnam, the zone of gaudy consumerism made famous by Psy, was lost on no one. This irony was compounded by the fact that Gangnam is only 35 miles away from the DMZ.
Common sense suggests that young Germans are looking exclusively at the future, and the country has moved on from the debates over reunification and the fate of East Germany. But common sense is wrong.
We work alongside amazing people who are not just providing food to hungry people but are transforming their communities and the lives of millions through programs that empower people to change an oppressive system.
I actually do not know what system would be better, though I am willing to work with others to create one. Perhaps, a possible solution is more subtle than a change of systems. One of the communal moral corrosions that I see all around will help explain this -- a lack of satisfaction.
The whole Arab Spring movement has woken America up to the fact that we've been propping up some pretty brutal leaders for a long, long time. Which leads us to the uncomfortable position of not having a clear ideological position.
The Round Table lacked perhaps the drama of the Berlin Wall's collapse or Vaclav Havel's leap from prison to presidency. But its patient politicking also represented an alternative to the violence of Romania's revolution and Yugoslavia's descent into war.
Visiting countries with recent histories of violence, dictatorships and war, I watch in amazement as people live in hope even with the continuing residue of single-party governments and dominant religions or atheism.