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for Victims of Communism, at Catallarchy. On a related note, Jeff Jacoby writes about Totalitarian Chic:

In January 2005, Britain's Prince Harry attended a birthday party dressed as a Nazi. When the London Sun published a picture of the prince in his German desert uniform and swastika armband, it triggered widespread outrage and disgust. In scathing editorials, Harry was condemned as an ignorant and insensitive clod; months later, he was still apologizing for his tasteless costume. "It was a very stupid thing to do," he said in September. "I've learnt my lesson."

For a more recent example of totalitarian fashion, consider Tim Vincent, the New York correspondent for NBC's entertainment newsmagazine, "Access Hollywood." Twice in the last few weeks, Vincent has introduced stories about upcoming movies while sporting an open jacket over a bright red T-shirt -- on which, clearly outlined in gold, was a large red star and a hammer-and-sickle: the international emblems of totalitarian communism.

And what was the public reaction to seeing those icons of cruelty and death turned into the latest yuppie style? Furor? Moral outrage? Blistering editorials?

None of the above.

Gordo:
Why does Communism still not get the oppobrium it deserves?

Unlike Fascism and National Socialism, which spouted repugant and on their face absurd political philosphies about Master Races and the like matching the repugnant actions of the regimes implementing them, Communism was based upon a utopian vision of a worker's paradise, completely belied in deeds by the Soviets and Maoists. That vision still resonates in a world with more have-nots than haves, in a world where the vision of both economic and social freedom that would be provided by a democratic capitalist state can be corrupted, albeit on a lesser scale than the ideals of Communism were corrupted.
5.1.2006 2:05pm
Whatever:
While I certainly find tasteless displays of totalitarian imagery offensive, there is a pretty clear answer to the "why a reaction to one and not the other?" question. First of all, Harry is the Prince of England. Everything he does is analyzed and criticized in the British media. The other guy is, as the article says: "the New York correspondent for NBC's entertainment news magazine, "Access Hollywood." No one's ever heard of this guy, and no one cares what he does, or how he conducts himself. He's a nobody. If you take the time to be offended by the tasteless actions of people you've never heard of who don't matter one bit, you must have too much time on your hands.
5.1.2006 2:07pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Maybe the difference the difference lies in the goals of the movement. Nazism from its inception was corrupt and evil. It believed in the perfection of man only through the subjugation and extermination of lesser peoples. On the other hand, Marxism (as opposed to its corrupted and broken result of totalitarian communism) believed in the perfectablity of man through the inveitable evolution of history. The perversion of Marx's ideas and the bloody results prove the folly and wrongheadedness of his utopianism, but his ideals believed in the perfectabilty of all mankind, not just a "master race".

So while Nazis are always reviled, because you really can't say with a straight face "Hitler had the right idea, his plans were just implemented wrong", it is not unreasonable (although most of us would say hopelessly naive) to say "Marx's ideas were good, they were just implemented in the wrong countries, at the wrong time, by evil people"
5.1.2006 2:11pm
R:
The solution:

http://che-mart.com/
5.1.2006 2:22pm
jota:
A wee bit sensitive, aren't we? And as the other poster pointed out, who cares what some two-bit entertainment tv journalist wears? What next? No sports jersey's in middle schools depciting the national teams of people we don't like. Uch.
5.1.2006 2:31pm
Justin (mail):
The choice of May 1st as the date belies this absurdly political and anti-labor and worker "holiday" - a holiday designed to take May Day away from the American - and international - worker.

You could have at least been up front about this.

A shame, too - the holiday, celebrated on any other day, would have had a real point, instead of being simply conservative propoganda.
5.1.2006 2:38pm
J.D. (mail):
Is anyone willing to argue that if the Access Hollywood correspondent had worn a giant swastika t-shirt, that somehow wouldn't have garnered controversy and calls for boycotts?

Marxism at its core is every bit as evil as Fascism and Nazism. Although its tenets didn't offer the obvious clues such as racial extermination, as a variant of collectivism, Marxism demands absolute loyalty, self-sacrifice, and a basic corruption of human nature. It's hardly surprising that it manifested itself in gulags, purges, and the systematic extermination of millions of peoples. Marx's ideals weren't perverted, they are a priori perverse.
5.1.2006 2:51pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Marxism demands absolute loyalty, self-sacrifice, and a basic corruption of human nature. It's hardly surprising that it manifested itself in gulags, purges, and the systematic extermination of millions of peoples. Marx's ideals weren't perverted, they are a priori perverse.

Umm, in what fantastical world is this anywhere near a reasonable reading of Marx? You could make the same argument about Christianity--in fact Christianity demands a corruption of what it states is "human nature". And loyalty and self-sacrifice are usually considered good things.
5.1.2006 2:57pm
Chimaxx (mail):
As others have noted, a TV reporter on an entertainment show is not a crown prince. But as well, a logo-emblazoned T-shirt is not a uniform, and the United States is not Britain. If the Bush twins were to go to a Halloween party in full Stalinist regalia, I'm sure there would be a hue and cry.
5.1.2006 3:01pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Whatever: sorry, that doesn't fly. If this reporter had worn a swastika -- or a KKK hood -- there would have been screams of outrage from millions of Americans who had never heard of the reporter or seen the piece.
5.1.2006 3:04pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
I wondered about this last Friday, seeing a woman in a CCCP T-shirt, hammer &sickle and all.

Of course, it was at my 4th-grader's May Day ceremony at school, so maybe there was some subtle irony at work in the wearer's mind.

(Yes, you can have May Day on April 28, if you're St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Jackson, MS. No doubt the Episcopalians interpret Scripture with similar freedom.)
5.1.2006 3:07pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Folks: Remember that the red star and the hammer and sickle isn't likely to be seen as just the symbol of Marxism in the abstract (just as the swastika is not, absent context that so suggests, seen as a symbol of Hinduism). It's the symbol of the Soviet Union, a remarkably nasty tyranny that killed millions of people. Whatever the stated intentions of Soviet Communism or German Nazism -- which of course included both the laudable (even the Nazis had nonmurderous planks in their agenda) and the nasty (Soviet Communism made quite clear that it was going to achieve its ends by some rather illiberal means) -- it seems to me a serious mistake to ignore the actual conduct that the regimes which used the symbols engaged in.
5.1.2006 3:11pm
steve (mail):
Re the Brits ... Maybe the outrage was because, uh,
the Nazis bombed London.
5.1.2006 3:17pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
which of course included both the laudable (even the Nazis had nonmurderous planks in their agenda) and the nasty (Soviet Communism made quite clear that it was going to achieve its ends by some rather illiberal means) -- it seems to me a serious mistake to ignore the actual conduct that the regimes which used the symbols engaged in.

Well, maybe we should adopt the "heritage, not hate" clarion call of all the rednecks who wave the Confederate flag while they insist it is not a symbol of racial intolerance. Maybe this person is just proud of his Russian heritage and the achievements of the Soviet Union (because Lord knows Russia would still be a broken down agrarian backwater if the Romanavs had managed to survive World War I in power) like those South Carolinians are proud of their treason 145 years ago.
5.1.2006 3:19pm
Whatever:

Whatever: sorry, that doesn't fly. If this reporter had worn a swastika -- or a KKK hood -- there would have been screams of outrage from millions of Americans who had never heard of the reporter or seen the piece.


