Never forget: A memorial to Communism's 100 million dead
There's a growing movement to build a memorial to Communism's dead on the National Mall, so that the current generation of Americans are made aware of the true nature of a philosophy that has justified the murder of at least 100 million people in the last 100 years.
“Communism wasn’t responsible for any deaths,” my interlocutor said. “Crappy leaders were.”
How many times have you heard some formulation of this viewpoint? “Communism is an excellent idea in theory, it just hasn’t worked in practice.” I wish that was the sort of sentiment I only remembered from college dorm room bull sessions. (“Ok. How many more millions of people have to die before we get it right?” I always asked, incredulously).
Unfortunately, the notion that Marxist-Leninist ideology is not responsible for the estimated 100 million deaths perpetrated by communist regimes has long been de rigeur among a broad segment of the intellectual elite. And it’s a worldview that, as my friend’s remark and countless other examples attest, is earning followers among a growing number of the Millennial Generation. The Marxist recrudescence is hard to quantify, but it can be seen in populist reactions to the worldwide financial crisis, the rise of far left political parties around the globe, and the increasing popularity of once-obscure figures like Slavoj Zizek, a Slovenian Marxist cultural critic. Last year, The New York Times heralded the arrival of the appropriately-named Jacobin, “a magazine dedicated to bringing jargon-free neo-Marxist thinking to the masses.” In January, Rolling Stone — blissfully unaware of its own role in the consumer economy — published a widely discussed piece calling upon the government to secure jobs for everyone, abolish all private property, and “take back the land.” The only thing missing from this bill of particulars was elimination of the bourgeoisie.
The growing worry over income inequality in America is not a sign of a generation yearning for communism, but it does exist on a spectrum that in the extreme can lead to obliviousness about its evils. “The key to understanding Marxism's renaissance in the west,” a 2012 article in The Guardian noted, is that, “for younger people, it is untainted by association with Stalinist gulags.” This retrospective amnesia alternately reveals a generational ignorance about the ideology and nature of communism as well as evidence of the need to educate the public about its horrors.
The planned memorial would break ground in 2017 - 100 years after the revolution in Russia. The museum would contain "witness testimony, artifacts, and interactive exhibits registering the toll communism has wrought in some 40 countries throughout history."
But sadly, the old bi-partisan anti-Communist spirit that animated American foreign policy for 50 years is not represented in the movement to build the memorial. The board of the foundation is almost exclusively conservative and Republican - a sad commentary on the Democratic party and how they now threaten the basic liberties their predecessors fought to keep safe.
Once, previously, liberals attempted to purge Communists from their midst. In the late 1940's, seeing several prominent liberal organizations being captured by Communists - including many labor unions. Groups like the Americans for Democratic Action and the ACLU kicked out Communist radicals while labor unions were reformed by brave individuals like Ronald Reagan, who helped save Hollywood from Communist inffiltration.
Gradually, Communists have wormed their way back to respectability - in some circles anyway. The neo-Marxists excuse the murderous regimes that killed their own people by claiming it was necessary in order to build their Utopia.:
Yet the myth still persists that there is nothing inherently evil in an ideology that calls for the theft of private property, forcible equalization of citizens (who, as Smith says, are treated as mere “collateral in pursuit of the ideological mission”), a one-party state, and the dictatorship of the proletariat. This double standard in the way we treat communism is noticeable in the legions of university professors who proudly label themselves Marxists, in contrast to the non-existent number who embrace the label of “fascist.” You also see it in the morons who don Che Guevara t-shirts, either unaware or unconcerned that the man was a mass-murdering sociopath.
“It would be indefensible to say … that fascism as an idea has nothing to do with the sorts of regimes that fascism brought to life,” Smith remarks. “But it is the accepted opinion that Marxism is not responsible for the Soviet Union or Mao’s China.”
This is why there is a desperate need for this memorial museum to be built. The spirit of anti-Communism must be revived if we are to fight the disease effectively. Young people must be made aware that their dalliance with Communism is dangerous to their own well-being and educating yourself about the fundamental evil of Communism is a responsibility of all who value freedom in America.