Skip to comments.Communism destroyed millions of lives, but its critics are now branded "neocons".
Posted on 06/12/2007 11:33:36 AM PDT by neverdem
Why has the left's poisoned love affair with it endured?
Communism, like nuclear fuel, has a long afterlife. In country after country across Europe - from Russia to Albania - it has been discredited for its record in power. No government in Africa or the Americas subscribes to it except the Castro regime in Cuba. In Asia, the communist flag is waved in Vietnam and China without anyone denying that the economic future lies with capitalism; only North Korea stands by the basic precepts of Marxism-Leninism.
What happened in the October 1917 revolution in Russia was an ideological bank robbery. Its leaders were nothing if not daring. Lenin and his party took over a state and then declared that no other kind of socialism was worthy of the name. They instituted a red terror. They seized hold of an entire economy, persecuted all religious faith, imposed a one-ideology media and treated society as a resource to be mobilised on their whim. These are historical facts that no communist in the 1920s sought to deny. Quite the opposite: the facts were advertised by the Communist International as the only way to do away with "bourgeois rule" and induce the birth of true socialism.
A minority of socialists around the world accepted this case, formed communist parties and joined the Communist International. None of these parties, except for the Mongolian one, stood a serious chance of coming to power until after the Second World War. Geopolitics changed after 1945. The Yugoslav communists had won supremacy in wartime. The Soviet army, being the occupying force elsewhere in eastern Europe, imposed a communist state order east of the river Elbe. In 1949, China experienced a communist military and political take-over. Ten years later, Cuba went the same way.
In doing the research for my book Comrades: A World History of Communism, I tried to find whether there was a basic pattern to the regimes that resulted. The conclusion was a stark one. In all cases of durable state communism, there was some approximation to the Soviet "model". A single party kept itself in power without concern for electoral mandate. A nomenklatura system of personnel appointment was introduced. Religion was harassed. National traditions were emasculated. The rule of law was flouted. The political police was ubiquitous and ruthless; labour camps were established. Foreign travel permits were made hard to come by. Radio and TV broadcasts from abroad were banned. A prim public culture was installed.
This was the pattern despite the many national differences. Popular music in Cuba remained lively and beautiful even though its exponents could not take themselves and their instruments to other countries. In Poland, the Catholic Church was allowed to function in the open. In China, there was some pride - except during the cultural revolution of the late 1960s - in those emperors who had governed a unified nation.
The new communist states, like the Soviet Union before them, undoubtedly engineered rapid industrial growth. The exception was Cambodia under Pol Pot, who emptied the towns of their entire populations. The same states fostered programmes of mass education. They also facilitated the promotion of people who had previously suffered from negative social discrimination. Reading and numeracy flourished. While capitalist economies failed to solve the problems of unemployment, everyone could find work under communism and had access to free health care and cheap housing.
All this I mentioned repeatedly in my book, but it was not quite what one reviewer, the Guardian's Seumas Milne, wanted. He denied that I stated that communist leaders unleashed a drive towards industrial and cultural modernisation. Next, he alleged that I followed a "neoconservative" agenda. He also maintained that the so-called "revisionist" school of Soviet history was not getting a fair wind in the western media.
His Stalinoid form and content of argument involved deliberate misrepresentation. It would seem that Milne and his like consider it fair game to denounce anybody who comes to a considered anti-communist standpoint as a neocon. This is a shoddy way to handle a serious political discussion. If this farrago had not come from the editor of the comment pages of one of our national newspapers, it would not be worth bothering about. What is more, Milne is typical of a more general trend that retains a nostalgia for communism, and it is a trend that ought to be repudiated.
Milne rails against people who describe Stalin's Soviet Union or Mao's cultural revolution as totalitarian. His preference is for the alleged even-handedness of the "revisionist" school. What he has in mind here is the body of work written since the 1970s which stresses that not everything in communist politics was controlled by the supreme leadership. It would be ludicrous to claim that Stalin or Mao directed and controlled every aspect of thought and behaviour. I know of no one who does this. Communist states were indisputably very far from a condition of total regulation from above. In fact, they were more chaotic in many ways than are most liberal democracies.
The reasons for this have long been obvious. Liberal democracies, despite all their faults, have lots of advantages. They have a pluralist culture and free media. They have an independent judiciary. They allow competition among political parties. Such features provide mechanisms for the correction of abuse that were largely absent under communist rule. The result is that such democracies have possessed more orderly societies than communist ones. Work discipline was generally poor under communism. Apathy about politics was widespread. Bureaucratic ineffectiveness was rampant.
What is more, it was no coincidence that durable communist states maintained a heavy load of repression. Millions of citizens always wanted things that incurred official disapproval. They hated the disrespect for national traditions, culture and religion; they were attracted by non-communist ideologies. In order to hold on to power, the communists used the secret police and labour camps. Some leaderships were more brutal than others. Life was different under Brezhnev and Andropov from what it had been under Stalin. And Cuba has held a smaller number of political prisoners as a proportion of its population than was true of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, all communist states were dictatorial, and it was no coincidence that they practised radio and TV jamming and made it difficult for their peoples to travel abroad.
The proof of the pudding came in 1989-91 in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. The old cultural and political controls were loosened. Free public discussion and organisation were permitted, and in country after country there emerged a challenge to the ruling nomenklatura. Wherever contestable elections were held, the state order of communism fell apart.
