pageok
pageok
pageok
A May Day Proposal:

Today is May 1, AKA May Day. 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 regimes. 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. I suggest that May Day be turned into Victims of Communism Day. I am, of course, open to suggestions for the official name of this day of commemoration. Maybe someone will come up with a better one than I have.

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, Camobodia, and elsewhere. So May 1 is the best choice.

UPDATE: I don't claim that this idea is original, as I suspect that it has been suggested before. But whether original or not, I think it should be pursued, perhaps in conjunction with the opening of the Victims of Communism Memorial, scheduled for June 12.

BChurch (mail):
I thought May Day in Russia was Vosmoye Maya (not pervoye maya)? Or is that a different holiday?
5.1.2007 5:54pm
Hanah Volokh (mail) (www):
In spring with this gorgeous weather? Nobody is in the mood for a grim holiday. Try it in January.

Personally, I favor celebrating May Day with white dresses, maypole dances, singing quaint fa-la-la songs, and picnics. No politics allowed.
5.1.2007 5:57pm
BChurch (mail):
Vosmoye Maya = VE day. Duh.
5.1.2007 5:59pm
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
5.1.2007 6:06pm
Mr. X (www):
Umm, it's already Loyalty Day.
5.1.2007 6:26pm
Felix Sulla (mail):
I'd be all for remembrance of the victims of the Soviet Union, et al, but co-opting May Day for the purpose just seems wrong. There are still a number of people worldwide who celebrate it, who celebrate it in good faith, and without approving of the actions of notorious mass murderers. October or November would be best, to coincide more closely with the "founding" of the Soviet Union. I do not regard that as "ignoring" Mao, Pol Pot, or anyone else. The rise of the Soviet Union is what fundamentally enabled them.

Anyway, the lion's share of atrocity attributable to the Soviets goes to Stalin (either directly or indirectly), so why not Stalin's birthday? (Which I did not know offhand, but if Wikipedia is to be trusted, was December 18. Though I imagine a lot of people would complain that lies too close to the holiday season.)
5.1.2007 6:29pm
iwg2:
May I suggest a uniform for this movement?

http://www.thoseshirts.com/lousy.html
5.1.2007 6:36pm
Jerry (mail):
I don't think its altogether fair to attribute atrocities to Stalin without due credit to the system that he was a part of in the first place. But, I agree that May Day is celebrated for legitimate, noble purposes in many other countries and another day would probably be a better idea.
5.1.2007 6:37pm
Felix Sulla (mail):
Jerry: I take your point, but that's why I inserted the "lion's share" qualifier. Beyond that, it sort of depends on how you define the "system that he was a part of." And before long on that track, I think we get into loaded terms, and an endless debate into what "communism" as practiced by the soviets actually was.
5.1.2007 6:43pm
Timothy Sandefur (mail) (www):
Marx's birthday is May 5, which at least in California would never work b/c it's Cinco de Mayo.
5.1.2007 6:46pm
Henri LeCompte (mail):
If you just look at the news today, I think you will see that May Day is alive and well, and not in any "flowers and happiness" sense. Personally, I choose May 1 because the radical Left has already decided to make the day one of protest and general idiocy. What better day, then, to confront them with the legacy of their biggest "successes"?

I'd add, as a footnote, that any day would be better than what we have now, which is a nearly universal amnesia about the horrors that attend the growth of an all-powerful, centralized, super-state. In fact, all around the world we see "leftist" ideas paraded about without the slightest smudge to their reputations from the gulags and revolutions of years past. Why is that?
5.1.2007 6:49pm
Jerry (mail):
Felix: Point taken, but of course I'd argue that the "system that he was a part of" was Communism as you can expect it to turn out in the real world. I'll admit it's not the view of communism you get from the manifesto (other than the violent revolution part if memory serves).

It is said that capitalism is the exploitation of man by man, and communism is vice versa.
5.1.2007 6:49pm
Christopher M (mail):
Felix Sulla is right: it's hard to interpret this idea as anything other than a baseless smear against lots of people who continue to take May 1 as a holiday celebrating labor movements, the end of the 12- or 16-hour workday, workers' rights, and the memory of the Haymarket affair. It's the official Labor Day holiday in France, Italy, and other European countries. The vast majority of these people are not apologists for the Soviet Union's totalitarian purges.

It's like trying to declare December 25, or Easter Sunday, a holiday to commemorate the victims of religious persecution by Christians and Christian regimes throughout history. There's just no good reason to choose that date unless you want the holiday to be an anti-Christian one generally, and similarly, no good reason to choose May 1 to commemorate the Soviet Union's victims unless you really want it to be a generalized anti-organized-labor or anti-left holiday.
5.1.2007 6:49pm
Felix Sulla (mail):
Timothy: Surely we can agree that Marx never actually killed anyone, unless boring a few people to death counts? ;-)
5.1.2007 6:50pm
Felix Sulla (mail):
Jerry: I agree that any authoritarian state with no protection or respect for freedom of speech and civil liberty will end that way. I am not so sure "communism" inevitably would, but I think we are going beyond the thread topic. ;-)

Like the exploitation of man by man / vice versa line though. I may use it elsewhere. ;-)
5.1.2007 6:55pm
dearieme:
Lenin. No Lenin, no Stalin; no Lenin, no Mao; no Lenin, no Hitler. Perhaps we should mark the notorious train journey to Russia.
5.1.2007 6:55pm
Ilya Somin:
it's hard to interpret this idea as anything other than a baseless smear against lots of people who continue to take May 1 as a holiday celebrating labor movements

The fact is that in most of the world - for at least the last 70 to 80 years - May Day is associated primarily with communism. That may be unfortunate, but it is a fact. Denying it is like trying to separate the swastika from Nazism on the grounds that it used to be an Indian religious symbol before the Nazis took it over.

If the few countries that genuinely use May Day primarily for other purposes want to opt out and choose a different day to remember the victims of communism, I'm not opposed to their doing that.
5.1.2007 7:04pm
Andrew Okun:
I'd like to suggest Jan. 21, the date of Lenin's death.

I don't like the idea of May 1 because of the connection with non-Communist lefties. Whether intentional or not, it would tag generations of decent leftists with murders they didn't commit done by regimes they didn't support. Indeed, many committed leftists who celebrated May 1 and the cause they believed it represented were murdered by Soviet regimes.

But commemorating Stalin, Mao or both would be too narrow. They may have been responsible for the worst atrocities, but only because they were the ones who had the chance. There is some wider movement they were part of and philosophy that unifies them and I think it can be put at Lenin's feet. He was philosophically one of the most arrogant people in history and then got a chance to put his arrogance into practice. It was his faction of the communists that decided there was no crime so foul or lie so ludicrous it was not justified by the needs of the revolution and that aspect of Stalin's, Mao's, Pol Pot's, and the rest of their regimes can be traced to his writings. He was the primary creator of the concept of the small conspiratorial group whose right and responsibility was to take over the entire world by any means necessary and run it ruthlessly in pursuit of their historic vision.

He could easily have been the most murderous ever, but he had a stroke before he got the chance. There were some lefties who used to try to like him, blaming the worst excesses on Stalin, but that has died out in the post-Soviet period, since the archives been opened, confirming that Lenin was a bastard and Stalin was truly his successor.

His birthday, April 22, would smack too much of celebrating his life. Also, it is Earth Day, and we enviros have enough labor fending off the "environmentalism is a religion" rubbish to want to add fighting off "and it's the same as Leninism" to the to-do list. (Google lenin earth and day and you'll see some people seriously suggest it is no coincidence!)

So his death day seems like a good day to celebrate the ending of his influence, the dying of his philosophy and the memory of his victims.
5.1.2007 7:05pm
Badger (mail):
Sorry to Godwin this thread, but I couldn't resist pointing out that co-opting May Day is a very very old idea:

From Wikipedia:

"It was the Nazis, not the social democratic parties of the Weimar Republic, who made May Day a holiday in Germany, calling it the "day of work", which is its official name in the country. Through this proclamation, the Nazis tried to take up the connotations of International Workers' Day, but did not permit socialist demonstrations on this day. Instead, they adapted it to national socialist purposes. Then, on May 2, 1933, the Nazis outlawed all free labour unions and other independent workers' organizations in Germany, which subsequently formed their own secret amalgamation."
5.1.2007 7:06pm
Steve:
I have no sympathy at all for Communism, but something about this smacks a little bit of the winner writing the history books. I'm not sure why. When we build a Holocaust Memorial, that's exactly what we call it; we don't try to draw some broader point about ideology or make it into "Victims of Racial Intolerance Day."
5.1.2007 7:10pm
Ilya Somin:
something about this smacks a little bit of the winner writing the history books.

