Marxism is the Theory, Totalitarianism the Practice…

If the last century proved anything, it proved that correct. One question I’ve often asked but have never seen the answer to: why is it that the leaders in the last century who knew the most about Marx were the very same ones who butchered their own people in such incredibly unprecedented numbers? According to The Black Book of Communism (published not by Regnery but by Harvard University Press), in the 20th century Communist regimes were responsible for approximately 80 to 100 million deaths. What do Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot, Castro all have in common except that they were experts in Marxism? Not much else, actually (well, unless you’re counting the stacks of human corpses they created).

Another thing that rarely gets discussed: the people who ended up getting butchered and slaughtered were often the very same people that Marxists condescendingly claimed to be speaking for — peasants, the working classes. The 25 million Zeks that Stalin single-handedly starved out of existence could hardly be said to have been of the privileged classes. Want more irony? Most of the proponents of Marxism and revolution throughout the last century came from the privileged classes. Where did Pol Pot learn about Marxism? In the salons of Paris, where, as one of a very few privileged Cambodians of his generation, he went for his education. Of course, you have to be an elitist to believe, as he did, that one of out seven of his countrymen should die so that he could realize his dream of a purely agrarian Socialism, the killing fields being what remained of his attempt to out-Mao Mao.

Why am I turning this crank? Because once again there’s another piece of hagiography where revolutionary/communist figures are concerned: The Motorcycle Diaries, the movie based on Che’s Guevara’s book about his youthful wanderings in South America, was just released. It’s gotten a pass by almost every reviewer. But should it? Writing of The Motorcycle Diariesin Slate recently, Paul Berman puts us right on Che. Here’s his opening salvo:

The cult of Ernesto Che Guevara is an episode in the moral callousness of our time. Che was a totalitarian. He achieved nothing but disaster. Many of the early leaders of the Cuban Revolution favored a democratic or democratic-socialist direction for the new Cuba. But Che was a mainstay of the hardline pro-Soviet faction, and his faction won. Che presided over the Cuban Revolution’s first firing squads. He founded Cuba’s “labor camp” system—the system that was eventually employed to incarcerate gays, dissidents, and AIDS victims.

Read the rest of Berman’s brilliant takedown here…

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