Every totalitarian regime that has ever existed has routinely practiced mass-murder. It is an inevitability of totalitarianism that innocent people will die. We don’t need another experiment.
I’ll introduce this opinion piece by clarifying that I am, at heart, a Libertarian. But I am the practical sort, so actively espouse the philosophy of classical liberalism. Sadly, I see an ever-growing trend, online especially, for extremist ideologies, and it scares me.
There has been a very worrying normalisation, of sorts, of far-right ideological thinking, which is so obviously dangerous that I thought we had closed the book on it, whilst at the same time there has been an equally worrying rise in far-left activity. The far-left often say that they oppose the far-right, despite behaving as deplorably as them, and espousing an equally dangerous ideology.
It is simply a fact that in order to ensure compliance and achieve the stated, pre-determined, objectives of their ideology, totalitarian regimes must control their populations. They can only do this by using violence or the threat or violence. Whether left-wing or right-wing, extremists can wield submachine guns equally as well as one another.
If we are going to avoid the atrocities of the past, decent people must stand-up to extremists, whether they are right-wing or left-wing, and stomp-out these murderous ideologies through peaceful intervention and radical social exclusion.
Below, I advance an argument, detailing my thoughts on why left-wing extremists, who tend to get a free pass from most people who occupy the centre-ground, are equally as dangerous as their right-wing counter-parts, and possibly more so.
(from left to right, top to bottom) Joseph Stalin, former General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union / Adolf Hitler, former Führer of Germany / Mao Zedong, former Chairman of the Communist Party of China / Benito Mussolini, former Duce of Italy / Kim Il-sung, the Eternal President of North Korea
I have always maintained that the ‘hammer and sickle’ should strike as much fear into the hearts of normal people as the ‘swastika’ does. Both of these symbols represent ideologies which have resulted in the deaths of millions of people. I’m really not that interested in which caused more deaths, any ideology that is directly responsible for the murder of any number of people, is not an ideology to which I want to subscribe. And quite frankly, no right-minded person should want to sit-by and watch any extreme, murderous ideology become normalised.
We all know and accept that ethno-nationalist ideologies, such as fascism, have resulted in millions of deaths; from the actions of the Nazis in German occupied territories during World War 2, to the atrocities committed by the Knights of the Klu Klux Klan in America. Far too many people have died as a result of one race, group, or nationality claiming inherent supremacy over another. Hitler oversaw the murders of at least 6-million Jewish people, not to mention the untold numbers of other minorities.
It baffles me, then, as to why so-many compassionate, intellectual types, subscribe to the Marxist ideology, and espouse it. This is an ideology which has laid waste to the lives of millions of innocent people over the last 100-years, or so.
The Black Book of Communism puts the tally at 100-million deaths. This number has been disputed, with some estimates being as low as 40-million. Personally, I think the 100-million deaths is conservative but arguing over how many million people a particular ideology has killed seems like a little bit of a distraction from the main point. Which is, if you accept the fact that people have died under communist regimes, then, in my opinion, one death is one too many.
For starters, people who espouse the Marxist ideology, will almost always claim that there has never been “real” communism. And I’m going to surprise a few people here and say, they may be right.
You see, communist ideologies are not ones which theoretically should cost lives. In practice, however, compliance can only be ensured by the use of force. Totalitarianism, in any form, required the use or threat of violence to ensure compliance, and communism is no different.
I know for a fact, that there were “real communists” involved in the Russian communist uprising. Compassionate, kind, altruistic, well-meaning people. I know this, because no sooner had the means of production been seized; that all of these people, their families, their supporters, and their supporters’ families were rounded-up, and either shot or thrown into a gulag, never to be heard from again.
So too, must we remember that Adolf Hitler was democratically elected. He used the power of the state to consolidate power in his hands, dispensed with the inconvenience of opposition, and set-about his goal of wiping out the Jewish people. A goal, which he achieved two thirds of, in a handful of years.
So, while ethno-nationalists like Hitler have a stated agenda of genocide, the likes of Stalin achieve the same outcomes by stealth. Once you vest absolute power in the state, evil people will inevitably seize that power and use it to achieve nefarious objectives.
It is a sad reality of the human condition that evil people exist and as long as they do, there will be evil people who want power, and if that power exists, in any form, sooner or later they will seize that power. There-in is the inherent problem with totalitarianism, it is open to abuse, and historically has always been abused.
