Apologists For Communist Totalitarianism: I Hate Those Guys

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on December 23, 2011

One would think that the deaths of Vaclav Havel and Kim Jong Il would prompt universal condemnation for the dictatorial communist regimes the former so bravely fought against, and the latter used for self-aggrandizement at the expense of his own citizens. One would be wrong; the condemnation of dictatorial communist regimes is blessedly widespread, but it is by no means universal.

Consider first Neil Clark, who informs us of the following regarding Havel’s struggle:

No one questions that Havel, who went to prison twice, was a brave man who had the courage to stand up for his views. Yet the question which needs to be asked is whether his political campaigning made his country, and the world, a better place. Havel’s anti-communist critique contained little if any acknowledgement of the positive achievements of the regimes of eastern Europe in the fields of employment, welfare provision, education and women’s rights. Or the fact that communism, for all its faults, was still a system which put the economic needs of the majority first.

These comments are, of course, repulsive beyond belief, in addition to being historically illiterate, but as far as Clark is concerned, no good will come of Havel’s death if people like Clark cannot use it in order to lie about history. Andrew Stuttaford rightly takes Clark to task. So does Johnathan Pearce:

Presumably, [Clark's article] explains why there were millions of downtrodden, poor people attempting to enter the Soviet Empire from such hellholes as West Germany. That explains why East Berlin erected the Wall, to contain the flood of people trying to enter it. Yes, that must have been the reason. (Sarcasm alert).

I guess the fact that the Soviet System created a two-tier society: the Party and Everyone Else, must have escaped Mr Clark’s gimlet-eye attention. Perhaps the Gulag, the shootings of political opponents, the construction of the White Sea Canal (with slave labour), etc, were in fact all features of ensuring that the “needs of the majority” came “first”.

For what it is worth, on a more theoretical level, the horrors of collectivism can be summed up in Marx’s dictum: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”. For if you believe that the needs of the majority trump such pesky issues as rights or liberties, then so much the worse for such liberal principles. But in practice, of course, the history of the Communist world was littered with stories of shortages, famines and shabby, crappily produced goods and services.

Make no mistake; however eloquent Stuttaford’s and Pearce’s condemnation of Clark’s drivel, no one will succeed in the effort to make Clark ashamed of what he wrote. The man is clearly ineducable.

Speaking of ineducable, consider Simon Winchester–hidden behind a paywall, so alas, no link–on North Korea:

The State’s founder, Kim Il Sung, claimed that all he wanted for North Korea was to be socialist, and to be left alone. In that regard, the national philosophy of self-reliance known in North Korea as “Juche” is little different from India’s Gandhian version known as “swadeshi”. Just let us get on with it, they said, and without interference, please.

India’s attempt to go it alone failed. So, it seems, has Burma’s. Perhaps inevitably, North Korea’s attempt appears to be tottering. But seeing how South Korea has turned out — its Koreanness utterly submerged in neon, hip-hop and every imaginable American influence, a romantic can allow himself a small measure of melancholy: North Korea, for all its faults, is undeniably still Korea, a place uniquely representative of an ancient and rather remarkable Asian culture. And that, in a world otherwise rendered so bland, is perhaps no bad thing.

Let’s give the mike to Brian Micklethwait, for a reply:

No bad thing? Competition for commenters: concoct morally disgusting sentences which begin with “For all its faults …”. You’ll struggle to top that one.

One could take that competition and run with it all day. “For all its faults, Nazi Germany was really good on the issue of realizing the health dangers of smoking.” “For all its faults, the Stalinist Soviet Union had itself a leader with an awesome mustache.” “For all its faults, Maoist China did not completely collapse into utter ruin.”

Now, your turn. Don’t be shy; this is a fun game!

Alex Massie is indignant. And who can blame him? Indignation ought to be directed at CNN as well, which has made eliding the facts and missing the point into something of an art form when it comes to North Korea. To be fair, of course, it is entirely possible that CNN is relying on the wrong academic to guide its thinking–or whatever passes for “thinking” at CNN–when it comes to North Korea. But that’s still no excuse, even if it might be an explanation.

I just have a simple request, however. Is it possible that we could ostracize communists–and their fanboys and girls–the way that we would ostracize Nazis and the people who make excuses for them? Could I possibly see that happen before I die of old age? Because that would be nice.