If the winners' cause was just (or at least more just than the losers'), why is this a problem? The winners also wrote the history books about slavery, Nazism, and lots of other evils.
5.1.2007 7:13pm
ys:
Here is a proposal that I think is both uncontroversial and meaningful. On September 5, 1918, a decree "On Red Terror" was adopted by the Bolsheviks in response to an attempt on Lenin's life. While terror had been practised by the Reds before that date, it marks the beginning of an officially proclaimed mass policy. In a somewhat ironic, but by no means disqualifying twist, this is also the date of the Munich Opympics massacre by the "Black September"
5.1.2007 7:16pm
Ilya Somin:
I don't like the idea of May 1 because of the connection with non-Communist lefties. Whether intentional or not, it would tag generations of decent leftists with murders they didn't commit done by regimes they didn't support.

Generations of decent Indians used the swastika as a symbol for principles that had nothing to with Nazism. Nevertheless, the Nazis managed to coopt the symbol and it is indelibly associated with them. The same with May Day and the communists. If non-communist leftists want a day to celebrate labor unions, they can follow the example of the US in establishing Labor Day on Sept. 1 or some other day of their choice. Finally, it is worth noting that all too many (though by no means all) non-communist leftists for decades denied the reality communist crimes or made excuses for them. This makes me less sorry about the loss of "their" holiday than I might otherwise be.
5.1.2007 7:17pm
Ref-U-Gee (mail):
I agree with Felix Sulla: it should be November 7th, when the leaves have fallen off the trees and death is in the air - appropriately reminding everyone of the gulags. And it was the Soviet Union that enabled all the other Communist atrocities (er, 'revolutions') to occur.

But it'll never happen. The Holocaust Memorial is pc, but a Communist Memorial would still be 'controversial' - after all, Steven Spielberg felt no compunction about hanging out with (and praising) Fidel Castro.
5.1.2007 7:18pm
thewagon:
The end of the 12-16 hour workday?

Someone obviously isn't concerned with making partner...
5.1.2007 7:19pm
Andrew Okun:
The fact is that in most of the world - for at least the last 70 to 80 years - May Day is associated primarily with communism. That may be unfortunate, but it is a fact. Denying it is like trying to separate the swastika from Nazism on the grounds that it used to be an Indian religious symbol before the Nazis took it over.


But, Ilya, this would not be taking place in a vacuum. Non-Soviet, non-communist leftists have spent much of the last century trying to champion their views while being accused of being Bolsheviks, Stalinists, in league with communists, fifth columnists, etc. Choosing what is still to many a labor holiday to commemorate the victims of communist mass murder is more of the same.

And the disproportion between May Day as left/labor celebration and May Day as Soviet martial arrogance is not as one-sided as you suggest. Wikipedia notes "In countries other than the United States and Canada, resident working classes fought hard to make May Day an official holiday[citation needed], efforts which largely succeeded. For this reason, in most of the world today, May Day is marked by massive street rallies led by workers, their trade unions, anarchists and various socialist and communist parties."

The swastika symbol of pre-Nazi days was an antiquarian footnote in the West and no great loss to anyone this side of India. On top of that, post 1945 it is nearly purely a matter of history, not current politics. The May Day symbol in contract is celebrated worldwide by millions of people who haven't murdered anyone and who are still engaged in current politics. Picking May Day to celebrate profound rejection of Soviet Communism will be seen as part of current politics and, like the original rejection of May Day, not get outside North America. Why not pick a day that people in other parts of the world can go along with?
5.1.2007 7:23pm
Visitor Again:
I remember that in 1964 President Johnson declared that May 1 would henceforth be Law Day in the U.S.A. I think your proposal for May 1 is destined to go the same way his did--into the dustbin of history.

By the way, May 1 was a pagan holiday long before it became a workers' holiday. It was a day when the peasants danced around a Maypole--in celebration of warm weather, I suppose, but it wasn't work or worker solidarity.

The wife of one of my friends at law school many years ago was a nurse as Mass General. She told us an elderly woman who was a patient there sang this in celebration of May 1:

Hurray, hurray, the first of May
Outdoor fucking starts today.
5.1.2007 7:26pm
Felix Sulla (mail):
Professor Somin:


Generations of decent Indians used the swastika as a symbol for principles that had nothing to with Nazism.

As Andrew points out, the swastika/May Day comparison is a bit disingenuous. Celebration of May Day is and was more widespread than the use of the swastika. Furthermore, the swastika is far, far, far more "loaded" as a discrete cultural symbol. Finally, if there is a large lobby of aggrieved persons out there still trying to rightfully/properly use the swastika in its "original" and non-loaded sense, I have not heard of it (It's possible though). You can hardly say the same about May Day.

November the 7th would work for me. It'll tie in nicely with Guy Fawkes day then....sort of a long radical-political-geek holiday weekend. ;-)
5.1.2007 7:36pm
Steve:
If the winners' cause was just (or at least more just than the losers'), why is this a problem? The winners also wrote the history books about slavery, Nazism, and lots of other evils.

Sure, but it seems like we're making a much broader point than condemning the specific evil we defeated. China is still run by the Communists, for example, but it seems like a rather large category error to fail to distinguish between the current Chinese order and Mao's murderous regime.

I have no problem with honoring the memories of the victims of Stalin, Mao, Milosevic, or any other monster of history you might name. There's just something that bugs me about making a "larger" point out of it. As I said above, it's as though we memorialized the Holocaust by creating a "Victims of Racial Intolerance Day."
5.1.2007 7:42pm
Mac (mail):
The end of the 12-16 hour workday?

My son just returned from Iraq. He routinely worked a 12 ++ hour workday with maybe two days off a month. I guess the Marine Corps didn't get the message.
5.1.2007 8:00pm
Peter Wimsey:
Ilya writes:
[snip] The same with May Day and the communists. If non-communist leftists want a day to celebrate labor unions, they can follow the example of the US in establishing Labor Day on Sept. 1 or some other day of their choice. Finally, it is worth noting that all too many (though by no means all) non-communist leftists for decades denied the reality communist crimes or made excuses for them. This makes me less sorry about the loss of "their" holiday than I might otherwise be.


Well, since you seem much less interested in remembering the victims of communism than you do in trying to force the rest of the world to move their "labor day" to a different day, why don't we just lay this idea to rest until such a time as people can remember the victims of communism without trying to score political points. Aside from which, the US already named May 1 "Loyalty Day," in a bit of cold war rhetoric that really didn't take.
5.1.2007 8:37pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
“It's the official Labor Day holiday in France, Italy, and other European countries. The vast majority of these people are not apologists for the Soviet Union's totalitarian purges.”

Italy had the largest communist party in Western Europe, while France had one of the most Stalinist. Even today the Communist party in France is large with only UMP and PS being larger. I think it’s fair to say that May Day is strongly associated with communism and socialism, and they were apologists for the Soviet Union. The left still apologizes for the excesses of communism. They went from apologizing for the USSR to China and then Cuba and then to Nicaragua and now Chavez in Venezuela. The left includes Joe Kennedy who seems happy to help the Chavez propaganda machine.

It seems appropriate to co opt May 1 for the past, present and future victims of communism.
5.1.2007 8:41pm
Jonathan Wilde (mail) (www):
As Glenn Reynolds points out, my blog The Distributed Republic is already doing this. This is this year's remembrance:

May Day 2007

Formerly, we did this at Catallarchy for the last three years (2006, 2005). We usually try to get people from other blogs involved, but this year, we had other things on our plate.

While I'm here, I hope it's not in too bad taste to plug our new blog community site to all the Volokh readers:

The Distributed Republic

You're all welcomed to start blogs there; no particular viewpoint is required. I hope all you intelligent Volokh readers join us.
5.1.2007 8:56pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Drat you, Christopher M, you put my idea in before I did ('It's like trying to declare December 25, or Easter Sunday, a holiday to commemorate the victims of religious persecution by Christians and Christian regimes throughout history').

I'm cool with a Victims of Communism Day so long as there is also a Victims of Religion Day, too.

Depending on taste, Victims of Religion Day could subsume Victims of Czarism Day, or Czarism could easily support its own atrocity day.
5.1.2007 9:11pm
Ilya Somin:
since you seem much less interested in remembering the victims of communism than you do in trying to force the rest of the world to move their "labor day" to a different day, why don't we just lay this idea to rest until such a time as people can remember the victims of communism without trying to score political points.

I couldn't care less about "labor day" in other countries, except to the extent that they may be celebrating a day which is principally associated with communism (as it "certainly is in Italy and France, with their historically large and powerful communist parties). I didn't even mention the issue until commenters raised it as an argument against me.

