New York Times readers struggle with communism’s legacy. Communism wins.

A friend emailed me yesterday night, “If you don’t feel sufficiently depressed today, be sure to read the readers’ comments on Brett Stephens’s column in the NY Times condemning communism and the Left’s soft spot for it.”

The comments were already closed at 522 when he wrote me. I haven’t got the time to read a significant chunk. Some of the ones I saw were quite entertaining. There are lots of intelligent, literate and inventive people demonstrating their power to rationalize away the lessons of common sense.

A number had decent points, in that Stephens chose to focus on Stalinism as his means of discrediting communism.  That opens the door to all sorts of arguments. But it was Stephens’s way to stake out his house conservative turf in the ongoing series of articles commemorating the centenary of the Communist Revolution.  A good number already have provided great entertainment, such as the claim that sex was better for women under socialism.

Good for Stephens to point out the blind spot, aka hypocrisy, of most of the people in his milieu at the New York Times, not to mention its readers. That was brave.

...many of today’s progressives remain in a permanent and dangerous state of semi-denial about the legacy of Communism a century after its birth in Russia.

No, they are not true-believing Communists. No, they are not unaware of the toll of the Great Leap Forward or the Killing Fields. No, they are not plotting to undermine democracy.

But they will insist that there is an essential difference between Nazism and Communism — between race-hatred and class-hatred; Buchenwald and the gulag — that morally favors the latter. They will attempt to dissociate Communist theory from practice in an effort to acquit the former. They will balance acknowledgment of the repression and mass murder of Communism with references to its “real advances and achievements.” They will say that true communism has never been tried. They will write about Stalinist playwright Lillian Hellman in tones of sympathy and understanding they never extend to film director Elia Kazan.

As for communism, the slide into despotism is inevitable, because the govenrment is put in charge of everything during the "interim" transition to Marx's paradise. But as for socialism of various stripes, I'd rather focus on the dysfunctionality of a system that relies on people putting aside their self-interest for the betterment of all. That’s a fantasy capable of engaging young minds before they have any experience of adult life, which is why the ideological stronghold of Marxism is academia.

A friend emailed me yesterday night, “If you don’t feel sufficiently depressed today, be sure to read the readers’ comments on Brett Stephens’s column in the NY Times condemning communism and the Left’s soft spot for it.”

The comments were already closed at 522 when he wrote me. I haven’t got the time to read a significant chunk. Some of the ones I saw were quite entertaining. There are lots of intelligent, literate and inventive people demonstrating their power to rationalize away the lessons of common sense.

A number had decent points, in that Stephens chose to focus on Stalinism as his means of discrediting communism.  That opens the door to all sorts of arguments. But it was Stephens’s way to stake out his house conservative turf in the ongoing series of articles commemorating the centenary of the Communist Revolution.  A good number already have provided great entertainment, such as the claim that sex was better for women under socialism.

Good for Stephens to point out the blind spot, aka hypocrisy, of most of the people in his milieu at the New York Times, not to mention its readers. That was brave.

...many of today’s progressives remain in a permanent and dangerous state of semi-denial about the legacy of Communism a century after its birth in Russia.

No, they are not true-believing Communists. No, they are not unaware of the toll of the Great Leap Forward or the Killing Fields. No, they are not plotting to undermine democracy.

But they will insist that there is an essential difference between Nazism and Communism — between race-hatred and class-hatred; Buchenwald and the gulag — that morally favors the latter. They will attempt to dissociate Communist theory from practice in an effort to acquit the former. They will balance acknowledgment of the repression and mass murder of Communism with references to its “real advances and achievements.” They will say that true communism has never been tried. They will write about Stalinist playwright Lillian Hellman in tones of sympathy and understanding they never extend to film director Elia Kazan.

As for communism, the slide into despotism is inevitable, because the govenrment is put in charge of everything during the "interim" transition to Marx's paradise. But as for socialism of various stripes, I'd rather focus on the dysfunctionality of a system that relies on people putting aside their self-interest for the betterment of all. That’s a fantasy capable of engaging young minds before they have any experience of adult life, which is why the ideological stronghold of Marxism is academia.