  • Maria Horvath

    For all his faults, Hitler was a vegetarian and he also liked dogs.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, what is it about leftists and their infatuation and love affair with boot on the neck, authoritarian dictators.  Their fantasies always leave out the reality check…odds are, they would be on the receiving end of the boot, not the giving end.

    • kentucho

      Maybe, deep down, they feel like they deserve the boot on the neck. Maybe somehow, psychologically, they need it. Maybe that’s where their baffling apologias for dictatorship come from.

      • Richard Easbey

        I think you might be on to something here. I just wish they didn’t want to put a boot on the neck of EVERYONE ELSE, too.

    • Paul

      Yes this is true, BUT in their fantasies they are the ones with unlimited power and authority to implement their vision. Scratch a lefty and you will find and authoritarian with an unbridled lust to manage and control others. For their own good of course.

    • Frank

      As long as the purpose of the boot on the neck is to eliminate income and wealth disparities, not at all necessarily to improve the general lot, that boot is worshipped by all the Left. And, in that respect, Communism and Socialism “work”.

      • Wudndux

        Except, of course, that the boot does not eliminate income disparities: the people at the top of those societies live very well indeed, and as North Korea demonstrates, the despots hand down their lifestyles to their children and grandchildren.

        The so-called egalitarian claim Is and always has been a flat out lie.

  • Anonymous

    The answer to that last question is obviously: No, because we are too busy ostracizing people who like Sarah Palin.

  • Will

    This is fun.

    For all his faults, Pol Pot did successfully reduce the food demands of Cambodia, thereby making it more sustainable.

  • Kevin

    For all his faults, Saruman succeeded in developing a smarter, more handsome breed of Orc. And perhaps that’s no bad thing.

  • Ossiansweet

    The simple cognitive template for your garden-variety intellectual is that left-wing is good, and right-wing is evil.
    Accordingly, the only way that you can ostracize communists like you can ostracize Nazis is to recharacterize them as right-wingers.
    E.g. Kim Jong-il was a nationalist, and a racist, so he was … in a way …  right-wing! There’s something the intellectual can work with.

  • Anonymous

    “…Is it possible that we could ostracize communists–and their fanboys and girls–the way that we would ostracize Nazis and the people who make excuses for them?…”

    If that were to happen, there would be no one left working at the major media outlets, with the possible exception of a small coterie at Fox and the WSJ.

  • Anonymous

    “…Is it possible that we could ostracize communists–and their fanboys and girls–the way that we would ostracize Nazis and the people who make excuses for them?…”

    If that were to happen, there would be no one left working at the major media outlets, with the possible exception of a small coterie at Fox and the WSJ.

  • C.J. Casey

    All I can think of when I read what the apologists have written is that old “T-Shirt Hell” shirt that says “What about all the good things Hitler did?”

  • C.J. Casey

    All I can think of when I read what the apologists have written is that old “T-Shirt Hell” shirt that says “What about all the good things Hitler did?”

  • Charles Lipson

    Another outstanding column, Pejman

  • Charles Lipson

    Another outstanding column, Pejman

  • http://twitter.com/DaTechGuyblog Peter Ingemi

    Educating him.  Balderdash, I suspect he knows exactly what Communism is and what it did and supports it all the same.

    Totalitarianism is a great system if you believe you would be among the elite rulers.  It has always been so

  • Guest

    For all of it’s faults, CNN is easy to turn off.

    • Will Collier

      Except in airports.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CXBUTM5N7T5L4U7NXYEX4THCL4 LOU G

    There is only one kind of good Communist–a dead one.

    Communist sympathizers present a slightly more complex question.  Perhaps some of them can be salvaged by re-eduction.   It depends on how vincible the comsymp’s ignorance turns out to be.  If anyone  would knowingly shill for that obscene opining of the Gates of Hell, then it’s, ” Holy Martyrs of the Spanish Civil War pray for us,” and  “Viva la Muerte!”

  • Blacque Jacques Shellacque

    “…of the positive achievements of the regimes of eastern Europe in the
    fields of employment, welfare provision, education and women’s rights.”

    Is this guy serious???

  • Karl Ushanka

    We don’t like commies either, but we do like their hats.  

    Karl
    commieobama.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/don.meaker Don Meaker

    Keep in mind that North Korea is not Korean. Kim Il Sung was not Korean, but rather was a Soviet Army officer. Kim Jong-Il was born in Soviet Union, not in Korea.

