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A Century of Horror

I struggled for a while for what to write here, but I felt I had to write something, because today is a fateful anniversary.

Exactly 100 years ago, on November* 7, 1917, the Communist Revolution in Russia began.

In the ensuing decades, about one hundred million people died because of the Russian Revolution and other communist revolutions it inspired.

These deaths were not an accident, not the result of some deviant misinterpretation of Karl Marx’s true intent, and not some minor incident of history we all should ignore. They were a direct consequence of what you can read in Marx’s writings and those of his successors.

There is no gentle way to say this: if any ideology can be said to be evil, if any set of ideas can be said to be evil, then Communism is evil.

I’ve seen it said recently, on Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere, that we mustn’t compare the Communists to the Nazis because the Nazis started with bad intentions while the Communists had good intentions.

I must disagree. The Communists started with intentions every bit as monstrous as those of the Nazis.

No one ever believes their intentions to be evil of course, and our society has, sadly, a great many people who retain a romantic attachment to communism, and who teach this romantic attachment to their friends, neighbors, and (in the case of the huge number of Marxist academics who unaccountably are working in every university), their students.

The Nazis didn’t believe themselves to be evil, and neo-Nazis today do not believe themselves to be evil. So it is with the apologists for Communism — they do not believe themselves to be evil. I’m sure that Marx didn’t perceive himself to be evil, he believed his enemies to be evil, and I’m sure Hitler felt the same. That doesn’t matter. Self-perception has nothing to do with the thing. It’s the hateful ideas and the trail of corpses that are relevant.

And so we face the problem that many people, even now, even after a century of almost inescapable evidence, still hold a romantic attachment to Communism, do not react to a red star or a hammer and sickle with the instinctive horror that they feel for a swastika.

In other words, our society still has not come to grips with Communism.

This is so much the case that, as I’ve mentioned, there are Marxist professors all over our universities inculcating their ideas into young minds, a fact that should fill us with as much horror as the notion of Nazi professors in our universities. I was taught by some of them, and for a time I became a Marxist. After all, my teachers taught me that Marxism was a perfectly okay idea, not an aberrant horror. They seemed like nice people at the time, and the university had hired them, and so surely they couldn’t have been bad? However, I don’t care how nice such people seem, their ideas have killed people in numbers so large I cannot understand them, and although those ideas deserve to be studied and remembered, they should not be studied or remembered with reverence, but rather the way we remember the behavior of the Spanish Inquisition or the priests who sacrificed human beings every day in the Mayan Empire.

What does it even mean for an ideology to have killed one hundred million people? I can’t look at a crowd and easily distinguish numbers in the hundreds or thousands without aid. I certainly do not understand what a million lives means. I truly do not understand what a hundred million mean. That’s too many for my primitive primate brain to understand.

And so, these people who still preach Marxism are aligning themselves with a level of horror and death so beyond human comprehension that it is basically not possible to come to grips with it. And yet, no one protests them the way they would (correctly) protest the hiring or tenuring of a Nazi.

I see kids in the street sometimes wearing Che T-shirts, sometimes wearing red stars. By all rights, of course, a picture of Karl Marx or Che Guevara should be thought of the same way as a picture of Goebbels or Himmler or Hitler himself would be regarded. Red stars and hammers and sickles should, as I said, be viewed the same way people view swastikas, and yet they appear, ironically and without irony, on various bits of pop culture ephemera all around us. Indeed, dare I say it, such symbols even seem to be carried all too often by various contemporary protesters.

Such symbols and people should inspire horror, because they represent piles, veritable mountains, of human corpses. One hundred million deaths means that there’s six and a half billion kilograms of decaying human flesh that your Che shirt or hip little Red Star should bring to mind.

Why doesn’t it inspire horror? Part of it is that somehow we’ve normalized hiring huge fleets of academic apologists for Communism into our universities, but generally speaking, I’m not sure why people have so much trouble coming to grips with this.

Part of it, of course, must be the human capacity for denial of normalized horror. Apparently normal people in 1850 weren’t overly horrified by the idea of human beings being bought and sold and forced to labor and raped at will by their putative “owners”. Apparently normal people in 1400 didn’t think too much of the idea of burning heretics at the stake.

And so, even today, many normal people don’t seem to think too much of how horrifying their romantic attachment to communism is.