Maybe you're right, but I doubt it... Since that's a hypothetical, I think the more apropo question is: What is the legal significance of the hammer and sickle? Has there ever been a case in which the display of a hammer and sickle has been used to elevate an action to the level of hate crime? Does it target a protected group in such a way that it's display could make a workplace a hostile environment? Is there any case law to clarify this?
5.1.2006 3:23pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Good point, Freder. I assume everyone condemning the hammer-&-sickle fad has the same attitude about displays of the Confederate battle flag?
5.1.2006 3:30pm
just me:
The world has understood for a long time that Nazism is evil, not just a good idea with poor implementation.

A good bit of the world is still in denial about that same truth re Soviet totalitarianism. As EV noted, this symbol concerns the Soviets, not more abstract Marxism or socialism or whatever. And from day one, Lenin was an evil guy with evil intents (i.e., Stalin built on Leninism; he did not deviate from it).

Those in denail are right, though, on their NEED for denial, if not their accuracy of history. A deep enough excavation would mean admitting that the Left, for the most part, has been apologizing for slaughter for a century. It's too much to bear to admit that, so they must happily march along in Che T-shirts and ignore the body count.
5.1.2006 3:37pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Good point, Freder. I assume everyone condemning the hammer-&-sickle fad has the same attitude about displays of the Confederate battle flag?
Well, I do, anyway. It's a symbol of treason, slavery, and racism. (I separate the last two, because it originally symbolized the Confederacy -- slavery -- but went out of fashion, until it was readopted in the 1950s by neoconfederates as a symbol of opposition to integration.)


Justin
The choice of May 1st as the date belies this absurdly political and anti-labor and worker "holiday" - a holiday designed to take May Day away from the American - and international - worker.
1) You may not be aware that we have something called "Labor Day" in the United States as a day for the American worker.

2) It's hard to see how remembering the victims of communism is "anti-labor and worker." They were the victims of communism.
5.1.2006 3:41pm
Houston Lawyer:
It just shows that the Left is still in love with communism, warts and all. Hitler and the Nazis deserve and deserved all the scorn heaped upon them. The Left is still running around proclaiming that the "true" communism is pure as the driven snow. The rest of us know better.

What better day to score propaganda points than the one the Soviets used to display their military wares to intimidate the free world. I remember the missles and the goose-stepping. They truly were the Evil Empire.
5.1.2006 3:48pm
Silicon Valley Jim:
Add me to the list of folks who feel the same way about the Confederacy's battle flag. I don't doubt that many of those displaying it are, at bottom, good people; that goes for those displaying a hammer and sickle or a portrait of Che Guevara. Nonetheless, the battle flag was and is the symbol of eleven states to whom slavery was so important that they seceded. I also have no patience with anybody who tells me that the Civil War was not about slavery. As my American history teacher in high school said, "Sectionalism was the cause. Slavery was the issue."
5.1.2006 3:49pm
Monkberrymoon (mail):
There's a trend in this thread to (either reluctantly or with enthusiasm) regard Marxist theory as somehow inherently "good", as opposed to the inherent "evil" of Nazism. I'm sorry, but I don't see what's been called the "utopian" vision of Marx to be good in any absolute sense. Collectivism (in the Marxian view) cannot be divorced from the methods used to achieve it -- and collectivism cannot be obtained without government coercion. The same goes for enforced equality. There is a normal human impulse common to everyone, and that is the urge to resist people trying to steal stuff from you (even if they're giving it to someone else). I just can't be convinced that a gov't mandating some kind of common poverty is inherently better than a system where some people have things and some people don't have things.

And I agree with David's point about May Day -- the Soviets celebrated May Day for years, but those workers got f-- all in return.
5.1.2006 3:53pm
Anon1ms (mail):
"You may not be aware that we have something called "Labor Day" in the United States as a day for the American worker. "

Actually, May Day has an American pedigree:

International Workers' Day (a name used interchangeably with May Day) is the commemoration of the Haymarket Riot of 1886 in Chicago, Illinois, and a celebration of the social and economic achievements of the international labor movement. The 1 May date is used because in 1884 the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, inspired by labor's 1872 success in Canada, demanded an eight-hour workday in the United States to come in effect as of May 1, 1886. This resulted in a general strike and the riot in Chicago of 1886, but eventually also in the official sanction of the eight-hour workday.
(from Wikipedia)
5.1.2006 3:53pm
devin chalmers (mail):
Well, one reason might be that the hammer &sickle (unlike the Confederate flag or, to a lesser extent the Nazi swastika) is pretty good graphic design. The yellow-on-red t-shirts are just plain stylish. The Che t-shirts are likewise optimally designed for Salvation Army hipster-chic. Say what you want about Josef Stalin, the hammer &sickle just looks good. (The swastika was scary-looking even before the Holocaust--c.f. Marta in The Sound of Music: "What's that big black spider, daddy?", and the Confederate flag is just uuugly.) Also note that Aeroflot, the major Russian airline still uses it in their logo, likely as much for aesthetic as branding reasons.

It is also almost a surety that there is a large part of irony in Communist chic. Buying $25 Soviet Union crew tees at Hot Topic to go with your South Central Alabama Bowling League (embroidered name "Lou"), 'America: World Police' Gulf War-era F-14 emblazoned (before the movie, unbelievably enough--I've seen these at Salvation Army shops), and Buddy Jesus t-shirts is hardly a political statement one should take seriously. (See Mao Ze Dong Musical Lighter, for another example. The song is called "The East Is Red". Classic!)
5.1.2006 3:53pm
Rational Actor (mail):
A question for "Just Me" and "Houston Lawyer" --
Just how big is this group that you refer to as "the Left" that "runs around proclaiming that the true communism is pure as the driven snow"? It's interesting to me, because I grew up in a fairly liberal household and live in a fairly liberal city, yet I have never heard anyone espousing views that come close to this. Is Houston being overrun by radicals seeking to overthrow the capitalist system? Or do you simply conflate anyone who is not a pure free market capitalist into your view of the "evil empire-supporting Left"?
5.1.2006 4:04pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Well, I do, anyway. It's a symbol of treason, slavery, and racism. (I separate the last two, because it originally symbolized the Confederacy -- slavery -- but went out of fashion, until it was readopted in the 1950s by neoconfederates as a symbol of opposition to integration.)

Wasn't Southern slavery pretty much inconceivable without racism? "The black folks are just as good as we whites, but we just happen to be enslaving them" is not a position I'm familiar with.
5.1.2006 4:06pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Well, one reason might be that the hammer &sickle (unlike the Confederate flag or, to a lesser extent the Nazi swastika) is pretty good graphic design.

Defined how? B/c the Confederate flag has done pretty well for itself. And I think the swastika beats the hammer-and-sickle pretty easily, taken in abstraction.

Also, I hope everyone remembers that the socialists didn't invent May Day, an ancient fertility ritual.
5.1.2006 4:10pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Southern slavery as practiced might have been inconceivable without racism, but slavery itself is not. I'm just saying that this is a symbol of both, and it was re-adopted as a symbol of racism after it stopped being a symbol of (current) slavery.
5.1.2006 4:12pm
Vovan:
Perhaps the professor would find it abhorrent that one of the most popular items selling in NYC in the middle of little Odessa, among the the largest Jewish Community in the US - is the T-shirt with the hammer and the sickle. However, no one is selling swasticas and nazi uniforms - I guess the former "victims" of totalitarian regimes never learn eh?
5.1.2006 4:14pm
Hugh Rice (mail):
In general, VC is a fairly thoughtful and interesting blog. Why is there suddenly so much low-brow partisan hackery? First, you all had to take your shots at Galbraith, and now, you all feel the need to turn May 1 into a day to condem socialism. I suppose next time I come here David Koppel will have another of his truly enlightening posts about gun rights...

