pageok
pageok
pageok
Victims of Communism Day:

Today is May Day, the primary holiday of communist parties and regimes. Last year, I put forward my proposal to transform May Day into Victims of Communism Day, in honor of the 100 million or more people murdered by communist regimes in the USSR, China, Cambodia, and elsewhere.

In this short 2005 article, political scientist Rudolph Rummel, a leading authority on mass murder, summarizes the massive death toll of communism in the twentieth century, which he conservatively estimates at some 110 million dead. This figure greatly exceeds the deaths attributable to all of the 20th century's wars combined, as well as all the deaths caused by the 20th century's many brutal noncommunist dictatorships. As Rummel also points out, the communists also have the dubious distinction of establishing the single most lethal regime relative to the size of the population it ruled: Pol Pot's Cambodia.

In addition to honoring the victims of communism, the proposal can also serve as a much-needed reminder of the dangers of allowing the state to seize control of the economy and civil society - just as Holocaust Memorial Day serves as a useful reminder of the dangers of racism and anti-semitism.

UPDATE: As I mentioned in my original May 2007 post, it is likely that this idea was proposed by others first, so I don't claim originality for it. Catallarchy/Distributed Republic, for example, has been commemorating the victims of communism on May Day for several years. Unlike me, they have not, as far as I can tell, proposed that Victims of Communism Day be made an official holiday similar to Holocaust Memorial Day; they instead simply commemorated the day on their blog. That said, their idea was similar enough to mine that I don't object if they take the lion's share of the credit for it. I wouldn't be surprised if someone else came up with a similar idea even earlier. What should matter is the merit of the proposal, not who came up with it first.

wm13:
Here's guessing that Prof. Somin's proposal for a new kind of May Day hasn't exactly been winning enthusiastic acceptance in academic circles.
5.1.2008 9:58pm
ratel (mail):
Should credit for stopping the genocide in Cambodia and Germany also go to Communism since it was the intervention of Vietnam and the Soviet Union that were responsible for stopping Pol Pot and Adolf Hitler
5.1.2008 10:03pm
Ilya Somin:
Should credit for stopping the genocide in Cambodia and Germany also go to Communism since it was the intervention of Vietnam and the Soviet Union that were responsible for stopping Pol Pot and Adolf Hitler

The other Allies had at least a little bit to do with stopping Hitler. For example, the Soviets couldn't have gotten to Berlin without Western-supplied trucks and food. Even more to the point, the regimes the Soviets installed in Eastern Europe and East Germany were, in quantitative terms, no less brutal than the Nazi and fascist governments they replaced. To put it mildly, I don't think the Soviet regime deserves a whole lot of credit for this.

As for Vietnam, they stopped Pol Pot not because they disapproved of his crimes but because he was an ally of their enemy (China). They deserve little if any credit for replacing his government with one that was also a mass-murdering totalitarian state (albeit with fewer murders than Pol Pot's very hard to match record total).
5.1.2008 10:05pm
watchdog (mail):
This is the fifth year the catallarchy guys have been doing this, as you can read in their main post, so you can't really claim it as your idea. Caplan's being contributing to it in years past. Give credit where credit is due.
5.1.2008 10:16pm
Mutant Pacifist (mail) (www):
May 1 as Victims of Communism day sounds like a terrific idea.
5.1.2008 10:17pm
ratel (mail):
What ever the reasons for invading if you are going to make the statement that "communists also have the dubious distinction of establishing the single most lethal regime relative to the size of the population it ruled: Pol Pot's Cambodia" it reasonable to also mention that communists were the ones that destroyed "he single most lethal regime relative to the size of the population it ruled"
5.1.2008 10:27pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
Referring to the Soviet Union's "intervention" as what stopped Hitler seems more than a bit misleading. An intervention is usually voluntary, but Stalin was flabbergasted when his ally Hitler turned on him. He never volunteered for the assignment of overthrowing Nazism: when given a choice, he actively supported it against the democracies.
5.1.2008 10:28pm
fullerene:
To me, this is the same as setting aside a day to remember the victims of guns or even science.
5.1.2008 10:30pm
ithaqua (mail):
I think this is an excellent idea as well.

"Should credit for stopping the genocide in Cambodia and Germany also go to Communism since it was the intervention of Vietnam and the Soviet Union that were responsible for stopping Pol Pot and Adolf Hitler?"

Perhaps. But the Soviet Union's war against Germany is better understood as one form of liberalism against another, and, of course, both Vietnam and Cambodia were explicitly Communist. Think of it as evil turning on itself.
5.1.2008 10:31pm
ratel (mail):
As with Cambodia, the reason the Soviet Union became involved in the war against Germany doesn't change the fact that the Communist Soviet Union destroyed Hitler's Germany
5.1.2008 10:34pm
TheWhaler (mail):
For good Victims of Communism Day reading, I highly recommend Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. It's a murder mystery set in Stalinist Russia, which sounds unappealing, but it wonderfully portrays the paranoia, corrupt bureaucratic incentives, and the importance of fidelity to the truth.
5.1.2008 10:36pm
Ilya Somin:
As with Cambodia, the reason the Soviet Union became involved in the war against Germany doesn't change the fact that the Communist Soviet Union destroyed Hitler's Germany

The question raised by the previous commenter was not about this fact, but about whether the communists deserved "credit" for it. On that question, Stalin's motives for fighting the Nazis and the kinds of regimes he installed in their place are extremely relevant.
5.1.2008 10:50pm
Ilya Somin:
This is the fifth year the catallarchy guys have been doing this, as you can read in their main post, so you can't really claim it as your idea. Caplan's being contributing to it in years past. Give credit where credit is due.

