The hammer and sickle should be as terrifying as the swastika.
The Nazis were bad. It doesn’t take too much pushing for John G. Overton to admit that communism is also bad, but his disapproval is of a different type. He thinks Nazis are bad because the ideology is inherently evil, whereas communists are bad because they’re ignorant of economics. Where Nazis have a fundamental character flaw, communists are merely misguided or miseducated.
His argument is that communists’ aims aren’t wrong by their own merit. He will cite non-specific platitudes that communists’ support, such as egalitarianism and fairness. These are not evil values, he says, yet the means they seek to achieve these ends, unbeknownst to them, will have devastating results.
There is, indeed, a discrepancy between what communists envision in their utopia versus how it turns out in real life. Few socialist revolutionaries specifically foresee the widespread shortages, famine and mass murder that their favoured regimes-to-be would eventually enable. They’re not in favour of those outcomes.
It’s arguable that what Nazi Germany did are favoured outcomes by Nazis. They probably do want to see the murder of undesirables as part of their final solution, along with the totalitarian nationalist militarist state. It would be quite difficult to argue that these people are just misguided.
Now, the first way to deal with the “noble aims of communism” idea is to point to the many examples of real life communism that we are all aware of and say, if you recognise that these regimes inspired by your ideology produced horrible outcomes, and you still support that ideology, that is a moral failing.
There are people like this. Kristien Niemietz’s book Socialism: The Failed Idea That Never Dies exposes the record of socialist intellectuals’ relationship with real life socialist regimes, from their initial praise to their eventual disavowal after the regime collapses into dust, and the cycle beginning again with the next “socialist experiment.”
These ideologues define socialism/communism in such a way that no real life example qualifies. They scoff, “That’s so cheap – what part of the USSR allowed full collective ownership?” But this is defining an economic system by its expected outcome rather than its features. “Collective ownership” is an aspiration. It’s not something you can enact by simple decree. Communism has indeed been tried, many times, and it’s just never produced what the communists expected it to produce.
If you behave like this, with all the knowledge of the destruction real communism has caused, then you’re probably as bad as a Nazi. No amount of education in economics will correct this wilful ignorance.
But the most devastating point against “noble communists” is that communism is no longer just an economic point of view. If you go by the third grade definition of communism — an economic system where resources are shared fairly and everyone is equal — then of course it’s going to sound benign, even admirable, if naive. But again, when you look at communism and its adherents in reality, the core is an evil worldview that goes against common values and decency.
If communism was merely an economic doctrine, it wouldn’t have nearly the populist power it’s had in the 20th century. Frankly, it’s only dorks like those that read this website who place economics in high priority. In real life, communists are too high on their own revolutionary fever to care about the calculation problem.
The cultural aspect of communism is often scoffed at as conspiracy theorising, but don’t let them gaslight you. The motivation for most radical leftists, not counting run-of the-mill-liberals and socialists who have just arrived at college, is the complete destruction of prevailing institutions and cultural attitudes. This doesn’t just mean the Catholic Church and Bank of America, but the family. Rest assured: If you have any bourgeois sensibilities whatsoever, communists probably want you enslaved, if not dead.
Even the “economist” Karl Marx delved into culture when he derided the family as upholding capitalist power relations, and therefore had to be jettisoned in favour of the new communist man. Take just about any communist you know of, and look at their wider values: They hate not just capital, but all conventional cultural norms.
This goes beyond mere “tolerance” – the most radical of radicals don’t just want acceptance of alternative lifestyles, they want to eliminate the established ones. They largely hate the institution of marriage, monogamous heterosexuality, and any semblance of tradition. These people aren’t just like you and me with some added kooky economic views, they’re myopic and dangerous.
You don’t correct this by making them read Economics in One Lesson. There’s a word for a communist who has learned economics: Neoconservative. Many of their most influential started their political careers as revolutionaries but turned “pragmatic” when given the chance for political power. They understand that state ownership doesn’t work, so direct their revolutionary fervour to the foreign arena where they seek to enact cosmic justice via the bomb. They’ve changed their means whilst retaining their radicalism.
Nazis are also largely ill-educated in economics. It was the fascist Robert Carlyle that coined the term “dismal science” in relation to the field. But the reason why Nazis are shunned is likely because of the racial element of their ideology. Mr Overton says they’re “motivated by hate,” as if a murderer motivated by peace and love is any less worrying. The warped implication of this view is that communists, who want nearly everyone dead, are more noble in their aims than Nazis who want specific racial groups to be eliminated.
Mr Overton says we should loudly shun the Nazis, despite how few of them there are in 2019, because the outcomes of that ideology are plain to see. I agree. Communism also has a lot to answer for, and the outcomes of that ideology are extraordinarily consistent: Complete societal disruption, economic chaos, the breakdown of common decency, shortages of important goods, starvation, forced labour, and mass murder. Given the way communists think, those outcomes are not that surprising after all. Shun both Nazism and communism, for they are both evil.
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