Ideas have consequences, and the worse the idea, the more widespread the resulting catastrophe.
The socialist theories of the 19th century – the most influential of which was The Communist Manifesto, written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels – led to terrifying slaughter in the century that followed. In terms of a death toll instigated by the mind of man, the 20th century was the worst ever experienced by humanity.
“Nothing in the long span of human history comes close to the tyranny, terror, and mass genocide caused by Marxism in power – nothing,” declared C. Bradley Thompson in a 2012 speech. Thompson is professor of political science at Clemson University and executive director of the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism.
Unfortunately, for increasing numbers of people in the West, socialism is imagined to be a benign political theory, simply an alternative way to organize free democratic nations. They insist true socialism can come peacefully and by the ballot box.
However, they aren’t peddling true socialism, not according to the most influential of its evangelists – men like Marx and Engels, Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-tung, and Fidel Castro.
Marxists insist that there is a brutal war coming between capitalist oppressors and oppressed workers, and this final conflict is the only pathway to a perfected humanity under socialism.
In reality, true socialism has been a calamity for mankind.
“The best scholarship now tells us that between 1917 and 1989, approximately 100 million people were murdered by various Marxist regimes,” Thompson said, “and millions more were tortured, starved, exiled, enslaved, and sent to concentration camps.”
Salvation through violent revolution
Socialists believe that as societies grow in size and complexity, two distinct classes begin to form: those who own property and wealth (the bourgeoisie) and those who don’t (the proletariat). Enormous conflict between the classes is the result, as the former oppresses the latter. The state is created to protect the wealthy, further exacerbating the conflict. (See AFA Journal, 10/20.)
Having sketched out such a portrait of capitalist societies and the bondage of the working class, is it any wonder that Marxists see revolution as the only pathway to deliverance for the proletariat?
In The State and Revolution, Vladimir Lenin, leader of the Bolshevik takeover of Russia in 1917, said, “[I]t is clear that the liberation of the oppressed class is impossible not only without a violent revolution, but also without the destruction of the apparatus of state power. ...”
Revolutions are necessarily bloody because the oppressed are forced to confront power with power. The state has its instruments of coercion – a standing army and the police – and so must the working class.
Mao Tse-tung, who led the communist takeover of China in 1949, identified violence as the source of the revolution and everything that followed it.
Mao declared, “Every communist must grasp the truth: ‘Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.’ … [Having] guns, we can … create cadres, create schools, create culture, create mass movements. … All things grow out of the barrel of a gun.”
This is a fight to the death, according to socialists. Che Guevara, who helped Fidel Castro to a communist victory in Cuba, made this chilling statement about what motivated the revolutionary: “Hatred as an element of the struggle; a relentless hatred of the enemy, impelling us … into an effective, violent, selective, and cold killing machine. Our soldiers must be thus; a people without hatred cannot vanquish a brutal enemy.”
The hatred that dwells in the hearts of real socialists is breathtaking. Normal people with natural affections for their fellow man have a difficult time comprehending it. Marxist revolutionary Sergey Nechayev, who some claim was one of the most feared men in Russia in the second half of the 19th century, said revolutionaries must be single-minded in their determination to destroy “the whole filthy order” of the capitalist state.
“Night and day, he must have but one thought, one aim – merciless destruction,” Nechayev said in Catechism of a Revolutionary. “Striving coldbloodedly and indefatigably toward this end, he must be prepared to destroy … with his own hands everything that stands in the path of the revolution.”
According to Leon Trotsky, a Bolshevik who was instrumental in the communist takeover of Russia, there was only one way for the bourgeoisie to avoid annihilation, and that was by capitulation. If the oppressors refused to surrender, the death toll could be staggering. In Terrorism and Communism Trotsky wrote:
No one, of course, attempted to reckon up beforehand the number of victims that will be called for by the revolutionary insurrection of the proletariat, and by the regime of its dictatorship. But it was clear to all that the number of victims will vary with the strength of resistance of the propertied classes.
Violent defense of the revolution
Trotsky also made it clear that once the proletariat successfully overthrew their oppressors, they would defend the socialist state with violence as well:
A revolutionary class which has conquered power with arms in its hands is bound to, and will, suppress, rifle in hand, all attempts to tear the power out of its hands. Where it has against it a hostile army, it will oppose to it its own army. Where it is confronted with armed conspiracy, attempt at murder, or rising, it will hurl at the heads of its enemies an unsparing penalty.
This is why, wherever communists have fomented a successful revolution, they use every weapon at their disposal to keep what they have taken. The weapons used by Marxists are varied but brutal in their power to terrorize and oppress.
Thompson airs the communists’ dirty laundry list: “Collectivization, one-party rule, man-made famine, secret police, arrests, propaganda, censorship, ethnic cleansing, purges, show trials, reeducation camps, gulags, firing squads, and killing fields – all these defined life under communism.”
If there’s one thing revolutionaries fear more than anything else, it’s other revolutionaries. Suspicion and demand for absolute ideological purity become weapons to use against potential enemies. Thompson explained:
Whole new categories of “antisocial” crimes were created by the “dictatorship of the proletariat.” Under communism, for example, it became a crime punishable by death to be a member of the “bourgeoisie,” an “enemy of the people,” a “counterrevolutionary,” or a “deviationist.” Even those who were just skeptical or indifferent to the goals of the regime were labeled saboteurs and subject to imprisonment or worse.
This is the nature of true socialism. Communism insists that revolution is birthed out of capitalist greed, but there can be no doubt that envy, bitterness, and hatred is the blood rushing through the heart of the Marxist. The hand of violent vengeance strikes down its many enemies, and revolution unleashes a cruelty that far exceeds the perceived oppression of the bourgeois state.
Only a monster blinded by hatred can wield against his fellow man bloody revolution and the extermination of all dissenters. Only a fool can applaud the society thusly created and rename it utopia.
*For the purpose of brevity, this feature will use the terms socialism, communism, and Marxism interchangeably.
(Editor's Note: This article was first published in the January-February 2021 edition of the AFA Journal and was posted online HERE)