Friday, February 5, 2010

"Progressives" in Denial

Something about a letter in the National Post (later posted on the Ceej site) bugged me when I read it in the paper a few days ago, and it wasn't (only) the idea of "Ranking the evils of the world"--the headline--and the unctuous kudos for one of the loudest pro-censorship voices in the land:
If the world is more aware of Adolf Hitler’s Holocaust against the Jews than Joseph Stalin’s genocidal treatment of Ukrainians, then it is because individuals like Bernie Farber of the Canadian Jewish Congress have dedicated their lives to making sure the world never forgets what happens when anti-Jewish hatred is given even the smallest measure of legitimacy. I hope letter-writer Carol-Faye Petricko can forgive Mr. Farber if to him, the murder of six million of his fellow Jews might seem like “the worst event in the history of the world.”
The world is "more aware" of the fascists' genocide than the Communists' because of all the Bernies? Well, I'm sure the Bernies and their sycophants like to think so. However, in their 1989 book Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts About the '60s, Peter Collier and David Horowitz shed light on the real reason why the Ukrainian genocide failed to resonate in the same way that the Holocaust has:
Truth is the first casualty of revolution. The paradigm for all the black holes in the socialist universe in the Ukrainian famine of 1930-33--an episode in Stalin's war on the peasantry--in which thirteen million Ukrainians were deliberately starved and systematically slaughtered. In those years, more people were murdered by socialist reformers than were killed by the armies on all sides in World War I. The Ukrainian atrocity has never been investigated or acknowledged by Soviet authorities (not even under glasnost) and was "discovered" only when an overly punctillious bureaucrat noticed an inexplicable deficit in the 1937 census. The census taker's reward was the firing squad.

Progressives in the West, deprived of the right to stage executions, came to the aid of the socialist utopia with what would become the first line of defense--the argument that it never happened. They denied the reports that had trickled out of the U.S.S.R. about people being starved and murdered in the People's State; they defended the socialist policy that had caused the Ukrainian famine as a plan designed to feed the hungry and create a better world; they defamed Stalin's critics and skeptics as enemies of humanitarian progress and reactionary opponents of social change. With the help of such progressives, Stalin was able not only to get away with his crimes but also to go on to create a society in which mass executions because part of daily existence and serfdom was reinstituted--among those lucky to survive.

Eventually it became fashionable to say that the Ukrainian tragedy, like all the others in Stalin's reign, was the consequence of a bad man rather than a bad theory and a bad system. At the exact moment in the Sixties that this claim was first being pushed by the New Left, however, China was in the middle of its Great Leap Forward, whose utopian ends and means radicals universally applauded.  When the death toll in the People's Republic later became too obvious to deny--an estimated twenty million casualties during Mao's social experiment--Leftists again said that a cult of personality was to blame. The Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China, Castro's Cuba, Mengistu's Ethiopia: the scale of these socialist tragedies may differ, but their outcome is always the same...
And this (my bolds):
The obfuscations of "progressives" always make it impossible to know with certainly how great (or even whether) a socialist atrocity has been committed. The doubt they generate creates a sort of moral amnesia. It allows one of the large ironies of modern history to go unrecognized: Even though Marxist socialism is a doctrine that has exploited, impoverished and murdered more people than any other creed in our time, the Communist (and neo-Communist) Left remains part of respectable society in a way, for example, that the heirs of Nazism never could.
Having read a great deal about the Holocaust, I know it happened at a specific time in history and the specific reasons it occurred--a specificity, ironically, that often seems lost on "progressives" who are so keen to universalize the Shoah and package it along with more recent genocides in Rwanda and Sudan. Nonetheless, I decline to participate in the "ranking" of evil and its flipside, the ranking of victimhood. Not only does it give rise to such alarming phenomena as state censorship (in an effort to put a lid on the sort of "hate speech" that purportedly gave rise to the Holocaust--an immense and quite irresponsible over-simplification of history), it does nothing to forestall the Shoah, Part Deux; the many, many enemies of Jewry, capitalism, liberty and modernity have compiled a list of the world's 'evils', too, and on that list, the Jewish state ranks right at the top.


Viking said...

A very important message. thankyou.

Blazing Cat Fur said...

Communists & Nazis are identical murderers, anyone who professes adherence to any flavour of marxist ideology should be treated with the same contempt as adherents of Neo-Nazism.

PaladinPhil said...

One of the keys about the Holocaust was that the Nazis were trying to exterminate entirely a single race. That's why it's so horrible. Stalin, Mao, and other tyrants deserve a proper place in history text books as the brutal people they were. Most of the information I have learned wasn't even spoken of in school.

Viking said...


Ultimately, I think the Left like to think that Stalin and Mao's brutalities weren't so bad because they were "trying to make the world a better place" for Socialism.

History FAIL.

rabbit said...

I have no fight with moderate liberals. But those on the far left have become masters in historical revisionism and denial.

It's estimated that 100 million Chinese died needlessly due to Mao's policies. Kim managed to starve one to two million, and God knows how many were put to death by execution, death march, or death camp. This in a country of 23 million. Pol Pot killed about 2 million in a country of 14 million. And of course Stalin had his 20 million.

These are the greatest tragedies of the the 20'th century. And yet the far left has denied and revised and sugar-coated and overlooked. It doesn't fit their political views, so it didn't happen.

Marxist professors in our universities are treated with tolerance, respect, and even reverence. But they leave a trail of blood behind them wherever they go.