I hope, however, that the human race makes progress on this over time. It has abandoned human sacrifice, and slavery, and burning heretics at the stake, and I hope that, someday, it at last rids itself of its residual acceptance of the most disastrous set of ideas the world has ever seen.

[*Today is November 7th, and some of you may be asking yourselves “wasn’t it called the October Revolution?” It was still October in the Russian calendar of the time because they had not yet switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar.]

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33 comments to A Century of Horror

  • Good one, TOP. I particularly liked:

    I’ve seen it said recently, on Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere, that we mustn’t compare the Communists to the Nazis because the Nazis started with bad intentions while the Communists had good intentions.

    I must disagree. The Communists started with intentions every bit as monstrous as those of the Nazis.

    Quite. As I have often said, Marx sought a total state, and there is no such thing as well intentioned totalitarianism.

  • Mr Ed

    Great post Perry. Why do people like Communism, or forgive it? Perhaps they too are evil, and have murder in their hearts, and not just murder, but what they can tell themselves is just murder, the killing of those who are selfish, rich, arrogant, think they know better or who are better. Or those who wave away 100,00,000 corpses are too lazy and stupid to bother to think things through.

    Over 12,870,000 people voted Labour in our last General Election, with a man who happily quoted Mao in the House of Commons as the prospective Chancellor of the Exchequer. Every single one who voted for Labour does not deserve not to starve to death under socialism, any more than sailing the ocean in a bath risks death, for it is what they were asking for, the rejection of the need to lead a rational or economic existence. You can do that, but the price can be your life, I see not why such a wish should involve anyone else who does not so wish.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Why doesn’t it inspire horror? Because the c/Communists and then the New Left took every opportunity to teach the virtue of their Vision and to deny any slightest hint that there might be a downside, and those who became libruls lapped it up. And continue to teach the same ideas even today.

    Making the package even more attractive was active pitching of the Eeeevilll U.S. (and, so they shouldn’t feel left out, Britain).

    To see Guevara, Mao, the Hammer-&-Sickle glorified is truly disgusting. … If these and their confréres had not been so thoroughly committed to evil and done such horrible things, it would be almost laughable. Imagine if Madison, Jefferson, and Washington were noted by the populace at large mainly for their use as a fashion statement!

  • Lee Moore

    I sort of agree. But then I also sort of disagree. To a liberal (proper sense) the Nazis and the Communists share the same gaping fundamental moral flaw – the belief in the supremacy of the collective over the individual. Or, perhaps more starkly – the nothingness of the individual. And if the individual is nothing then his life is nothing. Hence killing him means nothing. Other older systems have put low, or zero, value on the individual ants, and have slaughtered very freely in their own time. But in most cases, the ruler has been constrained, at least in theory, by a god or gods. The particular evil of the great collectivist theisms of the 20th century is their rejection of any external point of reference at all.

    But when we compare the evils of the Nazis and the Communists (a bit like comparing infinities in mathematics) I think you’ve got to award top prize to the Nazis. They actually set out to exterminate people for the sake of exterminating them. The Commies exterminated people for practical reasons – because they got in the way, or didn’t obey, or failed to shape up quick enough, or because an example needed to be set, or because they felt they needed to start with a clean slate (a la Year Zero.) They didn’t make a habit of murdering people just for the sake of murdering them. And lots of the deaths they caused were more in the nature of reckless endangerment or criminal negligence – most famine deaths were the result of insisting that 2 + 2 = 5, rather than “we must slaughter all these people.” *

    The Commies’ greater body count is down to (a) longevity and (b) the peculiarity of their belief system – a determined insistence of the infinite malleability of human nature. The Nazis didn’t share the nuttiness of (b) – their beliefs were less divorced from human nature, so apart from the selection of particular groups to murder, and the, er, war-starting, they weren’t anything like as totalitarianly barmy as the Commies. But I think, on points, they win on unpleasantness.

    But Perry is right. The continued failure of our society to vomit uncontrollably at Communist symbols, and the survival of Communist doctrines, is pretty amazing. And alarming.

    * but not all – the Ethiopian famine that Michael Buerk fatuously called a “biblical” famine, was clearly a deliberate act of policy.

  • I blogged much the same thing, only with dark humor memes

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    But when we compare the evils of the Nazis and the Communists (a bit like comparing infinities in mathematics) I think you’ve got to award top prize to the Nazis. They actually set out to exterminate people for the sake of exterminating them.

