Terrorism, tyrany and communismgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Vietnamese American Society : One Thread
Terrorism refers to the use of violence for the purpose of achieving a political goal. The targets of terrorist acts can be government officials, military personnel, people serving the interests of governments, or random civilians. Examples of terrorist acts against government officials are the various assassinations carried out by Russian revolutionaries at the end of the nineteenth century, or the assassinations of American presidents. Acts of terror against military targets tend to blend into guerrilla warfare. Such acts -- depending on your perspective --could be praised or condemned. A terrorist from one perspective could be considered a freedom fighter from another. Random violence against civilians (noncombatants) is the type of action that is normally the most widely condemned as "terrorism."
Acts of terrorism can be perpetrated by individuals, groups, or states, as an alternative to an open declaration of war. They are often carried out by states, and less often by those who otherwise feel powerless. States that sponsor or engage in the use of violence against civilians use neutral or positive terms to describe their own combatants, – such as freedom fighters, patriots, or paramilitaries.
On the surface, the popular definition of 'terrorism' represents a shift from previous means of defining an enemy from territorial or culturaldisputes over ideology or religion, to the acts of violence against the public. Many people dispute this definition however as ideological and simplistic, arguing instead that 'terrorism' is simply another in a long lists of enemy terms —that underneath any current conflict lies the same materialistic and ethnocentric reasons of which most past wars were based and now freely explained. The use of the terms terrorismand terrorist are politically weighted, and are often used to polarizing effect, where 'terrorism' is simply a relativist term for the violence committed by an enemy, from the point of view of the attacked. As political violence can be generally categorized as either 'violence in support of an establishment' or 'violence in opposition to an establishment,' 'terrorism' can be simply defined as the common euphemism for the latter.
The violence, i.e., terrorism, committed by state combatants is also considered more acceptable than that of the 'terrorist,' who by definition does not follow the self- serving laws of war, and hence cannot share in the acceptance given to establishment violence. Thus the term is impossible to apply by its rational definition —states who engage in warfare often do so outside of the laws of war and often carry out violence against civilian populations, yet rarely receive the label of 'terrorist.' The common public distinction between state violence and terrorism is based on a perception that terrorism is random, and therefore more irrational than state violence, which is assumed to be more considerate of human life. History does not always bear this out however, and language reflects this: few would question that deliberate attacks on civilian refugee columns and camps is an attempt to induce terror in the enemy population and is therefore a terrorist act. As such the most accurate definition of "terrorism" must be based in its abstract nature as a term for characterising the violence of an enemy as conforming to an immoral code of conduct.
A terrorist' is, strictly speaking, one who is personally involved in an act of terrorism. The term "terrorism" comes from the French 18th century word terrorisme (under the Terror), based on the Latin language verbs terrere (to tremble) and deterrere (to frighten from). The use of the term "terrorist" has had broader applications however, ranging in application from disgruntled citizens to common political dissidents. The term "eco-terrorist" for example was coined to apply to those who damage or destroy property as a symbolic act of resisting envionmental impactful economic trends and policy.
ommunism is a term that can refer to one of several things: a certain social system, an ideology which supports that system, or a political movement that wishes to implement that system.
As a social system, communism would be a type of egalitariansociety with no state, no private property and no social classes. In communism, all property is owned by the community as a whole, and all people enjoy equal social and economic status. Perhaps the best known principle of a communist society is "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."
As an ideology, the word communism is a synonym forMarxism and its various derivatives (most notablyMarxism-Leninism). Among other things, Marxism proposes the materialist conception of history; there are four stages ofeconomic development: slavery, feudalism, capitalism, and communism. These stages are advanced through a dialecticalprocess, refining society as history progresses. This refinement is driven by class struggle. Communism is the final refinement as it will result in one class.
As a political movement, communism is a branch of the broader socialist movement. The communist movement differentiates itself from other branches of the socialist movement through various things - such as, for example, the communists' desire to establish a communist system after the socialist one, and their commitment to revolutionary strategies for overthrowing capitalism.
Communism and Marxism
Today, the term "communism" is almost universally identified with its specifically Marxist meaning(s). However, the idea of a stateless, propertyless and classless society is not exclusively Marxist. In fact, the idea is considered by some to be much older (see for example religious communism). It is therefore possible to support communism (or more exactly a communist/anarchist society) without being a Marxist. Nevertheless, most people who support revolutionary communism today are Marxists.