As for "scoring political points," I make no apologies for criticizing those who denied or excused the massive atrocities of communism. My proposal no more "scores points" against them than Holocaust Memorial Day is point-scoring" against fascists and Holocaust deniers.
5.1.2007 9:11pm
W.D.:
Not even a passing mention of what bit of American history May Day actually commemorates? Amazing.
5.1.2007 9:43pm
80s Child (mail):
My proposal no more "scores points" against them than Holocaust Memorial Day is point-scoring" against fascists and Holocaust deniers.

You seem pretty eager to paint people/nations who celebrate May Day as a workers' rights day as commie sympathizers: "all too many (though by no means all) non-communist leftists [denied Stalin's murders]," "the few countries that genuinely use May Day primarily for other purposes." No cheap political points scored there or anything.

It's a holiday for workers' rights celebrated around the world. That you link it inextricably to USSR propaganda is your problem, not the labor force's. The word killjoy comes to mind.
5.1.2007 9:43pm
TDPerkins (mail):
Andrew Okun wrote:

The swastika symbol of pre-Nazi days was an antiquarian footnote in the West and no great loss to anyone this side of India.


I expect he meant American Indians. A Division (45th Inf) drawn primarily from the southwest reservations fought in Europe with a division patch that had a yellow sawstika on a red background.

Though the patch was "withdrawn" in 1939, some were still in service when the unit fought in Europe.

An entirely OT tidbit is the southern derived unit of marines that eschewed the national flag in the Pacific and raised the Stars and Bars--they billed themselves as the CONFORSOLS.

Confederate Forces of the Solomons.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
5.1.2007 9:50pm
Christopher M (mail):
The fact is that in most of the world - for at least the last 70 to 80 years - May Day is associated primarily with communism.

This is just false, unless by "communism" you mean something like "all leftist political movements with an emphasis on workers' rights."

Again, if you want to have an anti-left or anti-labor-movement holiday, that's fine and May 1 sounds like a good day for it. But if you really want a day to remember the victims of 20th century totalitarian Communist regimes, I don't know why you'd want to go out of your way to exclude everyone in today's world who celebrates May 1 as a holiday about labor &workers' rights without believing that the Soviet Union's murderous policies were justified.

Again, it's like choosing Christmas as a holiday to honor victims of religiously motivated violence.
5.1.2007 9:53pm
Andrew Okun:
I couldn't care less about "labor day" in other countries, except to the extent that they may be celebrating a day which is principally associated with communism (as it "certainly is in Italy and France, with their historically large and powerful communist parties). I didn't even mention the issue until commenters raised it as an argument against me.

You may not have mentioned it, but you did raise it. Let's have May 1 as a holiday to commemorate communist atrocities raises it but big. I love the Christmas example a few folks made. That's it exactly ...

If non-communist leftists want a day to celebrate labor unions, they can follow the example of the US in establishing Labor Day on Sept. 1 or some other day of their choice.

They have a day of their choice ... You're the one proposing something new. You pick some other day of your choice. In all the hostile commentary about your idea here, almost no one seems to disagree with your idea that we should commemorate the dead. All for it. Let me ask you ... if you had to pick, would you rather have the victims of communism commemorated on some other day than May 1 or not at all? Another question. If the victims of communism are commemorated on a day other than May 1, is it less meaningful in any way than if they are commemorated on May 1? Lastly, do you think this is something to be done worldwide or just in the United States?
5.1.2007 10:07pm
Andrew Okun:
Not even a passing mention of what bit of American history May Day actually commemorates? Amazing.

You mean the Haymarket Riot? Indeed, amazing. The trial of the alleged conspirators would be worth contributors to this blog going over.
5.1.2007 10:16pm
Vovan:
Heh, I would just love to see Russia's reaction if US makes May 1st the official rememberance day for victims of communism. I would also love for Somin to actually be in the country of his parents when such an occasion happens.
5.2.2007 12:17am
Visitor Again:
A correction to my comment above which said President Johnson instituted Law Day on May 1. Apparently it was President Eisenhower who established May 1 as Law Day in the U.S.A. in 1958. The reason I remember Johnson's association with Law Day is because he made a big thing of it in 1964 as our involvement in Viet Nam began to escalate. The idea was to contrast the rule of law in the U.S.A. with the rule of tyranny in Communist countries. I remember writing a piece in my college newspaper in 1964 in which I pointed out that May 1 had been a day of celebration long before the Industrial Revolution and that it had been a workers' holiday long before communists came to power anywhere.

If we're going to set aside a day to remember the lives of those killed by the forces of oppression, then I think it ought to commemorate those killed by oppression of any political stripe, including, for example, those killed by fascists in the Baltic nations as well as those killed by communists. I don't know if it's accurate, but I read a piece a day or two ago stating that the Holocaust Remembrance day is viewed by some Jews as remembering all the victims of genocide, not only Jews killed by the Nazis. Whether or not it's accurate, I like the idea behind it. Moreover, we ought not to coopt a day on which many nations celebrate workers' struggles and solidarity at the urging of those who seek to undermine the celebrations of workers by casting them as linked to communism.

So May 1 is the best choice.

So May 1 is the worst choice.
5.2.2007 12:19am
Joshua:
May 1, it should be noted, is also the "birthday" of the political entity known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain. In fact, as it turns out, today is Great Britain's 300th anniversary.

As for an alternative date for commemorating the victims of Communism, I would suggest, not November 7 but November 9, the date in 1989 on which the Berlin Wall started to come down.
5.2.2007 12:20am
Fascinated By The Law (mail):
Steve, you said:
"Sure, but it seems like we're making a much broader point than condemning the specific evil we defeated. China is still run by the Communists, for example, but it seems like a rather large category error to fail to distinguish between the current Chinese order and Mao's murderous regime."

Not as large as you might think. I heard a story on NPR just last week about the Reproductive Police (or some derivative thereof) rounding up scores, if not hundreds, of pregnant women, taking them to the hospital, and forcibly aborting their children.

There are still people in prison from Tiananmen Square, and family members grieving for those killed that have never gotten justice for the Chinese government's crimes.

And if you tried to say anything about bad about China while in China, you would be in prison right now - probably turned over to the police by Yahoo! (another NPR story I heard last week).

I think the only difference between "Mao's murderous regime" and the current government is the current government's media savvy and their willing accomplices in the media.
5.2.2007 1:29am
ys:
Vovan:

Heh, I would just love to see Russia's reaction if US makes May 1st the official rememberance day for victims of communism. I would also love for Somin to actually be in the country of his parents when such an occasion happens.

I hope you don't mean that Prof.Somin will be lynched by a red-brown mob outraged at his sacrilegious proposal, or do you? If not, my wager is he will survive the arrows from the likes of you.
As to the reaction of the current regime, I assume you expect it to be very similar to that of the Soviet regime (and the current Chinese one), where championing human rights is branded as the ideological diversion by the west. After all, it's the breakdown of the Soviet Union, not its crimes against humanity, that this regime considers the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century.
5.2.2007 1:48am
Ilya Somin:
It's a holiday for workers' rights celebrated around the world. That you link it inextricably to USSR propaganda is your problem, not the labor force's. The word killjoy comes to mind.

There are very few countries that celebrate May Day in a way that has nothing to do with communism. At least not in the last 70-80 years. For those few, they have many options available to them, such as the one the US picked in establishing Labor Day on May 1.
5.2.2007 2:54am
Viscus (mail) (www):
I agree that we should remember the millions killed by communist regimes, but even so, we should not forget the millions killed by non-communist regimes.

I don't think we should forget that unjustifiable mass killing has been perpetrated by individuals of quite a number of different ideologies.
5.2.2007 2:59am
Viscus (mail) (www):
Should Hitler's birthday be a day to commemorate right wing atrocities by a regime that supports and is supported by corporations too much?

Hitler's regime is, after all, a perfect example of what happens when you let corporations get out of control.

Why won't people take Somin seriously? Because, at bottom, we see what this really is. Not about honoring people who are killed, but by advancing his libertarian anti-government agenda. "See what will happen if you have universal healthcare?"

Is the problem with Hitler corporations, or is it Hitler himself? Is the problem with Stalin communism, or is it Stalin himself? Funny how personal responsibility flies out the window when there is a bigger ideological point to be made. Suddenly, it is not Stalin that is the problem, it is the system. But, of course, in Hitler's case, why even talk about the system. Let us blame the man. He is just a bad apple within an otherwise decent capitalist system.

I am not a communist. But I see some intellectual problems with Somin's blatantly ideological agenda.
5.2.2007 3:10am
Visitor Again:
Ilya Somin wrote:

There are very few countries that celebrate May Day in a way that has nothing to do with communism. At least not in the last 70-80 years. For those few, they have many options available to them, such as the one the US picked in establishing Labor Day on May 1.

Your reactionary stance on this is like that of those who condemned the entire civil rights movement as communist because communists took part in that movement.