I mentioned their role in my original post last year. However, they, unlike me, did not propose to make this a full-fledged holiday, but as far as I can tell just put a commemoration on their blog. In any event, as I said in the 2007 post, I do not claim originality for the idea.
5.1.2008 10:51pm
SenatorX (mail):
To me, this is the same as setting aside a day to remember the victims of guns or even science.

You need to think more then. Communism leads to totalitarianism, no way around it. I fail to see the analogy with science and guns.

I think it's a great idea for a holiday. The more people who think about what it is and what damage it has done, the better.
5.1.2008 11:15pm
ithaqua (mail):
"To me, this is the same as setting aside a day to remember the victims of guns or even science. "

Or the victims of atheism. Or of Darwinism.
5.1.2008 11:22pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
The other Allies had at least a little bit to do with stopping Hitler. For example, the Soviets couldn't have gotten to Berlin without Western-supplied trucks and food. Even more to the point, the regimes the Soviets installed in Eastern Europe and East Germany were, in quantitative terms, no less brutal than the Nazi and fascist governments they replaced. To put it mildly, I don't think the Soviet regime deserves a whole lot of credit for this. As for Vietnam, they stopped Pol Pot not because they disapproved of his crimes but because he was an ally of their enemy (China). They deserve little if any credit for replacing his government with one that was also a mass-murdering totalitarian state (albeit with fewer murders than Pol Pot's very hard to match record total).

Oh, come on, Ilya. You have a personal interest in this, and I don't blame you for it. But let's be serious here. You don't apply the same standard to brutal right wing governments that replaced left-wing ones, do you? You don't say, for instance, that Pinochet gets little credit for anti-communism, do you? Few on your side of this argument do.

Further, you truly understate the Soviet contribution to defeating the Germans. News flash, Ilya. Hitler could have won a one-front war against Britain and the US. The Soviets took 20 million casualties fighting the Germans, and were able to drive the greatest war machine in human history back over thousands of miles of territory that it had conquered.

You can say many, many things about the Stalin era USSR. I agree with you that they were one of the truly evil regimes of human history. But you cannot in any way denigrate the great contribution that Stalin's regime and the brave Soviet soldiers it commanded, awful as they were in other contexts, in defeating Nazi Germany. This is as close as one comes to a "we'd all be speaking German now" scenario.
5.1.2008 11:34pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
Back in high school in 1986, I'll never forget a classmate saying that communism couldn't be that bad because you never hear them complaining about their government like you do in this country.

Also, wm13 said:


Here's guessing that Prof. Somin's proposal for a new kind of May Day hasn't exactly been winning enthusiastic acceptance in academic circles.


How true. Plus, in law circles as well. I got am invite to a law day thing for today that was clearly a back door May Day event. The description sounded like a Marxist pamphlet.
5.1.2008 11:36pm
frankcross (mail):
First, ithaqua, you must recognize that you are embarrassing. Here by comparing the "victims of Darwinism" (with a link to a movie poster) to all those who have died at the hands of communism or guns or whatever.

The communism/guns analogy is interesting. Communism is just a theory of government, but one that in practice yields many deaths. Guns are just implements, but they also yield many deaths in practice. Indeed many defenders of gun rights seem to assume that the need for gun rights is related to the guns held by the bad guys.
5.1.2008 11:37pm
SIG357:
Before I looked at the comments I was wondering - will somebody come to communisms defense? Sure enough, somebody did.
5.1.2008 11:38pm
SIG357:
But you cannot in any way denigrate the great contribution that Stalin's regime and the brave Soviet soldiers it commanded, awful as they were in other contexts, in defeating Nazi Germany.


I don't see why not. It simply replaced one murderous dictatorship with another. Is that really something to applaud?
5.1.2008 11:41pm
Tom G (mail):
Hey, I have an idea !

Why don't we bring back the ORIGIN of May Day as International Workers Day...which was started by labor leaders in 1889 in Paris, to commemorate the workers who were killed by police in a brutal attack in Chicago's Haymarket Square, while the workers were holding a rally.
The fight for an eight hour standard workday dates back to that time period.
While it is true that the Soviet Union claimed the day as their own, it's past time that Americans take it back.
The early labor movement in America had something worthwhile, that too many people remain ignorant of, or misunderstand.
5.1.2008 11:41pm
SIG357:
the Soviet Union's war against Germany is better understood as one form of liberalism against another, and, of course, both Vietnam and Cambodia were explicitly Communist.