Some "revisionists" denied that the savagery of the great terror in the Soviet Union or the cultural revolution in China was attributable to Stalin or Mao. Several of them supported ridiculously low figures for the number of deaths and arrests. There was also an endeavour in some quarters to lay stress on the positive economic and educational achievements of regimes, rather than on the persistent repression.
The United Kingdom, of course, never had a communist revolution. Only a handful of communist MPs were ever elected. The Communist Party occasionally did well in local elections, but it never won more than a tiny proportion of the vote in national elections. We now know just how closely it was supervised from Moscow. It received money on a regular basis. It received guidance on policy, and there was trouble for those British communist leaders who stepped out of line until the 1980s. By and large, the Kremlin used the party as an instrument for propaganda in favour of Soviet foreign policy. There was no serious effort to turn it into an insurrectionary force.
But what if the CPGB or any of the small anti-Soviet communist groups were to have attracted greater support and come to power? What would have happened next? By no stretch of the imagination can one imagine that communism's political opponents would have folded up their tents and withdrawn from the field. The communists would never have enjoyed universal popularity. Without force it is hard to imagine how a British communist regime would have lasted very long if it disrupted the usual workings of the economy and offended social and religious sentiments. Communist ministers would then have faced the same choices as presented themselves to previous communist regimes elsewhere.
The point is that repression was not some aberrant phenomenon under communist rule around the world. It was ideologically condoned in advance; it proved also to be a practical necessity for the consolidation of communist states. Communists from the 1920s through to the 1940s were frank about this: they eulogised dictatorship. Subsequently, they avoided debate on the matter or else contended that they would break with the models provided by historical communist states. They never explained how they would introduce communism except by massive force. The ghosts of the victims of all those bloody purges cry out for us to reject the printed apologias for the communist past.
Robert Service's "Comrades: A World History of Communism" is published by Macmillan
And the USA, if a DemocRAT is elected POTUS next year.
What is a “neocon” anyway?
Depending on the agenda it’s either:
-a conservative jew
-a conspirative jew
-a jew (conservative or liberal) supporting wars
-a former leftist (pro-FDR/JFK) turned rightwing
-anyone supporting the War on Terror
-anyone who voted Bush
-anyone supporting Israel (esp. Evangelical Christians)
-anyone supporting American interventions
(I personally do describe my foreign policy view as neoconservative, defined as supporting preemptive wars (if necsessairy unilateral wars) against threats and potential threats, especially those emerging in the Islamic world.)
This love affair with communism persists to this day among many of the so-called “enlightened.” In one of my university classes last year, a fellow mature student expressed admiration for communism and declared it was better than our capitalist society. I then asked her what exactly was it about communism that was so attractive to her? Was it the 110 million dead? The gulags? The tortures and arbitrary arrests by the secret police? The food lines? Or was it the silencing of dissent, seizure of private property, or restriction on travel?
Naturally she didn’t have a good answer and I made an enemy for the rest of the course.
Some people just hate our society so much they want to destroy it and replace it with a so-called utopian system. Naturally, they expect to be placed in power in these new governments and will have absolute power over the masses.
After all, that’s what it really comes down to - they want to have power over others where their every whim is satisfied and their word is law. Since they cannot get this god-like power in our democratic system, they want to overthrow it and replace it with communism or another totalitarian regime.
“Neocon” means pro-israel conservatives. It’s as simple as that.
God, how I despise the left. Today's DemocRAT Party is no longer wearing the sheep's clothing of "liberalism" -- they are out-and-out Stalinists. Look for a President Hildabeast to begin her reign by re-imposing the "Fairness Doctrine", and consolidate it by outlawing political opposition, "temporarily" suspending the Bill of Rights, declaring herself President for Life, opening the camps, and rolling the freight cars.
It is, they just don't use the name, probably because it's so discredited among everyone but moonbat leftist "intellectuals."
Chavez claims he's "Bolivarian," as if the great liberator would have ever considered trading one master, Spain, for a thug like Chavez.
I think it is much more simple than all of that: naievete.
Well I am a neoconservative. I wear the badge proudly.
Depending on the usage, so am I. (I have a sneer, surprisingly seldom used anymore, for any self-proclaimed Marxists: ‘I was a Marxist when I was 13, I outgrew it along with acne.’)
The broad usage of neoconservative as ex-leftist conservative fits a lot of us on the right in my generation.
On the other hand, the most notable neoconservatives, while now very much men of the right, still have a whistful sympathy for the project of the left, which I don’t really share. For that reason, I liked to joke in the mid-80’s that I was the last person to join the Old Right.
"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus
Just look at Albania, which was the last Stalinist state, and the reception they gave President Bush over the weekend.
They’re attempting to turn “neocon” or neoconservative into an insult the same way we did to “liberal”, notice how no serious candidate running for president will identify themselves as liberal when they clearly are. They’re trying to make “neocon” one of those words that sound bad to people before they research what it really means, just a modern non isolationist conservative.
I’d a heck of a lot rather be a Neocon than a Neocom.....
Well, look at the upside. Should she follow that course, a lot of us here will be spared the indignity of cancer wards and heart attacks.
Neocom. That’s the fitting name for the Democrat party today. No more Conservative vs. Liberal. From now on it’s Neocon vc. Neocom... LOL.
The infamous Jonestown remains the perfect microcosm of all utopian socialist states.
See my tagline.
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