We're no longer in the middle of the Cold War, no longer in the thrall of anti-communist hysteria. Why behave in a manner that disrespects and alienates the workers of the rest of the world who celebrate their solidarity on May 1?

And by the way, when did the USA establish Labor Day on May 1? It's still the first Monday in September.

The real worker's day is May 1 because that is when it's celebrated on a truly international scale--except in the U.S.A. and Canada, where the powers-that-be insisted on a different date for fear of the communist menace.
5.2.2007 4:04am
Atlantic06 (mail):
Here's another idea -- how about November 29th as a day to remember all the Native American victims of colonization and westward expansion?
5.2.2007 5:51am
Taltos:
Here's another idea -- how about November 29th as a day to remember all the Native American victims of colonization and westward expansion?

National Casino Day ?
5.2.2007 6:41am
J_A:
I am amazed by Prof. Solyin's post. I am a regular reader of him among the conspirators, and normally like and enjoy his posts. but to "not care" that basically ALL of the world (including all of Latin America and Western europe) celebrates May 1 as Labor Day is just bordeline insulting.

As a foreigner I can understand why the US chose to celebrate Labor Day on any day by May 1st. I believe is wrong. I believe it would have been a mature attitude to say: "yes, Chicago was bad, we recognize it and we will also honor the dead of that day" . But that is not the case and nobody suggests otherwise.

Yes, the USSR made it their BIG holiday, so be it, the USSR is no longer, and good riddance. But to those people in the world (the vast majority) that celebrate Labor day in May, this is borderline insulting (or perhaps not borderline). For many years, being a communist made you a dead person in Latin America, but nevertheless May 1 was commemorated as Labor Day, precisely for the same reason it was chosen the first time, because of, yes, Chicago.
5.2.2007 8:45am
Felix Sulla (mail):
By the way, as long as we are discussing co-optation of holidays, I'd like to put in a word for my favorite holiday revival cause. Two words in fact:

Io, Saturnalia!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturnalia

;-)
5.2.2007 10:03am
TDPerkins (mail):
It's a holiday for workers' rights celebrated around the world.


Thats one of the reasons we should use the day to mourn the victims of communism. Other than the same rights every one else has, workers should have no rights.

"Worker's rights" always seems to translate into government enforced labor monopoly powers, a conspiracy against the public.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
5.2.2007 10:37am
TDPerkins (mail):
Viscus wrote:

Hitler's regime is, after all, a perfect example of what happens when you let corporations get out of control.

Why won't people take Somin seriously?


Why would anyone take Viscus seriously? Evidently he doesn't know that Hitler told the corporations what to do, in keeping with socialist philosophy, not the other way around.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
5.2.2007 10:39am
Felix Sulla (mail):
TDPerkins:

Thats one of the reasons we should use the day to mourn the victims of communism. Other than the same rights every one else has, workers should have no rights.

Then you admit that your concern here is, at least in substantial part, your desire to make a political statement regarding your feelings on the concept of "workers' rights" and labor theory in general rather than a strict concern with commemorating the victims of authoritarian regimes?


Why would anyone take Viscus seriously? Evidently he doesn't know that Hitler told the corporations what to do, in keeping with socialist philosophy, not the other way around.

A lot of people took Viscus seriously because he made a good point. Obviously you happen to disagree with it, which is fair enough. This does not magically convert your naked assertion about Hitler having "told" the corporations what to do in keeping with "socialist" philosophy into fact. I suspect we could have a long discussion as to that question, but frankly I think that too begins to go beyond the topic of this thread.
5.2.2007 11:05am
Al Maviva (mail) (www):
I'm disgusted that so many are willing to pick nits. Evidently, 160 million or so state murdered human beings, isn't enough of a pile to convince smart, civilized westerners that perhaps there is an inherent problem with communism / militant socialism.

As for the labor movement being completely apart from communism, what kind of revisionist claptrap are you swilling? The labor movement leadership was about evenly split in this country between reds with revolutionary aims, and people legitimately fighting for worker's rights within the framework of our nation's laws and general presumptions of liberty. It is hard to view attempts to whitewash this history as anything other than an argument protecting the outward flourishes of the international revolutionary communist movement. See, e.g. the Wobblies versus the UAW; the west coast Stevedores Union (communist) versus the east coast Stevedores Union (mafia). Or better yet, take a gander at the released KGB files, which show the leadership British labor movement of the 60s and 70s and early 80's, to be a wholly owned subsidiary of the Soviet Union.

I'm sick of the continuing lies, the maskirovka, attempting to divert blame from this zombie-like and vicious political religion.

160 million or more murdered victims. What are you missing here?
5.2.2007 11:27am
Felix Sulla (mail):
Al, please quote or make a proper attribution to where someone argued that the "labor movement" was completely apart from "communism." No one said that. People have been arguing that it is unfair to tar the entire labor or socialist movements with the brush of being in bed with psychotic authoritarian regimes. Were there apologists for those regimes within the labor movements of every country? Undeniably. But you yourself belie your own indignation by admitting (and incidentally, I do not stipulate the accuracy of your figure, I'm just using it for demonstrative purposes) that at least half of the labor movement here was "people legitimately fighting for worker's rights within the framework of our nation's laws and general presumptions of liberty." Well, there were and are a lot of those people, and a lot of them celebrate May Day. No one here is apologizing for the atrocities committed by the Soviet Union, Mao, Pol Pot, or anyone else, and in fact EVERYONE has conceded the appropriateness and desirability of a memorial of some sort for the victims of those regimes.

Take a deep breath, Al, maybe have a glass of wine, listen to some good music, and relax! High blood pressure is a killer. ;-)
5.2.2007 11:40am
TDPerkins (mail):
Then you admit that your concern here is, at least in substantial part, your desire to make a political statement regarding your feelings on the concept of "workers' rights" and labor theory in general rather than a strict concern with commemorating the victims of authoritarian regimes?


Why should that be something I need to admit, as if it were concealed? It is perfectly appropriate for political holidays to have political ends.

A lot of people took Viscus seriously because he made a good point.


Well, no, he didn't.

This does not magically convert your naked assertion about Hitler having "told" the corporations what to do in keeping with "socialist" philosophy into fact.


What part do you find to be disputable?
That Hitler told them what to do, or that government telling corporations what to do, while permitting them to exist, is liberty, socialism, or communism? Along the spectrum of economic liberty, I do not think it is controversial to say that permitting corporations to exist while largely commanding their efforts whenever gov't pleases, that is socialism.

In fact, it is frequently confused with being the rule of law.

But to return to the specific topic, what is innapropriate about using May Day to mourn the victims of communism, and that disease which takes longer to kill a people, socialism?

Do you think there is a substantive disconnect between "worker's rights" and socialism?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
5.2.2007 11:49am
Felix Sulla (mail):
TDPerkins:

Why should that be something I need to admit, as if it were concealed?

Just clarifying your actual motivation, I agree it was pretty obvious.

Well, no, he didn't.

Um, let's see what kind of response this merits...I know, how about, "He did too!"

What part do you find to be disputable?

All of your "facts" and most if not all of your stated and unstated assumptions. Again though, the purpose of this thread is to discuss the appropriateness of May Day being co-opted into a "Victims of Communism" day, not the Nazi regime, or really anything else. We can have that discussion some other place and some other time if you like.
5.2.2007 11:57am
TDPerkins (mail):
Felix, the victims of Nazism were victims of socialism, that there is a "national" prefix to that manifestation of socialism doesn't mean it wasn't socialism, it doesn't mean that victims of communism are not victims of socialism as well--communism is the more virulent form of the same meme from which socialism is germinated.

It is perfectly appropriate to expropriate May Day out from under the soshies.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
5.2.2007 12:30pm
Felix Sulla (mail):
TDPerkins: Right. Damn, if only they had denominated it "National Capitalist," then I would be right and you would be wrong even on the same fact. The placement of one word alters the course of history!

Keep drinking that Kool-Aid. Cheers!
5.2.2007 12:37pm
Mark P. (mail):
Before we started talking about American and the Haymarket Riot, I thought we were getting somewhere with the "American May 1" commemoration day. Isn't this a law site? Isn't May 1 Law Day in America? Maybe there should be some day to commemorate the victims of communism, but May 1 is reserved for Law Day, at least among American lawyers.

I know, it was a reaction to the Haymarket Riots and to trade unionism, but who cares? It's at least a day to celebrate the Rule of Law. (Which, by the way, is the best antidote to totalitarianism in all its forms.)

As for me, I like the Maypole and tomfoolery for May 1. Fitting for Law Day.

Mark
5.2.2007 12:50pm
Felix Sulla (mail):

Which, by the way, is the best antidote to totalitarianism in all its forms.

