It is axiomatic that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. That truth has never been more evident, at least in my lifetime, than it is now with the resurgence of communist sympathies in the West. A look at the repercussions of communism around the globe may provide the necessary edification to remind our peers of the cruel reality of this fundamentally inhumane ideology.
Brave New World?
Despite the interlocking fields of fire that have been laid down by academics and every exile, every survivor who has lived to tell the tale and fight back against wretched totalitarian regimes, communism has survived in the west. That it has survived to rear its ugly head once more is in no small part due to the fact that it has, understandably, been overshadowed by the horrors that occurred under Nazi Germany’s brand of fascism. I say Nazi Germany had a particular “brand” of fascism, because it is categorically imperative that communism should not be seen as the inverse of fascism, the collectivist “light” to the capitalist “darkness”, so to speak. That we live in an age where I have to begin a critique of communism by clarifying that fascism and communism are not immiscible is frightening, so here is the Merriam-Webster definition of fascism:
1. a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
2. a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control
Here is the Oxford English Dictionary definition of fascism:
1. An authoritarian and nationalistic system of government and social organization.
2. (in general use) extreme authoritarian, oppressive, or intolerant views or practices.
You can see the parallels between the true definition of fascism and the communist regimes that have existed–or still exist–with their intolerant dictators, who along with their Party invariably ruled with–you guessed it–authoritarianism. This is why I feel that it is imperative to clarify what fascism actually is and that fascism and communism do not have to be mutually exclusive. That being said, here is the totally unbiased Google/Bing search engine definition of fascism:
1. an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization. synonyms: authoritarianism · totalitarianism · dictatorship · despotism · autocracy · Nazism · rightism · nationalism · xenophobia · racism · anti-Semitism · jingoism · isolationism · neofascism · neo-Nazism
2. (in general use) extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practice.
Perhaps the Silicone Valley masterminds behind this change in their definition of fascism feel that the hundreds of millions that have died under authoritarian, oppressive, and intolerant communist regimes… did so voluntarily–progress is pain, right? While the definitions of fascism found in the venerable Merriam-Webster and Oxford dictionaries do not interject a polarizing left versus right ideology into the meaning of the word, the Google/Bing search engine definition of fascism effectively approves the “in general use” of this indictment solely against right… and this is terrifying when you consider that people don’t type out, “What is the Webster/Oxford definition of fascism”, they simply enter the word into their search bar and consume the results as truth–“You can’t be a conservative, because conservatives are on the right. You know who else is on the right? Fascists.”
Context and Dissonance
Historical context is key to understanding why communism came to be and why it appealed to the downtrodden, desperate masses who starved at the feet of aristocrats. Progressively inspired, its theories may have been founded in what men like Karl Marx believed were noble principles, but in practice it has been one of the greatest shams perpetrated against mankind. Its absolutist tenants have infected the vulnerabilities of idealistic men, and driven them to become monsters that are collectively responsible for some of the most heinous crimes against humanity.
Vladimir Tismaneanu writes in his book The Devil in History, “Bolshevism was a dictatorship of the proletariat, Nazism was a dictatorship with a voting consensus behind it.” In fact, the true definition of fascism reflects the cruel and seemingly paradoxical realities found in the history of applied communism: absolute commitment to the ideology, genocide, thought control, and the destruction of the individual.
The general retort is, “Those regimes are not representative of what communism really is.” Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Kim Jong-Il, Josef Stalin, Vladimir Lenin, Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev, Chiang Kai-she, Ho Chi Mihn, Kim Jon-Ung, Kim Il Sung, Pol Pot, and Mao Zedong all prescribed to the Idea, and all manifested it with identical brutality. Each one promised to take the keys to the kingdom and give them over to the workers, to empower the downtrodden and uplift the meek. Each one has left a staggering reckoning of human suffering and death in their pursuit of utopia.
That people need to be reminded of the painfully obvious and horrific truths of communism is sad, but it is the solem duty of humankind to ensure that the crimes of communism are not forgotten. Dennis Prager reminds us in, Why Isn’t Communism Hated As Nazism?, of the body count:
“Communists killed 70 million people in China, more than 20 million people in the Soviet Union (not including about 5 million Ukrainians), and almost one out of every three Cambodians. And communists enslaved entire nations in Russia, Vietnam, China, Eastern Europe, North Korea, Cuba and much of Central Asia. They ruined the lives of well over a billion people.”
