The wages of socialism — mass murder

Ukrainian peasants starve to death in the streets, 1933

Last year, my friend Bruce Kesler, who blogs at a wonderful conservative group blog called Maggie’s Farm, directed me to a book called Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. What makes this book different from other books about that era is that it doesn’t just examine the murderous years of WWII.  Instead, it also examines the carnage Hitler and Stalin wrought during the 1930s, in the lead-up to WWII.  It is an absolutely devastating book, describing the unimaginable scale of death that two socialist leaders — Stalin and Hitler — visited on the region between their two countries.

Although Hitler industrialized the killing machine, it was Stalin who created the model when he decided to destroy the Ukrainian kulaks (independent small farmers) who were standing in the way of his vision of a collectivized agrarian nation.  To achieve his goal, he brutally starved these farmers to death — 20 to 30 million of them.  Reading author Timothy Snyder’s description of their suffering is horrible — but it’s something that we need to read in order that we never forget how fundamentally evil socialism is.  The ones who really should read this book, of course, are American socialists, but sadly, they’re unlikely to do so.

If you can get a socialist to read Bloodlands, but he has still failed to learn his lesson about what happens when government — which lacks a conscience — decides that its job isn’t to enable individual freedom but is, instead, to control all people without regard to individualism, have him read Yang Jisheng’s book, Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962. Hard as it is to believe, Stalin and Hitler were just the warm-ups for Mao, the Chinese leader who, inspired by Stalin, may well hold the record for being the biggest mass murderer in human history.

Arthur Waldron, writing at The New Criterion reviews Jisheng’s book and his review shows that this is a must-read book for anyone who wants to understand why Leftists are fools when they’re frightened of corporations and, instead, want desperately to place control over every aspect of their lives in government hands.  It is impossible for a corporation to wreak the kind of havoc that socialist governments have visited upon their people.  The estimates for Mao’s killing fields during his “man-created disaster” range from 36 to 70 million.  (The higher number includes the babies that never got born to a starving population.)  As happened with Stalin’s socialist-created famine, people in dire straits did unspeakable things to survive, including cannibalism.  As Snyder said in his book (and I paraphrase), “an orphan was a child whose parents died before they ate him.”

When word of the Chinese famine got out, Mao blamed unspecified natural causes, and a credulous, Left-leaning, Walter Duranty-esque media dutifully passed this on.  It was a lie, of course.  There was nothing unusual about Chinese weather patterns from 1958-1962.  Moreover, even as the people died in the millions, food filled warehouses and party officials dined in style.

Jisheng knows firsthand about the famine:  alerted that something was wrong in his native rural area, he left the city with a rice ration, but arrived too late to save his father who, though alive, had become too starved to do anything but die.  When this happened, Jisheng accepted the party line and didn’t question the thousands of deaths in his area of rural China.  It was only during the mid-1960s Cultural Revolution, which saw many millions more die, that Jisheng began to realize that the problem wasn’t nature or farmers or people who needed re-education — it was Mao’s socialist policies, all of which officials throughout China unquestioningly accepted, either because they were true believers, because they were mindless party drones, or because they were afraid.

Although Jisheng’s book isn’t the first to tell about the famine, Waldron thinks it’s the best:

Tombstone, however, is without a doubt the definitive account—for now and probably for a long time. The Chinese original is two volumes and banned in that country. In Hong Kong it has sold out eight printings. The English version has been most skillfully shortened, edited, and rearranged by a team of Western and Chinese scholars, with an eye to making what is very much a massive compilation of statistics and reportage into a volume more accessible to the English-speaking reader.

This is a book whose importance must be compared with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago (1973) in that it documents beyond the possibility of refutation ghastly horrors that were first rumored, then denied, then written about a bit, but only with Solzhenitsyn and Yang were so thoroughly documented and analyzed as to place them beyond question.

You should read Waldron’s review and then, if you have the heart and stomach for it, read Jisheng’s book.