Along with robust protection of freedom of speech and democratic process (and to the extent those concerns are separate from the "rule of law"), I agree.

Doesn't the maypole and tomfoolery stuff go more into paganism than anything else though? ;-)
5.2.2007 12:56pm
Steve:
Well, given that this proposal has been exposed as an attempt to stick a thumb in the eye of the genuine labor movement, I think we can safely conclude that it's not a fitting subject for a worldwide holiday. It's a shame some people are so hung up on scoring a point against worker's rights, because the atrocities of Communism shouldn't be forgotten. So I'd suggest coming back when you have a new day in mind.
5.2.2007 1:20pm
just me:
I suggest May 2 as Victims of Statism Day, and May 3 as the Triumph of Hope over Experience Day.

May 1 does represent both lefty strands -- (1) the bloody dictators and (2) the well-meaning, personally-peaceful types who support growing state power in the wistful hope that it will produce peace and love rather than play into the hands of group one.

May 2 represents the morning after, when we count the bodies and recoil in horror.

And on May 3, everyone in group 2 goes back to supporting the next great hope for Statism with a Human Face. (Castro isn't another dictator - he's a real social reformer! No, wait, the Sandinistas! No, wait . . .)
5.2.2007 1:23pm
liberty (mail) (www):

I'd like to suggest Jan. 21, the date of Lenin's death.

I don't like the idea of May 1 because of the connection with non-Communist lefties. Whether intentional or not, it would tag generations of decent leftists with murders they didn't commit done by regimes they didn't support. Indeed, many committed leftists who celebrated May 1 and the cause they believed it represented were murdered by Soviet regimes.


While I don't mind using Lenin's death or some other day such as the day of the fall of the Berlin wall, or the day of Lenin's arrival in Petrograd before the revolution, etc. I do not agree that those celebrating May Day as socialists should be given a pass just because they were too blind to see that the ideology and economic system that they were advocating necessarily leads to regimes such as Stalin's, nor should they get a pass if they become victims of their own monstrous creation.

Many of the victim's of Stalin's regime were instrumental in creating the very institutions, laws and policies that led to their executions.


But commemorating Stalin, Mao or both would be too narrow. They may have been responsible for the worst atrocities, but only because they were the ones who had the chance. There is some wider movement they were part of and philosophy that unifies them and I think it can be put at Lenin's feet. He was philosophically one of the most arrogant people in history and then got a chance to put his arrogance into practice. ... He could easily have been the most murderous ever, but he had a stroke before he got the chance. There were some lefties who used to try to like him, blaming the worst excesses on Stalin, but that has died out in the post-Soviet period, since the archives been opened, confirming that Lenin was a bastard and Stalin was truly his successor.


I don't entirely disagree but I think the economic and (necessary) political system of communism is what ensures that it must be totalitarian and leads directly to things such as the KGB, the gulags, the lack of freedom and when communist ideology is closely adhered to the famines which killed the majority of the victims of communism.

So, although Lenin was the first to put the ideology into practice, I think the millions dead are a product of a unified philosophy that should be traced to Marx not to Lenin. Lenin's enthusiasm and willingness to do whatever was not the cause of millions dead nor was he the only one with great enthusiasm (and not just the Bolsheviks either, Trotsky was originally a Menshevik as were many other of the most brutal).
5.2.2007 1:36pm
DeezRightWingNutz:

It's a shame some people are so hung up on scoring a point against worker's rights


What are these rights? How are they different from non-workers' rights? Are they really rights, or obligations imposed on others (i.e., positive, not negative rights)?

If I don't have the right to argee to drive my forklift for the 41st and 42nd hour of work for the same pay that I received for the 1st through 40th hours, have my rights been expanded?
5.2.2007 1:47pm
SlimAndSlam:
Oh my... in my general agreement with Sulla and Okun, I seem to be channeling Bono... "Here is a holiday that the Soviet Communists stole from the working man. We're going to steal it back."

And why can't it be Law Day as well? No rule against more than one holiday falling on the same day. (Though it is awkward when Easter falls on April Fool's Day.)
5.2.2007 1:54pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
I guess it is too much to expect lawyers and law students to have any personal experience of being a wage worker or seeking rights that, by practical experience, are often best protected by unions, but for cryin' out loud, Deez, surely lawyers have heard of antisyndicalism laws?

Maybe workers shouldn't have MORE rights than everybody else, as cogently proposed upthread, but in 1917, they didn't have anywhere near as many rights as employers, in this country or any other. That's one reason they marched.

That the legitimate grievances of workers were co-opted by politicians doesn't make the grievances any less real.

Professor Somin wants to stick one in the eye of the Communists. A fair goal. Problem is, collateral damage.

I belong to a union; probably not many others posting here do.
5.2.2007 2:02pm
Felix Sulla (mail):
liberty:

[T]hey were too blind to see that the ideology and economic system that they were advocating necessarily leads to regimes such as Stalin's[.]

Wow, so you're saying the Scandinavian countries, and indeed, much of Europe and many other parts of the world are all Stalinesque or will inevitably become so? You do realize they are all, to varying degrees, socialist? Do you have a question-begging talking point for that? Concentrate really hard on your What-Would-Ayn-Rand-Do? bracelet before answering these questions: I'm sure it won't make your answer any more valid, but at least you'll *feel* as if they are.
5.2.2007 2:58pm
Anon1ms (mail):
All you who are attending the Victims of Communism monument dedication, don't forget to follow it up with the "gala" dinner that follows.

Nothing better than a feast to honor the victims.
5.2.2007 3:03pm
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
Felix-

Um, let's see what kind of response this merits...I know, how about, "He did too!"

See here.

The Nazis set price and wage controls. They dictated dividend levels. They told businesses what and how much to produce. With this level of state control businesses are "privately owned" in name only. Under those conditions a "private business owner" is indistinguishable from a state employed commisar, bureaucrat, etc. This is de facto socialism. Or since the Nazis openly called themselves National Socialists, lightly concealed socialism because they left the title of "private business owners" in place.
5.2.2007 3:05pm
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
Felix-

Wow, so you're saying the Scandinavian countries, and indeed, much of Europe and many other parts of the world are all Stalinesque or will inevitably become so? You do realize they are all, to varying degrees, socialist? Do you have a question-begging talking point for that? Concentrate really hard on your What-Would-Ayn-Rand-Do? bracelet before answering these questions: I'm sure it won't make your answer any more valid, but at least you'll *feel* as if they are.

Actually, the "social democrat" countries are not technically socialist. Ludwig von Mises referred to them as "hampered market economies." So although there are high taxes, heavy regulations, etc. in those economies and they may call themselves socialist they are not technically socialist. There is still a private economy, capital in private hands, etc. although it is hampered.

As the link in my other response to you shows, the road to a Stalinesque totalitarian state usually begins with heavy, widespread price and wage controls. These create shortages which black and gray markets develop to alleviate. At this point the state in question has a choice: (a) allow the black and gray markets to operate and therefore be a "socialist" economy in name only; or (b) enact draconian laws and rules and develop a police state to try to prevent the black and gray market activity. Since the police state required to police the whole economy has to be huge and the laws punishing black market activity have to be severe, the result is totalitarianism, tyranny, etc.

Of course this doesn't stop totalitarian statism from developing under other economic systems. But it does explain why true socialism and communism basically require totalitarianism to exist.
5.2.2007 3:19pm
Toby:
Here in Carrboro NC May Day is celebrated exclusively by vaguely leftist dreamers who embarass their help by speaking bad spanish to their help and wearing Che Shirts. Ohh, and the leftish communal market organized an immigration protest of all its bakery staff and others who come in early so the denizens of the town can wake up late, have a breakfast of trade coffee and fresh baked good while they discuss the coming workers paradise

Sounds like exactly the group that could use a dose of reality on May Day.
5.2.2007 3:30pm
Felix Sulla (mail):
American Psikhushka: They also mercilessly stamped out labor unions, all political opposition, and in fact most forms of social/political organization except for the approved party channels. Price and wage controls were designed to keep wages down and prices low toward the benefit of war industries and production. Same with telling businesses what and how much to produce. I seem to recall some other countries having done that during wartime, and around the same time as well....

The price and production controls were not, incidentally, permanent or anything other than matters of military expediency, and the Nazis certainly did not outlaw private ownership of the means of production as a communist country would have been obliged to do. Many industries made boatloads of cash off of the Nazis, for example, the Krupps.

The fact of the matter is that private business could and did operate under the Nazis, and in fact, it was the (particularly financial) support of industry that allowed the Nazis to rise. In large part because a lot of those industries didn't like the nasty old Weimar Republic and it's bona fide tendencies toward socialism.

