Jonah Goldberg expertly lays out the consistencies with the violence and destruction from both Communist regimes and the Nazi’s – and the inconsistencies with the level of outrage expressed at each. BOTH should illicit disgust, but unfortunately they aren’t. Read the commentary below and don’t miss Glenn’s first ever documentary tomorrow on The Fox News Channel at 5pm ET titled ‘The Revolutionary Holocaust’.
Equal evil, unequal outrage
A Special to the email newsletter by Jonah Goldberg
| Liberal Fascism
By Jonah Goldberg
Communism is, to be fair, a dirty word. But not that dirty. You can wear a Mao hat to your local organic coffee shop. You can hang a campy poster of Lenin in your dorm room right next to the Bob Marley cheesecloth. A hemp-fabric Che Guevara t-shirt? Man, you’re cool.
In other words, it’s taboo, but fashionably taboo. No politician with ambitions for a career outside of the fever swamps of college town gasbaggery would ever cop to the C-word. But few politicians – Democratic politicians at least — would pay a price later in life for dabbling in “radical politics” in their youth. Meanwhile, if you complain about some kid wearing Karl Marx on his t-shirt you’re just letting the world know how un-hip and hung-up you are.
You can’t say the same thing about fascism or, more specifically, Nazism (there’s a difference between the two, but there’s no point in getting into that here). A Hammer and Sickle tattoo is edgy, trendy and clever. A Swatiska tattoo is disgusting and evil.
Now, let me be clear: That is exactly how it should be. I do not object to the strictness of the taboo against Nazism and its icons. My complaint is over the failure of society to treat Communism even a fraction as harshly.
Communists, marching under the banner of “socialism” killed more people than the Nazis did by a wide margin. They imprisoned more, enslaved more, oppressed more, by any metric. Conservative estimates put the death toll at nearly 100 million. The Chinese alone killed some 65 million of their own citizens. And, of course, this leaves out the fact that the Nazis considered themselves “socialists” as well.
This raises a vital point. We are taught that Nazism was evil – and it was! – but that Communism was merely “misguided.” “The Communists’ hearts were in the right place, they just went too far,” seems to be prevailing attitude of so many intellectuals and journalists. To hate Communism or to even have an “inordinate fear” of Communism – to borrow a phrase from Jimmy Carter – is a sign you’re a paranoid kook. To hate Nazism is a sign of enlightenment, even when you imagine it to be in all sorts of places it isn’t (like, say, the Republican Party).
One reason for this double-standard is that we’ve also been taught that Communism and Nazism were opposites. Since Nazism was evil, it’s opposite can’t be. But this is nonsense on stilts. Communism and Nazism were kindred phenomena, two closely related movements vying to win the battle for dominance of the 20th century. The Harvard intellectual historian said it well, Bolshevism and fascism aren’t opposites, they’re both heresies of socialism.
Nazi ranks swelled with former German Red shirts. The Communist battalions had loads of converted Brown Shirts. There were self-described “national Bolshevik” working for Hitler and their were self-described “Red fascists” working for Stalin. The Communists in the Reichstag voted in lockstep with the Nazis on the grounds that a Nazi takeover would be a short pit-stop on the way to Communist rule. They’re slogan: “First Brown, then Red.”
But wasn’t Nazism nationalist and Communism internationalist? Yes, that was the main difference between the two brands of socialism, but that once serious distinction quickly became a marketing slogan, and soon not even that. Stalin embraced “socialism in one country” and fought the “great patriotic war for Mother Russia.” Mao embraced socialism with “Chinese characteristics.” Pol Pot was a nationalist and socialist. So is Kim Jong Il. There has never been a real “internationalist” socialist regime. They’re all nationalist-socialist regimes, just like the German National Socialists – aka the Nazis.
It’s true that the Nazis were anti-Semites and racists to a much greater degree than the Soviets (which is not the same as saying the Soviets weren’t anti-Semites and racists). But why should that exonerate the Soviets from killing at least 20 million of their own people?
To get a sense of how deep the double standard goes, consider the fact that according to the UN and international law, Communists never commit genocide.
The United Nations defines genocide as the "intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group." Left out of this definition are "modern" political labels for people: the poor, the religious, the middle class, etc.
The oversight was deliberate. The word "genocide" was coined by a Polish Jew, Raphael Lemkin, who was responding to Winston Churchill’s 1941 lament that “we are in the presence of a crime without a name." Lemkin, a champion of human rights who lost 49 relatives in the Holocaust, gave it a name a few years later: “Genocide.”
But to get the UN to recognize genocide as a specific crime, he made compromises. Pressured by the Soviets, Lemkin agreed that "political" groups shouldn’t be included in the UN’s 1948 resolution on genocide. Hence when the Soviets killed millions of Ukranians in the name “modernization” and “collectivization” it wasn’t “genocide.” After all, Stalin insisted he didn’t want those farmers dead because they were Ukranians he wanted those Ukranians dead because they were farmers.
Under the more narrow official definition, it’s genocide to try to wipe out Roma (formerly known as Gypsies), but it’s not necessarily genocide to liquidate, say, people without permanent addresses. You can’t slaughter "Catholics," but you can wipe out "religious people" and dodge the genocide charge. Even today, the Russians and Chinese block any attempt to fiddle with the definition of genocide.
I passionately believe we should continue to condemn Nazism for the titanic evil that it was. I can even understand and agree with the feeling that for hard-to-define reasons, Nazism ranks as the greatest moral horror of the 20th century. But surely it’s fair to say that Communism comes close. And surely decent people should be able to muster some disgust and outrage for both without being mocked, particularly by some kid who looks like he’s auditioning for the role of Shaggy in a live-action Scooby-Doo remake and can’t even explain why it’s clever he’s wearing Mao’s mug on his t-shirt.
Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review and author of Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change.