- 5th November, 2017
The Bolshevik Revolution of November 5th and 6th 1917 is an anniversary to mourn. Unfortunately, there are still too many people who see the occasion as an occasion to celebrate. One must wonder who could celebrate an event that led to far more deaths than the Nazis ever managed.
The doctrinaire Marxism-Leninism of conventional Communism is largely gone; it was actually kind of dull anyway except as example of how ideological pedantry can turn deadly once it empowers dangerous people. This was always the problem with Communism; like Fascism and Nazism, and too many other creeds; an ‘ism’ be taken by the wrathful, the angry and the greedily ambitious as an excuse.
Lenin, as his own papers and writings show, was wrathful, angry and ambitious. So were Stalin and Mao, and any number of other people – some of whom are still unfortunately still above ground and breathing; unlike somewhere over 100 million people who died before their time thanks to this creed.
Other leaders of Communist nations were left – as Churchill once put it – ‘riding the tiger’, and a system that depends on coercion and terror is hard to reform. It says much that Gorbachev, the first Soviet head of State after Stalin without blood on his hands, made the attempt and the USSR rapidly unravelled in consequence.
The promise of Communism was that it would build a new society, but first the old society must be thrown over. Then, inevitably, the new society wasn’t working so somebody must be blamed for it; and of course, nothing unifies a half-terrified population like finding some external class enemy to blame. The death toll soon starts to mount up.
The full death toll from Marxist-Leninist Communism will never really be known. In contrast to individual murders wrought by psychotics and criminals, mass murder wrought by psychotics and criminals with political authority is hard to tally.
The 1937 Soviet census is revealing… the officials who noticed an inconvenient discrepancy (well over 10 million people) between population projections of 1927 and the actual total Soviet population were purged. The Soviets didn’t hold another census until Stalin had been dead for five years.
Even this estimate was probably wildly optimistic, but the Civil Wars, collectivization, ‘De-Kulakization’ (particularly horrible in the Ukraine) and the Great Terror had horrific death tolls. They also established a habit of depraved indifference – itself a form of homicide – that added significantly to the massive Soviet losses in the Second World War. It should also be remembered that Stalin’s August 1939 Agreement with Hitler let that war begin.
China had been quite unstable in the 1920s, but Chang Gaishek was finally getting a handle on things until the Civil War with the Communists began. Mao proved to be just as vicious and callous as Stalin and the full death toll of decades of civil war, the ‘Great Leap Forward’ and the Cultural Revolution can only be guessed at, but the figure is well into the tens of millions.
Communism has been a fast ticket to power and totalitarianism for any number of nogoodniks. The Million Deaths club certainly includes North Korea’s Kim Clan (still a going concern), Pol Pot, Ho Chi Minh, Tito and Mengistu in Ethiopia who encouraged a massive famine as a population control measure.
With a record like that, the Centennial of the Bolshevik Revolution is best marked with somber reflection and mourning – and a renewed resolve to keep a wary eye on those who still think Marxism Leninism has something to offer besides dread, despair, and death.
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