It is all somewhat more complicated than this, but not a whole lot more. As for what the Nazis called themselves, please be serious. You are suggesting then that the nature of a political party/system derives from the self-selected name of the party? You are aware they supplanted and outlawed an avowedly socialist party (the SPD) in order to rise to prominence? Have you actually read any German history? Frankly, the assertion that the Nazis were in any relevant way "socialist" as the term is used in connection with actual worker's parties is not only wrong, but transparently stupid.
5.2.2007 3:31pm
ys:
Felix Sulla:

They also mercilessly stamped out labor unions, all political opposition, and in fact most forms of social/political organization except for the approved party channels.

The above refers to the Nazis, but it's a very good description of what the Communists did. Note, that the remaining labor unions were nothing but just another approved party channel. This was especially clearly exposed when "Solidarity" was created.
5.2.2007 4:27pm
Felix Sulla (mail):
ys: Yes, it is interesting that an authoritarian/totalitarian governments act very similarly in many ways even despite the differences in their underlying ideology. My point though was to emphasize the simple and undeniable fact that the Nazis were not socialists by any meaningful definition of the term. Diseingenuous and silly attempts to paint them as such (and therefore attribute both the atrocities of the Soviets and the Nazis to "socialism") are not helpful, and I suspect are not made in good faith.

A regime which silences all opposition, has no respect for free speech, democratic process, or civil liberty of any kind becomes authoritarian or totalitarian, and the
"ideology" underlying it is basically irrelevant unless (like several of the posters here) you just decide to use it to tar an ideology you disagree with as "evil."
5.2.2007 4:49pm
Vovan:
Ys

As to the reaction of the current regime, I assume you expect it to be very similar to that of the Soviet regime (and the current Chinese one), where championing human rights is branded as the ideological diversion by the west. After all, it's the breakdown of the Soviet Union, not its crimes against humanity, that this regime considers the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century.


It's ok to be clueless, it really is.

Poll
58% of the Russian population views Lenin "favorably"
60% of the Russian population would like to live in a social ist system.

Another poll:
39% view communism positively
39% view communism negatively

Conrast
26% view capitalism postively
50% view capitalism negatively

Somin's "pity" for the victims of communism, seems to be missing in the opinions of the ihabitants (read: victims) of victimizing country. Surpising, no?
5.2.2007 6:13pm
Andrew Okun:
Somin's "pity" for the victims of communism, seems to be missing in the opinions of the ihabitants (read: victims) of victimizing country. Surpising, no?

I don't think today's Russians count themselves as victims of the killings Ilya was referring to. I think the poll results you mention have much less to do with the fact that Leninism, now dead and gone, had many victims, than the fact that capitalism has many victims, who have been suffering for the last decade and a have. They are harder to count. Under Stalin, they are shot. Under capitalism, they die hungry or ill some years earlier than they otherwise would have.

It was a big error of the West when the East turned to capitalism to fail to remember that capitalism comes at a price. When old institutions, rights, privileges and businesses are plowed under by the new, people suffer. Schumpeter's "gale of creative destruction" is destructive as well as creative. Of course, the good outweighs the bad. Hugely. I'm in favor of capitalism and not just because I'm wallowing in its benefits, but the outweighed bad is still bad. And those who suffered did not all deserve it.

Given the altered population figures in Russia since the collapse of communism, I wonder if one could calculate a number of victims of capitalism?
5.2.2007 7:18pm
Aleks:
Re: I'd be all for remembrance of the victims of the Soviet Union, et al, but co-opting May Day for the purpose just seems wrong. There are still a number of people worldwide who celebrate it, who celebrate it in good faith, and without approving of the actions of notorious mass murderers.

For neo-Pagans May Day is Beltane, one of the most sacred holidays of the year. How about the day in 1991 (not sure what its was) that the Soviet Union was officially dissolved as a state entity?

Re: no Lenin, no Hitler.

Huh? Lenin had nothing to do with the rise of Nazism in Germany. The blame for that can be placed squarely on the Western powers and their vengeful, short-sighted Peace of Versailles.

Re: The real worker's day is May 1 because that is when it's celebrated on a truly international scale

Not a bad idea though: without Labor Day in September there would be no significant holiday between Independence (or Dominion) Day and Thanksgiving.
5.2.2007 7:55pm
David in NY (mail):
Only three mentions that I saw in the comments above that Mayday is an American holiday in origin, really a memorial to five martyrs, wrongfully executed in Chicago, in an All-American outburst of rabid anti-communism. See http://www.kentlaw.edu/ilhs/prisoner.htm .

If international workers' day is going to be replaced on May 1 by anything in this country, it will be by "Mission Accomplished Day," the celebration of George Bush's valiant exploits in the brief and glorious Iraq War.
5.2.2007 10:52pm
ys:

58% of the Russian population views Lenin "favorably"
...
39% view communism negatively
...
26% view capitalism postively

This is quite some progress. 30 years ago nobody would have dared to publicly view capitalism positively, much less communism negatively or, god forbid, Lenin not "favorably"
And looking at this and this and this I have come around to the view that May Day for remembering the victims of communism is exactly right.
5.3.2007 2:32am
Vovan:
Прогресс в том что страну на хуй обокрали все кто могли?
Ты, тоже грабить помогал? Или, так рядом, со стороны поддерживал?
5.3.2007 2:39am
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
Felix Sulla-

They also mercilessly stamped out labor unions, all political opposition, and in fact most forms of social/political organization except for the approved party channels.

The goal of that kind of activity was probably to eliminate any threats to their control more than anything else. Before they came to power they would have street fights with the communists too.

Price and wage controls were designed to keep wages down and prices low toward the benefit of war industries and production. Same with telling businesses what and how much to produce. I seem to recall some other countries having done that during wartime, and around the same time as well....

There's no question that the Allies heavily socialized their economies during this period too - lots of libertarians, classical liberals, and conservatives are highly critical of this. It's one of the major problems libertarians have with unnecessary wars - they result in creeping socialism and statism.

The price and production controls were not, incidentally, permanent or anything other than matters of military expediency, and the Nazis certainly did not outlaw private ownership of the means of production as a communist country would have been obliged to do. Many industries made boatloads of cash off of the Nazis, for example, the Krupps.

Well your contention that the level of economic control they exercised was temporary doesn't necessarily follow. Hitler was setting up an empire and attempting to forcibly craft his warped view of utopia, so I don't know that one can reasonably claim the warfare or police state ever would have stopped.

As far as your Krupps et. al. example goes it doesn't necessarily prove anything. Being successful was likely a function of how much of a good party member, good nationalist, good crony, or otherwise useful you were. This is no different from the commisars, bureaucrats, etc. under socialist schemes who become wealthy relative to the average citizen based on their party loyalty, cronyism, etc.

The fact of the matter is that private business could and did operate under the Nazis, and in fact, it was the (particularly financial) support of industry that allowed the Nazis to rise. In large part because a lot of those industries didn't like the nasty old Weimar Republic and it's bona fide tendencies toward socialism.

That still doesn't change the fact that those businesses were de facto socialized when the self-initiated emergencies, militarization, and warfare occurred after the rise.

As for what the Nazis called themselves, please be serious. You are suggesting then that the nature of a political party/system derives from the self-selected name of the party?

Not necessarily. But they called themselves socialist and they did enact an economic system that was de facto socialist.

You are aware they supplanted and outlawed an avowedly socialist party (the SPD) in order to rise to prominence?

As mentioned above, this was likely an initiative to eliminate any competition or threats to their power.

Frankly, the assertion that the Nazis were in any relevant way "socialist" as the term is used in connection with actual worker's parties is not only wrong, but transparently stupid.

I realize that traditionally the Nazis were viewed as right-wing even though strong arguments, like those in the linked article, can be made that the economy they enacted was a de facto socialist one. I also realize that some on the left get very perturbed when one makes those observations.

But if you look at your own arguments you seem to be conceding some of my points and then saying that they are stupid. You mentioned that other economies were socialized during the war and I agree that is correct. But then you say it is "stupid" to claim that the Nazi economy was in any way socialist. So you wind up saying "yeah, they socialized their economy but the Allies did too" and then "but its stupid to say that they were in any way socialist" all in the course of one post.
5.3.2007 6:28am
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
Felix Sulla-

A regime which silences all opposition, has no respect for free speech, democratic process, or civil liberty of any kind becomes authoritarian or totalitarian, and the
"ideology" underlying it is basically irrelevant unless (like several of the posters here) you just decide to use it to tar an ideology you disagree with as "evil."


What happens when the ideology in question requires totalitarianism? Where is the error in this chain of events:

(1) True socialism and communism require price and wage controls

(2) Price and wage controls create shortages

(3) Black and gray markets form to alleviate these shortages

(4) In order to stamp out these black markets a truly massive police state has to be built. The result: Totalitarianism.
5.3.2007 6:43am
Felix Sulla (mail):
American Psikhushka: We are getting way outside thread topic, but just to respond briefly:

The goal of that kind of activity was probably to eliminate any threats to their control more than anything else. Before they came to power they would have street fights with the communists too.