So, there are the differences: the stated objectives. Fascists, generally, have a stated objective of genocide, and therefore can be easily identified for being the dangerous racists and bigots that they are; while Marxists have a stated objective of common ownership, equality, and inclusivity, despite always resulting in one of the following: mass-murder, ethnic cleansing, or famine, and sometimes the trifecta.
There is an argument to be made that some of the communist revolutionaries of the last century were well intentioned. It is even conceivable to that modern-day communists believe that should they rise to power, they would be benign dictators, who would rule properly and finally do “real communism”, but the sad fact of the matter is this; they wouldn’t be in power for more than two wags of a lambs tail before some machiavellian, malevolent actor, most likely from within their own ranks, decides that they can do a better job, shoots the benevolent leader, and starts killing millions of people. Assuming famine hasn’t already got a head-start.
Therefore, I would argue, that anyone who espouses a Marxist, or any communist, ideology, today, is either deluded, intellectually deficient, intellectually dishonest, or all of the above. They would have to be so megalomaniacal that they actually think they would finally do “real communism”, don’t know enough about history to realise what the actual outcome of what they’re espousing will be, or they know that such a dream could never be sustained and despite this, they are willing to allow millions of people to die in order to satisfy their own sense of self-importance and vanity.
I’ve evolved on this issue over time. Once upon a time, I thought all communists were equally as evil as all fascists. I always thought that people who espoused communist beliefs understood the history, the facts, and decided to go ahead and espouse it anyway.
But now I accept that there are plenty of delusional communists alive today, who actually think they can “do it right this time”, and there is absolutely no shortage of modern-day communists who are too lazy and/or stupid to appreciate the inevitable outcome of the ideology which they champion. But there are too, evil people who just want to rule through the barrel of a gun.
Whereas, there are simply no altruistic neo-nazis. There are no ethno-nationalist types to whom I can give a pass. In my opinion, they are all evil, they are all sociopaths, and they have no place in decent society. It’s not open to debate.
But I have to circle back to the Marxists. We’ve had 100-years of different revolutionaries trying to achieve “real communism”, people who were a hell of a lot smarter than you and who had an awful lot less evidence to go on. Isn’t it time that we all just agreed that it is never going to work and relegate this worn-out, murderous ideology to the history books, for good, never to be tried again?
If you can’t do that, knowing the facts, well, I’m sorry but I’m putting you in the same box as the neo-nazis and the KKK; because if you are actually either well-meaning or an idiot, and if you ever succeed in seizing the means of production, your hubris, your stupidity, or both, will end-up costing innocent people their lives.
In conclusion, I do get it. I get why communism doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of normal people they’ll same way nazism does. But it should. And it scares the life out of me that it doesn’t.
Humankind’s refusal to confront the well-meaning fools who espouse communism as a solution to the world’s problems, is the reason that ideology has cost so many millions of more lives than fascism has, over the last 100-years.
Totalitarianism, no matter what form it takes, costs innocent people their lives. With fascism it is so obviously bad, that we stomp it out, fast! We need to start applying the same critical standards and social pressure to the rise of communism as we do to the rise of fascism. If we don’t, people will, inevitably, die.
If your son or daughter; brother or sister; friend or colleague, came into your presence sporting a swastika tattoo, you wouldn’t be long shaking the shit out of them and telling them to “cop themselves on.” If it was someone you loved, you’d definitely intervene and try to help them see the error of their ways. And let’s be frank, if it was someone you didn’t give a flying-f about, you’d cut them out of your life as quickly as possible. Even if it was a stranger on the street, you’d give them a wide berth.
I think it’s time we started doing the same for anyone who shows-up with a Che Guevara t-shirt, or uses a hammer and sickle in their profile picture; if you love them, intervene, if you don’t, avoid them like the plague.
After all, someone who showed up at work or the gym wearing a t-shirt with Joseph Goebbels’ face on it wouldn’t get away with saying they were doing it to be “rebellious”, “edgy” or “ironic”; so, knowing what we know now, why should it be any different for the lovers of other mass-murderers like Che, Il-sung, or Mao?
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Emmett Corcoran is a journalist based in Strokestown, Co Roscommon.
My good friend and former colleague Phelim O'Neill, of Phelim O'Neill Solicitors and Harringtons Solicitors, has launched a new website: gardastationsolicitors.ie. The new site is dedicated to providing legal advice in Garda stations.
Good luck to Phelim with the new project.