I'm guessing a typo - did you really mean that the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were both liberal states? That's an expansive definiton of liberalism if so.
5.1.2008 11:45pm
1ReligionFREE (mail):
I think the victims of ALL totalitarian governments should be remembered on May 1, not just the victims of communist governments.

In his book, Death by Government, R. J. Rummel uses the word "democide" to describe the intentional government killing of an unarmed person or people, including genocide, politicide, and mass murder. Rummel examines all democides of one million or more. Before 1900, 130 million people were killed in democides. During the 20th century, 174 million people were killed in democides. Rummel points out that governments murdered about four times as many people in democides as were killed in combat in all the domestic and foreign wars during the same time period. Stalin alone is responsible for the murder of millions more than the total combat deaths of both World Wars together. Rummel shows that the more power governments possess, the more they abuse power.

The top ten 20th century democides are listed below:
Note: none of the governments below were democratic, they were all totalitarian.

Top ten Governments committing democide.
Rummel's Estimates of # Murdered (* = about 2 million)

1.-Soviet Union (1917-87)-Collectivization executions, etc. ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *61,911,000
2.-Communist China (1949-87)-Executions of landlords etc. ***** ***** ***** **35,236,000
3.-Nazi Germany (1933-45)-6 mil Jews, 5 mil Poles, 10 mil others ***** *****20,946,000
4.-Nationalist China(1928-49)-Purges of communists, etc. *****10,214,000
5.-Japan's military (1936-45)-Nanking massacre, etc. ***5,964,000
6.-China (1923-49)-Communist guerrilla action
**3,455,000
7.-Cambodia (1975-79)-Khmer Rouge kill 1/3 of Cambodians *2,035,000
8.-Turkey (1909-18)-Slaughter of Turkey's Armenians *1,883,000
9.-Vietnam (1945-1987)-Communists killed any opposition *1.670,000
10.-Poland (1945-1948)-Ethnic Germans killed
*1,585,000

TOTAL murdered by the top ten = 144,000,000
5.1.2008 11:45pm
Tom G (mail):
And that's why I should have read the original thread !
At least two people made the exact point I did. Oh well.
5.1.2008 11:47pm
Jmaie (mail):
Dilan - how exactly did Ilya understate the Soviet contribution? "The other Allies had at least a little bit to do with stopping Hitler" is hardly an overstatement.


You don't apply the same standard to brutal right wing governments that replaced left-wing ones, do you?

Communism was responsible for 110 millions deaths last century. Right wing governments were responsible for... half as many? One quarter? 1%? Cite me a number, please. Then explain why it's relevant.
5.1.2008 11:55pm
Anderson (mail):
The notion that May Day is the creation of Communists is a particularly odd one, even for the VC.

Why the people who struggled for the 8-hour-day and other privileges we take for granted, should be wiped out of history in favor of stamping on Communism's grave ... well, I suppose the 8-hour-day doesn't have many fans here. Restraint of trade, and all that. Or so think the college professors.

How about making April 20 into International Victims' Day? That covers it.
5.1.2008 11:59pm
ratel (mail):
It seems that the focus should be on the danger posed by all totalitarian governments rather than focusing on the left or right wing orientation of the underlying political philosophies.
5.2.2008 12:04am
kadet (mail):
at least Ilya can acknowledge the fact,that if not for the USSR, he would not be talking with us today.
6 mil Jews killed was not the end goal of Nazi Germany, they would have gladly exterminated all the rest survived in the vast expanses of Russia, protected by the Red Army...
As far as for the assertaion of the allies help- it was great , thank you very much, but I think prof, Somin is also realizing which armies had contributed the most in defeating Germany.
Happy may 9th, Ilya
5.2.2008 12:20am
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
Some conservative years ago pointed out that the international socialist holiday has the same name as the international distress signal. He thought that rather appropriate. I believe the resemblance is just an odd coincidence. As I recall (too lazy to look it up), the distress signal "Mayday" has nothing to do with the calendar but is an Anglicized spelling of French "m'aidez" = "help me" (addressed to more than one listener).
5.2.2008 12:24am
Vernunft (mail) (www):
Before I looked at the comments I was wondering - will somebody come to communisms defense? Sure enough, somebody did.
It's sort of disgusting, isn't it? Not sort of, it's a dishonor to all who died for this shabby bit of ideology.
5.2.2008 12:28am
Hoosier:
wm13—Here's guessing that Prof. Somin's proposal for a new kind of May Day hasn't exactly been winning enthusiastic acceptance in academic circles.


That was exactly what came to mind when I read this post.
5.2.2008 12:30am
David M. Nieporent (www):
You'd think all the apologists for Stalin might have learned something about the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.
5.2.2008 12:36am
ithaqua (mail):
"The notion that May Day is the creation of Communists is a particularly odd one, even for the VC. "

Um, May Day is the creation of Communists; not Soviet or Chinese or Cambodian Communists specifically, no, but May Day is a holiday invented by and commemorating the Marxist 'labor movement' whose principles would lead inexorably to the deaths of hundreds of millions at the hands of their Soviet and Maoist successors, just as Darwin's theories, taken to their logical conclusion, led to the eugenic policies of the Third Reich.

