Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Why Communists Have Largely Escaped Justice

By Joseph Kellard

While it's good to see that some mass murdering communists are finally being brought to (some) justice, the fact is that communism and its practitioners will continue to fade into history relatively unscathed. The author of this City Journal article makes a few good points, but he falls short on others.

He is right, for example, to point out that the Western media writes as if the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia was just some murderous gang that happened to be in power at the time, and not what they in fact were: a group ideologically driven by communism. (I recently pointed to a New York Times article and five-minute video on these Cambodian tribunals, both of which never used the words "communist" or “communism” to describe the Khmer Rouge.)

I think the author falls short, however, when describing why Communists have never been brought to justice until now. He writes that there are two reasons:

“First, Communism enjoys a kind of ideological immunity because it claims to be on the side of progress. Second, Communists remain in power in Beijing, Pyongyang, Hanoi, and Havana. And in areas where they've lost power--as in the former Soviet Union--the Communists arranged their own immunity by converting themselves into social democrats, businessmen, or nationalist leaders.”

His points are valid but not fundamental. He’s right that communism enjoys ideological immunity, but it’s not primarily because communists claimed to be on the side of progress. It’s because of the morality communist champion -- which is essentially a secularization of Christianity.

While Christians through the ages told men to sacrifice themselves to God and his self-appointed representatives on earth, the Communists told men to drop God and sacrifice for your fellow men, particularly the mother country and the state (their self-appointed representatives). Now, Nazism preached the same ideology, and that’s why the Nazi and Communist totalitarian regimes rose to power at the same time. But Nazism (which stands for National *Socialism,* with Germany as the homeland of socialism/communism) put an explicitly racial bent on their ideology, while the communists mainly championed the proletariat or social classes (although that’s not to say that communists were not tribalists-racists, too, they were).

Nazism is considered the greater evil, or unfortunately to many people the only evil, because it was explicitly racists, whereas, the believe, communism was merely trying to make society more “equal” between “the rich” and the poor. Nothing wrong with that, even if tens of millions had to be slaughtered in the process, right? Communism is noble in theory; it was just that the wrong people got in power and corrupted it.

That’s the standard line that you’ll hear from communism’s apologists. But the reality is communism was evil in practice because it is evil in theory — especially it’s altruistic morality that preaches self-sacrifice as the moral good.

This is what people like the author of this article must come to understand, otherwise communism will always be looked at as a non- or lesser evil in comparison to Nazism. In reality, they are ideological twins and their practice in reality led to the same results: mass murder (although communists slaughtered many, many more innocents).


Joseph Kellard said...

Jeff Jacoby, a columnist for the Boston Globe, read this post via my Twitter, and he sent me a column on this subject that he wrote in 2006 (see link below). But like this City Journal essay, Jacoby touches on some relevant but not fundamental points about why communism gets a free pass relative to Nazism.

However, I would like to comment on one of his explanations.

"One is that in the war to defeat Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union fought with the Allies. World War II eventually gave way to the long-drawn Cold War, but America's alliance with Moscow left in many minds the belief that when it counted most, the communists were on our side."

I've heard people argue that Red Russia and Nazism were not alike because they fought against each other in World War II. Talk about a non-fundamental argument! (And let's not forget that Stalin and Hitler signed packs with one another, too.)

Both regimes, while fundamentally the same in the ethics of self-sacrifice and collectivism, were antagonistic toward each other because of their particular form of collectivism. While on the surface one regime defined itself on racist grounds, and the other by economic class, both were strongly nationalistic and viewed each other antagonistically on those and other irrational terms. They both were defined by their tribalist mentality.

And let's also not forget that they were both seeking world power, or at the very least to dominate the continent they both shared, and that meant domination over one another. Both were power-lusters that had the same ends and saw each other as a threat toward that that end.

The Soviets piggybacked on the US and her Allies in the war, and immediately after destroying the Nazi regime, the US probably should have turned around and destroyed the Soviets -- months later they would have had the bomb to do it and not even have to drop it. Some have said, and I agree, that the US should have stayed out of the war and let both regimes destroy each other.

But so long as the US was fighting that war, eliminating the Soviet regime would have been in her self-interest, and probably would have to have another American soldier die in the process.

Anyway, I digress. My main point, thought, is that this argument about the Soviets and Nazis being enemies in the war also fails to address the fundamental issue as to why communism gets a free pass compared to Nazism. It’s in the morality and the class warfare that still survives from it. The Nazis were as anti-capitalist as the Soviets, at least in their characterization of the Jews as capitalist exploiters.

Post-WW II, enough people were starting to understand the evils of racism, and the Nazi regime taught them that. But they’ve dropped how Nazism was anti-capitalist (they even go so far as to characterize Nazism as pro-capitalist) and that Nazism stands for National Socialism; that socialism-communism has its roots in Germany.

These are more important reasons why communism has many apologists and Nazi apologists and deniers are rightfully dismissed as crackpots.

~ Joseph Kellard

Joseph Kellard said...

I wrote that Stalin and Hitler signed "packs," when, of course, I meant "pacts." That's my damn childhood-based dyslexia rearing its ugly head still in middle age.

Jim May said...

Communism is noble in theory; it was just that the wrong people got in power and corrupted it.

This, in combination with the lack of interest in analyzing and understanding Communism in the same manner as directed against Nazism, IMO point to an eventual future movement on the Left to rehabilitate communism, pursuant to trying it again.

Joseph Kellard said...

Thank you for your comment, Jim.

Isn't this movement already underway? As I understand the distinction between communism and socialism, they are essentially the same economic system, but they differ in how that system is implemented. Communism is the overthrow of a government, by direct physical force, to establish a socialist system; where as socialists implement that system gradually, or perhaps the better word is incrementally, through the democratic process of sacrificing individual rights for collective "rights."

The socialization of America has been going on for years; Obama has only accelerated it like no other president has. America is still technically in a fascist phase, in that we still have a mix of capitalism and socialism in this country in many parts of the economy.

America would turn communist when the country has turned sufficiently socialist-fascist, and the next power luster comes along and says the hell with even the appearance of a democratic process, let’s just overthrow the whole damn government and have the state take over everything.

Rogue Operator said...

"It’s because of the morality communist champion -- which is essentially a secularization of Christianity."

This is a profound truth. The Soviets, during the Civil War period when the Red Army was fighting the White armies mainly, borrowed heavily from religious symbolism and iconography in their political propaganda campaign. The deeply mystical Russian people gravitated to the Bolsheviks' millenarian message, mainly due to their desperation after three years of a failing war against the Germans. "Bread, land, and peace" failed to materialize as Lenin had promised prior to the Oktober revolution, and instead, the Russian people were enslaved to the Communist Party, and all opposition was brutally liquidated.

Your argument is very similar to the authors' introduction to The Black Book of Communism, which documents communists' atrocities, and pits them as somewhere numbering a hundred million victims. The victims of free market capitalism? Someone who overpays for a good or service.

Lemming Master said...

Joseph, there is an interesting fairly new documentary that explores the collaboration between the Nazis and the Soviets just prior to and during the early stages of WWII, which is much more extensive than is typically portrayed.

Hat tip to Free Lemming

Enjoyed your post and wholeheartedly agree.

Lemming Master said...

Not sure if my previous post went through but wanted to pass this along:

It explores the collaboration between the Nazis and Soviets much more extensively than most documentaries.

Joseph Kellard said...

Thank you for posting this. I watched the first 10 min., which is all I have time for right now, and I can assure you that I will watch the entire documentary. If find this history fascinating.