December 16, 2010

AND YET APOLOGISTS IN AMERICA WERE COMPARING HIM TO THE EARLY CHRISTIANS: Mao’s Great Leap To Famine: “The worst catastrophe in China’s history, and one of the worst anywhere, was the Great Famine of 1958 to 1962, and to this day the ruling Communist Party has not fully acknowledged the degree to which it was a direct result of the forcible herding of villagers into communes under the ‘Great Leap Forward’ that Mao Zedong launched in 1958. To this day, the party attempts to cover up the disaster, usually by blaming the weather. Yet detailed records of the horror exist in the party’s own national and local archives. . . . Starvation was the punishment of first resort. As report after report shows, food was distributed by the spoonful according to merit and used to force people to obey the party. One inspector in Sichuan wrote that “commune members too sick to work are deprived of food. It hastens their death.”

Socialism starves. Capitalism enriches. It’s been proven over and over again. But remember: Communism is about “human dignity.” See:

In all, the records I studied suggest that the Great Leap Forward was responsible for at least 45 million deaths.

Between 2 and 3 million of these victims were tortured to death or summarily executed, often for the slightest infraction. People accused of not working hard enough were hung and beaten; sometimes they were bound and thrown into ponds. Punishments for the least violations included mutilation and forcing people to eat excrement.

Communists are as bad as Nazis, and their defenders and apologists are as bad as Nazis’ defenders, but far more common. When you meet them, show them no respect. They’re evil, stupid, and dishonest. They should not enjoy the consequences of their behavior.

UPDATE: A reader emails:

I’m a long time reader, but I must strongly object to this:

“Communists are as bad as Nazis, and their defenders and apologists are as bad as Nazis’ defenders, but far more common. When you meet them, show them no respect. They’re evil, stupid, and dishonest. They should not enjoy the consequences of their behavior.”

As someone who works in academia, I run into my fair share of Marxists. While I disagree with their politics, many of them are decent non-evil people most certainly deserving of respect. There is, to my mind, a big difference between communism and Nazism: it is possible to be a communist with the “good will,” i.e. to sincerely wish the best most prosperous future for everyone. I think it’s pretty obvious that communism is not the way towards that goal, but intelligent people can disagree. Nazism, on the other hand, is fundamentally impossible to commit one’s self to with a good will. It is inherently racist, hateful, and concerned with elevating particular groups of people on the basis of the subjugation and dehumanization of others.

Put another way: communism, like it or not, is an Enlightenment project and an Enlightenment ideology. The evils of communism my be intrinsic, but they are not built into the ideology itself. I.e. Marx never advocated for any society like the Soviet Union or for gulags, etc. The same cannot be said of Nazism.

This is not to give communism a “pass,” but rather to separate the ideology and intentions of the believer, from, say, crimes like the Great Leap Forward. One does not convince communists to give up their creed by calling them Nazis and refusing to show them a modicum of respect. One convinces them (and I speak from personal experience) but engaging them as people who want the good, but don’t realize that their politics cannot and will never be able to effect the society they seek.

I’d like to agree with this, but I don’t. As Cathy Young noted a few years ago, the “good intentions” argument has long been an excuse for mass murder:

Why the double standard? Unlike Nazism, Communism claimed to champion the noble ideals of equality, fairness, and brotherhood. To many well-meaning liberals and progressives, it was an expression of the enduring human hope for a good and just society; a nostalgic fondness for that hope, Amis argues, endures to this day. That’s why, he says, Hitchens can still profess admiration for Lenin and Trotsky, who laid the foundations for Stalin’s brutal police state. (In his essay, Hitchens evades Amis’s blunt question: “Do you admire terror?”)

Today, the issues raised in Koba the Dread could be seen as purely academic; but they are not. The left’s reluctance to acknowledge that Communism wasn’t just a failure but an evil is due to more than stubbornness. Such an acknowledgment would amount to (1) validating a view of the West, Communism’s Cold War adversary, as good (albeit imperfect), and (2) admitting that the left spent much of the 20th century cozying up to mass murderers and therefore has precious little moral authority to criticize the West today. And that’s very relevant to present-day global conflicts.

Indeed. Communism’s mass murders have gotten less condemnation precisely because academic Marxists and sympathetic journalists continue to cover for them. Meanwhile, Kate McMillan has a more even-handed perspective:

A few years ago a handful of Aryan Guard marched in Calgary, and were confronted by a larger group of “anti-racist” communist protesters. The media ate it up, of course.

As I reminded my conservative blogger friends who were applauding the latter – “When the communists show up to protest the nazis, you’re supposed to pray for an asteroid, not pick a favourite.”

Evil vs. evil, no more.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader T.J. Linzy writes:

I work in academia, but formerly in commerce, and the “good will” remark is one that I hear regularly. However, it is wrong. What the Communists want to do is far worse than racism. Communism feels the need to control someone, because they have legally built up wealth, or want to through their own endeavours (and want to keep it). That wealth makes that person “deserving” of being plundered. “Workers of the world unite!” is OK, but for what? The unspoken goal is to plunder those who have. It is not a call for brotherly love. It is a mobilisation call for a lynch mob.

The Nazis had good will to other Nazis too. You were only in trouble if you weren’t a Nazi. Communism encourages tyranny of the mass over the few. If that is not evil, I don’t know what is.

It’s not even tyranny of the mass over the few. That’s the slogan, but it always ends up in the hands of the nomenklatura. In fact, the more any group talks about equality, the more certain it is to end up with an entirely different set of rules for the few at the top.

Plus, from Moe Lane: Not buying the “goodwill” bit:

Yes, of course: when I get a bullet in the back of the head from somebody for the ‘crime’ of believing in property rights I so totally will feel better about it because the shooter and I ‘merely’ disagree on the best route to Utopia.

I’ll repeat: The difference between Communists and Nazis is mostly PR, and the PR is better because more journalists and academics were communists than Nazis.

And reader Michael Ravine notes what Robert Heinlein said about communism: “I regard it as Red fascism, distinguishable from black and brown fascism by differences of no importance to me nor to its victims.”

Reader Tom Scott, meanwhile, writes:

A long time reader responded:

The evils of communism my be intrinsic, but they are not built into the ideology itself.

Not being an academician I am struggling to understand the distinction he is attempting to make. In reading the “Black Book of Communism” it seems that wherever communism is adopted-USSR, PRC, Cambodia, Cuba, etc- it has inevitably led to a similar result.

By its fruit, the tree is known.

FINALLY: This quote from Moe Lane is worth breaking out:

Marxism is intellectualism for stupid people; it tends to attract the sort who can’t understand that an economic system that cannot feed its own population reliably has failed at the game of Life. Literally.


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