"It seems that the focus should be on the danger posed by all totalitarian governments rather than focusing on the left or right wing orientation of the underlying political philosophies."

Yes, but totalitarianism *is*, in all its forms, a left-wing philosophy, in that it seeks to replace individual freedom with state control.

"How about making April 20 into International Victims' Day? That covers it."

The victims, I assume, of marihuana use? I think May 1 is far better known :)

"I'm guessing a typo - did you really mean that the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were both liberal states? That's an expansive definiton of liberalism if so."

Yes.
5.2.2008 12:49am
Hoosier:
David Nieporent—That is what is missing from the discussion thus far. Moscow conspired with Berlin to begin the Second World War. Archival evidence from Russia now has demonstrated the falsity of the claim—which I had accepted until quite recently—that this was a shotgun marriage, forced on Stalin by his fear of fighting Hitler alone if he did not cut a deal.

The news of this has not sunk in as it should in American academic circles. A very generous interpretation of the reason for this is that most American revisionist/corporatist diplomatic historians have never learned German.

Since the late 1990s, the archival evidence on the Soviet-era government has come out in sporadic floods. The evidence does not support the broad interpretation of Soviet motivations outlined by the New Leftists and corporatists. And it's getting very, very hard for me to respect my colleagues who do not take note of it.

If you don't read Russian and German, you can still use the secondary sources written by people who do. For instance, Gerhard Wettig's new book is the latest contribution to our rapidly-changing understanding of Stalin's motivations for foreign policies conducted in WWII and the Cold War.

Yet I just received a new book—on Yale UP!—that claims to explain what Khrushchev's motivations were in the 1950s, but which does not include William Taubman's Krushchev bio in its bibliography. Just shameful.

So, no, I don't think this proposal will be catching on at the universities.
5.2.2008 12:53am
Jim Rhoads (mail):
That anyone in this country can still be a serious apologist for the Stalinist USSR speaks volumes about the calibre of history teaching throughout academia.
5.2.2008 12:57am
expat lumberjack:
Dear Ithaqua,

just as Darwin's theories, taken to their logical conclusion, led to the eugenic policies of the Third Reich.

Laughably false.

And Liberal Fascism is laughably silly. Do your homework.
5.2.2008 1:00am
expat lumberjack:
My link re: Darwin's connection to eugenics didn't show in my last post. http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/postmonth/nov00.html
5.2.2008 1:02am
Bama 1L:
would lead inexorably

Huh? Did the historical inevitability set in the moment the Haymarket strikers walked out and demanded shorter hours?

Wait, isn't historical inevitability one of those screwy Marxist ideas?

At least now I know that if I invent a time machine, I don't need to worry about whether it's moral to go back in time and kill Hitler while he's an unknown artist. I actually have to kill Darwin before he can publish that damn book.
5.2.2008 1:07am
Tony Tutins (mail):
A better choice for Victims of Communism Day would be November 7, the anniversary of the Russian Revolution. Take back the first victory of Communism by honoring the memory of the Victims of Communism. May 1 is Labor Day throughout the world, except for the US and Canada. As they say in sunny Mexico, En todo el mundo el 1 de Mayo se celebra el Día Internacional del Trabajo.
5.2.2008 1:07am
Hoosier:
Darwin? Eugenics? Not hardly.

I give him immense credit for being an original thinker who understood the implications and limitations of his theoretical contribution. (Marx is my text-book example of a genius who did not have such insight.)

Darwin never thought of natural selection as a means to make species "better." Just the mechanism that explains why species change over time, and why some disappear.
5.2.2008 1:13am
Bama 1L:
Hoosier, if there's a historical interpretation based on records recently made available, and that interpretation challenges the dominant view, isn't that new interpretation therefore the revisionist account? I know people are used to throwing around "revisionist" as a general pejorative, but it has a specific meaning; roughly, "Hey, guys, you might want to rethink this!"

Anyway, Marxists invented the use of "revisionism" as a pejorative.
5.2.2008 1:21am
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
I'm having a hard time with the argument some people are making for the claim that it was the Soviet Union that defeated Nazi Germany. While it is very likely true that Germany would have defeated the Allies in Europe and North Africa (that they could have conquered the United States is much less likely) in the absence of the second front in the East, it is also likely that Germany would have defeated the Soviet Union in the absence of the Western front. The Soviet Union may have been necessary to victory, but it would very likely not have been sufficient.
5.2.2008 1:22am
Hoosier:
Bama--That's usually correct. But in the field of Cold War history, "revisionist" became the name associated with the New Left interpretation of Cold War origins. It has stuck, although the left has been seeking more trendy directions. Colleagues on the left have increasingy taken the "cultural turn."

I encourage this development, since it assures the rest of us that their incomprehensible, jargon-filled writings will have no impact upon the collective memory of our history. Which is a Good Thing.
5.2.2008 1:27am
Asher (mail):
Perhaps. But the Soviet Union's war against Germany is better understood as one form of liberalism against another, and, of course, both Vietnam and Cambodia were explicitly Communist. Think of it as evil turning on itself.