    So did the Communists. The mere fact that all property holders and business people were marked for extermination and not an ethnic group doesn’t make it less exterminatory. Indeed, some of the communists, like the Khmer Rouge, went even further, deciding to exterminate even “intellectuals” and other groups in the name of their revolution. The Holodomor was also quite clearly a successful attempt at the mass murder of a group.

    I often see this odd claim that the Communists didn’t intend to kill huge groups for the sake of being rid of them, but of course they did.

    If you wish to claim the Nazi desire to kill Jews was purely arbitrary, they, too, claimed that Jews were a threat to them, and their justifications, though ridiculous, were no worse than the justification that (say) were given for the slaughter of people who wore eyeglasses in Cambodia or for the slaughter of Ukrainian farmers.

  • bobby b

    For some reason, we’ve settled on this idea that murdering people due to immutable factors – things inherent about people that they cannot change such as skin color and gender and racial identity – is worse than murdering people for characteristics which they CAN change, such as ideas and beliefs and behaviors.

    I’d rank as even worse, however, someone who willingly murders whoever is in the way simply as a convenience. So, communists should all die.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    That’s not too logical, Bob! We know communists will kill people in the future, so we should kill them to bring about our libertarian paradise. In what way would we be different? Unless you mean we should put all the commies into one room, and let them kill each other over doctrinal disputes?

  • bobby b

    Well, there was sort of an ironical bent in my summation there. I just don’t like the idea of ranking the evility of Hitler and Stalin.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Perry M. at 12:47 am — yes, absolutely.

    Good posting, too.

  • Let’s remember Willi Munzenbeg, the Communist propagandist who invented most of the techniques used by the left over the last ninety or so years. Fellow travelers, “committees for X or Y, turning normal judicial proceedings (Sacco Vanzetti anyone?) into farces and on and on.

    He fell out with Stalin and was murdered under strange circumstances in France in 1940. The harm he did still lives.

    BTW I agree 100% with the Che-Himmler comparison.

    We are going to be living with the evil effects of communism for a very long time. I just wish those of us who recognize just how destructive it was (and still is, would stop wasting our time sniping at each other and concentrate on protecting whats left of our classical liberal civilization.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Communism promises equal sharing of goodies. Who doesn’t want that!? I know plenty of people who have shinier objects than I have! Gimme, please!

  • Though it is not quite literally true that

    No one ever believes their intentions to be evil

    (some criminals know their intent is evil and I’m sure some who worked in Stalin’s torture chambers knew what they were about), it is true enough – the OP rightly dismisses

    but Nazis had bad intentions while communist intentions were good

    However those who fall for it have a deeper problem. The cartoons in Natalie’s post glory in violence inflicted on leavers who – their punchlines suggest – have merely uttered a leave slogan to a remoaner. They merely personalise the idea that ‘deplorables’ who dare to question PC orthodoxy should be subjected to state violence. I see these cartoons as accurate embodiments of the New European’s values. So does the New European, who of their own free will printed them (but would not dare to print a similar cartoon of Mohammed even if they wanted to).

    The Nazis did not think of themselves as evil either. Nor did the communists: in the higher ranks of the communist party, Kravchenko met people who could

    talk of their duty to the proletariat as they tucked into a hearty meal while starving children swarmed outside the window

    (starving children whom their policies had created, as they well knew). And we all know PCers today who can simultaneously admire their own commitment to diversity and punish any deviation from their orthodoxy.

    Fools who imagine that “but the Nazis had bad intentions” is an argument are not just falling for it because their very political identity, their very sense of self-worth, is bound up in the idea that their intentions are good. They think intentions matter more than effects.

    Quelle importe les victims si le geste est beau

    (“What do the victims matter if it’s a fine gesture”) was said more than a hundred years ago by a French ‘intellectual’ who lost an eye when he chanced to be at the scene of another fine gesture a few months later.

    There was an old Marxist called Lenin
    Who did two or three million men in.
    That’s a lot to have done in
    But where he did one in
    His follower Stalin did ten in.

    If you care about effects, Conquest’s limerick is a warning, but if you don’t then not so much. It is as true today as when Orwell wrote it, that in the UK

    much left-wing thought is playing with fire by people who do not even know that fire is hot

    Some young idiots grow older and wiser. Some get burned, or close enough to it, to learn. Some learn nothing even from burns: they die or flee while still believing that someone just chanced to betray the glorious and inevitable revolution. And some discover, as Mao did, that torturing people is fun.

