December 31, 2003
I’ve noticed a disturbing tendency on the American left to minimize both the dangers of communism and the threat it presented in the Cold War. With the benefit of hindsight, defense buildups and what were at the time wholly rational fears are dismissed on the grounds that it was all going to rot away anyhow; some claim that this means anticommunism as a policy movement was essentially pointless; and at its most extreme, a few assert that opposition to international communism only exacerbated the problem. Every one of these beliefs is wrong. . . .
The second error commonly committed vis a vis communism is that it’s somehow a “noble ideal” that was just executed really, really, poorly. Yep, every single time it was ever tried. Leaving aside the whole battered-wife syndrome evident in this attitude among the apologists (“Maybe next time he won’t beat me, nor shoot countless political prisoners!”), there’s the basic fact that communism is not a fundamentally noble ideal.
UPDATE: By the way, Jonathan Rauch has a good piece on the left’s unwillingness to face the historical truth about communism in the Atlantic Monthly. Sadly, it’s pay-only, but you can read an abstract here.