The Nazis weren't liberals (by which I assume you mean leftists). They were men of the right. Don't believe everything Jonah Goldberg tells you. Of course, if you insist on analyzing everything in terms of a liberal/conservative dichotomy, then sure, liberals = state control, but the way we talk about liberals and conservatives is more or less unique to 20th century Anglo-American politics. Classical liberalism looks a lot like what we Americans call libertarianism, while early conservatives like Burke and Disraeli were traditionalists, hence, pro-monarchy, pro-state (to speak in really vague and general terms), often pro-slavery...
5.2.2008 1:33am
ChrisIowa (mail):
SIG357

I'm guessing a typo - did you really mean that the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were both liberal states? That's an expansive definiton of liberalism if so.


According to Bertrand Russell in A History of Western Philosophy Communism and Fascism are both extremes of Liberalism.
5.2.2008 1:37am
Bama 1L:
According to Russell, all modern political systems are expressions of liberalism lying between communism and fascism, right?
5.2.2008 1:47am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Ratel writes:

"Should credit for stopping the genocide in Cambodia and Germany also go to Communism ..."

If by "Communism" Ratel means the USSR then I think the best answer is "no," but with some qualifications. Initially the USSR was an ally (Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact) of Hitler's Third Reich Germany. As such it both enabled and participated the attack on Poland, which launched WWII. Let's not forget that the USSR invaded Poland from the east one week after Germany attacked from the west. The Pact contained secret protocols for sharing Poland, Finland and the Baltic countries. The USSR also aided Germany with war material.

Thus it seems at least a little disingenuous to give credit to the USSR for helping to stop the carnage it helped to initiate in the first place.

After the war the USSR (along the US, UK and France) helped kill approximately 2 million ethnic Germans through Europe. It also used German slave labor as provided by the three-power Yalta Agreement in section V, c(3). Hundreds of thousands of Germans (many not from the Third Reich) died as slaves in the USSR. Finally the USSR (along with UK, US and France) help dispose of over a million as yet unaccounted for German POWs made into non-persons by the Allies.
5.2.2008 1:51am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Dilan Esper writes:

"The Soviets took 20 million casualties fighting the Germans, and were able to drive the greatest war machine in human history back over thousands of miles of territory that it had conquered."

It's true that the USSR took many casualties fighting the Germans, but much of that horrible carnage was of their own making. First Stalin trusted Hitler and refused to believe that Germany was actually attacking the USSR. He ignored warnings from his spies, and even disregarded reports of the attack was taking place. Stain purged the officer corps in 1927 greatly weakening the military. But most importantly the Soviets suffered tremendous losses because of the way they brutalized their own troops. Russian soldiers were shot by their own side if judged not aggressive enough.

Story. Averill Harriman, the US Ambassador to the USSR in 1946 complimented Stalin on the bravery of Russian troops. Stalin responded by saying (something to the effect) that Russian troops had to be brave. Meaning they got killed by their own side.

This story of the great sacrifice gets told again and again without the proper context as to why so many Russians died in the fighting. They didn't have to. Besides what country puts in own soldiers in death camps for having escaped from the enemy? (!) Stalin said that any Russian POW who escaped and then returned to the USSR must be a spy. The Gulag was full of patriotic Russian soldiers.
5.2.2008 2:09am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
The Nazis weren't liberals (by which I assume you mean leftists). They were men of the right. Don't believe everything Jonah Goldberg tells you.
I have never understood why anyone considers the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) to have been right wing. Rather, I would suggest that to be revisionism of the worst sort. Goldberg likely got at least some of his heretical information from Friedrich Hayek who wrote "The Road to Serfdom" contemporaneously to the rise and fall of Nazism and Fascism.

Let me suggest that the primary reason that Nazism and Fascism are considered right wing is that they are totalitarian. But Hayek argued that they were such through their socialism, and that the natural result of socialism is precisely that, totalitarianism. (And the corollary is that capitalism results in more freedom, as we are seeing to some extent in China and Vietnam).
5.2.2008 2:45am
Patrick S. O'Donnell (mail):
For an appropriate recognition of the significance of May Day please see the Ratio Juris blog. Or here.
5.2.2008 2:59am
Evelyn Marie Blaine (mail):
As a social democrat (I know, probably one of the very few among the regular readers of this blog), I must say that I react to this proposal rather, I imagine, as a sincere but liberal and historically well-informed Catholic would react if you proposed to hold a Victims of the Inquisition Day -- and then, as if as an afterthought, proposed to hold it each year on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.

Permit me to offer a small plea on behalf of my comrades on the democratic Left: May Day was ours for thirty years before the Leninists claimeAs a social democrat (I know, probably one of the very few among the regular readers of this blog), I must say that I react to this proposal rather, I imagine, as a sincere but liberal and historically well-informed Catholic would react if you proposed to hold a Victims of the Inquisition Day — and then, as if as an afterthought, proposed to hold it each year on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.