And this is unique or even essential to socialism how? I do not recall anywahere in socialist or workers' rights literate where it states that it is necessary ruthlessly eliminate any threats to control. All, repeat, all ruthless power grabbers throughout history have done this. And let me state now for the three-thousandth time that no one, least of all me, is apologizing for Lenin, Stalin, Mao, or any other murderers. It is possible (indeed, eminently possible) to both be socialist AND believe that freedom of speech, civil liberty, and democracy are good thing...and for that matter, that murder and thuggery are wrong. Unless you link it to a specific tenet of the ideology, I think you are just not making a valid point with this.

It's one of the major problems libertarians have with unnecessary wars - they result in creeping socialism and statism.

It is obvious that we disagree as to the necessary/desirable role of government, and I suspect we are not going to resolve that dispute here. I do agree that unnecessary wars tend to produce a vicious form of statism. Again though, where is the specific link to socialist ideology?

Hitler was setting up an empire and attempting to forcibly craft his warped view of utopia, so I don't know that one can reasonably claim the warfare or police state ever would have stopped.

Oh, I don't think it would have ever stopped either. But then wage and price controls become a function of military expansion, territorial conquest, consolidation of power within the ruling class, and ultimately Nazi control over however much of the world they could have bitten off and swallowed. Again, link to socialist ideology please? (And I suppose it is worth mentioning, for the benefit of anyone stilll reading this thread, that Nazi ideology specifically rejected Marx and labor theory in general, was not anything approaching a coherent or logically structured set of ideas, and was centered on notions of German racial purity and superiority, German nationalism, the consequent inferiority of everyone else, and wild racist theories of Jewish-led international conspiracy. All of that is not really suybject to good-faith dispute, and none of it, to the best of my knowledge, is believed in by ANY self-respecting socialist.)

That still doesn't change the fact that those businesses were de facto socialized when the self-initiated emergencies, militarization, and warfare occurred after the rise.

I *might* agree with de-facto nationalized, but they certainly were not socialized in any way consistent with socialist theory, as I hope I have explained above. Nor was the nationalization of the industries complete (my point about the Krupps stands I think), or anywhere near the level of systemic pervasiveness seen in countries that actually did proclaim (correctly or incorrectly) to have allegiance to socialist of communist theory.

I think we are largely talking past each other here though because, from your own hard economic libertarian standpoint, you view absolutely any form of state action as "socialism," particularly when such state action has large scale consequences for ownership of property. It can be left for another time to debate economic libertarianism (obviously I do not sibscribe to it though I am a social libertarian), but the fgact that you choose to classify any action you disagree with on that framework as "socialism" or even the dread "communism" doesn't convert your understanding into the accepted understanding of those terms. Trying to lump the Soviet Union and the Nazis in as logically and morally equivalent as a matter of ideology is simply wrong, as is any attempt to treat those regimes' innumerable crimes as all being products of "socialism. (I find them logically and morally equivalent on many other levels, by the by, though on balance I actually believe the Nazis to have been worse for a variety of reasons.)

Where is the error in this chain of events:

(1) True socialism and communism require price and wage controls

(2) Price and wage controls create shortages

(3) Black and gray markets form to alleviate these shortages

(4) In order to stamp out these black markets a truly massive police state has to be built. The result: Totalitarianism.

I think there are far too many logical errors, unstated assumptions, and pure non-sequiturs to address in that in the time I have to do so. I do note however, that I think you do not understand the difference between "socialism" and "communism," or else you view them as essentially equivalent. They are not, "true" communism is actually non-statist and akin to (perhaps even a form of) anarchy. As to whether such a system is possible in real life, well, that's an even more broad subject. For some ideas about that, I highly recommend you read The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin. (I won't bore you with the theoretical literature, I find it rather tedious myself.)
5.3.2007 11:28am
Ilya Somin:
Прогресс в том что страну на хуй обокрали все кто могли?
Ты, тоже грабить помогал? Или, так рядом, со стороны поддерживал?


Vovan,

I am getting tired of your combination of personal insults (towards me and other commenters) and apologetics for communism.

I am not banning you yet, but consider yourself warned.
5.3.2007 11:57am
Vovan:
Banning someone for actually providing information backed by sources, instead of assertions based on personal authority is a first.
5.3.2007 3:20pm
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
Felix Sulla-

All, repeat, all ruthless power grabbers throughout history have done this.

This is close to my point - that the Nazis were beating on the socialists and communists because they were a political threat, not because they had a problem with socialism per se.

It is obvious that we disagree as to the necessary/desirable role of government, and I suspect we are not going to resolve that dispute here. I do agree that unnecessary wars tend to produce a vicious form of statism. Again though, where is the specific link to socialist ideology?

But where is the evidence of anti-socialism? You admit that they socialized the economy. They called themselves socialist. They were extreme collectivists as well.

Oh, I don't think it would have ever stopped either. But then wage and price controls become a function of military expansion, territorial conquest, consolidation of power within the ruling class, and ultimately Nazi control over however much of the world they could have bitten off and swallowed. Again, link to socialist ideology please?

The Nazis wanted to centrally plan everything and circumvent, for the most part, the market pricing system. The means of production was state controlled and privately owned in name only - the state controlled all of the rights of ownership. So where is the laissez faire market ideology?

And I suppose it is worth mentioning, for the benefit of anyone stilll reading this thread, that Nazi ideology specifically rejected Marx and labor theory in general, was not anything approaching a coherent or logically structured set of ideas, and was centered on notions of German racial purity and superiority, German nationalism, the consequent inferiority of everyone else, and wild racist theories of Jewish-led international conspiracy. All of that is not really suybject to good-faith dispute, and none of it, to the best of my knowledge, is believed in by ANY self-respecting socialist.

You don't have to follow Marx word for word to create a centrally planned nightmare. Do you have a link for the Nazi refutation of the labor theory of value? Because they seemed awfully focused on work for work's sake. They might have bashed Marx but I doubt they settled on a subjective, market driven theory of value.

Your statements on the Nazis' kooky racist, nationalist, ethnosupremicist, etc. theories are all correct. I don't agree with your contention that socialists have never harbored similar ideologies. I'll bet there are plenty of examples to be found with a little digging.

I *might* agree with de-facto nationalized, but they certainly were not socialized in any way consistent with socialist theory, as I hope I have explained above. Nor was the nationalization of the industries complete (my point about the Krupps stands I think), or anywhere near the level of systemic pervasiveness seen in countries that actually did proclaim (correctly or incorrectly) to have allegiance to socialist of communist theory.

Well I don't know how much more systemic you can get than centrally planned wage and price controls. I don't know if exceptions were made for cronies, party faithful, etc. (and again inordinately rewarding these types is a feature of socialist systems as well) but if the Krupps had to follow the same rules for dividends, production, etc. that everyone else did their business was privately owned in name only, and therefore de facto socialized, just like everyone else.

...but the fgact that you choose to classify any action you disagree with on that framework as "socialism" or even the dread "communism" doesn't convert your understanding into the accepted understanding of those terms...

But I'm not classifying any action I disagree with as socialist, just those that are pretty objectively socialist:

- Price and wage controls - socialist

- State control of means of production - socialist

- All rights of business ownership controlled by state, businesses ownership is "private" in name only - socialist

- Draconian laws enacted to stamp out black markets - socialist

Trying to lump the Soviet Union and the Nazis in as logically and morally equivalent as a matter of ideology is simply wrong, as is any attempt to treat those regimes' innumerable crimes as all being products of "socialism.

I wasn't doing what you describe here. Their economic system had little to do with their kooky, genocidal, racist policies. But the linked article does make a strong case for socialism requiring totalitarianism and cites the Nazis as strong evidence.

They are not, "true" communism is actually non-statist and akin to (perhaps even a form of) anarchy. As to whether such a system is possible in real life, well, that's an even more broad subject.

Come on. Any large scale economic activity requires some planning and control. These people are the state, or quickly become the state.
5.3.2007 5:45pm
Felix Sulla (mail):

[T]he Nazis were beating on the socialists and communists because they were a political threat, not because they had a problem with socialism per se.

Oh, so they were beatiing on the socialist and communists because they in fact loved socialism and communism. You make it all so clear now!

But where is the evidence of anti-socialism? You admit that they socialized the economy. They called themselves socialist. They were extreme collectivists as well.