    [Quotes are from memory. The assessment of Mao’s personality is from the biography by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday.]

  • Paul Marks

    Very good post Perry M.

    I agree – it is not a question of a few bad people (“Lenin” and co) the Marxist ideas are in-themselves both false and evil. Step by step these ideas lead men and women down a dark road – so that one either rejects the ideas, or commits terrible crimes in power.

    I believe in the “I”, in human personhood (agency – free will). So I hold it is possible for a Marxist to choose to turn away from the dark road – to repent. However, we must guard against those Marxists who refuse to reject Marxism – and such people (for example in their mutant Frankfurt School form) may have more power in the Western education systems (even educating the youngest children – so not just universities) and in the media than they have ever had before.

    A small example, on Monday (on my way to Ulster) I came upon some copies of “Time” magazine in an airport book and magazine shop – Time magazine is (I am told) the largest circulation news and current affairs magazine in the United States.

    The magazine did not use the word “socialism” but it was clearly socialist – it even attributed Chinese economic success NOT to the privately owned exporters – but to the state owned companies and to government direction. By God I am not making this up – “Time” magazine was very explicit about this, and it was the lead article in the magazine. The collectivist evil of the publication was both extreme and blatant – and not covered up by any figleaf about “democratic” socialism. No “China has won” according to Time magazine – because of state ownership and state direction (NOT the privately owned exporters and the lack of the massive “entitlement program” burden – as hundreds of millions of Chinese are not covered by state benefits and public services – “Time” ignored all this).

    I could only conclude that if the United States went for a state directed economy (what “Time” claims China is, rather than what it actually is) and got rid of elections and established a vicious dictatorship with dissenters sent to camps or cut up for spare parts “Time” magazine (and the rest of the “mainstream media” Time Warner – CNN and so on, giant) would APPROVE and APPLAUD.

    Why? Well because the journalists come from collectivist dominated universities (and went to schools as children – that were also dominated by collectivist ideas). Yes people have free will – but if you teach people (almost from birth, with things such as “Pre K’) collectivist evil – one should not be surprised if lots of people end up believing in collectivist evil.

  • Runcie Balspune

    most famine deaths were the result of insisting that 2 + 2 = 5

    The basic difference, as perceived by most people, is that Nazis are worse because they are racists, and a victim cannot change his race, so they are condemned, whereas the Commies (and the various other political/religious ideological extremists) just want you to change your mind and if that happens then everything will be ok, right?

    Notwithstanding the cruelty of perverting someone into believing something they do by dint of violence, and the ultimate consequence of when that does not happen which is the same result as Nazis, many people just do not understand what this means.

    Living your life as someone else’s ideological experiment is not a great life, we all want to choose to have stuff we want and have relationships with people we like, we all value freedom and choices, as a great document once said “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    How many people really understand how mentally torturous this becomes when it is taken away, it is virtual slavery, this isn’t just what smart phone you are allowed to have, it is who you may speak to and about what, who can be your friend and who can’t, where you live and where you work and what route you take to get between them.

    And it doesn’t help that the elite purporting the ideological nonsenses are f*cking idiots.

  • Jacob

    As a devil’s advocate I wish to say that there was a difference between the Nazis and the Commies, at least in theory, and this might explain part of the difference in attitudes toward the two systems (Commies better than Nazis).

    The grievances the Nazi complained about – the domination of the world by the Jews (and racism in general) are purely bullsh*t, nonsense, idiocy and insanity. Even if, in the past, many believed in this nonsense, today you can hardly find anyone sympathetic to these ideas.

    The grievances the Commies complained about, on the other hand, were much more real. Human society was stratified in 19th century Europe (or great parts of it) according to late-feudal classes. There was the dominant, landed, ruling, gentry on the one hand, and the serfs, or quasi serfs (especially in Russia), and proletarians. Human equality before the Law was not, de facto, existent.

    Correcting the inequalities of old Europe was a worthy goal, and it is perceived this way even now, because it is true. This goal is common to European liberals (correct “liberals”).

    Trying to correct a true grievances does in no way justify murderous means, and Stalin was not an iota less mad or evil than Hitler, still, in comparing the two big evils of the 20th century we must recognize the above distinction.