The flaccidness of the Federalist Society is on full dispaly this week, guys. Bring it back up a notch.
5.1.2006 4:21pm
Houston Lawyer:
Socialism and Galbraith should be condemned every day. Getting to do it on May Day is just gravy. I have to go learn the national anthem in Spanish now.
5.1.2006 4:34pm
Artemis (mail):
Um, Hugh Rice, could you explain -- since you appear to have high standards regarding "thoughtfulness" -- how a Day of Remembrance for the victims of Communism is low-brow partisan hackery? How, exactly, is it a partisan thing to remember the 100 million-plus who were slaughtered in the name of "the worker's paradise?" I can assure you that the increasingly well-documented body count is no partisan publicity stunt.

I await your non-flaccid reply.
5.1.2006 4:42pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
How, exactly, is it a partisan thing to remember the 100 million-plus who were slaughtered in the name of "the worker's paradise?"

Where do you get your 100 million-plus figure? The numbers traditionally associated with Stalin (20--40 million) are probably overstated to the tune of an order of magnitude, and the number directly killed (i.e., executed rather than died in famines or as a result of harsh conditions in the Gulags) is probably on the order of a couple or three million--and they were probably mostly communist party members anyway so you probably don't mourn their passing. We still don't have any idea how many people Mao killed, and although upwards of 40 million for the Cultural Revolution has been kicked around, it is almost certainly an exaggeration.

Not that I want to diminish the crimes of totalitarian communist regimes in the twentieth century, but 100 million plus is almost certainly too high by a large measure/
5.1.2006 5:05pm
devin chalmers (mail):
Anderson: Defined how? B/c the Confederate flag has done pretty well for itself. And I think the swastika beats the hammer-and-sickle pretty easily, taken in abstraction.

The Confederate flag is popular for reasons entirely aside from how eye-bendingly ugly it is. (The American flag is no great shakes, either, but is more passable.) The popularity of the red-white-blue combination in flags has always mystified me, it's never been a pleasing combination to my eye. Far too garish and busy-looking. The Union Jack gets away with the combination better, with the more nuanced interplay between the width of the red and white bars being particularly striking. The Confederate flag just doesn't look as good, to me--kind of amateurish, I think too many stars in a design are, in general, hard to get away with. (There are some pleasing variations of the flag, however--NWS?)

The swastika on its own is a very pretty design, there's a lot of Eastern art that proves that, and the Nazi version of it is fairly solid (aside from all those nasty negative connotations). I'd argue that the "arms" of the Nazi swastika as usually portrayed are too thick, and the whole design is too high-contrast for everyday wear (another advantage of the pleasing yellow-red combination of the H&S). The Nazi swastika just looks scary, as I believe was the purpose of the design.

Anyway, in the end I can only speak to what looks good to me (though I do work in design, I have a small amount of formal training in it). I like the contrast and colors of the hammer &sickle. It also has very good use of negative space. (The asymmetric, predominately red flag of the USSR also always appealed to me, from a design point of view.) The design as a whole flows well, though some versions of it are certainly scarier than others. I consider it plainly a better design than the Confederate or Nazi flags, and certainly better-suited for a t-shirt than either of them (color aside, the Confederate flag is too rectangular for a shirt, and the swastika is too low-res and looks kinda silly when blown up--much better for armbands ;)

Anyway, my point is that a lot of the reason for the hammer &sickle's popularity is for aesthetic reasons. There's a reason the scene kids are wearing that and not the flag of the Khmer Rouge or the Cuban flag (arguably a better bet as far as "advancing Communist ideology" goes, wearing a USSR t-shirt for that purpose is kind of like wearing a sandwich board for cruises on the Titanic...).
5.1.2006 5:09pm
devin chalmers (mail):
Anderson: Defined how? B/c the Confederate flag has done pretty well for itself. And I think the swastika beats the hammer-and-sickle pretty easily, taken in abstraction.

The Confederate flag is popular for reasons entirely aside from how eye-bendingly ugly it is. (The American flag is no great shakes, either, but is more passable.) The popularity of the red-white-blue combination in flags has always mystified me, it's never been a pleasing combination to my eye. Far too garish and busy-looking. The Union Jack gets away with the combination better, with the more nuanced interplay between the width of the red and white bars being particularly striking. The Confederate flag just doesn't look as good, to me--kind of amateurish, I think too many stars in a design are, in general, hard to get away with. (There are some pleasing variations of the flag, however--NWS?)

The swastika on its own is a very pretty design, there's a lot of Eastern art that proves that, and the Nazi version of it is fairly solid (aside from all those nasty negative connotations). I'd argue that the "arms" of the Nazi swastika as usually portrayed are too thick, and the whole design is too high-contrast for everyday wear (another advantage of the pleasing yellow-red combination of the H&S). The Nazi swastika just looks scary, as I believe was the purpose of the design.

Anyway, in the end I can only speak to what looks good to me (though I do work in design, I have a small amount of formal training in it). I like the contrast and colors of the hammer &sickle. It also has very good use of negative space. (The asymmetric, predominately red flag of the USSR also always appealed to me, from a design point of view.) The design as a whole flows well, though some versions of it are certainly scarier than others. I consider it plainly a better design than the Confederate or Nazi flags, and certainly better-suited for a t-shirt than either of them (color aside, the Confederate flag is too rectangular for a shirt, and the swastika is too low-res and looks kinda silly when blown up--much better for armbands ;)

Anyway, my point is that a lot of the reason for the hammer &sickle's popularity is aesthetics. There's a reason the scene kids are wearing that and not the flag of the Khmer Rouge or the Cuban flag (arguably a better bet as far as "advancing Communist ideology" goes, wearing a USSR t-shirt for that purpose is kind of like wearing a sandwich board for cruises on the Titanic...).
5.1.2006 5:09pm
devin chalmers (mail):
Apologies for the double-post, I'm never sure how that happens... I think I tried to fix a typo or something. Oops.
5.1.2006 5:09pm
Justin (mail):
I'm aware of labor day, and its creation as a way of undermining May Day, but I'll stick to my original point, thank you very much. Unless you think May 1st was chosen by random accident, I'm not sure why you're disagreeing.
5.1.2006 5:11pm
Justin (mail):
One of the reasons Hammer and Sickle does not equal Swastika, is that the Nazi genocide was devoted towards Jews and Gypsies, and the Russian Genocide against the Ukranians. Both were horrible, but the Ukranians have a much different, and less worrysome, history with violence against them, particularly by the West.
5.1.2006 5:13pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Well, maybe we should adopt the "heritage, not hate" clarion call of all the rednecks who wave the Confederate flag while they insist it is not a symbol of racial intolerance.
I wrote something about the Stars and Bars a couple of years back explaining the treasonous, racist images associated with the Confederacy, and quoting from a number of the state government secession resolutions to make sure that no one could kid themselves that the Confederacy left for some reason other than slavery.
5.1.2006 5:21pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Justin:

"One of the reasons Hammer and Sickle does not equal Swastika, is that the Nazi genocide was devoted towards Jews and Gypsies, and the Russian Genocide against the Ukranians."