Permit me to offer a small plea on behalf of my comrades on the democratic Left: May Day was ours for thirty years before the Leninists claimed it, and we have expended no little effort this century to keep it ours in spite of them. It has always been and still is occasion of celebration and remembrance for all of the non-Communist socialist and social democratic parties, including some which suffered very badly under the single-party dictatorships. We share Professor Somin's sympathy for the victims of those dictatorships — but we fail to see why a day already steeped in our history and our traditions is the appropriate moment to commemorate the victims of crimes perpetrated by those whose distinctive, anti-democratic doctrines we have always opposed and whose self-serving claims to our heritage we spent seventy-five years contesting.
5.2.2008 3:06am
GostArbeiter:

Even more to the point, the regimes the Soviets installed in Eastern Europe and East Germany were, in quantitative terms, no less brutal than the Nazi and fascist governments they replaced.


Are you seriously saying that Honeker,Ceausescu and Gomulka killed 6 million Jews?

Arbeit macht frei Somin, Arteit macht frei
5.2.2008 3:13am
EIDE_Interface (mail):
A. Zarkov - Stalin purged the officer corps in the late 1930s, not 1927.
5.2.2008 3:48am
James Lindgren (mail):
In the 1970s the Harvard Crimson actually ENDORSED the regime of Pol Pot. Although one is tempted to chalk it up to ignorance, there was enough info at the time about communist regimes that the editors of the Harvard Crimson were also guilty of moral bankruptcy amounting to plain evil.

Jim Lindgren
5.2.2008 4:11am
LM (mail):
SIG357,

Before I looked at the comments I was wondering - will somebody come to communisms defense? Sure enough, somebody did.

Who defended communism?


David M. Nieporent,

You'd think all the apologists for Stalin might have learned something about the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.

... and who apologized for Stalin?


If arguing over the Allies' relative contributions to the war effort is synonimous with defending or apologizing for communism or Stalin, somebody better tell my Russian-born girlfriend. Because we have that argument all the time, with her on the Russian side, and she has no more sympathy for Stalin or communism that Ilya, Eugene or any other Russian immigrant I've known.
5.2.2008 5:34am
LM (mail):
than Ilya, Eugene....
5.2.2008 5:46am
sbron:
You forgot the other May Day Celebtrations by illegal aliens and their supporters featuring

1. Che Guevara placards and Palestinian flags in San Francisco.

2. Shouts of "Workers of the world unite" in Portland.

3. Signs including "Viva La Raza" and "Raza Si" in Los Angeles. Juxtaposition of Che placards and Raza placards at the same march -- strange given Che's well-known anti-Mestizo racism.

Great idea libertarians, lets import more communists and racists.
5.2.2008 9:20am
A. Zarkov (mail):
"A. Zarkov - Stalin purged the officer corps in the late 1930s, not 1927."

Yes that was a typo.
5.2.2008 9:30am
MichaelG (www):
Tom G wrote: "Hey, I have an idea !
Why don't we bring back the ORIGIN of May Day as International Workers Day...which was started by labor leaders in 1889 in Paris ..."

Actually I celebrate the real origin of May Day celebrations:
http://www.wildhunt.org/labels/Beltane.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beltane
5.2.2008 12:08pm
Philistine (mail):

I have never understood why anyone considers the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) to have been right wing.


Perhaps for some of the same reasons they didn't consider East Germany (Deutsche Demokratische Republik) to be either "democratic" or a "republic."
5.2.2008 12:52pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

Hitler could have won a one-front war against Britain and the US.


Doubtful.

The Battle of Britain was won before the invasion of the USSR. Germany could never have invaded England.

The greatest industrial power in the world would have eventually been able to defeat Germany, Russian help or no Russian help. If for no other reason, the destruction of the Ruhr and Berlin by atomic bombs.

The further assumption is that after Stalin and the Soviet government was liquidated, Germany would have been able to maintain its bloated empire. Under years of bombing, with its armies unable to strike at either England or the US, 80 million Germans could not have dominated Europe forever, just like the French Empire of Napoleon could not.
5.2.2008 1:35pm
ejo:
it's a generalized far left nutjob holiday, nothing more and nothing less. unfortunately, during WWII, we had to ally ourselves with someone of the caliber of Stalin, who had, by his actions, both allied himself with and encouraged Hitler. that it can still be considered fashionable to declare oneself a Communist rather than a badge of shame just points out the vapidity of the left (left, not liberal, although it becomes harder to distinguish them these days). The same mindset was present when it was pointed out that International ANSWER was a hardcore communist front group, not a peace group-ho hum, who cares, what does it matter.
5.2.2008 3:43pm
LM (mail):
ejo,

Who considers it "fashionable to declare oneself a Communist?"
5.2.2008 4:00pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I don't see why not. It simply replaced one murderous dictatorship with another. Is that really something to applaud?

What kadet said above. The Soviets were necessary to defeat the Nazis, and the Soviet Union fell later of its own accord. That scenario seems vastly superior to the US and Britain losing to the Nazis.
5.2.2008 4:29pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
More generally, this whole WW2 debate seems to arise out of conservative unwillingness to acknowledge that communists ever did anything good. I am quite willing to concede the evil outweighed it, that they did many of those good things for the wrong reasons, etc. I am quite realistic about what the Soviet state was and the harm it did.

