Victims of Communism Day 2019

Via:  s  •  last year  •  12 comments

Victims of Communism Day 2019
Why May 1 should be a day to honor the victims of the ideology that took more innocent lives than any other.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

Today is May Day. Since 2007, I have advocated using this date as an international Victims of Communism Day. I outlined the rationale for this proposal (which was not my original idea) in   my very first post   on the subject:

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 [authority]. 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….

Our comparative   neglect of communist crimes   has serious costs. Victims of Communism Day can serve the dual purpose of appropriately commemorating the millions of victims, and diminishing the likelihood that such atrocities will recur. Just as Holocaust Memorial Day and other similar events promote awareness of the dangers of racism, anti-Semitism, and radical nationalism, so Victims of Communism Day can increase awareness of the dangers of left-wing forms of totalitarianism, and government domination of the economy and civil society.

While communism is most closely associated with Russia, where the first communist regime was established, it had equally horrendous effects in other nations around the world. The highest death toll for a communist regime was not in Russia, but in China. Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward was likely   the biggest episode of mass murder in the entire history of the world .

November 7, 2017 was the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia, which led to the establishment of the first-ever communist regime. On that day, I put up   a post outlining some of the lessons to be learned from a century of experience with communism .  The post explains why most of the horrors perpetrated by communist regimes were intrinsic elements of the system. For the most part, they cannot be ascribed to circumstantial factors, such as flawed individual leaders, peculiarities of Russian and Chinese culture, or the absence of democracy. The latter probably did make the situation worse than it might have been otherwise. But, for reasons I explained in the same post, some form of dictatorship or oligarchy is probably inevitable in a socialist economic system in which the government controls all or nearly all of the economy.

While the influence of communist ideology has declined since its mid-twentieth century peak, it is far from dead. Largely unreformed communist regimes remain in power in Cuba and North Korea. In Venezuela, the Marxist government's socialist policies have resulted in political repression,   the starvation of children , and   a massive refugee crisis —the biggest in the history of the Western hemisphere. The regime   continues to hold on to power by means of repression , despite growing international and domestic opposition. The struggle for freedom in Venezuela is   continues even as I write these words .

In Russia, the authoritarian regime of former KGB Colonel Vladimir Putin has embarked on a   wholesale whitewashing of communism's historical record . In China, the Communist Party remains in power (albeit after having abandoned many of its previous socialist economic polcies), and has recently become less tolerant of criticism of the mass murders of the Mao era (part of   a more general turn towards greater repression ). In the West, only a small minority advocates communism. But many more tend to downplay its evils, or are simply unaware of them.

In   a 2012 post , I explained why May 1 is a better date for Victims of Communism Day than the available alternatives, such as November 7 (the anniversary of the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia) and August 23 (the anniversary of the Nazi-Soviet Pact). I also addressed various possible objections to using May Day, including claims that the date should be reserved for the celebration of labor unions.

But, as explained in   my 2013 Victims of Communism Day post , I would be happy to support a different date if it turns out to be easier to build a consensus around it. If another date is chosen, I would prefer November 7; not out of any desire to diminish the significance of communist atrocities in other nations, but because it marks the establishment of the very first communist regime. But I am more than willing to endorse almost any other date that could command broad support. Unless and until that happens, however, May 1 will continue to be Victims of Communism Day at the Volokh Conspiracy.


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Sean Treacy
1  seeder  Sean Treacy    last year

Never forget

The People's Fish, Still "Hand Of The Queen"
2  The People's Fish, Still "Hand Of The Queen"    last year

A moment of silence for the victims of the most violent and destructive ideology in our world's history.

3  JohnRussell    last year

Everyone I know is against communism, and it is not a threat in the United States. 

Is the right wing/libertarian response to the nation's current troubles going to consist of red baiting and red scares?

Trump intends to describe certain Democratic candidates and congresspeople as "communists" and now will we see forum commentators jump on this ill advised bandwagon? 

The People's Fish, Still "Hand Of The Queen"
3.1  The People's Fish, Still "Hand Of The Queen"  replied to  JohnRussell @3    last year

Karl Marx explained that Socialism was a transitional phase on the road to communism. He also stated the dictatorship is also a transitional necessity. In our world's history the Ideology is always stalled in it's infancy. Attempts to socialize or institute communism have always stalled when the dictator seizes power.

Socialism historically creates a dictatorship. The dictator has always been the most violent ideologue with the most guns in every attempt. The loss of human life under this ideology is unmatched in modern global history.

3.2  Tessylo  replied to  JohnRussell @3    last year

The Russkies are coming The Russkies are coming

Except this time it's true, and they're here.  

Sean Treacy
3.3  seeder  Sean Treacy  replied to  JohnRussell @3    last year

Everyone I know is against communism, and it is not a threat in the United States

But the party with self professed socialists leaders doesn't understand the very basic point:

Overall, the atrocities and failures of communism were the natural outcomes of an effort to establish a socialist economy in which all or nearly all production is controlled by the state. If not always completely unavoidable, the resulting oppression was at least highly likely.


Bob Nelson
4  Bob Nelson    last year

Do you also ascribe all deaths before 1917 to monarchism?

Sean Treacy
4.1  seeder  Sean Treacy  replied to  Bob Nelson @4    last year

Do you also ascribe all deaths before 1917 to monarchism?

Why would I? First, there were plenty of different forms of government in existence before 1917.  Why would anyone attribute the slaughter of thousands of innocents by the Jacobins as the fault of monarchy?

Second, we are talking about the killing of innocents. The 100 million killed by communists doesn't include natural deaths. 

Bob Nelson
4.1.1  Bob Nelson  replied to  Sean Treacy @4.1    last year


Sean Treacy
4.1.2  seeder  Sean Treacy  replied to  Bob Nelson @4.1.1    last year

Hi Bob.

You figure out what "all" means yet. I'm available if you have any questions. 

Bob Nelson
4.1.3  Bob Nelson  replied to  Sean Treacy @4.1.2    last year


5  luther28    last year

It does not matter what ology one dies under, its victims are dead and beyond care as to the how.

Funny, for the second time today I must acknowledge how we humans have perfected the killing of our own.


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