The Soviet genocide was far more, shall I say, "multicultural." First of all, millions of ethnic Russians were fed into the labor camps or executed. Numerous Caucasion and Eastern nationalities also fell under the boot. Notably, the Chechens and Kabardines, who were shipped wholesale from their native lands to uninhabitable desert shanty-towns. Don't forget the Volga Germans, who were persecuted *during* WWII. One manner in which this was done was as follows: Soviet paratroopers in Nazi uniforms go to Volga villages and, in German, ask the locals for help. Where one family cooperates, the entire village is wiped out. And last, but never least, the Jews. (It wouldn't be a genocide if someone didn't try to kill the Jews). Stalin, shortly before he croaked, initiated a persecution of Jewish doctors, who were alleged to be "poisoners." This was the PR precursor to a wide-scale persecution of the Jews. The box-cars were prepared - my great-grandfather, to his horror , was charged with inspecting them in Lithuania. Luckily, Stalin bucked the kicket shortly before this plan was to be implemented, (in fact giving rise to rumors that it was indeed the Jews that did him in, to prevent the genocide). But anyway, Justin, that's the concise history of Soviet genocide for ya. It was, unfortunately, much more than "just" Ukrainians.
5.1.2006 5:26pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

One of the reasons Hammer and Sickle does not equal Swastika, is that the Nazi genocide was devoted towards Jews and Gypsies, and the Russian Genocide against the Ukranians. Both were horrible, but the Ukranians have a much different, and less worrysome, history with violence against them, particularly by the West.
The Soviet Union also exterminated vast numbers of people who had the misfortune to think wrong thoughts, get captured in wartime (by the Soviet Union's enemies!), try to promote something closer to Lenin's still not nice model of Communism, or, often, just upset someone with the ear of the authorities. (I'm thinking of the unfortunate family whose dog kept Stalin awake at night with its barking.)

I am not surprised that Justin is prepared to make semiexcuses for why the imagery associated with the Soviet Union's murders of millions (perhaps tens of millions) is less offensive than that associated with the Nazis, who murdered roughly comparable numbers, and with "reasons" that make just about as much sense.

And yes, this is a taunt, to lure Justin into explaining why Soviet mass murder for reasons other than ethnicity is somehow "not as bad" as genocide.
5.1.2006 5:28pm
J.D. (mail):
Frederson - Not to veer off into the weeds with a debate on ethics, altruism, dialectical materialism, etc., but let's start with the basic premise, "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." I don't see how any rational person can support the self-sacrifice, and ultimately self-negation, in this axiom. It's been argued a million times and far better than I could, but this idea is a contradiction of human nature in the sense of liberty and self-determination, and any political manifestation of it is evil. I'm amazed there are still people out there arguing the old line, "But really, Marx's ideals have never been implemented the way he meant, it really can work if done right, I swear..." We obviously won the Cold War but it's taking a bit longer to kill off the worst ideas.
5.1.2006 5:31pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Sorry, correction. It was the Balkars, not the Kabardines. I always get the two confused, owing to the fact that they both live in Kabardino-Balkaria. Yeah.
5.1.2006 5:31pm
Ken Arromdee (mail):
Confederate flag apologist: "I support some of the goals of the people who used this flag."

Soviet flag apologist: "I support all the goals of the people who used this flag, but not their implementation".

I think these are different uses. Someone with a Confederate flag will (usually) reject outright the bad things the Confederacy did. He'll say that he doesn't support slavery at all. Someone with a hammer and sickle will generally just say that the Soviets implemented things badly--a much more halfhearted sort of rejection.
5.1.2006 5:32pm
Glenn Bridgman (mail):
You could cut the irony in this post with a knife. Do you happen to remember what we called the ideology that judged art and fashion based purely on it's ability to support the ideologies precepts?

Communism deserves all the oppobrium that can be spewed at it, but let's turn into mini-lenin's while we do it.
5.1.2006 5:40pm
Glenn Bridgman (mail):
err, let's *not* turn into mini-lenin's rather.
5.1.2006 5:41pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
http://www.collectrussia.com/DISPITEM.HTM?ITEM=7723
5.1.2006 5:43pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Hmm; I had thought that the claim that Democrats were secretly untroubled by Communism, and that only Republicans understood its evil, was generally derided by Democrats as an anti-Democrat canard. (And in fact I should say that many leading Democrats were very clear on the evils of Communism.) I had also thought that many American liberals were careful to distinguish socialism -- which they thought at least worth considering respectfully, on at least some matters -- from Soviet/Maoist Communism, which they recognized as tyrannical and contemptible.

Yet here Hugh Rice refers to people's condemnation of Communism as "turn[ing] May 1 into a day to condemn socialism." He also refers to this condemnation as "partisan hackery" -- which in context must presumably refer to Republican (with perhaps a dollop of Libertarian) activism, rather than some weird Republican-Democratic fusion. So, Mr. Rice, condemnation of Communism is a purely Republican venture? On behalf of the Republican party, I would have loved to be able to claim this is so (though it turns out the facts do not support that).

By the way, if you think we're partisan hacks, or for that matter "flaccid" (whatever exactly this means here), please feel entirely free to instead read all the many other blogs that you find more congenial -- perhaps, for instance, ones that don't commit the awful faux pas of condemning Communism as the morally repugnant political system that it is. It's a big Internet out there.
5.1.2006 5:48pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
"from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs."

Again, how is this any different than "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" or "the meek shall inherit the earth" or "if a man asks for your coat, give him your shirt, too" and any manner of other things Jesus said (or did for that matter). Did you happen to catch what the Pope's worldly possessions consisted of when he died?
5.1.2006 5:49pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Swing and a miss, Freder. NO ONE is saying that we shouldn't implement communism, but *should* implement, politically, the letter of the Bible. Turning the other cheek, for instance, is absurd, if it is anything other than a personal conviction.
5.1.2006 5:55pm
BobH (mail):
Aww, come on. The deal is, Soviet communism was just, yannow, FUNNIER than Nazism.
5.1.2006 6:01pm
J.D. (mail):
Frederson- Mike said it for me, but yeah, I never suggested that we should politically implement the Bible. Where did you get the assumption that Marx and the Pope are ethically infallible on such counts? Frankly I see many of the same fallacies in Christianity as in Marxism, as you have so illustrated. There's a whole school of thought you seem to be missing here.
5.1.2006 6:08pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Justin [responding to David Nieporent],

I'm aware of labor day, and its creation as a way of undermining May Day, but I'll stick to my original point, thank you very much. Unless you think May 1st was chosen by random accident, I'm not sure why you're disagreeing.

Do you think the date of today's immigration protests was chosen "by random accident"? Seriously, I'm curious. Clearly putting it on Cinco de Mayo would have been counter-productive, but I don't understand why the organizers chose a date so close. Unless the A.N.S.W.E.R. component wanted to use the May Day symbolism in exactly the same way you blame the organizers of this Day of Remembrance for doing.
5.1.2006 6:25pm
jdd6y:
I've got a CCCP sweater... I find it the ultimate slap in the face to an ideology that reviled the market economy to wear commercialized gear bearing its logo that you can find at Bloomingdales' for 50 bucks.

I suppose the distinction between that and the swastika is that the Nazis were trying to exterminate an entire people, whereas the USSR was trying to fight an idea.

People have American flags and other paraphanalia and we killed a whole bunch of indigenous people, rather brutally, just to steal their land. We also enslaved Africans and interned the Japanese, and stole their property for good measure. I don't have a problem getting past those things.