What Dennis Prager states here should be reason enough to condemn communism to be as vile–if not more so, given the sheer scale of its crimes–as the fascism of the Nazis. But numbers are naturally insensate and can take away from the tragedy, the horror experienced by each victim. With solemnity and in the words of survivors as much as possible, from literature authored by them and for them, I will attempt to give a human face to just some of the victims of communism.
Cuba is going to get extra attention because of all the communist regimes in the world, Cuba’s has received the most perverse adoration. You don’t see people wearing Stalin or Hitler shirts on liberal campuses, but there is plenty of Che.
In four years Fidel Castro managed to take down the most well-armed military in Latin America, but the communist dictatorship to come would result in economic regression and the brutal oppression of the people living in the Pearl of the Antilles. Under the auspices of the regime, dissidents and political opponents were imprisoned and executed without trial, and ordinary Cubans have been subjected to wretched living conditions. But first things first, because in order to properly assault Cuba’s communist regime, the demolition of the Myth of Che is critical.
A Machiavellian sadist and murderer, Che is credited with improving Cuba’s literacy rate and providing a “free” education for all Cubans, but there are contributions to La Revolución Cubana by Che that receive conspicuously less attention. Che was responsible for inviting Soviet missiles into Cuba, in a paroxysm he demanded that the communists fire the first shot during the Cuban missile crisis–quoted as saying, “What we affirm is that we must proceed along the path of liberation even if this costs millions of atomic victims”–and for his open contempt of the Soviets for not taking the world to nuclear war, Fidel Castro asked him to leave Cuba. Before he left Cuba to foment violent and ultimately failed revolutions around the globe, Che conceived Cuba’s first slave-labor camp for dissidents and political opponents to toil in; he opposed freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and protest; he personally trained firing squads that executed thousands of Cubans (“We must create the pedagogy of the The Wall!”, the Wall being the wall that his enemies stood in front of to be executed by firing squad); and he personally saw to the persecution and imprisonment of gays in Cuba. Reinaldo Arenas, author of Before Night Falls, was imprisoned in one of Che’s labor camps as an openly gay Cuban:
“It was a sweltering place without a bathroom. Gays were not treated like human beings, they were treated like beasts. They were the last ones to come out for meals, so we saw them walk by, and the most insignificant incident was an excuse to beat them mercilessly.”
Che’s face becoming synonymous with flowered social revoulitions is one of the greatest cons of the leftist narrative, but the hagiography of Che in the west that belies his certifiably diabolical nature is by design, written in Che’s own diaries: “Much more valuable than rural recruits for our guerrilla force were American media recruits to export our propaganda.” Propaganda is power, Che and every good communist understand this. It is poetic justice that after a lifetime of railing against capitalism and ostensibly fighting for education equality, Che’s legacy is that of a mass produced t-shirt worn by naive westerners–the people he dedicated his life to the destruction of. In the words of author and Cuban exile Humberto Fontova:
“I’d loved to have seen those Sorbonne and Berkeley and Berlin student protesters with their ‘groovy’ Che posters try their ‘anti-authority’ grandstanding in Cuba at the time. I’d love to have seen Che and his goons get their hands on them. They’d have gotten a quick lesson about the ‘fascism’ they were constantly complaining about—and firsthand.”
