Why no Nazi-like stigma for Communism?
Why is it that when people want to describe particularly evil individuals or regimes, they use the terms “Nazi” or “fascist” but almost never “communist?”
Given the amount the human suffering communists have caused — 70 million killed in China, 20-30 million in the former Soviet Union, and almost one-third of all Cambodians; the decimation of Tibetan and Chinese culture; totalitarian enslavement of North Koreans, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Russians; a generation deprived of human rights in Cuba; and much more — why is “communist” so much less a term of revulsion than “Nazi?”
There are Mao Restaurants in major cities in the Western world. Can one imagine Hitler Restaurants? Che Guevara Tshirts are ubiquitous, yet there are no Heinrich Himmler Tshirts. This question is of vital significance. First, without moral clarity, humanity has little chance of avoiding a dark future. Second, the reasons for this moral imbalance tell us a great deal about ourselves today. Here, then, are seven reasons. 1. Communists murdered their own people; the Nazis murdered others. Under Mao about 70 million people died — nearly all in peacetime — virtually all of them Chinese. Likewise, the approximately 30 million people that Stalin had killed were nearly all Russians, and those who were not Russian, Ukrainians for example, were members of other Soviet nationalities. The Nazis, on the other hand, killed very few fellow Germans. Their victims were Jews, Slavs and members of other “non-Aryan” and “inferior” groups.
“World opinion” — that vapid amoral concept — deems the murder of members of one’s group far less noteworthy than the murder of outsiders. That is one reason why blacks killing millions of fellow blacks in the Congo right now elicits no attention from “world opinion.” But if an Israeli soldier is charged with having killed a Gaza woman and two children, it makes the front page of world newspapers.
2. Communism is based on lovely sounding theories; Nazism is based on heinous sounding theories. Intellectuals, among whom are the people who write history, are seduced by words — so much so that deeds are deemed considerably less significant. Communism’s words are far more intellectually and morally appealing than the moronic and vile racism of Nazism. The monstrous evils of communists have not been focused on nearly as much as the monstrous deeds of the Nazis. The former have been regularly dismissed as perversions of a beautiful doctrine (though Christians who committed evil in the name of Christianity are never regarded by these same people as having perverted a beautiful doctrine), whereas Nazi atrocities have been perceived (correctly) as the logical and inevitable results of Nazi ideology.
This seduction by words while ignoring deeds has been a major factor in the ongoing appeal of the left to intellectuals.
3. Germans have thoroughly exposed the evils of Nazism, have taken responsibility for them, and attempted to atone for them. Russians have not done anything similar regarding Lenin’s or Stalin’s horrors. Indeed, an ex-KGB man runs Russia, Lenin is still widely revered, and, in the words of University of London Russian historian Donald Rayfield, “people still deny by assertion or implication, Stalin’s holocaust.”
Nor has China in any way exposed the greatest mass murderer and enslaver of them all, Mao Zedong. Mao remains revered in China.
Until Russia and China acknowledge the evil their states have done under communism, communism’s evils will remain less acknowledged by the world than the evils of the German state under Hitler.
4. Communism won, Nazism lost. And the winners write history.
5. Nothing matches the Holocaust. The rounding up of virtually every Jewish man, woman, child, and baby on the European continent and sending them to die is unprecedented and unparalleled. The communists killed far more people than the Nazis did but never matched the Holocaust in the systemization of murder. The uniqueness of the Holocaust and the enormous attention paid to it since then has helped ensure that Nazism has a worse name than communism.
6. There is, simply put, widespread ignorance of communist atrocities compared to those of the Nazis. Whereas, both right and left loathe Nazism and teach its evil history, the left dominates the teaching profession, and therefore almost no one teaches communist atrocities. As much as intellectuals on the left may argue that they loathe Stalin or the North Korean regime, few on the left loathe communism. As the French put it, “pas d’enemis a la gauche,” which in English means “no enemies on the left.” This is certainly true of Chinese, Vietnamese, and Cuban communism. Check your local university’s courses and see how many classes are given on communist totalitarianism or mass murder compared to the number of classes about Nazism’s immoral record.
7. Finally, in the view of the left, the last “good war” America fought was World War II, the war against German and Japanese fascism. The left does not regard America’s wars against communist regimes as good wars. The war against Vietnamese communism is regarded as immoral and the war against Korean (and Chinese) communism is simply ignored.
Until the left and all the institutions influenced by the left acknowledge how evil communism has been, we will continue to live in a morally confused world. Conversely, the day the left does come to grips with communism’s legacy of human destruction, it will be a very positive sign that the world’s moral compass has begun to correct itself.
Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated columnist.