  • So did the Communists. The mere fact that all property holders and business people were marked for extermination and not an ethnic group doesn’t make it less exterminatory. Indeed, some of the communists, like the Khmer Rouge, went even further, deciding to exterminate even “intellectuals” and other groups in the name of their revolution. The Holodomor was also quite clearly a successful attempt at the mass murder of a group.

    I believe there is a difference though. Every major power has massacred other people or those who they deem a political threat, and what the Soviets did was of much the same form albeit on a larger scale. Furthermore, when you read the accounts of the Soviet terror, there is a definite air of callous disregard: the camps weren’t really built to kill people, they were set up to get them out the way and put them to work. Nobody cared if they died, but nobody cared if they lived either. The Soviet system simply didn’t care about the lives of these people. Even those who were actively identified and shot were often selected simply to fulfill quotas, or killed along with a load of others “just in case”. The Soviets were not the first to do this, and are unlikely to be the last.

    What made the Nazis different is they didn’t kill through callous neglect; their victims were specifically selected and the Nazis made sure there wasn’t collateral damage, i.e. they didn’t just massacre the whole village in trying to kill Jews as the Soviets would have done, they expended considerable resources finding the individuals while leaving the rest alone. They cared about the names of their victims, and took their photos, and documented their possessions, all during the process of exterminating them. The Nazis built camps specifically for the purposes of killing people (the Soviets never did) and went about it with an industrial precision. The suffering they inflicted on inmates was quite deliberate and calculated, and not just the result of callous neglect on the part of the administration (or incompetence, as it often was in the case of the Soviets). The Nazis counted their victims and took meticulous records, the Soviets never did. The Nazi administrators and guards were of a totally different class than the inmates, whereas in the Gulags the guards were considered little better than the prisoners, often sharing the same conditions and fate, and there are thousands of cases where prisoners became inmates and vice-versa. This never happened with the Nazis.

    So in short, the horrors of the Soviets had been seen before and since; the Nazis, purely because of the way they went about it, inspire a unique horror. From the accounts I’ve heard of those poor individuals who experienced both, the Nazi camps were a lot worse.

  • The grievances the Nazi complained about – the domination of the world by the Jews …today you can hardly find anyone sympathetic to these ideas.

    Unless you go on Twitter, Facebook, or visit the Middle East or a Labour Party gathering and then you’ll find them in abundance!

  • Tim Newman (November 8, 2017 at 1:34 pm), the ‘callous disregard’ you speak of reflects the different fundamentals of the Nazi and Soviet regimes.

    – The law of Hitler’s land was: thou shalt kill.

    – The law of Stalin’s land was: thou shalt bear false witness.

    Hitler lied often, but his attitude to his lies was that of a military leader. If you feint on the right but then attack on the left. you only pretend to be attacking on the right till the enemy is routed on the left. After that, you don’t keep lying but boast of your cleverness. But you do concentrate on pursuing the fleeing enemy, getting every last one you can – that’s why battles are fought.

    Stalin killed often. If you define ‘murder’ as killing unarmed, unthreatening, defenceless people then, in his longer period of rule, Stalin murdered more often than Hitler. But his attitude to his murders was that of a gangland lawyer. It does not matter whether the inconvenient witness is stuttering out the prepared story in court or wearing concrete overshoes at the bottom of Lake Michigan, so long as the story stands up in court. But you never ever contradict the story and you track down every possible point of contradiction – maintaining the fiction is why you lied.

    Stalin’s lies were so gigantic he had to murder on a huge scale to maintain them. Hitler planned to kill so many, he had to lie to every victim who was not yet at the top of his list.

    It’s easy to see why intellectuals preferred Stalin. And its easy to see why their means of defending communism – lying – survived the fall of the soviet union better than it would have survived the fall of the third reich. Lying is what the communists were about; the nazis never tried so hard in that field.

    It probably reflects a basic aspect of personality if someone sees violating one of these commandments as innately worse than violating another. My biology lecturer told me that tape worms were more admirable than lions because lions killed you and tape worms didn’t. I never agreed.

  • Greg

    Perry, great post, but I wanted a bit more in the middle about why Communism is evil, before spending so much time on death statistics, popular depictions of dead commies, etc. Because those who’ve been indoctrinated to think capitalist/libertarian/classical liberal modes worse than collectivist (standard US teaching: the former are “evil” in fact!) will have answers for the statistics: the US has killed, the Bible teaches its ok to kill, etc., etc.

