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According to legend, when Vladimir Lenin was asked how he planned to “hang all the capitalists” in the face of a rope shortage in the young Soviet Union, he replied “don’t worry comrade, the capitalists will sell us the rope.”
Though likely apocryphal, the quote captures the spirit of what Lenin wrote more precisely – and just as cold-bloodedly – in a manuscript note:
“They [the capitalists] will furnish credits which will serve us for the support of the Communist Party in their countries and, by supplying us materials and technical equipment which we lack, will restore our military industry necessary for our future attacks against our suppliers. To put it in other words, they will work on the preparation of their own suicide.”
Fortunately, the Soviets were largely hamstrung from realizing Lenin’s vision by America’s Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls list, or COCOM, which barred the sale of advanced computers and other high-priority items to the USSR, often against the wishes of over-eager American businesses. But the People’s Republic of China, by contrast, not only has much greater ability to buy similar instruments of our destruction; it also has discovered a monetary leverage point that Lenin could only have dreamed of: international censorship.