When socialism fails, as it invariably does, the American Left equally invariably claims that the failure isn’t because the plan was fundamentally flawed.  To socialists, the problem is always implementation and the culprit is always the Republicans who made it impossible for the Democrats fully to implement their plans.  Books such as Bloodlands and Tombstone remind us precisely what happens when the Left has unfettered access to a helpless population.  Every person in America should be thanking God for Republican foot-dragging, and should hope that they drag their feet ever harder and faster.

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  • Wolf Howling

    The socialist nations also bear another similarity – they killed off God, making of themselves the supreme moral arbiters in their land.  Individual human life was no longer beyond whether it served or hindered the state.  Thus mass murder was not wrong when it was in service of the state. 
    Ultimately, it is not Republicans that so much stand in the way of the left here, but those who believe in the God that our Framers believed in when they crafted our Republic.  Even those many misguided people of religious persuasion who support the left, largely through a gross misunderstanding of economics, would not possibly support the kind of state that the true secular left would happily support.
    As to your statement that “Books such as Bloodlands and Tombstone remind us precisely what happens when the Left has unfettered access to a helpless population,” I think Gosnell is equally informative.     

  • Wolf Howling

    That second sentence should have read “Individual human life was no longer valued . . . ”  One day I will learn to proofread before hitting “post.”

  • Bookworm

    Wolf Howling:  I was just telling a friend that typos are the perfect example of mistakes and cognitive bias.  As I discover daily when I produce posts, we have a very hard time seeing our own typographical errors.

  • Ron19

    “Reading author Timothy Snyder’s description of their suffering is horrible — but it’s something that we need to read in order that we never forget how fundamentally evil socialism is.  The ones who really should read this book, of course, are American socialists, but sadly, they’re unlikely to do so.
    If you can get a socialist to read Bloodlands, but he has still failed to learn his lesson about what happens when government — which lacks a conscience — decides that its job isn’t to enable individual freedom but is, instead, to control all people without regard to individualism,…”
    The socialists do not need to learn or understand any of this, because they know that they are going to be on the side of the leftist government, not the opposing side; they will not be vulnerable to the hazards.  In WWII there were many, many Germans who didn’t need to worry about the hazards until the Allies arrived in town with bombs and bullets and a different worldview.

  • riw777

    @Wolf Howling: Yes, the problem is the issue of law  –making ourselves the moral arbiters. To take this all the way back to the beginning, this is essentially the temptation of Eve in the Garden. “Did God really say,” isn’t just an attack on God, it’s an attack on the concept of law. “You will be like God…” A law maker, a standard apart from God. This is the meaning of the tree of knowledge. So there are two connections between the liberal killing machine (from abortion to starvation to their love of Islam) –their disregard for the image of God in man, and their innate trust in people rather than law. Gosnell illustrates the same point, which is precisely why they don’t want to talk about it.
    Sorry for going theological, but it supports your point… :-)
    @Ron19: But what they don’t understand is that once you unleash this love of death, you can’t precisely say, “it stops here, at my front door!” Remember Sir Thomas More’s character in A Man for All Seasons: “Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide … the laws all being flat?”

  • Ron19

     From Bookworm, above:
    …describing the unimaginable scale of death that two socialist leaders — Stalin and Hitler — visited on the region between their two countries.
    [snip]  [I’ve been wanting to do this snip thing]
    their suffering is horrible — but it’s something that we need to read in order that we never forget how fundamentally evil socialism is.
    I just read the following yesterday, and it struck me as a very good[?] way to separate out people who are merely bad or do bad things, from people who are truly evil.  Think of something that you yourself did that was morally wrong, vs. what Hitler chose to do that was morally wrong [emphasis and internal comments are mine]:
    One chilling and telling sign that these evils came not from the finite realms of the world and the flesh but from the realm of the devil is the astonishing total absence, in every case, of anything like remorse in the perpetrators of these colossal evils. The demon, having done his work through his human instruments, then departs, and the killer feels no guilt, as if he had not been there, as if the deed had been done by someone else. For this is precisely what has happened. To have no remorse for having sliced apart pregnant women like meat [see rape of Nanking], bayoneted babies like melons or systematically gassed six million Jews [I’ve just recently read that there were also six million non-Jews, for a total of twelve million non-combatant German Jews, etc., killed by the Germans] only because they were Jews is not human. Even the agnostic humanist, meeting such evil, approves the sentiment that this could not have been merely human. For if it were, the humanist would have to believe an even more pessimistic anthropology than that of the “original sin conservative” he despises.
    Peter Kreeft. How to Win the Culture War: A Christian Battle Plan for a Society in Crisis (Kindle Locations 335-341). Kindle Edition.