Marxism and Leninism
Although many small communist societies have existed throughout human history, Karl Marxand Friedrich Engels were the first to write down a theoretical (and, according to them,scientific) basis for communism. The political ideology they created, namely Marxism, became the chief advocate of communism in the modern world.
Marxism seeks to explain historical phenomena in terms of class struggle. According to Marxists, human society consists of a number of social classes, which are differentiated by their relationship to the means of production. For example, capitalist society consists of thebourgeoisie (the capitalists; those who own the means of production) and the proletariat (the workers; those who must work for wages in order to make a living, because they do not possess any means of production of their own). One social class is the ruling class, and it uses its wealth and power to exploit the other class(es). For example, in capitalism, the bourgeoisie exploits the proletariat by drawing a profit from the proletariat's work. According to the theory, a business owner's profit equals what the workers produce minus what the workers get paid - thus, in order for the owner to make a profit, the workers must get paid less than what they produce; see surplus value. Eventually, one of the exploited classes rises up to overthrow the ruling class and the existing system, establishing itself as the new ruling class of a new system (for example, capitalism was established when the bourgeoisie overthrew feudalism and the feudal ruling class - the aristocracy).
According to the theory, class struggle is the engine of a cycle in which socio- economic systems are created, destroyed and replaced. Marxism identifies several systems that have been created and destroyed by it since the beginning of human history. However, social classes - and therefore class struggle - have not always existed. They were created at the dawn of human civilization, when nomadic tribes first settled down and started practicingagriculture. Before that, human beings lived in a kind of classless society that can be described as primitive communism. Primitive communism ended when agriculture created the conditions for private ownership of the means of production (which, at that time, simply meant private ownership of cultivated land). This differentiated people into land owners and those who needed to work other people's land for a living, and this in turn resulted in theslave-based system of the ancient world. That system eventually gave way to feudalism, which eventually gave way to capitalism.
According to Marxism, the class struggle within capitalism will eventually lead to the proletariat overthrowing the bourgeoisie and establishing socialism. Socialism, in turn, will result in the gradual fading of social classes (as the means of production are made public property), which will lead to the final stage of human society - communism.
And that is the Marxist foundation for communism. Communism cannot change into another system because class struggle - the mechanism that drives such changes - no longer exists.
Within Marxism, there are several different trends. The largest of these trends is Leninism, which was based on the writings and actions of Vladimir Lenin. According to Lenin, capitalism can only be overthrown by a proletarian revolution, not by parliamentary means. Furthermore, in opposition to Marx, Lenin argued that the revolution would occur first in theless developed nations, and that it would require a "vanguard of the proletariat" composed of a relatively small, tightly organized Communist Party of workers de-classed intellectuals (see the article on Leninism for an explanation of the differences between Lenin and Marx, and their basis).
Most (but by no means all) present-day communists are of the Leninist variety.
In the early 1930's, Leninism itself fractured in two distinct branches: Stalinism andTrotskyism. The reasons for this split revolved around the controversial policies of Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union. Previous to Stalin's rise to power, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union functioned on a democratic system (known as democratic centralism) and members were encouraged to form their own opinions. It was believed that freedom of speech and diversity helped strengthen the Party (and Soviet society in general). As such, a number of different currents of opinion formed within the Communist Party. The two most prominent of these were headed by Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky, respectively. Stalin argued for the consolidation of socialism in one country (even one as underdeveloped as Russia was at that time) and claimed that, due to the aggravation of class struggle along with the development of socialism, it was necessary to enforce strict Party discipline and eliminate all political dissent. Trotsky argued that the fate of socialism in the Soviet Union depended on the fate of socialist and communist revolutions around the world (therefore supporting the thesis of permanent revolution), and claimed that Stalin's authoritarian practices were harmful and dangerous (therefore calling for more democracy, both inside the Party and throughout the Soviet Union in general).
Stalin eventually succeeded in gaining full control of the Party and the Soviet government. He went ahead with his policies, which became known as Stalinism. Trotsky and his supporters organized into the so-called Left Opposition, and their platform became known as Trotskyism. However, their attempts to remove Stalin from power failed. Stalin imprisoned, executed or exiled all dissenters - especially the Trotskyists. Trotsky himself was exiled, and eventually assassinated in Mexico in 1940 by a Stalinist agent.
After World War II and during the Cold War, Stalinism spread to a number of new countries, and gave rise to a few different branches of its own. No country was ever ruled by Trotskyists.
