The Left’s failure to confront Communism’s shortcomings and to discuss the dangers it poses belies a sense of sympathy for the ideology, says Hector Drummond.
Why is it millennials know so little about the atrocities and disasters of Communism? Sometimes Conservatives complain it’s because schools aren’t teaching them. Students know all about the dangers of Nazism, but they have a vague, rosy-tinted impression of Communism because the schools, and the culture at large, tell them in great detail about how bad the Nazis were, whereas the truth about Communism gets swept under the carpet, or sanitised.
The question this raises is: ‘Why are teachers and cultural gatekeepers doing this?’. The obvious answer is: because they’re on the same side as the Communists, or at least share some sympathy with them.
One might try to qualify the conclusion, by describing them as democratic socialists, instead of Communists. They suppress the facts about Communism because they think that what makes Communism look bad may also reflect badly on the democratic left. Centre-leftism gets unfairly tainted by hard-leftism, so best not to mention hard-leftism.
That reasoning may have seemed plausible a few years ago, but now I think it has become clear that it’s not true. Large numbers of these gatekeepers have revealed themselves, since Brexit and Trump, to be authoritarian, who will tolerate no dissent. They’re not the democratic left, they’re the authoritarian left. They may not call themselves Communists (though more and more of them do), and they may decry past Communist methods (or at least past Communist results) when forced to, but they do share with the Communists the strong desire for a non-democratic central authority to run society, and to run everyone’s life along certain lines. After all, if you really are of the democratic left, wouldn’t you be at pains to distance yourself from Communism by saying: ‘Well, this is how things turned out whenever we went the non-democratic route, so it’s better that we stick to democracy?’ Sure the Russian Bolsheviks killed millions of people, but they’re nothing to do with us, they had a completely different system. Wouldn’t you stress that it’s not just that we’re going to do Communism differently next time, we don’t want to ever do it again at all?
Look at the democratic right for a contrast. They take great care to distance themselves from fascism. The democratic right has nothing to do with fascism, but it’s constantly being accused of being Hitler. And they respond by going into great details on what the Nazis did, and how their system led to those evils, and generally specifying the difference between Nazism, or some other fascist system, and modern conservatism/libertarianism. They don’t just mumble some reply and try to change the subject.
But that’s what the left does with Communism. Pretend it never happened. If that’s not possible, pretend it was some rogue leaders, and not really Communism, so no lessons to be learned from it, quick, change the subject to orange man bad. This is not the response of someone who is seriously opposed to Communism. This is rather the response of someone who doesn’t want you to notice the parallels with modern Western society and societies which were taken over by Communists. This is the response of someone who doesn’t want people to learn how authoritarian leftists gain power by studying the history of the methods of the authoritarian left.
The truth about Communism hasn’t been neglected, it’s been deliberately side-lined. By authoritarians in positions of power who crave the power that the Communists had.