May Day Proposal: Celebrate Anti-Capitalist Activism? No, May Day Should Honor the Millions of Victims of Communism

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The authoritative Black Book of Communism estimates the total at 80 to 100 million dead, greater than that caused by all other twentieth century tyrannies combined

Ilya Somin writes:

…Since 2007, I have defended the idea of using this date as an international Victims of Communism Day. I outlined the rationale for this proposal (which is not my original idea) in my very first post on the subject:

May Day began as a holiday for socialists and labor union activists, not just communists. But over time, the date was taken over by the Soviet Union and other communist regimes and used as a propaganda communism-100
tool to prop up their [authority]. I suggest that we instead use it as a day to commemorate those regimes’ millions of victims. The authoritative Black Book of Communism estimates the total at 80 to 100 million dead, greater than that caused by all other twentieth century tyrannies combined. We appropriately have a Holocaust Memorial Day. It is equally appropriate to commemorate the victims of the twentieth century’s other great totalitarian tyranny. And May Day is the most fitting day to do so….

[Read the full text here, at The Washington Post]

The main alternative to May 1 is November 7, the anniversary of the communist coup in Russia. However, choosing that date might be interpreted as focusing exclusively on the Soviet Union, while ignoring the equally horrendous communist mass murders in China, Cambodia, and elsewhere. So May 1 is the best choice.

Soviet Five-Year Plan propaganda poster.

Soviet Five-Year Plan propaganda poster.

Our relative neglect of communist crimes carries a real cost. Victims of Communism Day can serve the dual purpose of appropriately commemorating the millions of victims, and diminishing the likelihood that such atrocities will recur. Just as Holocaust Memorial Day and other such commemorations help sensitize us to the dangers of racism, anti-Semitism, and radical nationalism, so Victims of Communism Day can increase awareness of the dangers of far left forms of totalitarianism, and extreme government control of the economy and civil society.


In a 2012 post, I explained why May 1 is a better date for Victims of Communism Day than the available alternatives, such as November 7 (the anniversary of the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia) and August 23 (the anniversary of the Nazi-Soviet Pact). I also addressed the objection that it would be wrong to take May Day away from non-communist socialists and trade union activists.

However, as I emphasized in my 2013 May Day post, I would be happy to support a different date if it turns out to be easier to build a consensus around it.

Sadly, a point I made in last year’s post on this subject remains relevant this year as well:

This year’s Victims of Communism post gains added relevance due to recent events in Russia and Ukraine…(read more)

The Washington Post

5 Comments on “May Day Proposal: Celebrate Anti-Capitalist Activism? No, May Day Should Honor the Millions of Victims of Communism”

  1. shirabaram says:

    Socialism and communism are great evils, but what we’ve become oblivious to is the amount of foolishness inflicted by these ideologies on our own culture in the West. The youth have been indoctrinated to accept communism by Leftist professors and this needs to end.

    • The Butcher says:

      i couldn’t agree more. The west remains a great incubator of Marxist ideologues. The fall of Russia’s Stalin-era Soviet system happened so long ago, contemporary students aren’t confronted with the day-to-day reality of the the human suffering it caused. It’s ancient history, methodically whitewashed by contemporary Marxist agitators. Who are now unburdened, exploiting the opportunity to breed a mutant new strain of socialist believers, actively occupying western democratic, academic, and cultural institutions. The indoctrination proceeds further, into subsequent generations, with too little meaningful opposition.

      • shirabaram says:

        98% of American universities are nothing but pimps for Cultural Marxist and socialist ideology. It is a known fact that the USSR funded the Frankfurt School and played a role in the spreading of Critical Theory, which is the propaganda which gave us Cultural Marxism. It is also know, as I have shown, that the ideological backbone of Cultural Marxism lays in an anti-Jewish heresy from the 17th century (Sabbateanism). Sabbateanism sought to overturn Judaism by interpreting Jewish Law in reverse, where mitzvot would become sins and sins would become mitzvot. Critical Theory works in the exact same way: it seeks to destroy the West by interpreting its moral foundations, philosophy and laws in reverse. Today you see every professor in philosophy, sociology, literature and psychology preaching that the family is evil, religion is evil, free markets are evil and so forth. They do not understand how dangerous their ideas are now that the youth have taken them up and are running with them.

        I believe the only way to take the culture back is to bring philosophy and religion back into the minds of the youth. Teach them why Critical Theory is unscientific and why its conclusions lead to undesirable outcomes. Also bring back religious morality and a work ethic.

      • @shirabaram: Please define “religious morality” more closely, particularly as it relates to sexual lifestyle morality.

      • The Butcher says:

        Please define “sexual lifestyle morality”. What is a “lifestyle” morality?

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