Have We Learned Our Lesson?
It isn’t often that a book appears of truly monumental importance, but if any modern history book deserves that distinction, then The Black Book of Communism does. Originally published in France, where it subsequently caused an uproar throughout Europe, its English translation is now causing an equally profound reassessment of global politics and history here in the United States.
Frankly, a more joyless book was never written. In dry, almost clinical detail the scholars who contribute to this book (several of whom are former prominent leftists themselves) painstakingly recount the mind-numbing legacy of crimes, repression and terror which in total surpassed Hitler’s death toll by more than ten times. In fact, Hitler comes across as a rank amateur in the mass murder department by comparison to Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong.
It isn't widely recognized that more people have been tortured and killed in the name of socialism than under any other political system in human history. This book is the first major work to explore the subject of the Socialist Holocaust since the fall of the USSR. Following the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, scholars at last gained access to mountains of previously top secret directives, essays, memos and reports that for the first time document just how murderous the so-called “Socialist Motherland" and its allies really were. The official Soviet documents explode once and for all the myths that once allowed socialist apologists to pretend to defend it. Among them:
Myth #1 - The terror and mass murder were aberrations of the communist system, and not an integral part of socialist government.
The historical documents now reveal that repression was the central, all important means by which the communists sustained their system. The gulags and concentration camps were a key component of economic production, providing the slave labor to produce the products and resources by which the illusion of socialist success could be maintained. The seemingly irrational purges, many of which swept up hundreds of thousands of completely innocent people, were in fact specifically designed to provide forced labor for the socialist state.
Myth #2 The Russian Revolution led by Vladimir Lenin was a noble expression of high ideals that was later betrayed by Josef Stalin.
Official documents now reveal that Lenin was actually a bloodthirsty dictator of the worst kind. It is chilling to read the cruel cynicism of Lenin’s newly released writings, which prove that he was totally enthusiastic about the use of terror tactics and in fact encouraged the use of mass murder as a political tool. Lenin believed that genocide would help hasten the arrival of a new “socialist man" who would emerge after all who resisted socialist ideals were killed off. These previously secret documents have put to rest any doubts that crimes against humanity were an inseparable aspect of the socialist state from its inception.
Myth #3 Mao may have been a cruel dictator, but at least he was able to feed the impoverished Chinese people.
The documents from the old USSR also provide a window into what was really happening in other socialist societies with which the Soviets had dealings. Not only do we now know that the basic diet of the typical Chinese peasant never increased during Mao’s reign, but that his infamous “Great Leap Forward," which was the forced collectivization and industrialization of Chinese society, resulted in the single largest man-made famine in human history, with up to 25 to 30 million deaths directly attributable to Mao’s socialist reforms.
And the list of shattered myths could go on and on. The book also documents human rights abuses in socialist countries in Africa, South America and elsewhere around the world. Indeed, socialism was a failure on every continent and in every society where it was tried, often starting with high idealism but always ending with a poverty-stricken police state. What inspires great contempt is the accounts of the behavior of intellectuals and left-wing activists in Europe and the United States who twisted themselves like pretzels to find the excuses and explanations which shielded most of humanity from recognizing the full degree of horror being perpetrated by the socialist nations. In light of what is now known, Ronald Reagan’s depiction of the communist world as “an evil empire" was not political hyperbole, but was as plain a statement of fact as saying that the sky is blue.
When most academics and commentators discuss the Nazi holocaust, they quite properly stress the importance of recognizing that the holocaust that occurred in Germany was a natural outgrowth of the Nazi philosophy and ideals. Yet to this day it is still rare to hear discussions of the far greater death toll which occurred under the wide varieties of communist nations around the world and hear anyone expressly identify that the common link that united them all was the attempt to create a socialist utopia. The warnings against socialism should at the very least be as stern and as repetitive as the warnings against fascism.
Insanely however, the symbols of communism have become fashionable, by a generation too ignorant about history to know how foolish they look.
It was President Reagan who said that socialism would ultimately end up “on the trash-heap of history." We can only hope that it has, and let us always be vigilent in teaching future generations that they must never again be deceived by the wicked illusion of the socialist dream.
As GM Goes
As I usually do every year, I went to the Amherst 4th of July parade. In Amherst they fight all year over the parade - is there something inherently evil about celebrating nationalism? In Amherst that's considered a serious question. But once the parade actually happens, it's as red, white and blue as any parade in any town in the Valley.
Of course there is also the rainbow colors of the gay-peace flag.
Almost anyone can participate, even this gang of politicians were welcomed.
Among the spectators was libertarian leader Terry Franklin.
This float celebrates Amherst's 250th birthday.
Other towns also sent representatives. Here my neighbor Ruthie rides for Northampton's Pedal People.
Here I am unfazed by the attack of the Atkin's Farm killer tomato.
A message scrawled on North Pleasant Street by a U2 fan has the last word on the festivities.
This will give you goosebumps.
Take me to that other place
You can teach me, Lord
I know I'm not a hopeless case
See the world in green and blue
See China right in front of you
See the canyons broken by cloud
See the tuna fleets clearing the sea out
See the Bedouin fires at night
See the oil fields at first light
And see the bird with a leaf in her mouth
After the flood all the colors came out
It was a beautiful day