Second only to the Myth of Che is the Myth of Cuban Health Care. The belief that the communist regime provides excellent health care is both a myth and an affront to the ordinary people of Cuba. That ultracrepidarians like Michael Moore fawn over the Cuban health care system is–like Che’s rosy portrait–by design. Cuba has developed a health care system that is top tier but it is segregated, and the best care is only accessible to foreigners on medical tourism and the Cuban elite–military, state-approved artists, and members of the Communist Party of Cuba. The average Cuban is far less fortunate, a Cuban nurse who spoke to the National Post detailed the poor state of hospitals, “We have nothing, I haven’t seen aspirin in a Cuban store here for more than a year. If you have any pills in your purse, I’ll take them. Even if they have passed their expiry date.” Antibiotics are available almost exclusively on the black market for extortionate prices, doctors are reportedly forced to reuse latex gloves due to a lack of basic supplies, Cubans are forced to bring their own bed sheets and toiletries on hospital visits, and the export of Cuban doctors to other countries has created a shortage on the island; that means it would actually be easier to see a Cuban doctor off the island–the irony is tragic. Cuba has long had a reputation for its high “altruistic” blood donor rate–blood was a chief export of Cuba, second only to sugar–what is not common knowledge is that the regime was selling the blood of executed dissidents. The average Cuban was brainwashed into believing that unless they made regular donations, they would overproduce red blood cells and become seriously ill–talk about bad science.
But what of Cuba’s impressively low infant-mortality rate? The only thing more impressive than Cuba’s low infant-mortality rate, is the effectiveness of their propaganda in the west. The communist regime maintains the appearance of good general welfare by enforcing a staggeringly high abortion rate. Yes, you read that right. Cuba maintains an artificially low infant-mortality rate by mandating that doctors terminate a pregnancy at the first sign of any concern and it is this, not stellar health care, that ensures a low infant-mortality rate. This practice would be chalked up to population control and would be condemned as eugenics if it occurred in any western country… but not in Cuba.
Cuban refugee and Yale historian Carlos Eire echoes the righteous discontentment of Cuban exiles with western medias’ rose colored view of the communist regime:
“My family and native land were destroyed by the brutal Castro regime. In 1959, as an 8-year old, I listened to mobs shout ‘paredon!’ (to the firing squad!) I watched televised executions, and was terrified by the incessant pressure to agree with a bearded dictator’s ideals. As the months passed, relatives, friends and neighbors began to disappear. Some of them emerged from prison with detailed accounts of the tortures they endured, but many never reappeared, their lives cut short by firing squads. I also witnessed the government’s seizure of all private property—down to the ring on one’s finger—and the collapse of my country’s economy. I began to feel as if some monstrous force was trying to steal my mind and soul through incessant indoctrination.”
So why, after all of the demonstrably horrible crimes of communism, does Cuba still get good press? Humberto Fontova points out the lengths the west is willing to go in order perceive Cuba as a successful communist state, to the point where a double-standard in the authoritative literature surrounding the nature of the Cuban regime has been created for the purpose of this narrative:
“When William Shirer wrote The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, he didn’t rely on Nazis for the information in his book, even though a lot of them were still around in 1957. He relied primarily on enemies and victims of the Nazis for his information. When Robert Conquest wrote The Great Terror about Stalinism, he didn’t rely on Nikita Khrushchev or any other Soviet communists. He relied on Russian and Ukrainian exiles. That’s the normal manner of writing books about totalitarian regimes. But when it comes to Cuba for some insane reason, you’re supposed to collaborate with the totalitarian regime to be considered scholarly.”
In April 1975, Cambodia was taken over by the communist Khmer Rouge regime. Educated in France and inspired by Chinese Maoism, the leaders of the Khmer Rouge would go on to launch one of the most brutal campaigns of repression in the history of Southeast Asia. It is estimated that between 1975 and 1979, more than 2 million in a population of 8 million perished as a result of the regime’s genocidal campaigns. The Khmer Rouge regime detained and executed intellectuals, professionals, ethnic Vietnamese, ethnic Thai, ethnic Chinese, ethnic Cham, Christians, and Buddhists; those with suspected ties to foreign governments or the government that preceded the communist regime were put to the ax. The dead were buried in mass graves–killing fields–and in an effort to save ammunition, the killings were often carried out with everything from poison, shovels, and sharpened sticks. Infants and children were frequently killed by having their skulls bashed in against the trunks of trees, the rationale behind the paedocide was to prevent the children from someday taking revenge against the regime for the deaths of their parents. Loung Ung was spared when her father was not, she has written extensively of the struggles she has dealt with after having lived under the horrors Khmer Rouge regime:
“Years later, when I was growing up in Vermont, when I was climbing Mount Mansfield, when I was swimming in the streams, friends and I would go and see any one of these scenic places where we could watch beautiful sunsets. As the sun set, I would always make an excuse to go find a place… to go use the bathroom… get a bug in my eye… “I’m not feeling well”… I would always find excuses to turn my back to the sunset. Because I couldn’t see it. On the day the soldiers came for my father, there was a glorious sunset. And I couldn’t see that, either. I question how God could make something so beautiful when my heart was so… so full of pain.”