    I’m nowhere nearly well enough read or smart enough to expand on exactly what is evil about Communism (in case my writing does not make it clear, I mean this, it’s not false modesty; I read this blog with great admiration for the bloggers and commenters), at least not nearly as well as others here can, so I would appreciate it if others here would do so. Paul Marks did a nice job expanding on Perry’s post in that regard.

    I know: everyone’s a critic. Great post…I just want more! And as I said at the outset, I’m not equipped to provide what I suggest here. So, please, someone, expand further on exactly why Communism and collectivism are evil.

    Is it anything more/worse than Paul’s comment that they reject the sovereignty of the individual against that of the State? And if not, then, for those in Rio Linda, it would be useful to spell out the consequences of rejection of the individual in this regard. Why does such rejection of the individual (inevitably?) result in 100 million murders?

  • Lee Moore

    Perry M : The mere fact that all property holders and business people were marked for extermination and not an ethnic group doesn’t make it less exterminatory

    Sure, if that’s what they did. But generally they didn’t (Pol Pot excepted.)

    Tim Newman describes the general approach better :

    Furthermore, when you read the accounts of the Soviet terror, there is a definite air of callous disregard: the camps weren’t really built to kill people, they were set up to get them out the way and put them to work. Nobody cared if they died, but nobody cared if they lived either. The Soviet system simply didn’t care about the lives of these people.

    Of course at particular times, dealing with class enemies involved actually wanting to kill them, not merely not caring whether they lived or died. But death was not always the only, or even the preferred treatment of enemies. Often a labour camp would do fine.

    Runcie : The basic difference, as perceived by most people, is that Nazis are worse because they are racists, and a victim cannot change his race, so they are condemned, whereas the Commies (and the various other political/religious ideological extremists) just want you to change your mind and if that happens then everything will be ok, right?

    Nearly, but not quite. The Commies killed people for a variety of reasons, but the reasons were essentially practical. And they did firmly believe in the idea that sufficient indoctrination could get your mind right. The Nazis essentially treated the Jews as a disease, an infection. The initial policy was to expel them, as you would try to protect against a disease by quarantine. Then they moved on to the more complete public health measure – eradication.

    Runcie : How many people really understand how mentally torturous this becomes when it is taken away, it is virtual slavery, this isn’t just what smart phone you are allowed to have, it is who you may speak to and about what, who can be your friend and who can’t, where you live and where you work and what route you take to get between them.

    Nicely put. That’s the sort of thing I was getting at when I said that the Nazis were not as totalitarianly barmy as the Commies. So long as you exclude all the murder, and all the war-mongering – a big ask, I grant you – the Nazis didn’t seek to order every feature of their citizens’ lives. Maybe they would have got round to it later, but Nazi Germany 1933-39 was not even close to the Soviet Union 1917-1941 in the totalitarian stakes.

    There are certainly ways in which the Commies were worse than the Nazis – particularly the more totalitarian ordering of day to day life, and the attempt to break human beings, to torture them into submission, into abandoning their own beliefs, their families, their selves. Against this we have the Nazi view that some people are disease which needs to be eradicated, and the attempt to put this view into practice.

    Perhaps we can stick with the disease metaphor. The Nazis were an acute sickness with obvious and appalling symptoms. The Commies were – and sadly still are – a chronic disease. As is the case with diseases, the virulent version blew itself out quickly and is gone. The slightly less virulent version that kept its victims alive for a bit longer has spread far and wide and has lasted longer, eventually claiming many more victims. It is with us still.

  • John Galt III

    Michael Savage: “Liberalism is a mental disorder.”

    So is Islam
    So is National Socialism
    So is Fascism
    So is Socialism
    So is Communism

    They are all ideologies based on slavery, centralized power and total opposition to personal liberty. They are all based on Gleichschaltung.

    You will have these ideologies so long as people exuist who believe it is their right and duty to control others. People living free are an utter horror to these evil scum.

  • fcal

    Stalin murdered most during peacetime and refrained from it in wartime. Hitler did the opposite.

  • Michael Savage: “Liberalism is a mental disorder.”