    • Anonymous

      Don, not true.  He was born in a camp of fighting anti-capitalists atop Mount Hope and Change.  They were surrounded by Yankee imperialists when he was delivered from the clouds above.  He is (was) a genius.  Best song-writer, best enginieer, best singer, and died from hard work to boot. Thats what the “approved truth” is anyway.  Read that in the Democratic Peoples Republic’s free press.  Whats not to believe?  Have you not “won the battle against yourself, Winston?”

  • http://www.facebook.com/don.meaker Don Meaker

    Keep in mind that North Korea is not Korean. Kim Il Sung was not Korean, but rather was a Soviet Army officer. Kim Jong-Il was born in Soviet Union, not in Korea.

  • Bill Dalasio

    Sure, North Korea may be starving its own people and living in a perpetual reign of abject misery, but poverty is so damn quaint!

    • Jones_paj60

      Ever notice those reporting so lovingly about NK fly out within a few days? Few who praise it so magically bother to drop their bags and change their address.

  • Gringo

    Simon Winchester claims that like Geta Garbo, North Korea just wanted to be left alone. North Korea profited for decades from assistance from its “Big Brothers.” You can’t simultaneously cry “self reliance” and wanting to be left alone with such massive aid- most of which stopped when the Soviet Union came to an end.  North Korea’s involvement in the world is not the behavior of a country that wants to be left alone: various criminal enterprises to raise hard currency(such as luxury goods for the Nomenklatura), selling nuclear technology to Syria, Iran, etc, blowing up a plane of South Koreans.

    For all his faults as an idiot for an apologist for a slave regime, Simon Winchester has written some good books, especially related to the history of science. I recommend “The Map That Changed the World” and “The Man Who Loved China.”

    Perhaps Simon Winchester would consider being left alone in North Korea.

  • http://davidscommonplacebook.wordpress.com/ David Hoffman

    The Left is too fascinated with power to ever ostracize communists and their fans. They would be adoring Hitler too, if he had won World War II.

  • Edwinleap

    For all his faults, Che was, at one point, interested in health care.  

  • nontonite

    “Is it possible that we could ostracize communists–and their fanboys and
    girls–the way that we would ostracize Nazis and the people who make
    excuses for them?”

    Yes, it could be.  If the conservatives in the media would just do that.  For once, it would be nice to see George Will say something like this when he’s surrounded by the house libs on This Week.  Elizabeth Hasselbeck could have said it to Whoopi Goldberg on the View.

    It just takes guts.

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  • Nate Whilk

    For all his faults, Che Guevara made really great t-shirts and posters.

    Classic: For all his faults, Mussolini made the trains run on time.

    • No

      Actually, el Duce didn’t make the trains run on time. He just roughed up anyone who said they didn’t.

  • Anonymous

    For all its faults, having AIDS does make you reflect more on life.

  • Seerak

    Over 100 million dead? Nah, that just means they effed something up. Keep trying! /Leftist

    This is the ideology that sets terms of political thought the world over. I wonder if this is the real answer to Fermi’s paradox; who in their right mind would come near a planet with ideas as barbaric as this — and nukes?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_26KNV6VFJSXD3B43DMKGPUZ3OA Pete E

    For all its faults, Nazis dramatically reduced cancer rates among Jews.

  • Hippobooks

    Don’t stuff your “bucket list” with unattainable things, PY.  Before I die, I’d just like to see a Che t-shirt considered as socially repulsive as a Hitler shirt is today.  Because that would be nice.

  • Kevin R.C. O’Brien

    You guys simply don’t get it. Professor Hampsch at Holy Cross explained it perfectly: Communism hasn’t failed, it just hasn’t been implemented hard enough. 

    For all his faults, Stalin had some good ideas. Too bad he was so bashful about asserting himself. 

    • Richard Easbey

       And it was a real shame he was so hesitant to murder a few million people to implement his socialist worker’s paradise.

      Oh wait….

  • Anonymous

    Or the fact that Jack The Ripper, for all his faults, was still a forceful opponent of the sexual trafficking of women.

  • Kevin R.C. O’Brien

    For all his faults, Walter Duranty had a rare talent for staying on-message.

  • Anonymous

    Ostracize them? We elect them President.