Other forms of communism
Many communist societies (communes) have existed throughout history, and many non-Marxist (or pre-Marxist) Western intellectuals advocated ideas quite similar to what is today known as communism.
The first Christians, as well as many later groups of monks and nuns, lived in communities organized according to communist-like principles. These early groups shared some elements in common with communism but were not completely identical. The individuals of these groups held no property of their own, thereby allowing the community as a whole to hold all property in common; in this way, a classless community was possible. Along with this similarity, there also exist several key elements that differentiate many of these groups from communism. Primarily their free will was considered priceless and any attempt to marginalize it would have quickly been thwarted; and secondly, they did in fact possess a form of a state, or ruling authority with varying degrees of hierarchy. See religious communism for more information.
Thomas More's 16th-century work Utopia depicted a society organised along communist lines.
Ideas of communal ownership evolved during the Enlightenment, exerting varying amounts of influence on the philosophes. The greatest of these influences were on Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the abbé de Mably, Morelly (whose thoughts extensively influenced the French Revolution, in particular the Jacobins) and other revolutionary egalitarian clubs embodied in persons like Jean Paul Marat.
Many 19th-century idealists, disgusted by the ongoing oppression and mass poverty created by the Industrial Revolution, broke away from society to form short-lived communal "utopias". An example was Robert Owen's New Harmony community in Indiana. People who believe that communism can be implemented in such a way are called utopian socialists by Marxists.
The French philosopher Étienne Cabet, in his book "Voyage et aventures de lord William Carisdall en Icarie" ("Travel and adventures of lord William Carisdall in Icaria") (1840), depicted an ideal society in which an elected government controlled all economic activity and supervised social affairs, the family remaining the only other independent unit. In 1848 he attempted to organize Icarian communities in the United States. His efforts were mostly in vain, but small Icarian communities existed even after his death, until 1898.
The short-lived Paris Commune (1871) was arguably the main example followed by revolutionaries of the early 20th Century, and also the largest historical example of a communist society. The Communards held Paris for two months against Prussian/ Germanand French government soldiers. The Commune passed various laws reducing the power of property owners, such as canceling rents and debts, before being bloodily suppressed. Marx later criticized the Commune for being too timid to secure its own survival, but praised it as the first successful revolution of the working class.
Today, a small number of people, primarily from industrialized nations, have, like theOwenites, opted to "drop out" of the existing society, preferring to live on communes of their own design. This movement saw its zenith during the counter- culture phenomenon of the1960s and 70s in the West, and such people have been characterized as new bohemians orhippies.
Also in the present day, the tradition of communism continues in the form of Israeli kibbutzimalthough these communes have moved away from the communistic ideal and now allow degrees of individual ownership and capitalist production. The first Christians, as well as many later groups of monks and nuns, Amish-like religious groups ang religious kibbutzim, lived in communities organized according to communist-like principles. See religious communism for more information.
Critics of communism say it would be impossible for a communist society to plan its own economy.
People who believe in the subjective theory of value (STV) think that theoretically, in a capitalist system, scarce skills and resources are rationed by prices that reflect relativescarcity of the resources and competing demands. In their view, in a Soviet- style planned economy prices can send the wrong signals to consumers and planners, resulting in decisions that don't reflect the choices they would make if they knew the actual costs and competing demands for those resources.
This is not how communists view the capitalist system. To communists, placing value in acommodity instead of in the labor necessary to create that commodity is commodity fetishism. Values do not reflect scarcity but the necessary and homogenous labor time embedded in a commodity. Prices do not "send signals", since they simply reflect an exchange of commodities with an equal amount of homogeneous and necessary labor time congealed in them. Markets do not simplify planning or improve quality or efficiency because such decisions are made in the production of a commodity, not the exchange of it.
To understand the STV objection to communism, it is necessary to unravel the ambiguities of the word "plan". Of course, people and institutions plan very elaborate and far-sighted projects within a capitalist context. Nobody questions that human beings possess the rationality necessary to plan a skyscraper, for example.
But the critics of communism say that the planning of a skyscraper (the blueprints, sitting, delivery schedule for materials) all typically takes place within a capitalist/ contractual context. In their view, investors contract to buy stock or bonds in a development company. That company hires sub-contractors. The terms for the raw materials are haggled out with suppliers, etc. -- in the STV view, all subject to the rise or fall of prices and alternativeinvestment possibilities for various parties.