But the horror did not end in the shallow graves of the killing fields.
The Khmer Rouge regime operated more than 150 prisons, their primary function was that of execution centers, but they also served as reeducation facilities and ghoulish medical laboratories of unspeakable horror. The worst of all these camps was Tuol Sleng, also known as Security Prison 21 (S-21). The hermetic nature of communist states make any estimate of body counts conservative, but it can be said with confidence that of the 20,000 inmates we know of, all but seven were executed at S-21. The living conditions were comparable to the worst of the Nazi camps. Students, soldiers, monks, workers, doctors, engineers, teachers; all were tortured and coerced into naming associates, who would be subsequently arrested, tortured, and killed. The brutality of these executions was overshadowed still by the Nazi-style medical experiments performed on the prisoners of S-21. In his A Cambodian Prison Portrait: One Year in the Khmer Rouge’s S-21, survivor Vaan Nath details the horrors of Cambodia’s infamous prison,
“I could hear screams of pain from every corner of the prison. I felt a twinge of pain in my body at each scream… I could hear the guards demanding the truth, the acts of betrayal, the names of collaborators.”
Nath was spared only for his talents as an artist, he was selected to paint portraits and make sculptures of Pol Pot in exchange for his life.
Political sociologist Martin Shaw has described the Khmer Rouge’s genocide as “the purest genocide of the Cold War era.”
While the total number of Chinese killed by communism under Mao Zedong is estimated to be at least 65 million, it is important to note that between 1958 and 1962 alone more than 45 million people died in as a direct result of Mao’s Great Leap Forward. Frank Dikötter, a humanities professor at the University of Hong Kong and author of Mao’s Great Famine writes,
“Between 1958 and 1962, China descended into hell. Mao Zedong threw his country into a frenzy with the Great Leap Forward, an attempt to catch up to and overtake Britain in less than 15 years. The experiment ended in the greatest catastrophe the country had ever known, destroying tens of millions of lives.”
The famine that afflicted China during Mao’s reign was so horrendous that reports of cannibalism and mercy killings spread across the country, stories of farmers who killed and ate their own children to spare them from an agonizing death. In Mao’s Great Leap to Famine, Frank Dikötter details the atrocities of Mao’s communist regime:
“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. One report dated Nov. 30, 1960, and circulated to the top leadership — most likely including Mao — tells how a man named Wang Ziyou had one of his ears chopped off, his legs tied up with iron wire and a 10-kilogram stone dropped on his back before he was branded with a sizzling tool. His crime: digging up a potato.”
While Mao’s Great Leap accounts for the bulk of the mass-killings, purges killed 2-5 million, the Cultural Revolution killed 2-7 million, and millions more died during the repression of Tibet or died in laogai, the world’s largest network of concentration camps. Harry Wu, the Executive Director Of The Laogai Research Foundation, spent 19 years imprisoned in the laogai for criticizing the Communist Party. In an article about the laogai he writes:
“The Chinese word laogai, meaning “reform through labor,” refers to the most extensive system of forced labor camps in the world — modeled after the Soviet gulag — which has spanned the territory of China since the early days of the communist regime. The Laogai Research Foundation has identified 1,045 laogai camps still in operation today, though it is likely that many more exist.”
The crimes of communist repression in China continue to this day. In 2003, the Chinese government banned the peaceful Falun Gong movement and persecuted tens of thousands of its practitioners. It has been reported that between 2000 and 2008, an estimated 64,000 Falun Gong prisoners were killed and had their organs harvested in the laogai. The process of harvesting organs is overseen by a shadowy state-run secret police force know as the 610 Office. Created in 1999, the 610 Office was tasked by the Chinese government with the procurement and cataloging of Falun Gong practitioners for organ harvesting. An account from a logistics officer at a hospital in China detailed that once a Falun Gong prisoner had been identified and undergone a medical inspection, they would be anesthetized–but kept alive during the organ harvesting procedure–and have their liver, kidneys, and corneas removed at the same time. The body would then be incinerated. The entire process was overseen by the government’s 610 Office.
