Why Isn’t Communism as Hated as Nazism?
Dennis Prager investigates the answers to this question for Prager University.
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When people describe particularly evil individuals or regimes, why is it that they use the terms “Nazi” or “fascist,” but almost never “communist?” Given the unparalleled amount of human suffering communists have caused, why is “communist” so much less a term of revulsion than “Nazi?”
Communists killed 70 million people in China, more than 20 million people in the Soviet Union (not including about 5 million Ukrainians), and almost one out of every three Cambodians. And communists enslaved entire nations in Russia, Vietnam, China, Eastern Europe, North Korea, Cuba and much of Central Asia. They ruined the lives of well over a billion people. So, why doesn’t communism have the same terrible reputation as Nazism?
Reason Number 1: There is, simply put, widespread ignorance of the communist record. Whereas both right and left loathe Nazism and teach its evil history, the left – and I’m talking about the left, not traditional liberals like Harry Truman or John F. Kennedy – has never loathed communism. And since the left dominates academia, almost no one teaches communism’s evil history.
Reason Number 2: The Nazis carried out the Holocaust. Nothing matches the Holocaust for pure evil. The rounding up of virtually every Jewish man, woman, child, and baby on the European continent and sending them to die is unprecedented and unparalleled. The communists killed far more people than the Nazis, but never matched the Holocaust in the systemization of genocide. The uniqueness of the Holocaust and the enormous attention rightly paid to it have helped ensure that Nazism has a worse name than communism.
Reason Number 3: Communism is based on nice sounding theories; Nazism isn’t. It’s based on heinous sounding theories. Intellectuals in general – including, of course, the intellectuals who write history – are seduced by words – so much so, that they deem actions as less significant than words. For that reason, they haven’t focused nearly as much attention on the horrific actions of communists as they have on the horrific actions of the Nazis. They dismiss the evils of communists as perversions of “true communism.” But they regard Nazi atrocities (correctly) as the logical and inevitable results of Nazism.
Reason Number 4: Germans have thoroughly exposed the evils of Nazism, have taken responsibility for them, and have attempted to atone for them. Russians have not done anything similar regarding Lenin’s or Stalin’s horrors. To the contrary, Lenin, the father of Soviet communism, is still widely venerated in Russia. And as regards Stalin, as University of London Russian historian Donald Rayfield puts it, “People still deny, by assertion or implication, Stalin’s holocaust.” Even less so has China exposed the greatest mass murderer and enslaver of them all, Mao Zedong. Mao remains revered in China. Every Chinese currency note has his picture on it. Until Russia and China – and Vietnam, and Cuba, and North Korea – acknowledge the evils their countries committed under communism, communism’s evils will remain less known than the evils of the German state under Hitler.
Reason Number 5: Communists murdered mostly their own people. The Nazis, on the other hand, killed very few fellow Germans. “World opinion” – that largely meaningless and amoral term – deems the murder of members of one’s own group far less noteworthy than the murder of outsiders. That’s why, for example, blacks killing millions of fellow blacks in Africa elicits almost no attention from “world opinion.”
And Reason Number 6: In the view of the left, the last “good war” was World War II, the war against German Nazism and Japanese fascism. The left does not regard wars against communist regimes as “good wars.” For example, the American war against Vietnamese communism is regarded as immoral, and the war against Korean communism – and its Chinese communist backers – is simply ignored.
Until the left, and all the institutions influenced by the left, acknowledge how evil communism has been, we will continue to live in a morally confused world.
In the meantime, all good people owe it to the victims of communism to learn what happened to them. Even worse than being murdered or enslaved is a world that doesn’t even know that you were.
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