  • Ron19

    Although Hitler industrialized the killing machine…
    On a smaller scale, one of many stories about the Japanese in WWII:
    Then to the chief below he ordered, “Open everything and come topside.” The Chief of the Boat, then the skipper, joined all other personnel in the water. Grenadier slid gracefully under the water for the last time. All hands were picked up by a Japanese armed merchant ship and taken to a commandeered Catholic school in Penang, Malaysia. Torture and inhumane treatment began immediately. Beating, burning, breaking fingers with bamboo or pencils between them were perpetrated on the men by Japanese soldiers who sneered and joked. The men were divided half and half between the school rooms on the ground floor, stone decks; the officers in single rooms on the second floor, wooden decks. The rough treatment started the first afternoon, particularly with the men. They were forced to sit or stand in silence in an attention attitude. Any divergence resulted in a gun butt, kick, slug in the face or a bayonet prick. In the questioning room, Jap thugs used persuasive measures such as clubs, about the size of indoor ball bats, pencils between the fingers and pushing of the blade of a pen knife under the finger nails, trying to get us to talk about our submarine and the location of other submarines. Maybe I would pass out and maybe not. Following this I would receive another club beating until I passed out. On coming to, they would try to get me to talk and when it was not forthcoming, I received more beatings. Finally I would be carried to my room and dumped on the floor waiting for a while until they decided to try again. Every time I would hear that warrant officer, assisted by his walking stick, come into the building, I would think it was for me again or maybe some other poor devil. We all had the same feeling for everyone received beating after beating, as like treatment was given to all hands. One became so stiff and sore it was almost impossible to move, let alone change position from standing or sitting or reclining, even if able to get away with it. This was the beginning of twenty-eight and a half months of similar treatment for most all of the crew and officers alike. Work camps eased the brutality somewhat; however, the Japanese caused the death of four crewmembers. It was a miracle any of us survived.
    Green, Michael; Monroe-Jones, Edward (2012-12-07). The Silent Service in World War II: The Story of the U.S. Navy Submarine Force in the Words of the Men Who Lived It (Kindle Locations 1313-1329). Casemate. Kindle Edition.
    The Japanese torture of POWs was comparable to what Americans, such as John McCain, went through in North Vietnam.  The long term torture by the NVs had the excuse that they were trying to get to a propaganda triumph.  The Japanese in the story above, though, after a few days or even a month of trying to get wartime secrets from the POWs had no such excuse for continuing the torture for years.
    The Japanese war machine also had their version of Dr. Joseph Mengele, the German prison camp Angel of Death.  When the Americans liberated the POW camps run by the Japanese, they were just as horrified as the allies in Europe.  The only reason there wasn’t a war crimes tribunal about the Japanese experiments done on captured enemy soldiers is that the Allies wanted the records of the experiments, and traded immunity for them.  The experiments were indeed terrible, such as freezing people to death, etc., but the descriptive and medical records were valuable as research experiments that the Allies couldn’t do on their own, not even to volunteer prisoners.

  • Ron19

    Wolf Howling #1 and riw777 #5, and Bookworm #3:
    Right on!

  • Ron19

    On the other hand, the most memorable thing about Fascism in Italy is that the trains ran on time.  Go figure.

  • Ymarsakar

    These aren’t so much examples of failures as successes. This is what they intended to do all along. A necessary price for utopia.
    It doesn’t matter if Leftists or socialists read it. Their house is already conquered, so to speak. It may make a difference to have the Left’s indoctrinated kiddies and slaves read it though.