Although China has reformed into more of a Socialist market economy, the country remains a dictatorship.
Records did not become accessible to the West until after the dissolution of the USSR, but from what we do know, a conservative estimate of 20-25 million souls can be made. That number has been extrapolated to be as high as 60 million. Alexander Yakovlev, the former chairman of Russia’s Presidential Commission for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Political Repression puts the number of people executed or worked to death in prison camps between 20-25 million, in his book A Century of Violence in Soviet Russia, he estimates 5.5 million dead as a result of the famine during the Civil War and another 5 million as a result of the artificial famine of the 1930s. Yakovlev estimates another 20-25 million were executed or died in prison camps as a result of Communist terror. Of all the crimes committed by communist Russia, few matched the savagery of the Dekulakization and the Katyn massacre.
On December 27th 1929, Stalin announced that the “liquidation of the kulaks as a class” was to begin. The kulaks were peasants who were better off and were considered “class enemies”, their fate was to be divided into three categories: those who would be shot on sight, those who would be deported to Siberia, the Urals, or Kazakhstan after their property was confiscated for redistribution, and those would be evicted from their homes and sent to labor camps; it has been said that a conservative estimate of 5 million kulaks slain can be made. The Red Terror saw tens of thousands slaughtered by Russia’s equivalent of the Gestapo, the extermination of Cossacks saw 12,000 executed, the Great Purge saw 1,000 executions per day for a year, the Mongolian Purge slaughtered 50,000, and the Soviet invasion of Poland resulted in the systematic torture and execution of more than 150,000 Polish citizens.
In April and May of 1940, more than 9,000 Polish prisoners of war were summarily executed by the hand of a single Soviet commander, Vasily Blokhin, in the Katyn Forest of Poland. The total body count has been estimated to be as high as 22,000, but with numerous grave sites and a tendency for communist regimes to go to great lengths to conceal their mass-killings, we may never know the actual number. What we do know is that each night, two dozen trenches were dug to hold the night’s load of corpses, executions were carried out during 10 hour shifts, with an average of one prisoner shot in the head every three minutes. One of the largest graves discovered has been detailed in Facing a holocaust: the Polish government-in-exile and the Jews, “28 metres long and 16 metres wide [92 ft by 52 ft], in which the bodies of 3,000 Polish officers were piled up in 12 layers.” The Soviets attempted to blame the Nazis for the Katyn massacre but eventually admitted culpability.
This list of Soviet crimes against humanity, in all of its awe inspiring horror, is incomplete. Adam Jones, a genocide scholar, states that “there is very little in the record of human experience to match the violence unleashed between 1917, when the Bolsheviks took power, and 1953, when Joseph Stalin died and the Soviet Union moved to adopt a more restrained and largely non-murderous domestic policy.”
The aforementioned artificial famine created by the Soviets, known as the Holodomor, took place in the Ukraine. It can be said with confidence that collectivism, maniacal industrialization, and the Soviet leadership’s disdain for Ukrainian nationalism were the driving factors that resulted in the death-by-starvation of millions. An estimated 6-10 million Ukrainians died of starvation and disease; typhoid, malaria, and smallpox plagued the living. Cannibalism became a means of survival and by the end of the Holodomor, more than 2,500 people were actually convicted of cannibalism–the Soviets had the nerve to condemn Ukrainians as barbarians in state propaganda. Based on the firsthand accounts of survivors, Timothy Snyder writes in Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin:
“Survival was a moral as well as a physical struggle. A woman doctor wrote to a friend in June 1933 that she had not yet become a cannibal, but was “not sure that I shall not be one by the time my letter reaches you.” The good people died first. Those who refused to steal or to prostitute themselves died. Those who gave food to others died. Those who refused to eat corpses died. Those who refused to kill their fellow man died. Parents who resisted cannibalism died before their children did.”
