Its ‘Red Century’ series portrays communism as a noble cause.
Marc A. Thiessen writes: The Trump administration marked this week’s 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution by declaring a National Day for the Victims of Communism. The New York Times marked the same anniversary in a different way: by running a series of articles extolling the virtues of communism.
The irony of the series’ title, “Red Century,” seems lost on the Times’s editors. The 20th century was “red” indeed — red with the blood of communism’s victims. The death toll of communism, cited in “The Black Book of Communism,” is simply staggering: In the USSR, nearly 20 million dead; China, 65 million; Vietnam, 1 million; Cambodia, 2 million; Eastern Europe, 1 million; Africa, 1.7 million; Afghanistan, 1.5 million; North Korea: 2 million (and counting). In all, Communist regimes killed some 100 million people — roughly four times the number killed by the Nazis — making communism the most murderous ideology in human history.
Never mind all that. University of Pennsylvania professor Kristen R. Ghodsee writes that Communists had better sex: “Eastern women had twice as many orgasms as Western women . . . [who] had less sex, and less satisfying sex, than women who had to line up for toilet paper.” She has tough words for Joseph Stalin because he “reversed much of the Soviet Union’s early progress in women’s rights — outlawing abortion and promoting the nuclear family.” Yes, that was Stalin’s crime. Not the purges, not the gulag, but promoting the nuclear family.
In “How Did Women Fare in China’s Communist Revolution?” Helen Gao recalls her grandmother “talking with joyous peasants from the newly collectivized countryside” and writes that “for all its flaws, the Communist revolution taught Chinese women to dream big.” Mao’s revolution killed tens of millions of Chinese — not counting the millions killed under China’s brutal “One Child” policy, which led to widespread female infanticide. Those Chinese girls never got a chance to dream at all.
In “Lenin’s Eco-Warriors,” Yale lecturer Fred Strebeigh writes that Lenin was “a longtime enthusiast for hiking and camping” who turned Russia into “a global pioneer in conservation.” He fails to mention that Lenin was also a mass murderer who executed more of his political opponents in the first four months of his rule than the czars had in the entire previous century. In one telegram, reproduced in “The Black Book of Communism,” Lenin orders the Cheka (a predecessor of the KGB) to “Hang (I mean hang publicly, so that people see it) at least 100 kulaks, rich bastards, and known bloodsuckers.” (The telegram concludes with an eerie “P.S. Find tougher people.”) Maybe he was camping when he wrote it.
Berkeley professor Yuri Slezkine explains “How to Parent Like a Bolshevik,” noting that “At home, the children of the Bolsheviks read what they called the ‘treasures of world literature,’ with an emphasis on the Golden Ages analogous to their own” and that “Soviet readers were expected to learn from Dante, Shakespeare and Cervantes.” He does not say whether they were also expected to learn from Orwell. Read the rest of this entry »
… According to the latest survey from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a D.C.-based nonprofit, one in two U.S. millennials say they would rather live in a socialist or communist country than a capitalist democracy.
What’s more, 22% of them have a favorable view of Karl Marx and a surprising number see Joseph Stalin and Kim Jong Un as “heroes.”
Really, that’s what the numbers show.
“Millennials now make up the largest generation in America, and we’re seeing some deeply worrisome trends,” said Marion Smith, executive director of the organization. “Millennials are increasingly turning away from capitalism and toward socialism and even communism as a viable alternative.”
I’m going to take half of Chloe’s candy tonight & give it to some kid who sat at home. It’s never to early to teach her about socialism. pic.twitter.com/3ie9C0jv2G
The survey, which was conducted by research and data firm YouGov, found that millennials are the least knowledgable generation on the subject, with 71% failing to identify the proper definition of communism.
Smith explained that this “troubling turn” highlights pervasive historical illiteracy across the country and “the systemic failure of our education system to teach students about the genocide, destruction, and misery caused by communism since the Bolshevik Revolution one hundred years ago.” Read the rest of this entry »
People gathered to honor Stalin’s victims at a ceremony in Kiev, Ukraine, last year. Valentyn Ogirenko / Reuters
Communism Through Rose-Colored Glasses.
Bret Stephens writes: “In the spring of 1932 desperate officials, anxious for their jobs and even their lives, aware that a new famine might be on its way, began to collect grain wherever and however they could. Mass confiscations occurred all across the U.S.S.R. In Ukraine they took on an almost fanatical intensity.”
I am quoting a few lines from “Red Famine,” Anne Applebaum’s brilliant new history of the deliberate policy of mass starvation inflicted on Ukraine by Joseph Stalin in the early 1930s. An estimated five million or more people perished in just a few years. Walter Duranty, The Times’s correspondent in the Soviet Union, insisted the stories of famine were false. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for reportage the paper later called “completely misleading.”
How many readers, I wonder, are familiar with this history of atrocity and denial, except in a vague way? How many know the name of Lazar Kaganovich, one of Stalin’s principal henchmen in the famine? What about other chapters large and small in the history of Communist horror, from the deportation of the Crimean Tatars to the depredations of Peru’s Shining Path to the Brezhnev-era psychiatric wards that were used to torture and imprison political dissidents?
