Tuesday, August 08, 2017
What is it about a thoroughly discredited doctrine like Communism that just won’t die? My overall sense from the “Red Century” series is that enough years have passed since the fall of the Iron Curtain that Western intellectuals now feel they can get away with downplaying Communism’s crimes and failures and return to rapturous descriptions of its abstract ideals, without the need any longer to take a serious look at what those ideals really meant in practice.
The theory of Communism—the elevation of the collective over the individual and of government dictates above free, private decision-making—is the fundamental cause of all of its evils. But it’s also a moral theory with old roots, on that has established itself in many people’s minds as synonymous with morality itself. Of course everyone should put the collective “public good” over private interests—what could possibly go wrong? Well, we found out what could go wrong, over and over again. We have plenty of reasons to think that individual rights and private interests are actually essential to a free and prosperous society—not to mention that they might help keep us out of the gulag.
But if you can’t bring yourself to question whether the theory of socialism is synonymous with the very idea of morality and progress, you won’t be able to relinquish the socialist dream, even after it has been exposed as a nightmare.
This deep vein of denial has troubling consequences. One sign—still on a very small scale—is the reconstitution of “Young Communist Clubs,” something I haven’t seen much of since I was in college in 1989, the year reality pulled the rug out from under all of the earnest young socialists. This can only be happening again because today’s young people have been allowed to grow up ignorant of the nature of Communism, both in the past and in the present. And this is aided and abetted by publications at the top of the culture, like The New York Times, as they draw a gauzy curtain of nostalgia across the history of twentieth-century Communism.
One of those “Red Century” encomiums to Communist idealism sums up its case by recalling “Rosa Luxemburg’s revolutionary ultimatum: ‘socialism or barbarism.'” But the lesson of history—heck, the lesson of our own time—is that socialism is barbarism.
Here's more New York Times finds something else to love about Vladimir Lenin: He enjoyed camping
The Left is evil. It wants you dead.