Evidence of anti-socialism? You mean beside their outright stated rejection of Marx and the labor theory upon which socialism (and communism) were based, and their violent suppression of same? I did not say they socialized the economy, you yourself admitted that the United States amongst others did this as well at least with respect to price and wage controls. If that makes the Nazis "socialist" then it by definition makes every other industrialized government of the twentieth century and beyond socialist as well. (You may well believe that, but that feeds into my larger point that your own convictions predispose you to define anything not strictly in keeping with radical economic libertarianism as "socialism.") The point you keep making about them having "called" themselves socialist has been dealt with. Let it go. Finally, I do note that you are the one who made the positive statement that the Nazis were socialist. It does not become incumbent upon me to then prove the negative, i.e, the Nazis were not socialist. And I have devoted enough time to explaining why I disagree with your thesis on this subject.

You don't have to follow Marx word for word to create a centrally planned nightmare.

You sure don't. But, in order to be able to call someone a socialist with a straight face, I am afraid it is necessary for them to (at minimum) nominally subscribe to the belief system laid out by Marx. Which the Nazis certainly did not. Again we get into your catch-all description of anything you view at statist as socialist regardles of what the term "socialist" actually means.

I don't agree with your contention that socialists have never harbored similar ideologies.

Socialists qua socialists do not harbor such belief systems because they form no part of the fundamental belief system necessary to identify as "socialist." Socialism in general, say whatever else you wish about it, tends not to be systemically racist, sexist, etc. Nazism was all of these things and more to its very core, they were essential defining components of it. Now, have socialists existed that harbored racist/sexist/etc ideas and feelings? Oh, I have no doubt about it. I suspect (in fact am dead certain from personal experience) that there are radical economic libertarians out there who are virulently racist, sexist, and what have you. Do I then impute this to all of them or else suggest that it forms an essential component of that school of thought. Nope. Enough said on this subject as well.
Well I don't know how much more systemic you can get than centrally planned wage and price controls.
5.3.2007 6:16pm
Felix Sulla (mail):
Sorry hit post too soon on the last comment, the last sentence should have been block quoted like this:

Well I don't know how much more systemic you can get than centrally planned wage and price controls.

Um, let's see...how about full de jure nationalization and collectivization of all land and means of production (NOT done in Nazi Germany, and some might argue this is the sine qua non of strict socialism), systemic elimination of the middle class (NOT done in Nazi Germany), full state planning and direct control of all major industries (NOT done in Nazi Germany, or at least not until declining fortune in the war forced it). My point is that wage and price controls are *tame* in comparison to what can be done (in fact they exist in varying forms in every industrialized western nation even as we have this lovely conversation), and if you seriously think that's the be-all-end-all of socialism, you haven't considered the issue carefully.

Come on. Any large scale economic activity requires some planning and control. These people are the state, or quickly become the state.

So much easier to dismiss the idea when you don't consider it. I will simply say that failure of imagintion and impossibility are often confused for one another. And do read The Dispossessed, besides being a wonderful novel in its own right, it seriously attempts to imagine how an "anarchic" society might come about, function, and what problems it might ultimately have.
5.3.2007 6:26pm
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
Felix Sulla-

Oh, so they were beatiing on the socialist and communists because they in fact loved socialism and communism. You make it all so clear now!

No, they were beating on them because they wanted to run the country and wanted to eliminate any competition.

Evidence of anti-socialism? You mean beside their outright stated rejection of Marx and the labor theory upon which socialism (and communism) were based, and their violent suppression of same?

I asked for a link or reference on this, do you have one? As I mentioned above I don't doubt that they bashed Marx, but I doubt that they settled on a subjective, market driven theory of value. They seemed awfully keen on work for work's sake. Work for the collective - the fatherland.

I did not say they socialized the economy, you yourself admitted that the United States amongst others did this as well at least with respect to price and wage controls. If that makes the Nazis "socialist" then it by definition makes every other industrialized government of the twentieth century and beyond socialist as well.

Not to the extent that the Nazis did. To my knowledge the Allies didn't usurp the rights of business owners, like setting dividend policy. If you're not in control of how much money you take out of your business you're the same as a commisar or bureaucrat under a socialist model.

You may well believe that, but that feeds into my larger point that your own convictions predispose you to define anything not strictly in keeping with radical economic libertarianism as "socialism.")

First, I don't engage in what you claim. Second - you're claiming that garden variety laissez faire economics is radical? That's a new one. I support the free, peaceful, voluntary market exchange of goods - somebody stop me.

You sure don't. But, in order to be able to call someone a socialist with a straight face, I am afraid it is necessary for them to (at minimum) nominally subscribe to the belief system laid out by Marx. Which the Nazis certainly did not. Again we get into your catch-all description of anything you view at statist as socialist regardles of what the term "socialist" actually means.

No you don't. I can call Marx rude names, burn his books, and abuse a voodoo doll of him all day long. But when I get back to the office if I am centrally planning the economy, setting prices, wages, and dividends, dictating what and how much is produced, etc. I have created an economy that is de facto socialist.

Socialists qua socialists do not harbor such belief systems because they form no part of the fundamental belief system necessary to identify as "socialist." Socialism in general, say whatever else you wish about it, tends not to be systemically racist, sexist, etc.

I don't agree here. I don't think that socialists are by definition generally free from racism, sexism, ethnosupremacy, etc. Especially when they run into members of groups that disagree with their ideology. Didn't the Soviets persecute the Jews pretty heavily? Didn't the Khmer Rouge go after certain tribal groups?

Um, let's see...how about full de jure nationalization and collectivization of all land and means of production (NOT done in Nazi Germany, and some might argue this is the sine qua non of strict socialism), systemic elimination of the middle class (NOT done in Nazi Germany), full state planning and direct control of all major industries (NOT done in Nazi Germany, or at least not until declining fortune in the war forced it). My point is that wage and price controls are *tame* in comparison to what can be done (in fact they exist in varying forms in every industrialized western nation even as we have this lovely conversation), and if you seriously think that's the be-all-end-all of socialism, you haven't considered the issue carefully.

I disagree with a lot of this:

De jure collectivization of all land and means of production: They did do this with land and businesses that were owned by Jews and some of their ideological/political enemies. All other land and businesses were de facto collectivized because the government controlled all the substantive powers of ownership.

Systemic elimination of the middle class: Maybe not directly. But the Jews and others were eliminated or marginalized, and they made up a significant portion of the middle and upper classes. I would think militarization accomplished a lot of this as well.

Full state planning and direct control of all major industries: The price, wage, dividend, and operational controls on businesses come pretty close.

My point is that wage and price controls are *tame* in comparison to what can be done (in fact they exist in varying forms in every industrialized western nation even as we have this lovely conversation), and if you seriously think that's the be-all-end-all of socialism, you haven't considered the issue carefully.

Price and wage controls are not the be-all-end-all of socialism. But if they are heavy and widespread enough they bring about a chain of events that require other interventions that result in the disruption of market pricing mechanisms and eventual socialization of the economy.
5.3.2007 10:52pm
TDPerkins (mail):
Your statements on the Nazis' kooky racist, nationalist, ethnosupremicist, etc. theories are all correct. I don't agree with your contention that socialists have never harbored similar ideologies. I'll bet there are plenty of examples to be found with a little digging.


Oh absolutely.

They used to call the technologically stripped, simplified weapons systems they sold to their Third World allies as the "monkey models".

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
5.3.2007 11:05pm
TDPerkins (mail):
They being the Soviets. TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
5.3.2007 11:07pm
TDPerkins (mail):
And do read The Dispossessed, besides being a wonderful novel in its own right, it seriously attempts to imagine how an "anarchic" society might come about, function, and what problems it might ultimately have.


Assuming you refer to LeGuin's work? It attempts and fails. It is a fairytale from whole cloth.

It is illuminating that you value her work so highly.

And she was a particularly virulent, even vile racist who said the only thing she thought appropriate about the recent small-screen adaptation of the Eartsea books was that an at least vaguely asiatic actress played one of the good guys.

It was so terribly important and significant you see, that the bad guys had to be of Baltic appearance and the good guys dark skinned.

A self-willed permanent child using her talents to throw a life-long tantrum to draw attention to the real white man's burden, guilt.

Once I understood her politics, I despised her.

It's still a good read for children.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
5.3.2007 11:20pm
Felix Sulla (mail):
American Psikhushka and TDPerkins: This ceased fulfilling any function some time ago. Believe what you will, I'll do the same, and I hope you had a wonderful May Day.
5.4.2007 12:07am
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
Felix Sulla-

This ceased fulfilling any function some time ago.

Huh. I thought we were having a pretty lively debate here.

Believe what you will, I'll do the same, and I hope you had a wonderful May Day.

You too.

I still can't believe you think that you think garden variety laissez faire capitalism is radical, though. I hope you got to do some radically libertarian things on May Day, like buy a burger or a beer.
5.5.2007 3:11am