Monday, February 06, 2012

THE FIRST RULE OF COMMUNISM

"Communism’s fatal error was in thinking that morality resided in the mechanisms of an economic system rather than in the people who operated them."

If you bring up the idea that someone is communist today, you get one of two responses:
  • Accusation of Tyranny - What are you, McCarthy??
  • Mockery - You see commies under every bed, communism is gone!
Almost never, ever - and never at all from a leftist - do you get the concern that it might be true. Fascism as a world governmental system is utterly gone, and has been for more than 60 years. Communism was toppled in most places just twenty years ago. But while fascism is always a reasonable concern and still illegal in Germany... communism is treated as something from the 16th century, an ancient nonexistent concern, silly to worry about.

That was the greatest triumph of the Communist movement, though. McCarthy was actually quite accurate in most of his concerns - old KGB files confirm that quite explicitly. But his actions and the atmosphere of evil that accompanied the efforts of the House Committee on Unamerican Affairs was so awful and the reaction so strong the entire concept of fighting communism became totally discredited. That, along with the outrageous lie that Nazis were right wing extremists, has been so successful that American culture is predictably controlled by this reaction whenever the topic comes up.

It played into the communist hands pretty well, they were able to go full bore into American society and infiltrate much of the nation. Because this is America the communist movement sort of got lost and fell apart, slouching into a sort of selfish leftist ideology we see today, but they did accomplish their goals of getting into and dominating the arts, entertainment, news media, academia, and so on. If anyone pointed to this happening, they were shouted down as a McCarthyite.

But Communism failed, horribly, and always has. In the late 1980s, Reagan's tireless anti-communist efforts greatly contributed to the collapse of the Soviet bloc and now people think of the ideology as being history. The problem is, they don't think of it so much as being bad history.

Janet Daley at the Telegraph writes (via Instapundit):
Can I suggest that you try the following experiment? Gather up a group of bright, reasonably well-educated 18-year-olds and ask them what world event occurred in 1945. They will, almost certainly, be able to give you an informed account of how the Second World War ended, and at least a generally accurate picture of its aftermath. Now try asking them what historical milestone came to pass in 1989. I am willing to bet that this question will produce mute, blank looks.

The fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism which followed it are hugely important to any proper understanding of the present world and of the contemporary political economy. Why is it that they have failed to be addressed with anything like their appropriate awesome significance, let alone found their place in the sixth-form curriculum?

The failure of communism should have been, after all, not just a turning point in geo-political power – the ending of the Cold War and the break-up of the Warsaw Pact – but in modern thinking about the state and its relationship to the economy, about collectivism vs individualism, and about public vs private power. Where was the discussion, the trenchant analysis, or the fundamental debate about how and why the collectivist solutions failed, which should have been so pervasive that it would have percolated down from the educated classes to the bright 18-year-olds?
See, every schoolkid knows that Fascism is evil, but they're told that fighting against communism was evil at the same time. We get Schindler's List and The Pianist about how horrible Nazis were, but we get Good Night and Good Luck about how bad anti-Communists were. The narrative is very clear: Nazis = right wing evil, communism = well meaning and opposed by right wing evil.

Most young people today have no clue how unbelievably horrible it was behind the iron curtain. They don't know that Communists killed many many times more people than Nazis, or that many millions more suffered under their evil. They know about Auschwitz, but not the Gulag Archipelago. They know about Goebbels and Hess, but not Stalin and Khrushchev.

And the answer to that is simple. Daley goes on:
The idea that no system – not even a totalitarian one – could ensure such a total eradication of “unfairness” without eliminating the distinguishing traits of individual human beings was one of the lessons learnt by the Soviet experiment. The attempt to abolish unfairness based on class was replaced by corruption and a new hierarchy based on party status.
This doesn't fit what the left wants to be true. They want the concept of economic equality and imposition of fairness by an enlightened leadership with absolute power to be workable and good, regardless of all past experience. They want the concepts of class warfare producing immorality rather than the other way around to be accurate.

Communism is an embarrassing, humiliating reminder of how wrong and horrid their ideas are and what they lead to (as is the fact of National Socialism's evil roots). So they don't want that discussed, and look away. The Soviet Union didn't end up like that because of any natural consequence of their ideology, they say. It was bad leadership, corruption, and the wrong folks in charge. If they were in charge, given that situation well things would have turned out differently, they argue.

So here we are, scant decades after the fall of the Soviet Union, and you can't even bring up communism without derision and dismissal. Because today, the first rule of communism is that you don't talk about communism.

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