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Dostoevsky’s 6 Nightmare Prophecies That Came True in the 20th Century, Part One

"However much you tinker with the world, you can't make a good job of it, but by cutting off a hundred million heads and so lightening one's burden, one can jump over the ditch of transforming society more safely..."

by
R.J. Moeller

Bio

December 16, 2012 - 7:45 am
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3) Genocide: The War on Man

From Walter E. Williams’ August 8th column “Liberals, Progressives, and Socialists“:

The unspeakable acts of Adolf Hitler’s Nazis pale in comparison to the horrors committed by the communists in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the People’s Republic of China. Between 1917 and 1987, Vladimir Lenin, Josef Stalin and their successors murdered and were otherwise responsible for the deaths of 62 million of their own people. Between 1949 and 1987, China’s communists, led by Mao Zedong and his successors, murdered and were otherwise responsible for the deaths of 76 million Chinese. The most authoritative tally of history’s most murderous regimes is documented on University of Hawaii Professor Rudolph J. Rummel’s website here, and in his book “Death by Government.”

The numbers involved stagger the mind. We must shine a spotlight on a truth our modern education system has failed to teach American students: these were all secular, socialist nations that began under the auspices of such lofty-sounding goals as “a workers’ paradise” and “the peoples’ republic.”

Like lambs to the slaughter, millions went simply because dutiful bureaucrats and foot soldiers carried out the orders of philosopher-kings who were ready to sacrifice humanity for the sake of their “rational” and “progressive” and “scientific” system of governance.

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And yet this nightmare did not begin to play itself out until a few decades into the 20th century. Some fifty years earlier, a Russian novelist by the name of Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky conceived of characters such as the social theorist “Shigalov” in The Devils who announced to the inner circle of socialist revolutionaries he belonged to the logical long-term plan for ruling the people once the czar was toppled:

Dedicating my energies to the study of the social organisation which is in the future to replace the present condition of things, I’ve come to the conviction that all makers of social systems from ancient times up to the present year, 187-, have been dreamers, tellers of fairy-tales, fools who contradicted themselves, who understood nothing of natural science and the strange animal called man…

I suggest as a final solution of the question the division of mankind into two unequal parts. One-tenth enjoys absolute liberty and unbounded power over the other nine-tenths. The others have to give up all individuality and become, so to speak, a herd, and, through boundless submission, will by a series of regenerations attain primeval innocence, something like the Garden of Eden. They’ll have to work, however. The measures I propose for depriving nine-tenths of mankind of their freedom and transforming them into a herd through the education of whole generations are very remarkable, founded on the facts of nature and highly logical.

To this, the aforementioned ringleader Peter Verkhovensky responds:

“However much you tinker with the world, you can’t make a good job of it, but by cutting off a hundred million heads and so lightening one’s burden, one can jump over the ditch of transforming society more safely. … It’s a new religion, my good friend, coming to take the place of the old one. That’s why so many fighters come forward, and it’s a big movement…

I ask you which you prefer: the slow way, which consists in the composition of socialistic romances and the academic ordering of the destinies of humanity a thousand years hence, while despotism will swallow the savory morsels which would almost fly into your mouths of themselves if you’d take a little trouble; or do you, whatever it may imply, prefer a quicker way which will at last untie your hands, and will let humanity make its own social organisation in freedom and in action, not on paper? They shout “cut off a hundred million heads”; that may be only a metaphor; but why be afraid of it if, with the slow day-dream on paper, despotism in the course of some hundred years will devour not a hundred but five hundred million heads?

What’s one-to-five-hundred million “heads” among friends, right?

Again, keep in mind Dostoevsky penned these words in 1872. Great evils like tyrannical monarchies and human slave-trafficking had existed on planet earth since time began, but this devious mixture of both with a calculated and cavalier attitude toward human life startled those in the 19th century like Dostoevsky who first heard the schemes of the original community organizers (and had the good sense to believe that they’d carry out their plans should they ever gain power).

It’s very difficult for my generation – the current 18 to 35 demographic – to grasp just how much suffering and death and oppression took place in the 20th century. We do not receive a comprehensive version of history in our public schools and institutions of higher education that might shed critical light on ideologies many in academia support. And to be sure, we can’t count on Hollywood and the entertainment industry to pick up any such slack in the culture.

But this matters. Ideas have consequences. Tens of millions died in the last century because of evil ideas.

And if an epileptic, compulsive-gambling, ex-convict in Russia 150 years ago could so accurately peer into the murky future to warn us, the least we can do is simply turn around to take in the much clearer view from this side of world history.

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R.J. Moeller is a Chicago native currently living in Los Angeles where he writes for the American Enterprise Institute and hosts their weekly "Values & Capitalism" podcast (The RJ Moeller Show on iTunes), which also re-airs every Saturday on AM 1530 in Chicago. He serves as a media consultant to Dennis Prager and Ricochet.com. He is also a contributor at Acculturated.com. His educational background includes undergrad studies in Business/Econ and Masters work in Theology/Philosophy. Follow R.J. on Twitter @rjmoeller!
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