Critics of communism contend that the implementation of communism in the sense described above would involve supplanting precisely these market and contract conditions that make planning possible. In the STV view it would be planning instead of haggling, rather than planning within the context of haggling. That is what they contend is not practicable.
Communists would respond that nothing mentioned here would constitute any kind of roadblock in a communist society. While communists do not "write recipes for the cookshops of future" communist societies, they claim that projects such as Linux, Amishbarn-raisings and societies of the sort Karl Marx called "primitive communist" are 'communist-like' examples of how communist planning might work, from a small to large scale. As far as the idea that prices rise and fall, communists would say that prices simply reflect necessary homogenous congealed labor time, and claim that absent innovations inproduction, prices generally remain stable relative to one another.
Critics of communism would respond that since communist prices do not reflect the scarcity of the raw materials or the consumer demand for the products, one could easily end up with a Stakhanovite drive to build as many skyscrapers as possible, with a consequent blotting out of the sky with empty buildings, and a shortage of steel and other resources that might have been very useful if market prices had allowed them to be redirected elsewhere.
Objectivists, who see self-interested behavior as itself a moral ideal and identical torationality, claim that communism removes incentives necessary for human productivity. They argue that communism ignores (or is wrong about) "human nature." Communists, however, take the view that self-interest is a function of the material conditions of society and if the material conditions change so that competition and greed is no longer necessary to survive, mass behavior will change accordingly.
If capitalism is to be overthrown in a revolution, then a socialist revolution could be costly in terms of human lives. Communist revolutionaries argue that the violent or non- violent character of a revolution is not determined solely by the revolutionaries, but also by the owners of the means of production who have a stake in capitalism, and the government tied to the ruling classes. They also argue that capitalism itself is violent, naming such events or eras as chattel slavery in the United States, Jim Crow, genocide directed at American Indians, the Vietnam War, and (although this time often with approval) referencing the bloody revolutions that established capitalism and broke down the feudal order.
Communist Parties in Russia and later China came to power in the course of bloody civil wars fought between the Communists and the remnants of collapsed imperial regimes (see Communist state). Because they were governed by monopolistic parties that consolidated power in the context of these conflicts, whose leaders lacked the consent of all elements of society, Russia and China developed strong security systems to protect Communist rule from internal and external threats, and witnessed periods of repressive rule resulting in tens of millions of deaths.     In particular, the Stalinist USSR consolidated a system of internal exile known as the Gulags and presided over crippling famine related tocollectivization of agriculture. The Soviet Union and China after Stalin and Mao, respectively, also maintained single- party rule and executions of opponents of the regime, though on a far smaller scale. Also in the second half of the twentieth century, political movements that threatened Communist Parties' monopoly on power, such Czechoslovakia's Prague Springand China's Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, continued to be suppressed. Given such incidents and their often-violent histories, Communist Party-led regimes are often associated with human rights abuses, especially in the West.
Some communists who reject Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism point out that these states were in fact not communistic. However, they were Communist Party-led regimes that vowed to forge a communist society based on the common ownership of property.
The Future of Communism
As with all attempts to foresee the future, it is difficult to tell with any degree of confidence what is in store for communism. And, of course, any prediction depends on which "communism" we are talking about (the social system, the ideology, or the political movement).
As a political movement, made up of parties and individuals that consider themselves communist, communism is tied up practically and ideologically with the labor movement and the anti-globalization movement. The tide of the communist movement can generally be gauged by the success of the labor and anti-globalization movements.
Outside of the industrialized core of developed nations, the communist movement takes on legal and extra-legal dimensions. There are several dozen guerrilla groups in the world which identify themselves as communist in one form or another. In places like Peru, thePhilippines, Nepal, and Southeast Asia, the success of communism can be gauged by the success of guerrilla wars. In countries with strong Communist Parties, such as India andRussia, the success of communism can be gauged by the success of those political parties.
As far as "communist states" are concerned, there are five countries still ruled by Communist Parties belonging to the Marxist-Leninist tradition: the People's Republic of China, Cuba,North Korea, Laos and Vietnam. However, the experiences of these five states have starkly diverged, especially since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. On the one hand, Cuba and North Korea were hit hard by the lack of Soviet economic assistance, trade and military support. On the other hand, the world's other three remaining communist states (all in East Asia) were far less dependent on Soviet subsidies (and in China's case, not at all, given the Sino-Soviet Split) at the time of the collapse of the Warsaw Pact.
