Bryan Caplan  

May Day Mourning

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Rock on, Alex... Learning vs. Persistent Mistak...

Jonathan Wilde at Catallarchy has orchestrated a moving and edifying May Day blog extravangaza on the dark history of communism. Catallarchy has gone the extra mile here, offering twelve fine short essays, and leading off with R.J. Rummel, Nicholas Weininger, and yours truly (on the misnomer of Stalinist "industrialization") as guest bloggers.

My personal favorites:

  • Randall McElroy's Torture and Tyranny: The Real Che:

    Che might have been handsome and brave. But he was also a murderer and a tyrant.

  • Rainbough Phillips' The Teacher Holocaust:

    On August 25, 1966, the students of the Second Middle School attached to Beijing Teachers University beat three people to death on their campus...

  • And if you're not convinced in the existence of left-wing media bias, don't miss Jonathan Wilde's Walter Duranty: Stalin's Western Apologist:

    [Duranty] was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 and the NY Times was one of the most respected media outlets in the world. But the Gray Lady likely was not the only institution buttering his bread as Ukrainians starved. Durant’s Moscow four-room apartment was stocked with vodka and caviar, and he employed the services of a maid, personal chauffeur, and a cook who would become his mistress. In a time when the rest of the world needed to know of the horrors of Stalin’s campaign to wipe out the kulaks, Duranty used his credibility and clout to cover-up the events of the Ukrainian famine.

    Post-script: I set up my online Museum of Communism in 1997. It currently googles second in the world if you search for "communism." When communism was going strong, most of the world knew only of its mildest crimes: the Berlin Wall, the invasions of Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Now that communism lies in the dust-bin of history, the web and the blogosphere are re-telling its shocking record of mass murder, slave labor, and famine. If google is any measure, this time the world is listening.


  • Comments and Sharing





    COMMENTS (11 to date)
    David Thomson writes:

    I am very well aware of the above cited Communist outrages. My personal library holds a number of books devoted to these horrors. This is old hat to me. Sadly, though, Bryan Caplan is presenting evidence deemed highly questionable by many soft science professors possessing a Ph.D. These individuals may consider him to be a reactionary defending the vile interests of the capitalist class. Am I getting a bit carried away? Is it really that bad? And if I’m wrong, why are there numerous tee shirts and other paranaphalia honoring Che Guevara?

    Jonathan Dingel writes:

    Minor typo: It's Randall McElroy, not Parker.

    Lawrance George Lux writes:

    Any form of extremism is bad, and turns vile when it leads to 'Ganging-up' on purported Offenders. Totalitarianism was the practice of making such Mob rule State policy. The numbers of Deaths cited are always too low, regretably. lgl

    Scott Scheule writes:

    Sadly, though, Bryan Caplan is presenting evidence deemed highly questionable by many soft science professors possessing a Ph.D.

    Examples?

    These individuals may consider him to be a reactionary defending the vile interests of the capitalist class.

    You sure they're that perceptive?

    Bernard Yomtov writes:

    When communism was going strong, most of the world knew only of its mildest crimes: the Berlin Wall, the invasions of Czechoslovakia and Hungary.

    This is untrue.

    David Thomson writes:

    “This is untrue.”

    Is it? I am not sure whether there are any studies accurately indicating the views of the world towards Communism during that time. Nonetheless, it seems to me that many, if not most people, perceived the Soviet Union as a wildly successful economic story. John Kenneth Galbraith was praising its economy until almost the very end. Any allegations of mass murder were often dismissed as lies by Capitalist reactionaries.

    Bryan Caplan writes:

    Thanks for spotting the error, Jonathan, and my apologies to Randall McElroy.

    Lancelot Finn writes:

    While we're mourning the victims of communism, it might also be worth bearing in mind the following (not new, of course) question: which was worse, fascism or communism?

    For most of post-WWII history it was assumed that fascism and Nazism were worse; communism and socialism were partly good, merely betrayed by bad leaders. That won't wash. History is full of autocrats, and most of them don't create gulags, whereas communists do it almost every time. And communism killed more people than Nazism and fascism, don't forget.

    I've heard (and it seems about right to me) that to liberals the poles of Good and Evil are Martin Luther King and Hitler. That's just a sort of rule-of-thumb internal judgment, but it's important, I think.

    But for pole-of-Evil status, should we replace Nazism with fascism? Instead of making Hitler the head of the Evil pantheon with Stalin as his sidekick, would it be truer to give Lenin, Stalin and Mao pride of place in our demonology, with Hitler as the sidekick? There are two big reasons to consider this-- 1) communism killed more people, 2) communism came first, and fascism was in many respects an imitation. But once you're on the track, there's more things to think of.

    Under the Nazis, life was somewhat normal if you were a German non-Jew-- at least until they started losing the war. The Nazis persecuted and murdered minorities; the communists, everyone, especially their own.

    Nazism, and the damage it did, were temporary, with the huge exception of the extermination of the Jews. Within 12 years of Hitler coming to power, Germany was in ruins, bombed out, disgraced by its crimes, occupied by foreign powers, hated by the world. But within 25 years of Hitler coming to power, Germany was booming, more prosperous than ever, and on good terms with its neighbors even if some suspicions and resentments lingered. The Russian empire suffered far deeper harm under the Soviets, who robbed the country of its culture and left rankling suspicion among all its neighbors.

    If communism rather than Nazism is the ultimate Evil, this has broad meaning for our political ethics. Ethnic pride, blind obedience to a leader, the love of battle and conquest-- these can certainly be a source of great evil when mis-directed. But behind the worst episodes of human history, the communist states and the fascist states which, in looking for a Third Way between liberal-conservatism and communism, absorbed their influences, was the thought that Dostoyevsky voiced through Ivan Karamazov: If there is no God, then everything is permitted.

    Lancelot Finn writes:

    Correction:

    "for pole-of-Evil status, should we replace Nazism with fascism?"

    I meant, should replace Nazism/fascism with communism.

    Randy writes:

    Lancelot,

    Good post. That took guts. But I think you're right on target.

    Except for that last line. It isn't godlessness at the root of communist evil, but the belief that individuals are subservient to the state. This is also the source of evil in Facism, and for that matter, in Theism.

    Bernard Yomtov writes:

    the web and the blogosphere are re-telling its shocking record of mass murder, slave labor, and famine. If google is any measure, this time the world is listening.

    Solzhenytzin is as nothing compared to the glories of Bryan Caplan's communism web site.

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