Why is it that people who know all about the infamous prison on Robben Island in South Africa have never heard of the prison on Cuba’s Isle of Pines? Why is Marxism still taken seriously on college campuses and in the progressive press? Do the same people who
rightly demand the removal of Confederate statues ever feel even a shiver of inner revulsion at hipsters in Lenin or Mao T-shirts?
These aren’t original questions. But they’re worth asking because so many of today’s progressives remain in a permanent and dangerous state of semi-denial about the legacy of Communism a century after its birth in Russia.
No, they are not true-believing Communists. No, they are not unaware of the toll of the Great Leap Forward or the Killing Fields. No, they are not plotting to undermine democracy. Read the rest of this entry »
‘I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of view.’
David Rutz reports: President Obama condemned the rash of liberal political correctness seen recently in American colleges Monday, saying “that’s not the way we learn” and that
college students shouldn’t be “coddled and protected from different points of view.”
“Sometimes there are folks on college campuses who are liberal, and maybe even agree with me on a bunch of issues, who sometimes aren’t listening to the other side, and that’s a problem too.”
— President Obama, speaking at a town hall in Iowa
Speaking at a town hall in Iowa about affordable college education, Obama launched into his remarks after a question about Dr. Ben Carson’s proposal to stop government funding to schools with political biases.
Obama slammed Carson’s idea, but he segued into his criticism of left-wing intolerance for opposing viewpoints that have popped up on campuses around the country.
“I’ve heard some college campuses where they don’t want to have a guest speaker who is too conservative or they don’t want to read a book if it has language that is offensive to African Americans or somehow sends a demeaning signal towards women.”
“Sometimes there are folks on college campuses who are liberal, and maybe even agree
with me on a bunch of issues, who sometimes aren’t listening to the other side, and that’s a problem too,” Obama said…
“And you know, I’ve got to tell you, I don’t agree with that either. I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of view.”
“And you know, I’ve got to tell you, I don’t agree with that either. I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of view.
“You know, I think you should be able to—anybody who comes to speak to you and you disagree with, you should have an argument with them. But you shouldn’t silence them by saying, ‘You can’t come because I’m too sensitive to hear what you have to say.’ That’s not the way we learn either.”
You know, I think you should be able to—anybody who comes to speak to you and you disagree with, you should have an argument with them. Read the rest of this entry »
…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
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….
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.
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. Read the rest of this entry »
Dr. Bill van Bise, electrical engineer, conducting a demonstration of Soviet scientific data and schematics for beaming a magnetic field into the brain to cause visual hallucinations. Source: CNN
In Indiana, in Arkansas, and in the boardroom
Kevin D. Williamson writes: There are two easy ways to get a Republican to roll over and put his paws up in the air: The first is to write him a check, which is the political version of scratching his belly, and the second is to call him a bigot. In both cases, it helps if you have a great deal of money behind you.
Tim Cook, who in his role as chief executive of the world’s most valuable company personifies precisely the sort of oppression to which gay people in America are subjected, led the hunting party when Indiana’s governor Mike Pence signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, while Walmart, a company that cannot present its hindquarters enthusiastically enough to the progressives who hate it and everything for which it stands, dispatched its CEO, C. Douglas McMillon, to head off a similar effort in Arkansas, where Governor Asa Hutchison rolled over immediately….(read more)
“Adlai Stevenson famously offered this definition: ‘A free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.’ We do not live in that society.”
…There are three problems with rewarding those who use accusations of bigotry as a political cudgel. First, those who seek to protect religious liberties are not bigots, and going along with false accusations that they are makes one a party to a lie.
Second, it is an excellent way to lose political contests, since there is almost nothing — up to and including requiring algebra classes — that the Left will not denounce as bigotry. Third, and related, it rewards and encourages those who cynically deploy accusations of bigotry for their own political ends.
An excellent illustration of this dynamic is on display in the recent pronouncements of columnist and gay-rights activist Dan Savage, who, in what seems to be an effort to resurrect every lame stereotype about the shrill, hysterical, theatrical gay man, declaimed that the efforts of those who do not wish to see butchers and bakers and wedding-bouquet makers forced by their government at gunpoint to violate their religious scruples is — you probably have guessed already — nothing less than the consecration of Jim Crow Junior. “Anti-black bigots, racist bigots, during Jim Crow and segregation made the exact same arguments that you’re hearing people make now,” Savage said. Given the dramatic difference in the social and political position of blacks in the time of Bull Connor and gays in the time of Ellen DeGeneres, this is strictly Hitler-was-a-vegetarian stuff, the elevation of trivial formal similarities over dramatic substantial differences. The choices for explaining this are a.) moral illiteracy; b.) intellectual dishonesty; c.) both a and b…(read more)
Is it just me? Or is everybody in the media stealing ideas from Jonah Goldberg these days? I’m not suggesting Dougherty‘s column was inspired directly or indirectly by previously-articulated arguments calling attention to this phrase, to the contrary, Dougherty’s take here is insightful and original. But readers familiar with Jonah’s book will recognize the “wrong side of history” cliche as one of its funniest chapters. And it gives me another excuse to encourage people to read it. (Plus, any orders made through links to Amazon helps support my cigar habit, so there’s that)
As Dougherty illustrates, the verdict of history is never really final. Enjoy. The whole text is here.
