We Must Not Forget the Dark and Evil History of Communism

November 2017 marked the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution led by Vladimir Lenin, which resulted in Russia becoming the Soviet Union. Lenin’s communist revolution was marked by both horror and terror. Arthur Herman, a senior fellow at the Hudson institute, wrote that “as we reflect on the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution, the salient fact to remember is that it has been 100 years of hell — of revolution, oppression, starvation, mass murder, genocide, and terror without historical parallel.”

Communism, which is still a threat today, is often forgotten with the end of the Cold War. A recent survey by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation revealed that younger Americans would prefer to live under the dominion of socialism or communism. When asked whether you would select living in a nation that was capitalistic, socialistic, communist, or fascist “58 percent of the up-and-coming generation opted for one of the three systems, compared to 42 percent who said they were in favor of capitalism.”

This means that most younger Americans (44 percent) would prefer to live under socialism, while a smaller percentage selected that communism or fascism would be better. This means that most younger Americans believe that capitalism has failed. This survey demonstrates an unfortunate trend, but not a surprising result of young Americans. The survey results also demonstrate that many millennials have a favorable view of communist leaders such as Che Guevara, Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, and Mao Zedong.

“Are Americans who admire the world’s most brutal regimes miseducated or stupid? Or do they have some kind of devious agenda?” wrote Dr. Walter E. Williams, a distinguished economist at George Mason University.

“Twenty-five percent of millennials who know who Vladimir Lenin was view him favorably. Lenin was the first premier of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Half of millennials have never heard of Communist Mao Zedong, who ruled China from 1949 to 1959 and was responsible for the deaths of 45 million Chinese people,” noted Williams.

It is often stated that ideas have consequences. Socialism, defined by the ideas of Karl Marx, is popular in Europe and in the United States. Socialism has been a major part of public policy since the 1930s and it is still a major force within our political, cultural, and educational institutions. The survey results continue to demonstrate that we are facing a crisis in civic education. Whether students at all grade levels or the general population we are witnessing a growing ignorance and disregard for American history, the principles of the American Founding, and Western Civilization. We can add to this list a basic knowledge of economics and American government.

The false siren song of socialism and communism is a growing concern. The forces of political correctness are attacking our history whether it is statutes of General Robert E. Lee or the Episcopal church in Alexandria, Virginia removing the plaques honoring both George Washington and Robert E. Lee, or groups demanding that the national anthem be replaced because it is racist. Combine this with the neglect of teaching history in the classroom and we start to see an unfortunate pattern and why people start having a positive view towards dangerous ideologies.

In The Death of the West, Patrick J. Buchanan wrote: “How does one sever a people’s roots? Answer: Destroy its memory. Deny a people the knowledge of who they are and where they came from . . . Destroy the record of a people’s past, leave it in ignorance of who its ancestors were and what they did, and one can fill the empty vessels of their souls with a new history . . .”

The history of dangerous ideologies such as socialism and communism need to be taught and learned by all Americans.

When we look at the history of communism over 100 million people have been killed because of this philosophy of government. It is still uncertain how many people Lenin and his successors, such as Joseph Stalin, murdered under their communist regime, but estimates range close to 20 million people.

David Satter, author of Age of Delirium: The Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union, wrote that it was not just Soviet communism that murdered so many people, but other communist regimes as well that contributed to scores of deaths. This includes communist regimes in China, Vietnam, Cambodia, North Korea, Cuba, and the Soviet satellite states of Eastern Europe. The 100 million victims, writes Satter, “makes communism the greatest catastrophe in human history.”

In remembering the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, President Donald Trump issued a proclamation declaring November 7, 2017 as “National Day for the Victims of Communism.” In part, the proclamation stated:

The Bolshevik Revolution gave rise to the Soviet Union and its dark decades of oppressive communism, a political philosophy incompatible with liberty, prosperity, and the dignity of human life.

Over the past century, communist totalitarian regimes around the world have killed more than 100 million people and subjected countless more to exploitation, violence, and untold devastation. These movements, under the false pretense of liberation, systematically robbed innocent people of their God-given rights of free worship, freedom of association, and countless other rights we hold sacrosanct. Citizens yearning for freedom were subjugated by the state through the use of coercion, violence, and fear.

Some states are also attempting to ensure that the brutal history of communism is not forgotten by designating November 7th as Victims of Communism Memorial Day. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) described the importance of a Victims of Communism Memorial Day: “Given the increasing popularity of socialism in America – especially among young people – designating a day to honor the victims of communist governments is not only the right thing to do but also good policy. A commemorative day offers an ideal teachable moment to educate new generations of Americans about the evils perpetrated in the name of communism and socialism – evils that continue to the present day.”

Ideas have consequences and the dark history of socialism and communism should not be forgotten or treated lightly.

John Hendrickson

Author: John Hendrickson

John Hendrickson is a Policy Analyst with Iowans for Tax Relief, West Des Moines, Iowa