  • Caped Crusader

    “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery” — Winston Churchill
    And if I might add:
    And it has always been the playbook for tyrants in the modern age — Bruce Wayne — 2013

  • JKB

    I can’t help but wonder how different the West would have been had the common parental exhortation, “Eat everything on your plate, there are starving children in China” had been followed up with the truth of the why the children were starving. 
    Of course, that would have required a bit of critical thinking, on the part of Western academia and elites.  Something we still see is sorely lacking in those academic disciplines, where oddly they exhort the value of critical thinking as one of the benefits of the discipline.  Sadly most wouldn’t engage in legitimate critical thinking if hit upside the head by a Party member’s shovel.  Atrocities and mass murder when finally revealed simply leads the “learned” academics to create a new name variant of the old idea so they can look down their long noses at those who cite the objective commonalities as being uneducated, and, of course, lacking the proper credential from the proper group of corrupted academics, aka, university.
    The greatest of the socialists’ feats was to blame the murderous nature of their ideology on the communists.  Communism divides property, it is the complementary socialism that seeks to control men and drive the whole as desired by the “betters.”  But if people recognized it as socialism, then they might look less lovingly upon the Western socialists with their offer of a care-free life on Thursday for the low, low price of freedom and liberty today.  The corruption of Western academia so as to marshal the supposed “learned” professors against the ideas of liberty and individualism was a profound strategic move.  

  • Caped Crusader

    Could not agree more. What has long galled me is the use of right wing versus left wing, for they are birds of a feather. In almost 80 years of existence the only difference between the two that I have ascertained is that right wingers tend to bathe more often, have much more impressive parades, and wear neater uniforms; whilst left wingers bathe infrequently,or not all all, seem disorganized in everything except cruelty,and wear scroungy clothing. But the end result is the same. Only fairly recently have I read that Josef Stalin is to credited for this, for he had declared that the Soviet was left wing, so all opposition should be called right wing. If someone knows this derivation to be incorrect, please correct me. I wish we could change the language to lovers of liberty versus lovers of domination (or despotic regulation) to better define the struggle in which we are engaged.

  • 11B40

    I’m currently reading (albeit slowly) Catherine Merridale’s “Ivan’s War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945”.   In her first chapter, the authoress addresses the changes in the USSR during the period between the overthrow of the Tsar, and the beginning of World War II. What struck me was the number of parallels between what the Commies were doing there and then to create the new “Soviet” man and what the Obama administration and its fellow travelers are doing here and now to create its “Progressive” man. While that alone is certainly enough to quell any latent or incipient conservative optimism, the way that that mistreated population fell or was herded into line to serve the State will probably put an additional dampener on any hopes for our American population to come to its political senses. To paraphrase Dandy Don Meredith of Dallas Cowboys fame, “Turn out the lights, the party’s over”.
    One more bit of tid, if I may, that first chapter’s title was “Marching with Revolutionary Step”.

  • rick9911

    “understand why Leftists are fools when they’re frightened of corporations and, instead, want desperately to place control over every aspect of their lives in government ”
    Why do people not understand that corporations are the creation of government and could be abolished by government. That will never happen because government and corporations are so intertwined that which controls the other at any given time is impossible to know.

  • Ymarsakar

    Totalitarian systems need an external as well as an internal enemy in order to obtain power. Corporations are merely the Left’s necessary deception, with Islamic terrorists being a close second or third alternative.
    The Left didn’t create the people in order to have them understand how the rulers do things. Those who are born to rule, understand. Those who are born to serve, do not.
    One will find that the greatest proponents of corporation taxes and control, are the ones in charge of mega corporations closely allied to Congress. Check out Feinstein and Kerry’s political and family connections to defense corporations and economic corporations. They, at least, know what they are doing when it comes to eliminating the competition.
    If the rest of their serfs think this is them protecting the people from mega bad corporations… well, that in itself shows the difference between birth quality.

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