I think the Nazis occupy a certain place as the most despicable lot in modern history and, even if done in jest, it is hard to mock history's premier scumbags. Something about the gas chambers and ghettos and the brutal Prussian efficiency displayed in trying to exterminate an entire ethnic group. Heck, it is hard for me to even speak to modern day Germans.

I suppose on an intellectual level, there is little distinction between the two groups. Russians bought into an idiotic ideology that ended up killing millions of people and crushing the standard of living of millions more. They participated in it just as much as the Germans did. It is my understanding that they committed acts of genocide against various peoples including those in the Baltic states. For some reason, the USSR just doesn't evoke the same type of visceral reaction.

Perhaps it is related to how pathetically the USSR crashed. Perhaps it is related to the fact that Hitler's greatest hits are available on the history channel.

Perhaps the answer is to mock the Nazis in the same way. Make swastika shirts for dogs or something.
5.1.2006 6:52pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Freder Frederson writes:


Again, how is this any different than "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" or "the meek shall inherit the earth" or "if a man asks for your coat, give him your shirt, too" and any manner of other things Jesus said (or did for that matter). Did you happen to catch what the Pope's worldly possessions consisted of when he died?
I wasn't aware that Jesus told his followers to set up a dictatorship to accomplish these ends.
5.1.2006 6:59pm
steve k:
Frederson asks how is "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" different from "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" or "the meek shall inherit the earth" or "if a man asks for your coat, give him your shirt, too"? The difference is obvious and huge.

Let's look at the last three quotes first. "Do unto others" is a suggestion to all to be helpful according to their own judgment. That statement appeals both to one's sense of charity and self-interest (general empathy will help if others do unto you as well--cooperation is better for everyone in general). If the state forced you to do what it thought best toward others, rather than allowing you to decide for yourself, it would lead to tremendous repression and inefficiency--it would also remove your own moral agency. (I might add Shaw criticized the Golden Rule saying don't do unto others as you'd have them do unto you--they may have different tastes.)

"The meek" line is a non sequitur in this discussion (it's not an admonition and deals with a different subject), so I'm not sure why it's included here.

The "coat" line is also about being charitable.

Furthermore, all these bits of morality were made in the context of a belief that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and what would it profit someone to gain wealth but lose his soul? In this situation, the big reward comes after you die.

Meanwhile, communism doesn't believe in religion and is trying to create a great system for a society on Earth. That's why it's famous statement "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" is such a complete disaster, guaranteed to lead to massive poverty and reduce citizens to near-slavery. This is not some moral admonition to be nice, this is the state telling you how it will deal with you. There will be no freedom for you to act, it will decide what you should do.

As an economic system, it cannot work. What if I have tremendous needs, the state will take care of them? What if it doesn't have the money or power to? Furthermore, if they state guarantees all my needs will be taken care of, then there is no incentive for me to work or produce anything of value, just to do what I want. In fact, there is no reward for producing more than I need--the harder I work, the more I'm punished, in fact. And if they take according to my ability, that also means I don't have the freedom to decide what to do. Perhaps I am very able at something but would rather do something else--no luck, the state will decide what I must do.

And there's no way the state will wither away. Since people have no incentive to work, or certainly work hard, the state would soon have nothing, and everyone will starve to death. Obviously, no country can allow that, but since they don't have free markets where people earn a living by producing what others need, they will have to force people to work--i.e., slavery.

Furthermore, this will be top-down command economy which also has built-in inefficiency--they can only figure so much on what to do or plan, and can't change course quickly if things change, even assuming they have the best of intentions with no corruption or cronyism; the information needed to run things smoothly and efficiently is in small packets all over the place at ground level--each person has a little bit of this info--and no centralized planning can properly take it all into account. This inefficiency will even lead to thing like mass starvation--when people are their own agents for the most part, they will act and do what they need to get by, at the very least, while if they are controlled by the state, they can be easily forgotten and treated poorly. And if people try to help themselves get by by working outside the system, or complain about the system and try to change it, the state will likely make them political prisoners and many will be jailed killed.

This isn't just conjecture. This is what has happened when people practiced communism.
5.1.2006 6:59pm
Jason Fliegel (mail):

I'm sorry, but I don't see what's been called the "utopian" vision of Marx to be good in any absolute sense. Collectivism (in the Marxian view) cannot be divorced from the methods used to achieve it -- and collectivism cannot be obtained without government coercion.


Tell it to the kibbutzniks.
5.1.2006 6:59pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Tell it to the kibbutzniks.
But the kibbutzim have never been economically viable; they have always depended on state subsidies. So that really doesn't refute the point. If the kibbutzim had wanted to be viable, coercion would have been necessary.



Glenn:
You could cut the irony in this post with a knife. Do you happen to remember what we called the ideology that judged art and fashion based purely on it's ability to support the ideologies precepts?
I don't believe anybody here is judging "art and fashion." I believe people here are judging ideas. And they're doing so not based on these ideas' "ability to support the ideologies precepts," but on the ideas' own (lack of) merits.
5.1.2006 7:35pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Someone with a Confederate flag will (usually) reject outright the bad things the Confederacy did. He'll say that he doesn't support slavery at all.

Right, Ken, but as Clayton Cramer's comment &link above should show, such a person will be either ignorant, or stupid, or a liar. It's like saying "I just have this Nazi swastika on my car because I like Erwin Rommel and autobahns."
5.1.2006 7:50pm
Vovan:
Man, I wish we could have a day of rememberance for the victims of WASP's on Thanksgiving that would be way cool, something along the lines of

The Indians saved the Pilgrim And in return the Pilgrim killed em Day
5.1.2006 8:31pm
justanotherguy (mail):
I think the huge number killed by the Utopians is documented in the Black Book among other sources. Conquest does a good job with the USSR number dead...but basically it is huge...more killed in 20th century by the government than all wars mankind has fought!

As to the "Native Americans," while I will not even try to justify Manifest Destiny or the trail of tears... I think that the spread of diseases took around 80-90% of the native population, some think a bit less...but this accidental plague can't be placed in the same light as the deaths from the CCCP.

Yes 1 May is perhaps a good time to reflect the nature of government and those who died from a utopian one.
5.1.2006 8:58pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
The "coat" line is also about being charitable.

You obviously don't know your Bible. The "coat" line is not a very popular one with anyone, particularly our current crop of fundamentalist Christians, because Jesus is clearly referring to a thief (i.e., a mugger). He is saying if someone sticks a gun in your ribs and demands your wallet, you should say to the thief, "brother, you might not have noticed, I am also wearing a Rolex, please take that too."

And if you think that "Do unto others" is about being charitable according to your own judgement, you have got that completely bass ackwards. It means, think about how you would want to be treated, and then treat everybody else like you would want to be treated--in other words, turn your selfishness outwards.

And did any of you consider that no matter how bad the Soviet Union was, they were once our ally, who did the vast majority of fighting and dying against the Nazis? In fact, in the last month of the war in Europe, the Soviets lost more men in the battle for Berlin than rest of the Allies did in the entire campaign since D-Day.
5.1.2006 9:21pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
As to the "Native Americans," while I will not even try to justify Manifest Destiny or the trail of tears... I think that the spread of diseases took around 80-90% of the native population, some think a bit less...but this accidental plague can't be placed in the same light as the deaths from the CCCP.