There is no more bullying or empty piece of rhetoric in political conversation today than to accuse someone of being on the wrong side of history.
“To tell someone that the story of history will be the story of their demise is to make a bet on your future power and to make a frightening promise: The arc of the moral universe is long, and those who disagree with me should be impaled on it.”
“We invoke the future’s verdict of guilt precisely because we’d like to smuggle back into our politics the moral force of Divine judgment. But our appeals to progress are a pathetic substitute for the concept of Providence.”
These days, the phrase is most often deployed against social conservatives. But in the 1980s, it was often aimed at advocates for strong labor unions, tight industrial policy, and trade tariffs.
For all the brutal revelations, the romanticized view of communism as a failed but noble venture has yet to get a stake through the heart.
My headline would be “The Left Still Has a Boner for Communism“, but the editors at Reason don’t have the benefit of punditfromanotherplant’s talent for hyperbole.
Cathy Young writes: In the mid-1980s, in my student days at New Jersey’s Rutgers University, I once got into an argument at the campus pub with a student activist who thought communism was unfairly maligned. (Back then, I had a reputation as a right-wing extremist because I didn’t think it was crazy to call the USSR—from which my family and I had emigrated a few years earlier—an evil empire.) When I mentioned the tendency of communist regimes to rack up a rather high body count, the young man parried, “Well, what about all the people capitalism kills? Like the people who die from smoking so that tobacco companies can make money?”
Having recovered from shock at the sheer idiocy of this argument, I ventured to point out that cigarettes weren’t exactly unknown behind the Iron Curtain. I don’t recall where things went from there; but I was reminded of that conversation the other day, after reading an honest-to-goodness apologia for Communism on Salon.com, a once-interesting magazine that’s rapidly becoming too embarrassing to list on my résumé.
The author, Occupy activist and writer Jesse Myerson, already caused some controversy last month with a Rolling Stone article that outlined a five-step plan toward eliminating inequality and collectivizing wealth. But at least in that piece, Myerson limited himself to extolling a visionary American brand of kumbaya communism rather than defend any of its actual, real-world versions. Here, in an article that purports to correct Americans’ “misconceptions” about communism, he takes the further step of arguing that the real thing wasn’t as bad as we think. Read the rest of this entry »
Peter Morici writes: D-Day arrived for ObamaCare Saturday and began with an 11 hour shutdown of Healthcare.gov–the problem plagued website intended to provide easy access to affordable insurance for millions of Americans.
The contraption is functioning better but is still terribly inadequate. It can only handle 50,000 users at a time, well short of the volume needed to assist the millions of Americans who must purchase health insurance by year end or face fines.
Those eligible for subsidies must use the system, but often the system cannot verify eligibility for aid. Many are in limbo–applications already initiated are stalled, lost, or otherwise cannot be completed.
Healthcare.gov software to funnel subsidies to insurance companies is not functioning effectively, and the small business site that was to offer group coverage has been postponed one year.
Eventually Mr. Zients will have this monster fulfilling all its functions, but it is likely to be a balky, frustrating website, much like other federal websites or those run by private firms enjoying monopoly power.
Health insurance will be as much of a headache as tax filing. Bureaucrats will have easy access to sensitive personal data, which Obama administration political moles can use to target, harass, and sometimes destroy critics, and simply occupy millions of hours of citizens’ time that could be used more productively.
Welcome to statism–the ants of capitalism herded into a bureaucratic hell to serve the masters of a grander design. Read the rest of this entry »
He started out as an editor and went on to excise people–indeed, whole peoples–from history.
Holly Case writes: Joseph Djugashvili was a student in a theological seminary when he came across the writings of Vladimir Lenin and decided to become a Bolshevik revolutionary. Thereafter, in addition to blowing things up, robbing banks, and organizing strikes, he became an editor, working at two papers in Baku and then as editor of the first Bolshevik daily, Pravda. Lenin admired Djugashvili’s editing; Djugashvili admired Lenin, and rejected 47 articles he submitted to Pravda.
Djugashvili (later Stalin) was a ruthless person, and a serious editor. The Soviet historian Mikhail Gefter has written about coming across a manuscript on the German statesman Otto von Bismarck edited by Stalin’s own hand. The marked-up copy dated from 1940, when the Soviet Union was allied with Nazi Germany. Knowing that Stalin had been responsible for so much death and suffering, Gefter searched “for traces of those horrible things in the book.” He found none. What he saw instead was “reasonable editing, pointing to quite a good taste and an understanding of history.” Read the rest of this entry »