In Assignment in Utopia, American journalist Eugene Lyon’s–formerly a self-proclaimed communist–details his visit to the Soviet Ukraine and his subsequent disillusionment with communism:
“Hell broke loose in seventy thousand Russian villages.. A population as large as all of Switzerland’s or Denmark’s was stripped clean of all their belongings.. They were herded with bayonets at railroad stations, packed indiscriminately into cattle cars and freight cars and dumped weeks later in the lumber regions of the frozen North, the deserts of central Asia, wherever labor was needed, there to live or die..”
Swap “Russia” with Nazi Germany and you may have never known the difference between the two.
In the 1950s, the communist government of North Vietnam implemented a land reform program; the benign designation of “land reform” belies the staggering brutality that the Vietnamese people were subjected to. The reform called for the confiscation of land belonging to landlords deemed enemies of the regime, the requisition of land from landlords not deemed to be enemies of the regime, and the purchase of land from landlords; most of the land was obtained by the government without payment and redistributed to Viet Minh fighters. The result of the land reform was the arbitrary deaths of approximately 172,000, 4-5% of the population. Steven Rosefielde extrapolates that number to be more than 200,000 in his book Red Holocaust. Duong Thu Huong recalls witnessing the butchery in the wake of the reform:
“Right in front of my house was a hanged man in the year of the land reform. When I was eight years old, I had to accompany the students to public locations where landowners were dishonored and tortured,” he said. “In the back of my house lay another dead man who had been wrongly classified as a landowner. He cut his own throat by laying it on the railway track. At my age of eight when I went to water the vegetables, I witnessed such tragic deaths with my own eyes. They greatly horrified and scared me.”
Another survivor, Tran Kim Anh, details the gruesome fate of his father, a detractor of the land reform program:
“My father was determined to deny his being a member of the National People’s Party. He was then tortured by having his two toes tied by two ropes that hung him to the ceiling. The ropes were pulled up. This hurt him badly, so he cried hard and asked them to pull down the ropes. Down he was pulled. However, he still cried wildly due to his great pain. They then stuffed cloth into his mouth.”
A lesser known sin of communism in Vietnam were the experiments performed on American POWs by Soviet scientists. In Red Cocaine: The Drugging of America, autopsy reports revealed by a Soviet defector, General Jan Šejna, detailed experiments on the physical destruction of particular organs, and experiments to determine the effects of chemical and biological agents on American subjects. All such tests were supervised by Soviet officers.
The Communist Party of Vietnam has attempted to reform into a seemingly more humane government, but these attempts are belied by the fact that the Communist Party is the only legally sanctioned party in Vietnam today.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is arguably the most repressive and militarized regime on earth. It is virtually impossible to determine the extent of the atrocities committed by the DPRK, but it has been estimated that between 1948 and 1987, more than one million have died to executions, forced labor, and concentration camps. In the 1990s, a famine that has been described as “terror starvation” claimed as many as 1 million lives. A firsthand account by a North Korean refugee named Jay Jo recounts the absolute horror of the famine:
“My parents often traveled to China in order to get the food for their children. But they were arrested by security agents, and my mother, who was three months pregnant, was tortured up to the point that she could not use her legs and released months later, but my father died out of starvation and torture on the way to be transferred to another prison. The regime said he was shot to death because he was trying to escape, but it was not true.”
Kim Hye-sook witnessed mothers who were forced to kill their own children in exchange for food. She spent 28 years in a political prison camp before escaping in 2008. It is difficult to determine just how extensive the communist regime’s atrocities may be, but a Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has detailed some of the regime’s crimes against humanity. A former prisoner recalled her hellish experience in a prison camp:
“The babies had bloated stomachs. We cooked snakes and mice to feed these babies and if there was a day that we were able to have a mouse, this was a special diet for us. We had to eat everything alive, every type of meat that we could find; anything that flew, that crawled on the ground. Any grass that grew in the field, we had to eat. That’s the reality of the prison camp.”
An account by another female prisoner of what is considered to be a normal North Korean prison–not a concentration camp:
“A former female inmate of Ordinary Prison Camp (kyohwaso) No. 11 at Cheungson described how she was held with 40 to 50 inmates in a cell of approximately 40 square metres in the female section. People could not lie down straight and fights about space were frequent. In winter, it was extremely cold in the cellblock. Inmates could only wash themselves once a month, and everyone had lice. Every month, at least two people from her cell died.”