So because disease made the genocide easier, that somehow absolves us? Also, remember that a lot of the genocide that we accuse the Soviets of amounts to manufactured famine. If man-made famine (famine where people died unnecessarily because the government withheld food stocks that were readily available) then the British were certainly guitly of genocide during the Potato Famine in Ireland in the 1840's. Up to 1 million were killed outright and another 2 million lost their land and forced to emigrate while Ireland continued to export food.

And in this country, the slaughter of the bison in the plains in the 1860's and 1870's was a calculated program to deprive Native Americans of their food source and force them into starvation or onto reservations.
5.1.2006 9:40pm
steve k:
The "Coat" line, even if your interpretation is the only one, has nothing to do with the credo of communism. In fact, all these moral admonitions are nothing like communism. Please see what I wrote Christianity's purpose above, and how it really doesn't relate with the very material beliefs of communism.

"Do unto others" by its very nature requires your own judgment (as opposed to communism, where the state makes judgments for you), since you have to figure out, at the very least, how you'd like to be treated. (You also have to then figure out if what you're doing makes any sense. And you have to figure out, in general, the boundaries of this rule.) I'm glad you mentioned turning selfishness outwards, since that's the genius of capitalism--the reason it works better than any other system does is it harnesses our natural selfishness to create a society that's better for the average citizen.

The Soviets acted in their own interests during WWII, siding with Hitler and then opposing him. We made common cause with a dictator who might otherwise might have been an enemy because that's how politics sometimes works--unlike Stalin's pact with Hitler, it was the right thing to do at the time, I'd say.
5.1.2006 9:53pm
The Real Bill (mail):
I have an Interflug (GDR's state airline) T-shirt. I wear it as a joke (and because the graphic looks cool). For me it says, "I suffered for decades under a totalitarian dictatorship and all I got was this lousy T-shirt," or "All that's left of a once proud national airline (and nation) is this logo." It's good for conversation. It's also good for confusing people who might initially guess that I'm a communist (when I'm actually a libertarian). I just like screwing with people. ; )
5.1.2006 10:09pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
The "Coat" line, even if your interpretation is the only one, has nothing to do with the credo of communism.

I raised the issue of communisms credo ("from each according to his ability . . ."), because someone way up there seemed to think that just the concept that anything other than unbridled greed was evil. I merely pointed out that if one actually bothered to follow Christ's teachings your self-interest would be secondary. Now, I know that Christianity is not particularly popular on this site, but most of your allies on the right at least claim to be Christians and do make a big fuss about this country being founded on "Christian principles". So, I would be careful about denigrating such aspirational selflessness.
5.1.2006 10:09pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Freder:

"So because disease made the genocide easier, that somehow absolves us?"

Why in the name of Coco Crisp are you seeking absolution for something you had absolutely nothing to do with, something that no one you know had anything to do with, and something that, quite possibly, and this is a moot point, your ancestors had nothing to do with?
5.1.2006 11:33pm
Bleepless (mail):
Now Freder Frederson is supporting the USSR for having had homicidally incompetent military leadership.
5.1.2006 11:43pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Why in the name of Coco Crisp are you seeking absolution for something you had absolutely nothing to do with, something that no one you know had anything to do with, and something that, quite possibly, and this is a moot point, your ancestors had nothing to do with?

Huh, I thought the whole point of this thread was collective guilt. So apparently the statute of limitations on genocide is one hundred years. Any atrocities that occurred in the twentieth century are terrible and any politcal, economic, or philosophical belief that can be tied to those atrocities are horrible. Any atrocities prior to 1900 (let's make it the Russian Revolution so we don't have to worry about things like the very origin of the phrase "concentration camp"), are by definition ancient history and something we shouldn't seek absolution for because "no one you know had anything to do with, and something that, quite possibly, and this is a moot point, your ancestors had nothing to do with?"
5.1.2006 11:45pm
Artemis (mail):
Freder, could you please explain how the point of this thread is "collective guilt?"

This post seemed to have two points, both of which I would have thought -- silly me! -- to be pretty uncontroversial: 1) Let's remember and honor the MILLIONS of victims of Communism; 2) There appears to be a double standard regarding expressions that can reasonably be construed as endorsements of Nazism and expressions that can reasonably be construed as endorsements of Soviet Communism.
5.2.2006 12:29am
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
Freder Frederson, I think the point you are either missing or ignoring is how does utopian Marxian theory "from each according to his ability and to each according to their needs" answer the question or deal with the guy who says "No thanks, Not for me."

Utopian Marxism is bad and evil in and of itself, because the answer to this question must always be not to tolerate such dissent and freedom of action. People can't be free to do what they want to do, they must be made or enslaved to do the from each and to each thing of the state.

Therefore, utopian Marxist ideology is evil, because it absolutely requires evil actions to survive. By evil I mean it requires the coercion and enslavement of anyone who wants to act in a self-determined and free manner that is different from the Marxian ideal. Utopian Marxism is evil because it is based upon the ridiculous premise that all people agree of their own free will to behave in one and only one manner. When such agreement fails to materialize (as it ALWAYS WILL) then utopian Marxism answers the question of how to deal with these people with enslavement, labor camps, coercion, arrest, and political prisoners.

And the above is also revealed in the examples you make with Christianity. Christianity's answer to the question what if somebody doesn't want to "do unto others as they have them do unto themselves" with "well then kill the bastard or throw him into a labor camp". Yet this is the answer to that similar question that MUST follow from Utopian Marxism. Otherwise Marxism would cease to exist as soon as somebody goes "wait a minute, not for me".

So the bottom line can be summed up as follows:

1. Marxism's evil is not measured by its high sounding christian like principles. Rather Marxism's evil is measured by how it answers the question of what to do with those who don't agree with Marxism's principles; and

2. Except in war and times of national emergency, nobody busts their ass for the common good. You bust your ass and take risks for your benefit and the benefit of your loved ones.


On another note and just as a general personal expression. Socialism is just communism lite.

Capitalism is what happens when free people interact with each other. Communism is what happens when not free people are told how they must under threat of deadly force interact with each other. Socialism is semi-free people interacting with each other under threat of governmental coercion.

Personal individual freedom and a capitalist economy are two sides of the same coin. The only way to move away from capitalism and towards anything else is by using force and coercion to restrict the personal individual freedom of the people.

Therefore, if you value personal individual freedom and liberty as a good thing, then how can one support systems whose own survival are dependent upon the suppression of personal individual freedom and liberty.

Says the "Dog"
5.2.2006 1:01am
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
Freder Frederson wrote:

Maybe this person is just proud of his Russian heritage and the achievements of the Soviet Union (because Lord knows Russia would still be a broken down agrarian backwater if the Romanavs had managed to survive World War I in power) like those South Carolinians are proud of their treason 145 years ago.


The Soviets did not replace the Romanovs, although they did murder them. Ever hear of a fellow named Kerensky?

The numbers traditionally associated with Stalin (20—40 million) are probably overstated to the tune of an order of magnitude, and the number directly killed (i.e., executed rather than died in famines or as a result of harsh conditions in the Gulags) is probably on the order of a couple or three million—and they were probably mostly communist party members anyway so you probably don't mourn their passing.


Utter bilge. I'll match the scholarship of Robert Conquest's Harvest of Sorrow and The Great Terror against Freder's multiple arm-waving invocations of "probably" any time.