    I think the American use of the term ‘liberal’ to describe people who are profoundly illiberal is a mental disorder 😛

  • Gene

    Re the persistent “attractiveness” of communism, I’m sympathetic to an explanation that compares family life to society as a whole. Here’s a quote from Russ Roberts, in a recent “Econtalk” podcast (go here to listen) on the topic of Ayn Rand. The appeal of socialist ideas came up and Roberts said:

    “And what Hayek argues in The Fatal Conceit is that we have this natural tendency to take the ethics of our family and extend them out into the larger extended order of society at large. And I think that’s what he saw–I think correctly–as the root attraction of socialism, and of Communism. That, the family is a pretty great thing. And certainly, in our family, we care for each other and we take care of each other. And therefore we need to do that more widely. And he said, ‘That’s the road to tyranny. And if you try to take the extended order of the marketplace of bringing it to the family, you are going to destroy the family.’ And so, we need to live in two worlds at once: A world of small group ethics, which is the family or close friends; and the larger order of strangers who we trade with and exchange with and interact with through the marketplace.”

    I think that explains a lot, though it doesn’t really get at the next step in the progression, i.e., how does a socialistic state become a genocidal state? It’s not terribly hard to understand why states that have no trace of democracy or concepts of individual rights (e.g., Imperial Russia or post-WWII China) could tip over so easily into vicious totalitarianism. It would be interesting to see how long it would take a modern Western state to do so, if ever.

  • Alisa

    A very insightful quote from Roberts.

    it doesn’t really get at the next step in the progression, i.e., how does a socialistic state become a genocidal state?

    Any ideological movement will attract individuals whose main agenda is seeking power for the sake of power, and that is especially true of an ideology such as Marxism, in which power is the central theme. Those among such individuals who manage to convince the true believers that they are one of them (which is usually achieved by first convincing themselves of the same) will rise to the top, achieving the power they were seeking in the first place, and then exercising it to the fullest extent possible – which by definition must include plunder, torture, rape and murder.

  • Runcie Balspune

    I think the American use of the term ‘liberal’ to describe people who are profoundly illiberal is a mental disorder

    To be fair, “progressive” is used in the UK to describe people who ally with and give succor to followers of a 7th century fanatical religious doctrine.

  • mila

    Despite the enormity of the crimes committed by various communist regimes during the 20th century ideologically Marxism and National socialism are poles apart: Marx was a fairly prototypical enlightenment thinker, National socialism was a repudiation of the enlightenment.

    interestingly, spiked has published a defence of the October revolution

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    Despite the enormity of the crimes committed by various communist regimes during the 20th century ideologically Marxism and National socialism are poles apart: Marx was a fairly prototypical enlightenment thinker, National socialism was a repudiation of the enlightenment.

    This is the usual myth. I would have thought that noting in my original post that Marx explicitly called for violence and dictatorship would have been sufficient to at least cause people to question this premise. Apparently that’s not the case.

    I will therefore repeat it: the notion that Marx was some well-intentioned saint whose entirely ordinary ideas were grossly misinterpreted by literally everyone who ever followed in his footsteps is ludicrous. If you actually bother to read his work, it becomes obvious that came later was no accident. He was not a “fairly prototypical enlightenment figure”, he was a monster.

  • ideologically Marxism and National socialism are poles apart

    So totalitarian collectivist Marxism is poles apart from totalitarian collectivist National Socialism? The only thing that is dramatically different, rather than just a difference in emphasis, is the gonzo Nazi obsession with race and Jews.

  • John Galt III

    Perry said,

    “I think the American use of the term ‘liberal’ to describe people who are profoundly illiberal is a mental disorder”

    Of course it is, but it is not the Americans who use of this word, it is only the Left calling themselves Liberal.

    This is the favorite pastime of Communists and the Left. Remember the DDR – the German Democratic Republic? Communists calling themselves a democracy?… NOT, a Republic? …NOT and The Left in the US calling themselves “The Democrats”…. NOT, “Progressive”…. NOT – they hate progress, “Liberal”…. NOT – they are only liberal with other people’s money.

    The Left and the RINO’s calling Islam, “the religion of peace?” That is the most laughable one. The Mafia was peaceful too. Once they had killed their enemies and the police, well, there was peace.

  • […] GULAG system and the concentration and extermination camp system run by the Nazis. I put this in a comment at Samizdata recently as an explanation as to why the horrors of the Soviets don’t resonate […]

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