But that's not enough for conservatives. It's total simplistic, unintelligent, black-and-white thinking. Communists were bad, so one must minimize any accomplishment, deny any good deed, etc.

This sort of discussion just makes conservativism look stupid.
5.2.2008 4:32pm
ejo:
I could confidently declare myself a communist in any academic setting and not worry about any repercussions. I, as a leftist, could go visit Castro and moon over his regime and not get a well deserved punch in the nose (forgot about him, huh?). I could wear my "Che" or hammer &sickle t-shirt without any shame. are you really "realistic"-minimize any accomplishment or deny any good deed of communism sounds "intellectual" to you? if you think that makes the left sound intelligent, you might want to get out more.
5.2.2008 4:58pm
Smokey:
Dilan Esper-

There is a valid reason for minimizing any of the insignificant 'accomplishments' by communists, and it is this: socialists are just communists in a hurry. They need to be squashed before we get a repeat of their basic goal.
5.2.2008 5:35pm
Smokey:
Excuse me, I transposed the conclusion: communists are just socialists in a hurry.
5.2.2008 5:36pm
Seamus (mail):
More generally, this whole WW2 debate seems to arise out of conservative unwillingness to acknowledge that communists ever did anything good.

I'll concede that they made the trains run on time, if that will make you happy.
5.2.2008 5:47pm
ejo:
they did manage to make the murder of tens of millions palatable to Western leftists. That should count for something, right?
5.2.2008 6:23pm
ys:

I'll concede that they made the trains run on time, if that will make you happy.

That would be Mussolini's fascists, I am afraid (st least that's the legend). With communists, not much was on time, and for that matter not much was working at all, unless a huge overkill was applied, just like in WWII (sad pun intended).
5.2.2008 8:24pm
The River Temoc (mail):
This proposal is offensive. There is poetic justice to it solely if you believe that only communists celebrate May Day as labor day, whereas in fact most of the rest of the world, including the capitalist world, does exactly that.

Merely because *some* people choose to do more than stuff their faces with BBQ on labor day does not make them communists.

If you were serious about establishing a Victims of Communism day -- and I don't object to the idea -- you would pick a day that doesn't deliberately offend the labor movement. (And I'd remind you that the state controlled labor unions in communist countries, just as it did every other facade of civil society.) The fact that you picked May Day suggests that you have an agenda that is more anti-labor than anti-communist.
5.2.2008 9:51pm
The River Temoc (mail):
ithaqua wrote:

May Day is the creation of Communists

In point of fact, the article that you linked to states:

"In 1904, the International Socialist Conference meeting in Amsterdam called on 'all Social Democratic Party organizations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on May First for the legal establishment of the 8-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace.'"

Got that? Social Democrats called on social democratic parties and labor unions to protest on May Day. Which makes May Day a communist creation only if you equate socialists, to say nothing of social democrats, and communists.

That notion is something that the socialist parties of Russia in 1917 would have found very, very odd as the Cheka rounded up their members.
5.2.2008 9:57pm
Smokey:
This proposal is offensive. There is poetic justice to it solely if you believe that only communists celebrate May Day as labor day, whereas in fact most of the rest of the world, including the capitalist world, does exactly that.
Really? Got a cite for that?

"Most of the world" is 3 billion+. Make it a good cite.
5.3.2008 12:06am
Tony Tutins (mail):
'Cause Smokey apparently has trouble using this new online tool called "Google" I'll help him out. I'll let him add up the populations, to see how close they come to his three billion

May 1, International Labor Day is recognized in China and India, so those are a good start.
Also
ALBANIA
May 1: Labor Day
ALGERIA
May 1: Labor Day
ANDORRA
May 1: Labor Day
ANGOLA
May 1: International Workers Day
ANTIGUA and BARBUDA
May 5: Labor Day
ARGENTINA
May 1: Labor Day
ARMENIA
May 1: Labor Day
AUSTRALIA
May 1: Labour Day (Queensland only)
AUSTRIA
May 1: Labor Day
AZERBAIJAN

BAHRAIN
BANGLADESH
May 1: Labor Day
BARBADOS
May 1: Labor Day
BELARUS
May 1: Labor Day
BELGIUM
May 1: Labor Day
BELIZE
May 1: Labor Day
BENIN
May 1: Labor Day
BOLIVIA
May 1: Labor Day
BOSNIA and HERZEGOVINA
May 1-2: Labor Holiday
BRAZIL
May 1: Labor Day
BRUNEI - No Labor Day

