One hundred Years After the Bolshevik Revolution

In part, this recharacterization of communism is a transparent attempt to shift the blame for the undeniable crimes and atrocities committed by the Reds from Marxism/socialism onto somebody/something else – preferably nationalism or anything that can be labelled right-wing. However, it also demonstrates that the modern-day neo-Marxist radical left, such as Antifa, believes the chief problem with the communists was that they weren’t sufficiently radical!

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By Paweł Piotr Styrna l November 13, 2017


Antifa communists in the West (left); communists in post-Soviet Russia (right)

One hundred years ago this fall – on October 25 (Old Style)/November 7 (New Style), to be exact – the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia, an anniversary which communists throughout the world have been celebrating.

Since then, communism has subjected large swaths of the globe – from Europe to Asia, and from Latin America to Africa – to terror, mass murder, famine, and repression – all in the name of a supposedly noble ideal.

The death toll surpassed even that of the German Nazis: over the decades, according to The Black Book of Communism, the Marxists-Leninists murdered or led to the deaths of 100 million human beings.

Other estimates (some lower, some higher) exist as well, but, in any case, we are talking about millions of human lives brutally snuffed out; not to mention additional millions of lives destroyed and entire countries economically ruined.

And yet, since then, the radical left has learned nothing and forgotten nothing.

In the 1990s, during the era of end-of-history triumphalism, many believed that communism had finally been consigned to the trash heap of history. After all, the failures of Marxism-Leninism were laid bare for all to see. And yet, ironically, following the implosion of the Soviet Bloc, the neo-Marxist and radical socialist left became increasingly more vocal and influential – particularly after the election of Barack Hussein Obama in 2008.

Eight years later, Bernie Sanders – a radical socialist who honeymooned in the Soviet Union and defended Castro and communist food lines during the 1980s – almost won the Democratic presidential nomination and continues to be extremely popular among millennials.

According to a recent YouGov/Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation poll, a whopping 45 percent of millennials stated that they prefer to live under socialism rather than capitalism. (By contrast, 42 percent opt for a capitalist society.) Seven percent of millennials are even more extreme, choosing outright communism!

In other words, exactly a century after the Bolshevik revolution, a majority of American twenty- and thirty-something-year-olds – the generation that will soon run the country, and, in some cases, is already beginning to do so – detest capitalism and view the world through a Marxist prism. (The situation is likely even more dire in Western Europe.)

Although most self-described socialist millennials would undoubtedly reject the communist label – indignantly proclaiming that theirs is a “democratic” socialism – it is certainly fair to argue that their anti-capitalist, anti-Judeo-Christian, anti-nationalist, and anti-traditionalist philosophy has more essential points of agreement with Marx, Lenin, and Mao than with the American Founding Fathers, Edmund Burke, or Friedrich von Hayek. (Many millennials appear to see eye-to-eye with more radical libertarians only when it comes to marijuana legalization and freedom below the belt!)

As Bret Stephens points out, many of today’s progressives, millennial or otherwise, “remain in a permanent and dangerous state of semi-denial about the legacy of Communism a century after its birth in Russia.”

He clarifies: “No, they are not true-believing Communists. No, they are not unaware of the toll of the Great Leap Forward or the Killing Fields. (…).

But they will insist that there is an essential difference between Nazism and Communism — between race-hatred and class-hatred; Buchenwald and the gulag — that morally favors the latter. They will attempt to dissociate Communist theory from practice in an effort to acquit the former. They will balance acknowledgment of the repression and mass murder of Communism with references to its ‘real advances and achievements.’ They will say that true communism has never been tried.”

In some ways, the reality is even worse.

For at least a decade-and-a-half, critiques of communism coming from the left – both at the levels of sophisticated scholarship and popular punditry – have downplayed the Marxist/socialist/radical leftist nature of communism. Instead, they have depicted communism as patriarchal, puritanical, homophobic, nationalistic, and pretty much anything else that the left traditionally attributes to the right.

In part, this recharacterization of communism is a transparent attempt to shift the blame for the undeniable crimes and atrocities committed by the Reds from Marxism/socialism onto somebody/something else – preferably nationalism or anything that can be labelled right-wing. However, it also demonstrates that the modern-day neo-Marxist radical left, such as Antifa, believes the chief problem with the communists was that they weren’t sufficiently radical!

Much of the problem stems of course from the fact that communism – or Soviet International Socialism has not been as unequivocally condemned and treated on par with German National Socialism (aka Nazism) as an equally violent, democidal, tyrannical ideology/political system. For some, apparently, systematically murdering innocent lives en masse based on class or political criteria remains somehow less repugnant and vile than doing so for racial or ethnic reasons. As long as this (im)moral standard remains, conservatives will continue to lose the culture wars.


Paweł Styrna is a Ph.D student in Russian history at a DC area university. He holds two MA degrees, one in modern European and Russian history (University of Illinois at Chicago) and another in statecraft international affairs (Institute of World Politics in Washington DC). Mr. Styrna is also a Eurasia analyst for the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research and a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis.

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