Following the lead of China under Deng Xiaoping whose encouragement in rhetoric and policy of wealth creation was neatly summarized by his exhortation "poverty is not socialism, to get rich is glorious", Vietnam and Laos have moved away from Soviet-style centralized planning, in favour of a private market economy that (at least in China's case) is very difficult to distinguish from outright capitalism. China has been particularly aggressive in its pursuit of "socialism with Chinese characteristics," even to the point of admitting entrepreneurs to the Communist Party. Therefore, China today is generally regarded as being capitalist de facto, with just a little higher degree of government control than is seen in conventional capitalist countries. Many Marxists also regard the other four remaining "communist states" as being state- capitalist rather than socialist.
Anti-communism is opposition to communist ideology, organization, or government, on either a theoretical or practical level. In some of the earlier 19th century usagesanti-communism referred to people opposed to the growth of independent, self-reliant and often religious communities such as the Oneida and Amana communities. After the October Revolution the first critics of communism where inspired by a conservative point of view, but with the raising of Stalinism many exponents of the left, some ex-communists included, opposed the Soviet Union for its violations of human rights. For much of the period between1950 and 1991 anticommunism it was one of the major components of the containmentpolicy of the United States.
For this last reason the word is sometimes used with a negative meaning to define an opposition to communism schematic and excessive, which doesn't take in consideration the differences between various communist regimes and movements and it is instrumentally used as a political weapon in the clash between Weast and East. This bias against anticommunism is even due to the opportunistic use of anticommunism made by some authoritaristic regimes to persecute dissidents of any political colour.
In fact, the reasons because of several people opposed communism can be very different and sometimes in contrast between them. Conservative and liberal critics of communism often opposes socialism in general or Marxism in general. They are supporters of capitalism and they see communism as a doctrine based on radically wrong arguments. They believe that capitalism gives economic freedom, and regard the lack of property rights under communism as taking away fundamental human rights. Communists respond to this by arguing that the presence of property rights in capitalism takes away other, more important human rights, alluding to the disparities of wealth that all capitalist nations possess, to varying degrees.
Other people oppose communism due to what they perceive as contradictions or errors within communist theory and gaps between communist theory and practice. Many anti-communists feel that the theory is less objectionable than its adherents' actions in power. Democratic socialists as George Orwell or Bertrand Russell and anarchist theorists see communism as a doctrine whose aims are noble but that uses wrong means to attain them. A main critic to communism concerns the lack of individual freedom and democracy incommunist states, democracy which is not denied by the communist theory itself (although interpretated in a very different way than that of liberal democracy).
Some anti-communists refer to both Communism and fascism as totalitarianism, seeing a certain degree of similarity between the actions of Communist and fascist governments. It should also be noted that many communists, particularly Trotskyists, use these similarities to argue that those self-proclaimed Communist regimes (which they refer to as Stalinist) were not actually following any sort of Communism at all.
Objections to Communist theory
The central part of Karl Marx's communist theory is historical materialism, which states that human society must necessarily evolve through historical stages due to the contadictions inherent in each stage, with each transition to the next stage (except the last) involving the overthrow of the existing socioeconomic order. The next step after capitalism is socialism, followed ultimately by communism.
Most anti-communists reject the entire concept of historical materialism, or at least do not believe that socialism and communism must follow after capitalism. Some anti-communists question how and why the state is supposed to wither away into a true communist society.
Many critics also see a key error in communist economic theory, which predicts that in countries with free-market economies ("capitalist society"), the rich will inevitably get richer and the poor will get poorer. Anti-communists point to the overall rise in the average standard of living in the industrialized West as proof that contrary to Marx's prediction as, they assert, both the rich and poor have steadily gotten richer. Communists respond to this by pointing out that even so, the rich are getting richer much faster than the poor, causing a growing gap between the wealthy and the impoverished. Particularly during the decades of the '80s and '90s, the US saw increasing gaps between the rich and the poor. Communists also point out that the industrialized West profits immensely from the exploitation of the Third World, that the gap between rich and poor capitalist countries has widened greatly over the past hundred years, and that poor capitalist countries vastly outnumber the rich ones. The standard anti-communist reply to the latter argument is poiting out the examples of former Third World countries that have successfully escaped out of poverty in the recent decades under the capitalist system, most notably the Asian Tigers. Anti- communists also cite numerous examples of Third World Communist regimes that failed to achieve development and economic growth and in many cases led their peoples into an even worse misery, for example the Mengistu regime in Ethiopia or the North Korean Communist dynasty .