BULGARIA
May1: Labor Day

BURKINA FASO
May 1: Labor Day


BURMA
May 1: May Day

BURUNDI
May 1: Labor Day
CAMBODIA
May 1: Labor Day

CAMEROON
May 1: Labor Day


CAPE VERDE
May 1: Labor Day

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
May 1: Labor Day

CHAD
May 1: Labor Day

CHILE
May 1: Labor Day

CHINA
May 1: Labor Day

COLOMBIA
May 1: Labor Day

CONGO, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF
May 1: Labor Day

CONGO, REPUBLIC OF
May 1: Labor Day

CUBA
May 1: International Workers Day

COSTA RICA
May 1: Labor Day

CÔTE D’IVOIRE
May 1: Labor Day

CROATIA
May 1: May Day

CYPRUS
May 1: Labor Day

CZECH REPUBLIC
May 1: Labor Day

DENMARK

DJIBOUTI
May 1: Labor Day

DOMINICA
May 5: May Day

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
May 1: Labor Day

ECUADOR
May 1: Labor Day

EGYPT
May 1: Labor Day

EL SALVADOR
May 1: Labor Day

EQUATORIAL GUINEA
May 1: May Day

ERITREA

ESTONIA

ETHIOPIA



FIJI - No Labor Day
FINLAND
May 1: May Day
FRANCE
May 1: Labor Day
GABON
May 1: Labor Day

GAMBIA
May 1: Labor Day
GEORGIA - No Labor Day

GERMANY
May 1: Labor Day

GHANA
May 1: May Day

GREECE
May 1: May Day

GRENADA
May 1: Labor Day

GUATEMALA
May 1: Labor Day

GUYANA
May 1: Labor Day
HAITI

HONDURAS
May 1: Labor Day

HUNGARY
May 1: Labor Day

ICELAND
May 1: Labor Day

INDIA

INDONESIA - No Labor Day

IRAN

IRAQ

IRELAND
May 5: Public Holiday


ITALY
May 1: Workers Day

JAMAICA
May 23: Labour Day
JAPAN
November 23: Labor Thanksgiving Day

JORDAN

KAZAKHSTAN
May 1: Day of Unity of the Peoples of Kazakhstan

KENYA
May 1: Labor Day

KOREA
May 1: Labor Day

KUWAIT - No Labor Day

KYRGYZSTAN
May 1: Labor Day

LAOS
May 1: Labor Day

LATVIA
May 1: Labor Day

LEBANON
May 1: Labor Day

LESOTHO
May 1: Workers Day

LIBERIA - No Labor Day

LIBYA - No Labor Day

LIECHTENSTEIN
May 1: Labor Day
LITHUANIA
May 1: Labor Day
LUXEMBOURG
May 1: May Day
MADAGASCAR
May 1: Labor Day
MALAWI
May 1: Labor Day
MALAYSIA
May 1: Labor Day
MALI
MALTA
May 1: Labor Day
MAURITANIA
May 1: Labor Day
MEXICO
May 1: Labor Day

MICRONESIA - No Labor Day

MOLDOVA
May 1: Labor Day
MOROCCO
May 1: Labor Day
MOZAMBIQUE
May 1: Labor Day
NAMIBIA
May 1: Workers Day
NETHERLANDS
May 5: Liberation Day
NICARAGUA
May 1: Labor Day
NIGER
May 1: Labor Day
NIGERIA
May 1: Workers’ Day
NORWAY
May 1: May Day
OMAN - No Labor Day
PAKISTAN
PALAU
May 5: Senior Citizens Day
PANAMA
May 1: Labor Day
PARAGUAY
May 1: Labor Day
PERU
May 1: Labor Day
PHILIPPINES
May 1: Labor Day
POLAND
May 1: Labor Day
PORTUGAL
May 1: Labor Day
ROMANIA
May 1: Labor Day
RUSSIA
May 1-2: Spring and Labor Holiday
RWANDA
May 1: Labor Day
SAINT KITTS and NEVIS
May 5: May Day
SAINT VINCENT and THE GRENADINES
May 5: Labor Day
SENEGAL
May 1: Labor Day
SEYCHELLES
May 1: Labor Day
SINGAPORE
May 1: Labor Day
SLOVAKIA
May 1: Labor Day
SLOVENIA
May 1-2: Labor Holiday
SOUTH AFRICA
May 1: Workers’ Day
SPAIN
May 1: May Day/Labor Day

SRI LANKA
May 1: PBM May Day

SUDAN -- Now being observed in Southern Sudan only.

SWEDEN
May 1: May Day
SWITZERLAND
May 1: Labor Day
SYRIA
May 1: Labor Day
TANZANIA
May 1: Labor Day
THAILAND - No Labor Day
TOGO
May 1: Labor Day
TRINIDAD and TOBAGO
June 19: Labour Day
TUNISIA
May 1: Labor Day
TURKEY

TURKMENISTAN

UGANDA
May 1: Labor Day
UKRAINE
May 1-2: Labor Day
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - No Labor Day
UNITED KINGDOM
May 5: Early May Bank Holiday
URUGUAY
May 1: Labor Day
UZBEKISTAN
May 1: Labor Day
VENEZUELA
May 1: Labor Day
VIETNAM
May 1: Labor Day
YEMEN
May 1: Labor Day
ZAMBIA
May 1: Labor Day
ZIMBABWE
May 1: Workers Day
5.5.2008 1:56am