No one is above suspicion within the communist Hermit Kingdom. Kim Jong-Un has personally ordered more than 340 executions of government officials, family, professionals, at least one former lover, and members of the Unhasu Orchestra. Methods of execution have ranged from immolation, death by anti-aircraft gun firing squad, and obliteration by mortar round.
The race for global power began even before the close of World War II, and with the US aligning itself with Pakistan, Afghanistan turned to the Soviet Union for support. A crossroads of Asia and the Middle East, the Soviet Union quickly began the process of exporting communism into the country. What followed the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan were reforms that fomented animosity in a country that had already been torn by tribalism and sectarian conflict for centuries. The provisional communist regime imposed by the Soviets saw mass arrests, torture, executions, and the use of aerial bombardments of anti-personal mines, designed to main rather than kill to quell ethnic revolts; the rationale was that “an injured person is much more trouble (to the guerrillas) than a dead person.” It has been estimated that 90% of the 1-2 million slain were civilians, millions more were wounded or maimed, and an estimated 5 million were displaced. The US eventually came into the fray by supporting the Mujahadeen against the Soviets, an intervention that would come at a high price for us in the end.
Tyranny of the Proleteriat
The above list only accounts for eight of the 50-some countries that have suffered under Communist regimes, and the litany of communist crimes is continuously being expanded as more is revealed. Why is it that every single communist regime has presided with extreme brutality? Rudolph Joseph Rummel believes that it is the marriage between “absolute power and an absolutist ideology.” In Pioneers of Genocide Studies he details what may be the most accurate and damning assessment of the intrinsically violent nature communism:
“They believed that power, the dictatorship of of the proletariat, must be used to tear down the old feudal or capitalist order and rebuild society and culture to realize this utopia. Nothing must stand in the way of its achievement. Government–the Communist Party–was, thus, above any law. All institutions, cultural norms, traditions, and sentiments were expendable. And people were as though lumber and bricks, to be used in building the new world.”
By the logic of communists and its sympathizers, all of the unspeakable evils committed in the name of Utopia could be justified as necessary casualties in the people’s revolution, collateral damage in the war on the enemies of the Party. Any and all attempts to disprove the brilliance of communism and Karl Marx must be met with the sword, nothing may stand in the way of equality, of the scientific truths of collectivism. Dissent must be silenced by any means necessary, lest the revolution be impeded. Communism, it seems, aims to seize the keys to the kingdom for redistribution, even if the kingdom and its people are annihilated in the process. Hundreds of millions of lives have been consigned to the ashes of oblivion so far, why would we ever want to continue the failed experiment of communism?
If in more than 50 countries communism has resulted in crimes against humanity, war crimes, crimes against peace, and unspeakable human rights violations, then the definition of insanity must truly be to insist communism can work–after all of the atrocities it has perpetrated against humanity–and expect different results.
Truth and Commiseration
In the streets of Germany you will find what are called stolperstein, brass cubes with the names of victims of the Nazis. The stolperstein, or “stumbling stone”, will be located in the last place which was freely chosen by a person before they were taken away to a concentration or extermination camp. It is this commitment to commiseration that has virtually eradicated Nazism from the face of the earth, it is this ownership by the German people for the sins of the past that has kept the horrors of the Holocaust from being forgotten, and it is this accountability for the crimes of communism that is distinctly absent from the western world. Perverse oikophobia and desperate attempts of the left to paint communism as the answer to the faults in capitalism has resulted in the canonization of devils, and so the time has come for the world to admit to the crimes and utter failure of Communism.
Capitalism is imperfect, its crimes are well documented, well articulated, and the west is perennially penitent. But capitalism has created a civilization in which we can think freely, a civilization that encourages criticism and satire; no communist regime has known that. Capitalism has lifted more people out of poverty than any other economic system in the history of humankind, and it continues to do so to this day without despotism, without gulags, without torture, without thought control, and without the destruction of the one thing integral to the human condition–freedom.