We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
From a review in The National Interest of two books by Paul Hollander on the violence and oppression of Communist states during the 20th Century (h/t, reader):
Communist terror varied from one country or region to another, and at different times within any one geographic unit; nevertheless, the common elements, both theoretical and practical, are easy to discern. Political police forces (known as “state security” organs), charged with controlling “ideological” rather than ordinary crime, tended to dehumanize the “class enemy” as historically obsolete and “destined” to become extinct. Abuse of the “mentally ill” designation also cut across communism’s manifestations.
Marx and Engels’ oxymoronic “dialectical materialism”, juxtaposing the inevitability of revolution with the imperative of party leadership and predicated on a quasi-divine belief in history as progress, allowed zealous disciples to justify terror and murder by transforming “is” into “ought.” Lenin understood perfectly that the next stage of history must be right, hence any means to bring it about were justified. Therefore, expediting the proletarian nirvana requires “eliminating” those who doubt the omnipotence, omniscience and benevolence of history’s anointed force, the vanguard of the proletariat, the Communist Party.
Not unexpectedly, as nirvana became more elusive, the number of concentration camp inmates grew. Their crimes were often simply accusations—or having been arrested. As the gap between reality and promise increased, so did the need to eliminate those most likely to notice. Repressive measures, including imprisonment and torture, were most frequently taken not against declared ideological opponents, but against members of an inherently “counterrevolutionary class.”
I think we understand that the atrocities and mass murders of communist states have been given a pass in history due to the reflexive sympathy to the Left's "the ends justify the means" ethic, on the part of the intelligentsia. I hope Hollander will help to undo that deception. Read the whole thing.
There's a great book on how murderous Communism really was (is): "The Black Book of Communism". It's coauthored by several academics. Here's one review:When it was first published in France in 1997, Le livre noir du Communisme touched off a storm of controversy that continues to rage today. Even some of his contributors shied away from chief editor Stéphane Courtois's conclusion that Communism, in all its many forms, was morally no better than Nazism; the two totalitarian systems, Courtois argued, were far better at killing than at governing, as the world learned to its sorrow.
Communism did kill, Courtois and his fellow historians demonstrate, with ruthless efficiency: 25 million in Russia during the Bolshevik and Stalinist eras, perhaps 65 million in China under the eyes of Mao Zedong, 2 million in Cambodia, millions more Africa, Eastern Europe, and Latin America--an astonishingly high toll of victims. This freely expressed penchant for homicide, Courtois maintains, was no accident, but an integral trait of a philosophy, and a practical politics, that promised to erase class distinctions by erasing classes and the living humans that populated them. Courtois and his contributors document Communism's crimes in numbing detail, moving from country to country, revolution to revolution. The figures they offer will likely provoke argument, if not among cliometricians then among the ideologically inclined. So, too, will Courtois's suggestion that those who hold Lenin, Trotsky, and Ho Chi Minh in anything other than contempt are dupes, witting or not, of a murderous school of thought--one that, while in retreat around the world, still has many adherents. A thought-provoking work of history and social criticism, The Black Book of Communism fully merits the broadest possible readership and discussion. --Gregory McNamee