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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Why Communism Kills

In The Agora blogs on Niall Ferguson's analysis of 20th- and 21st-century war. Key sound bite:

the same ingredients that made the 20th century the bloodiest in history (between 167 and 188 million killed in military conflict) are poised to make the 21st century just as deadly. The "three Es" as he calls them -- ethnic disintegration, economic volatility, and empires in decline -- when combined create a toxic soup that poisons cities, nations, and regions, and lead to violence, war, and genocide.

I got to thinking...what were the key ingredients to the 100 million deaths that occurred under Communism?

Certainly one of those factors is brutal and grand-scale slavery. This kills in one of two ways: by working people beyond their physical limits, and by creating famine through gross inefficiencies. Pol Pot's holocaust was characterized by both, killing off 25% of Cambodia. Mao's Great Leap Forward, perhaps the single greatest cause of death in human history (20-30 million), is at the very least guilty of the latter. The Soviet gulag committed the former.

In my 2003 review of The Black Book of Communism, I explained why Communism naturally evolves into a criminal state:

How do robbers with monopolistic State power behave? They enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else, of course. They also use that power to pursue whatever vendettas they may have been harboring. Communist leaders invariably turn their backs on creating a truly classless society, having made themselves feudal lords and the rest of the population serfs, but they retain the part of Marxism that calls for the destruction of the alleged "exploiter" classes. Sometimes murder is the weapon of choice. "Exploiters" are often neutralized by other means: imprisonment, forced relocation (to destroy an ethnic group cohesion by dispersing its members throughout the countryside), intimidation, brainwashing.

Under Communism, the citizen is disposable, having no value outside of his or her conformity to the State's preconditions for class identity. That is ultimately why Communism kills.

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