A quote attributed to Conquest seems to me to deal appropriately with pro-Soviet apologists and other minimizers of Soviet misdeeds:

When a revised edition of The Great Terror appeared after the fall of the Soviet Union, Conquest was asked by his publisher to suggest a new title. Conquest allegedly replied, "How about 'I told you so, you f*cking fools'?"
5.2.2006 4:45am
justanotherguy (mail):
To pick at a point above, the large "genocide" of the Native american Population happened before there were major colonies from Europe established. Depending on estimates, perhaps 80-90% of the population died, entire tribes wiped out and new tribes formed, joined. There are many questions regarding the great die off, but the sweeping of European disease seems to be one of the best.

Anything else that happened, although at times horrific, such as trail of tears, and other genocidal policies, pale in comparison...

European Settlers found a land overflowing and empty because it was well, generally empty, very likely from the disease they had brought over.

Mankind, except for this depopulation in North america, seemed to lack the ability to really kill in large numbers until the 20th century...Then with "the collective vision" to lead it, showed how well it had learned to kill and how little it had learned to understand.

Perhaps the revival of libertarian thought will help limit government so it stops killing us.
5.2.2006 7:57am
Michael B (mail):
File under: studied avoidance.

A few of the prominent features the two totalitarian ideologies of the 20th century have in common:

1) Gulags / Concentration Camps; in both instances de-humanization was initiated from the moment of arrest, transport and incarceration; mass murder via starvation and other methods; cattle car transports; etc.

2) Prominent and systematically sustained cults of personality (e.g., Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Uncle Ho, Mussolini) and corresponding concentrated power.

3) Systematically sought totalitarian control of both personal/private and social consciousness via coercion, terror and cooptation of media and entertainment outlets.

4) Putatively "well intentioned" originators of the founding ideology: Marx and Mussolini. (Too, Mussolini himself was originally a Marxist for more than a decade prior to inaugurating his Fascism, largely morphing it from Marxist praxis and some ideological tenets.)

5) Internal Purges (e.g., Stalin in the 1930's, the Roehm Putsch).

6) Sought international scope via military domination.

7) Exported their ideology and praxis (e.g., Hitler's fascism to the Middle East.)

8) Systematic/ideological cooptation of intellectuals (e.g., Heidegger, de Man).

10) Cooptation and blanket condemnations and repression of religion.

11) Categorically condemned capitalism and democracy; viewed democracy as an inadequate and waning form of governance.

12) The Western MSM and Hollywood are not likely to ever review and reassess Vietnam more thoughtfully and honestly with penetrating and probative effect. Similarly the MSM and Hollywood are not likely to adequately address the direct historical lineage between Hitler's Nazism and genocidal programs and some of the deeply rooted anti-Semitic and totalitarian currents in the Middle East, via the Mufti of Jerusalem Amin el-Husseini.

A prominent aspect they don't have in common:

Spielberg, PBS, et al. are unlikely to ever make films or documentaries which will accurately depict Marxist/Leninist, Stalinist, Maoist, etc. mass murder, terror and de-humanization in general, excepting for some rare token offerings and watered-down rationalizations. By contrast the crimes of Nazism are often and ubiquitously condemned - obviously, rightly so, though the corresponding and careful avoidance of similar examinations of the hecatombs left in the wake of Stalin, Mao, et al. are notable only for their absence.

Some sources:
Gulag, a History
The History of the Gulag
National Socialism and Anti-Semitism in the Arab World
Re, Vietnam, Bright Shining Lies, Reassessing the ARVN and here, here.

Or, for another topic subjected to studied avoidance by the MSM and Hollywood's cliques and claques: stuff like this, which further details Saddam/al Qaeda associations.
5.2.2006 8:17am
Freder Frederson (mail):
2. Except in war and times of national emergency, nobody busts their ass for the common good. You bust your ass and take risks for your benefit and the benefit of your loved ones.

You must live in a very selfish world. See my comments about the Pope above. I believe the answer to my question about what his worldly possessions consisted of at his death were a Bible, a crucifix, some toiletries and personal items of clothing.
5.2.2006 9:41am
Anderson (mail) (www):
Frederson is (I suppose) being the devil's advocate to a degree, but seriously, folks: you are not going to read John Locke into the Gospels. It's not going to happen.

Jesus didn't give a flip about property rights. See also the Magnificat. I guess his mom filled his head with those crazy notions.
5.2.2006 11:30am
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
Freder Frederson,

Out of everything I wrote in the post to which you replied, the only thing about which you can find to comment is that a didn't carve out an exception for the pope's and other similar people's service to their religious faith?

Show me a country made up of a million Pope's and then you may have a relevant point, but only with regard to that one single country. Otherwise, perhaps you should focus on the substance of what I wrote, instead of something like this minor irrelevant point.

Recognizing the fact that people don't take risks, risk their homes and futures to work 80 to 100 hours per week busting their arses for the common good as defined by some police state bureaucrat is merely stating the obvious. It is not a denial of this truth to try and avoid it with ridiculous and irrelevant points about selfish worlds.

I don't live in a selfish world, but it is the *real world* and not some fantasy world where people pretend mass murderers pass for benevolent leaders of a workers paradise, and enslavement of millions and millions of those workers, in their homes, in their children's schools, in gulags, and re-education camps pass for treating the mentally disabled with compassion.

Says the "Dog"
5.2.2006 11:42am
Vovan:
To Mike G in Corvallis

Before you accuse anyone of amr-waving, look onto thyself and stop arm-waving as well. The numbers Conquest uses are extrapolations, not actual numbers, since the new numbers that were released from the archives completly contradict his assertions, and the Soviets kept very good records of whom they killed belive me.

Ex.
In 1993, a team of historians gained access to the records of the former Soviet secret police. They concluded that between 1921 and 1953 (a twelve year period including the reigns of both Lenin and Stalin) approximately 800,000 people were executed in the Soviet Union. (J. Arch Getty, Gabor Rittersporn, and Victor Zemskov, "Victims of the Soviet Penal System in the Pre-War Years: A First Approach on the Basis of Archival Evidence," American Historical Review, 98 [October 1993], 1017-1049)

Ex.2 Zemskov estimates on the basis of ARCHIVES - get it ARCHIVES, that the total number of incarcerations under Section 58 of the RSFSR Penal Code (Counter-revolutionary activity etc.) from 1922-1954 is 4 million, of whom 1.4 million either died in the Gulags or were executed.

His statistics are favorably cited by the author of the "Black Book of Communism" on the Radio Show Moscow Echo - the only independent, pro-western media outlet left in Russia today.

You have to update your books, because Conquest's work is horribly outdated
5.2.2006 2:40pm
Artemis (mail):
Vovan says: "...the Soviets kept very good records of whom they killed belive me."

Forgive me for seeming rude, but why, exactly, should I believe you? Do you have some personal knowledge of their record-keeping? They kept meticulous (but wholly false and fabricated) records of all sorts of things (especially in the economic and military realms). Why should their recording of mass slaughter and imprisonment be considered authoritative? And your mention of the number who were executed or died in the gulags leaves out the number who died in the man-made famine and forced collectivization in Ukraine. But ooops, for a long time, according to those meticulous Soviet record-keepers (and their mouthpieces like Walter Duranty), the famine never occurred.
5.2.2006 2:57pm
Bertram:
"The Jews are a Cancer on the breast of Germany" obviously is connected to genocide of the Jews.

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" is not obviously closer to gulags than to the Scandinavian political economic system.

Adding "dictatorship of the proletariat" should give one pause though I assume the casual young hipster wearing the offending attire probably never got that far.
5.2.2006 4:36pm
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
Vovan, I should have made my point more clearly. I was mainly objecting to Freder's claim that estimates of the number of people killed by forced famine were "probably overstated to the tune of an order of magnitude." This is absurd.

