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Riddle Me This?

I am definitely not getting invited to dinner parties after asking this question. When people illustrate the absolutely brutal record of socialism and communism as implemented in human history, we get the usual, “well, if only MY GUY was in charge” or if “only REAL and TRUE socialism were tried” then it would have worked, or at least been tolerable.

OK, fine.

But how come I never hear the following, “if only REAL and TRUE National Socialism had been tried and not corrupted by bad people) then things would have worked, or at least have been tolerable?  You may say that at its core, National Socialism (Nazi-ism) is racist and deeply immoral, though I am not sure you would say that about the American Syndicalist brand of it. You may also consider that I might suggest the same of the “real” socialists.

In any case, why the former and not the latter?

7 Responses to “Riddle Me This?”

  1. Ally says:

    I’m not sure, here’s what first comes to mind though:

    I think it has something to do with intent. The Nazis are viewed as uniquely evil because their goal was the extermination of an entire race. Communism / socialism may have a worse record in terms of body count, but their ostensible goals were, by and large, not the extermination of peoples; the millions that have died in the name of communism are, by and large, collateral damage. They died not for their own sake, but in pursuit of some “greater” goal.

    Note that I am in no way attempting to defend communism / socialism or excuse the atrocities committed in their name. The consequences are just as awful for those killed and their families, friends and communities. It seems fairly apparent to me though, that, in general, people are more willing to tolerate and excuse all sorts of terrible things when they are carried out in pursuit of some supposed good, than when the terrible things themselves are the intended outcome. So, people (rightly) consider the Nazis to be evil, but (perhaps considerably less rightly) consider communists to be simply misguided.

    • wintercow20 says:

      I tend to agree with your assessment here. However, when I first learned of National Socialism, I sort of had in mind the “polite” agreement between “Big Business” and “Big Labor” and “Big Government” to prevent wasteful and unnecessary competition and to craft rules to prevent too much innovation, and to ensure a “fair” slice of the pie to each interest group. Indeed, the first New Deal pretty much looks like National Socialism, as does parts of the second – and no one is running around claiming that FDR was an elitist out to eliminate entire races of people, are they?
      I wished I knew more of the European history, but is the Mussolini brand of National Socialism rooted in ethnic supremecy as the raison d’etre for his program?

  2. wintercow20 says:

    My other comment, and I should just post it, is that I don’t think a charitable reading of the INTENTIONS of the socialist/communists is warranted – how come it gets it?

    • lm2013 says:

      Because, unsurprisingly, most people haven’t read the socialists and communists in question – never mind whether they did so charitably or not. To read many of the luminaries of the socialist hecatomb is to read screeds nakedly advocating murder, violence, expropriation, and the subjugation of humanity to the oppressive machineries of state and industry. That it was the Russian communists who were finally able to realize the eternal left-wing nightmare of heavy industry employing slave labor is less ironic if one reads what the various Bolsheviks actually wrote.

      It’s also a glaring clue as to the priorities – and intentions! – of communist revolutionaries that explaining how a vision of a worker’s utopia could be realized took up significantly less ink and paper than explaining how entire swathes of humanity must be wiped out or otherwise enslaved. They didn’t care about the working classes – if they did, they wouldn’t have worked so tirelessly to establish slave states around the globe. If that ain’t a case of displacement, I don’t know what is.

      The communists who actually tried to realize Marx’s vision in the real world didn’t beat around the bush about any of this – unlike their benighted brethren in the academy who willfully ignored the coming dekulakinization that would eventually take their lives as well. If you think working for wages 9-5 is slavery, boy, do I have a system of slave labor camps to sell you.

      No, most people read a refraction of socialist and communist thought, one made anodyne by the comforting pronunciations of their high school English teachers and Marxist lit-crit professors – and how these people can feel comfortable doing the refracting is for some sociology PhD in the future to figure out. People are told that socialists and communists cared about people – haven’t you read about the labor movement in Europe and the United States? No, don’t read what they wrote, God forbid! Just take our word for it. It’s all about helping the downtrodden, liberating the oppressed – never mind that, to the communist, liberation takes the form of absorbing individuals into a Borg-mind collective mass of totalitarian command and control more oppressive than anything imagined before or since. The former sounds warm and fuzzy; the latter sounds like what those evil guys at Google are trying to do, and we can’t have that now, can we!

      It’s a modern case of the Noble Savage – call it the Noble Communist. Sure, he’s a bit, uh, rough around the edges and has some bad habits that we moderns can cluck our tongues at. But at the end of the day, weren’t they more noble, more worthy than our degenerate, Twitter-infested times? Funny that the ones recoiling in horror at the very idea of the Noble Savage are the same ones promoting the latter. Remember the New York Times op-ed about how communists had better sex? Sure, yes, there was all that stuff about horrific torture and slaughter and the hollowing out of humanity’s moral core, but at least there is some evidence that orgasms were better!

      All of which perversely reminds me of what Solzhenitsyn wrote: “If the intellectuals in the plays of Chekhov who spent all their time guessing what would happen in twenty, thirty, or forty years had been told that in forty years interrogation by torture would be practiced in Russia; that prisoners would have their skulls squeezed within iron rings; that human beings would be lowered into acid baths; that they would be trussed up naked to be bitten by ants and bedbugs; that ramrods heated over primus stoves would be thrust up their anal canals (the ‘secret brand’); that a man’s genitals would be slowly crushed beneath the toe of a jackboot; and that in the luckiest possible circumstances, prisoners would be tortured by being kept from sleeping for a week, by thirst, and by being beaten to a bloody pulp, not one of Chekhov’s plays would have gotten to its end, because all the heroes would have gone off to insane asylums.”

  3. Scott E says:

    Wintercow, I’m planning a very fancy dinner party. You are on the top of my guest list. Details forthcoming.

  4. Scott E says:

    ‘wished I knew more of the European history, but is the Mussolini brand of National Socialism rooted in ethnic supremecy as the raison d’etre for his program?’

    The answer is no…fascism as a political system isn’t necessarily racist, but collectivist thinking lends itself to racism, as we all know.
    it’s hard to find history on the intellectual roots of Italian fascism. my gut feeling is that Mussolini’s fascism was more of a reaction to the bitter defeat the Italians suffered in WWI more than anything (a farewell to arms, while not a historically accurate account, emphasizes the fear the Germans put into Italy as they invaded. When ww2 started, the Italians would say anything to not have to fight the Germans again.)

    Another interesting source of information is Spanish fascism prior to ww2. If I am correct (which is rarely the case) in Francis Spain, anti-semistim and racist attitudes may have been prevelant, but we’re not a fundamental basis to the cause of the Spanish crown.

    Full disclosure, I have been drinking.

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