The term “communism” has made a huge comeback over the past year or so. It’s become a fashion statement worthy of Teen Vogue. Turn on your TV and you’ll see overtly pro-communist commentators on various studio sofas discussing “fully automated luxury communism” or how they’re “literally a communist”.
Would the same producers who invite self-defining communists on their shows also invite those who proudly attach Nazi or fascist to their brand of politics? Why are those two murderous ideologies not both treated as taboos in a civilised society?
Consider the unparalleled amount of human suffering communists have caused. Communism is so much less a term of revulsion than Nazi, even though communists killed 70 million people in China, more than 20 million people in the Soviet Union, about 5 million Ukrainians and almost one out of every three Cambodians.
Communists enslaved entire nations in Russia, Vietnam, China, eastern Europe, North Korea, Cuba and much of central Asia. The murderous ideology of communism ruined the lives of well over a billion people.
The reason, of course, is that while communists murdered far more people than the Nazis, they never matched the Holocaust in the systematisation 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. But that in no way justifies the championing of the communist cause – or its normalisation on daytime television.
Nazism is correctly put forward by those on the left and the right as an evil ideology responsible for horrors that most of us could never in our minds imagine possible.
Whereas there has always been a significant group on the left that has romanticised communism, despite its horrors. And since the left dominates academia, almost no one teaches communism as a similarly murderous part of human history. But can such a revision of history go unchallenged?
Nazism isn’t backed up by pleasant-sounding academic theories, but communism is. Intellectuals, in general, including of course the intellectuals who write our history books, are seduced by words to such an extent that they deem actions and outcomes as less significant than words and intentions.
For that reason, they haven’t paid anywhere near a comparable level of attention to the horrific actions of communists as they have on the horrific actions of the Nazis. They allow the so-called academic theory and flowery rhetoric behind communism to mask the famine and totalitarianism that it uniquely led to in each horrific experiment of it.
However, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that the romanticism of people like Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels is winning. In a survey last year, two out of five people under the age of 35 agreed with the statement that “communism could have worked if it had been better executed”.
It’s a tired old cliche that always rears its ugly head in arguments against the left that “real communism has never been tried”. But, as the evidence shows, communism was implemented in many countries – and it was very real for the millions of people who were murdered. It must never, ever be repeated.
So what can those of us who want this trend to stop do?
Thirty years on from the liberating fall of the Berlin Wall, we need to renew the fight in favour of political and economic freedom. Millennial communists now believe that this time could be completely different with their ideology. They believe that communism could actually be democratic, inclusive, empowering and even enhance their freedom.
But all the way back to the October revolution and before it, that was always the promise. It was always the proposition.
Just as nazism is uniquely evil, there is no new kind of non-evil communism. You never hear fascists arguing that “real fascism has never been tried”. Because fascism is fascism, just as this is the same old communism.
It should worry us all that communism is being repackaged as somehow hip and happening, like a pair of ‘90s cargo pants brought into 2019’s pop culture. Ignorance of history is dangerous: that “cool” communism would lead to the same murder and enslavement as before, and the time before that, and the time before that.
There’s a reason that the only system upheld by reams of evidence as the best on record for eradicating poverty, boosting prosperity and sustaining peace is the market economy. While the systems uniquely proven to lead to murder, enslavement, tyranny and poverty are nazism and communism.
The normalisation of communism is a scourge – and one that’s on the up. So let’s sell the market economy, tackle the left-leaning chokehold of academia, and win the battle of ideas. God knows we have to.