I am quite willing to concede that Freder may not have been grossly underestimating the figure when he wrote, "...the number directly killed (i.e., executed rather than died in famines or as a result of harsh conditions in the Gulags) is probably on the order of a couple or three million ..."

Imagine! The Soviets only murdered two or three million people for political reasons! Pro-Soviet apologists should be so proud!
5.2.2006 5:21pm
NateG (mail):
I probably shouldn't be wading in to this debate, I'll probably get out of my depth pretty quick, but here goes...

I'm a Virginian (but way back my family was from the upper midwest, making much of what follows personally irrelevant), so I end up seeing the confederate flag a fair amount. One thing that bothers me is that the "confederate flag" is the flag of the Army of Northern Virginia—Lee's army—not the polital flag. (That one has a blue union with stars on it and three big thick stripes—red-white-red, or white-red-white, I can't picture it) However, it's somehow okay to fly the confederate flag (the one that supports the confederacy itself—and all the baggage that goes along with it, as Mr. Cramer points out), but Lee's battle flag is a no-no. Heck, I remember seeing bumper stickers with the "political" flag up in Ithaca, NY at school, and no one seemed to notice. I'd argue whatever good there was in the Confederacy was summed up in the army. Dulcet et decorum est, and all. The political situation is where the evil ideals, etc. were. (Sort of like the German army compared to the Nazi regime...) Too bad the Klan decided to use Lee's flag instead of the flag that better represented their vile desires.
5.2.2006 5:33pm
Vovan:
To Artemis

They kept meticulous (but wholly false and fabricated) records of all sorts of things (especially in the economic and military realms). Why should their recording of mass slaughter and imprisonment be considered authoritative?

Uhm, most of the classifed materials that were ARCHIVED, and then RELEASED by the Russian govenrnment show the true state of the military and of the economy at the time - and a pretty bad state at that - if you are reffering to the propaganda disenformation aimed at the masses - well that's different, but I am talking about archives that no one in their right mind would have ever seen had the regime not ended - do you see the difference?

This is not Uganda or Cambodia we are talking about here - you don't just randomly make a couple of million of people dissapear - do you understand the bureaucratic and ministerial level of organization involved in the process? How do you think we know that 6 million jews died in the Holocaust - you think that they counted the bodies? No, it was the census and the Nazi records.

I gave the links above - they have the numbers backed up by the KGB statistics that correspond to the GULAG statistics, that correspond to the indpendently confirmed census statistics.

Finally I am talking about political repressions, the NKVD/KGB ARCHIVED (in caps so you would not miss) statistics on the famine HAVE NOT BEEN FULLY DECLASSIFIED - but yeah there were millions dead, and whenever the archives will be open, the numbers would show the same thing.
5.2.2006 5:34pm
Vovan:
Mike G in Corvallis

I agree with you, on a purely moral level it should not make much difference whether its 1 million or 20 million. Serious crimes against humanity have been committed by the Stalinist/Leninist/Communist/Socialist regime in Soviet Union.

And to add to my previous post - I am talking about KGB Archives, not the Central Planning or any other such agency
5.2.2006 5:50pm
Michael B (mail):
"Ex.2 Zemskov estimates on the basis of ARCHIVES - get it ARCHIVES, that the total number of incarcerations under Section 58 of the RSFSR Penal Code (Counter-revolutionary activity etc.) from 1922-1954 is 4 million, of whom 1.4 million either died in the Gulags or were executed."

"...the Soviets kept very good records of whom they killed believe me"

"... most of the classifed materials that were ARCHIVED, and then RELEASED by the Russian govenrnment show the true state of the military and of the economy at the time ..."

"I gave the links above - they have the numbers backed up by the KGB statistics that correspond to the GULAG statistics, that correspond to the indpendently confirmed census statistics." Vovan, emphasis added

Firstly, archival research can be and often is notoriously problematic, depending on the subject matter - the voluminous amount of data coupled with conflicting information and interpretations thereof tend to yield still tentative results when it comes to a subject such as the Gulag/Concentration camps. Secondly and in a similar vein, statistics associated with the state of the economy and military are one thing, statistics and records associated with the Gulag/Concentration camps and the forced labor exile camps, also purges, etc., are another thing entirely.

Anne Applebaum's Gulag, a History was published recently, in 2003, and was based upon archival material from twenty archival sources (e.g., State Archive of the Russian Federation, Moscow; Archives of the Memorial Society, St. Petersburg), including work based upon NKVD/KGB numbers. There are higher and lower numbers which can be cited, but in a concluding appendix entitled How Many? she notes: "Adding the numbers together, the total number of forced laborers in the USSR comes to 28.7 million." (Aggregating from 1930 to 1953 and including not only Gulag/Concentration camp prisoners but also other forms of forced labor, 18 million of which went through the Gulag/Concentration camp system per se. The larger 28.7 million figure additionally includes appx. 6 million Poles, Tartars, Balts and other kulaks and similar disenfranchised deportees during forced collectivization during the Great Terror of '37/38 and subsequently. These were resettled in forced labor "special settlements," not Gulags/Concentration camps per se. The larger number also includes 4 million post-war exiles and POWs.)

Then some other relevant quotes from Applebaum. Concerning some of the sources of conflicting data, for example pertaining to the single year of 1943:

"In 1943, for example, 2,421,000 prisoners are recorded as having passed through the Gulag system, although the totals at the beginning and end of that year [as reflected in NKVD/KGB numbers] show a decline from 1.5 to 1.2 million." emphasis added (So while the NKVD numbers would suggest an aggregated decline during 1943, in fact almost 2.5 million passed through the Gulag system alone during that single year.)

Concerning statistics coming from the camps:

"The culture of camp inspection and reprimand meant, among other things, that individual camp commanders had a vested interest in lying about how many of their prisoners died: both archives and memoirs indicate that it was common practice in many camps to release prisoners who were on the point of dying, thereby lowering the camp death statistics." emphasis added

Concerning the estimated total who perished in the Gulags and exile camps from 1929 to 1953, still from Applebaum:

"... the historian who compiled it points out that it is incomplete, and does not cover all categories of prisoner in every year. Again, I reluctantly cite it: 2,749,163. (She's reluctant to reduce all this to mere numbers and statistics, also noting: "No official figures, for example, can possibly reflect the mortality of the wives and children and aging parents left behind, since their deaths were not recorded separately.")

"Even if it were complete, however this figure still would not reflect all of the victims of the Stalinist judicial system. ... the Soviet secret police did not, for the most part, use their camps in order to kill people. When they wanted to kill people, they carried out mass executions in forests ... and there were many of them." (A figure of 768,000 internal political executions alone from 1934 to 1953 is then cited.)

All this Gulag/Concentration camp and general forced labor archival data per se doesn't even take into account items like the forced famine in the Ukraine, circa 1932, where six to seven million died of starvation (while western apologists like Walter Duranty and George Bernard Shaw variously deflected criticism of the Soviet Union), or in another vein, items like external purges, such as the Katyn massacre of Polish officers where 20,000 to 30,000 were executed.
5.2.2006 10:37pm
Bleepless (mail):
One problem with Soviet statistics and mass murder is illustrated by the 1937 census. The results were so low, thanks to the excess of deaths, that the statisticians were shot. Their successors came up with another census, the numbers in which were systematically falsified.
5.2.2006 11:13pm