In the past two weeks, I have been traveling along the Danube River, visiting various former Communist countries in Eastern Europe. My wife and I have visited Prague in the Czech Republic, Bratislava in Slovakia, and Budapest in Hungary (as well as Vienna in nonaligned Austria).
Travelling through these cities and speaking to some of the people, especially the guides, has been enormously interesting. These are people who lived through the communist period. Their views of communism are not (merely) based on abstract arguments about its problems. These people lived under the system and experienced what it was like.
After speaking to several of these people, I found their stories — while differing in details — to be consistent. The communism that they lived under was a brutal system that both deprived people of freedom and impoverished them. But it is the specific events of their lives — stories about their parents and relatives and friends — that give special power to the critique of communism.