  • http://profiles.google.com/lawrenceperson Lawrence Person

    Don’t forget similar, inevitable stupidity from Noam Chomsky on Havel:

     http://www.battleswarmblog.com/?p=9828

  • Jones_paj60

    Lefties think communism is best when practiced upon their neighbors.

  • Diggs

    Let’s be fair here.  There are only one or two journalists in the US that don’t wish they were writing for, and in, a Communist country.  The job would be easier (no reason to look for pesky facts…simply print what the gov’t wants printed), the perks better, the readership more compliant, and the competition mostly nil.  This is why so many are currently happy to be scribes for Obama. 
    As with Havel, there are many in America that have finally seen the light and moved beyond the MSM. 

  • Murgatroyd

    For all its faults, the antebellum South’s system of slavery did guarantee full employment for African Americans.

    • jay_manifold

      I suspect that one’s been seriously argued by neo-Confederates.

  • Tennwriter

    This Simon Winchester person has a shallow understanding of other cultures.  You think the South Koreans are just like those on the Upper
    East Side, but with chopsticks?  Really?  Just because they know how to use neon does not make them Americans you nyekulturny dimwit!

    For all his faults, the Ugly American at least realized people were different, even if he thought they would understand English if he yelled it.

    OK, not anywhere near as disgusting…

    For all his faults, Jeffrey Dahmer was good with a butterknife.

  • Murgatroyd

    For all his faults, Jeffrey Dahmer did come up with some intriguing and charming new recipes.

    For all its faults, Soviet communism did enrich the English language with the word gulag.

    For all its faults, the Communist Chinese policy of carving up still-living political prisoners has enlarged the bank of organs for transplantation.

    For all their faults, apologists for murderous Communist regimes have served to illustrate the depths of stupidity and callousness to which some human beings can sink.

    • Richard Easbey

      I see what you did there. VERY NICE!

  • Beartn

    For all his faults, Charles Manson did end up becoming the most famous person to not get a call back in his audition for the Monkees.

    My challenge for all these communist apoliogists is pretty simple:  If North Korea is so awesome, and since you have the means to purchase a one way ticket there, defect!  Become a North Korean, Cuban, or Myanmar citizen.  Anything short of that proves that you would rather live in a free Western society despite your empty rhetoric.

  • melanerpes

    The Commie sympathizer always see himself as one of the elite calling the shots in the Commie utopia — never as the nobody.   Sort of like believers in reincarnation are always royalty in their former lives.  

    If the Commie sympathizer can identify with Orwell’s image of  ”a boot stamping on a human face — forever” at all, it is as the owner of the boot.  

    • Jim

      What a terrific analogy… and point.  Communism and its co-joined sibling fascism are the ugliest, most blood-drenched ideas in human history.  As Reagan said when asked to comment on the wall… “it is as ugly as the idea behind it.”  Nuff said.   

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  • http://pumping-irony.livejournal.com/ Wilbur Post

    For all their faults, useful idiots are NOT useful but they definitely ARE idiots.

  • http://kgbudge.com kgbudge

    “Make no mistake; however eloquent Stuttaford’s and Pearce’s condemnation
    of Clark’s drivel, no one will succeed in the effort to make Clark
    ashamed of what he wrote. The man is clearly ineducable.”

    I must disagree. It is not that Clark is ineducable; it is that he is malicious. Heinlein’s Law is merely a rule of thumb, not a sure guide; and some things that might plausibly be attributed to mere stupidity are in fact wicked.

  • Anonymous

    The reason CNN glosses over the evil of the cult of the leader in DPRK is that they are the propaganda organ of the cult of the Democratic party leadership in the USA, and CNN doesn’t want to highlight how much worse they are at their function than the propaganda organs of the DPRK.

  • Anonymous

    For all his faults, Mohammed improved the lives of women, versus what came before him.

    I’ve heard that one ad-nauseum from arab-mooslim apologists.

    WFB came to my college many moons ago and was asked “Why?”  Why this propensity of lefties (their defining characteristic) to hate liberty so much?  He answered: “the market”.  (Read “objective reality”).  The market (Obj. Real.) dispenses inequalities, (it REVEALS THEM).  And lefties just hate that.  Any threadbare and translucent “anti-market” illusion will do, therefore.  All MUST be equal in ALL things.  Its their first cause.  The irreducible.

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