Promise and Practice
Anti-communists also object to the actual practices of communist governments in contrast to the stated promises of communism. Many argue that while communism may be an excellent-sounding idea in theory, in practice it is thoroughly incompatible with their view of basic human nature. The view of human nature usually expounded by anti-communists is that while an egalitarian society could be looked at as ideal, it is virtually impossible to achieve. They state that it is human nature to be motivated by personal incentive, and point out that while several Communist leaders have claimed to be working for the common good, many or all of them have been corrupt and totalitarian. Communists retaliate that "human nature" essentially doesn't exist, since human beings are extremely adaptable and have shown themselves to be able to live in a wide variety of social organizations, some similar to communism, throughout history. Communists further argue that greed and selfishness are not a major stumbling block to communism, since a communist society would benefit all and satisfy everyone's self-interest.
Communist parties (sometimes combined with left socialist parties as workers' parties) which have come to power have tended to be rigidly intolerant of political opposition. Most communist countries have shown no signs of advancing from Marx's "socialist" stage of economy to an ideal "communist" stage. Rather, communist governments have been accused of creating a new ruling class (called by Russians the nomenklatura), with powers and privileges far greater than those previously enjoyed by the upper classes in the pre-revolutionary regimes.
The economies of all Communist countries without exception have not surpassed those of Western nations. Communist supporters may point to the fact that those countries were far behind the West to begin with, and they may argue that Communist governments have in fact reduced this pre-existing gap. Also, they often point to Cuba, whose economic performance was arguably better than that of the neighboring countries. During the 1990's, however, Cuba suffered a debilitating economic crisis following the loss of her major trading partners (most notably the Soviet Union), and was forced to allow foreign investments in the tourism market as a means of recovery. Critics of the Castro regime argue that the Cuban Cold War trading arrangements with the USSR amounted to little more than a direct Soviet subsidy to the regime, and that prior to the ascension of Castro, Cuba was actually among the richest Latin American countries. In other cases, such as the separated nations, West Germany and East Germany and North Korea and South Korea, the capitalist portion has advanced far ahead of its Communist counterpart. In the case of East Germany, communists claim that they received the "raw end of the deal," since all the traditional industrial and commercial centers lay in the capitalist part of the country. However, this argument does not hold in the case of Korea, where the Southern part of the country was substantially less developed at the time of division following the Korean War. Also, the anti-communists cite the example of Czechoslovakia, which was among world's most developed industrial countries prior to World War II, but fell far behind the Western nations under the Communist rule.
The hallmark of some Communist economic policies, collective farming, has sometimes been called economically inefficient and often disastrous, especially in the cases of the former Soviet Union, China, and North Korea.
In general, anti-communist economic criticism centers on the belief that Communists ignore the realities of economic life and production in favor of their ideas about how things ought to be done. Anti-communists believe that this leads to economic disruption and poverty and generally see the examples of former Communist nations as supporting the veracity of their views.
Another criticism of Communism is the history of internal repression in Communist- led countries. Joseph Stalin's Soviet regime presided over millions of civilian deaths in purges and famine, as later Soviet governments admitted. In China, Mao Zedong's regime is accused of more extensive bloodshed, compounded by the disruption of economic life through ill-judged revolutionary experiments (see Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution). Vietnam and North Korea have also made use of reeducation camps.
It should be noted, however, that many Communists do not support such repressive actions. In particular, Trotskyists have been virulent critics of the policies carried out by Stalin's Soviet Union and other nations who followed the same model. They refer to these nations asStalinist rather than Communist, and sometimes call them deformed workers' states. The anti-communists reply that the repression in the early years of the Bolshevik regime, while not as extreme as that during Stalin's reign, was still severe by any reasonable standards, citing the examples such as Dzerzhinsky's secret police, which eliminated numerous political opponents by extrajudicial executions, and the brutal crushing of the Kronstadt and Tambovrebellions. According to them, Trotsky could hardly claim any moral high ground, having been one of the top- ranking Bolshevik leaders during these events. Anarchist Anti-Communism
The anarchist critique of communism comes from a different angle. Anarchists agree with communists that capitalism is a tool for oppression, that it is unjust and that it should be destroyed, one way or another. Anarchists, however, go on to say that all centralized or coercive power (as opposed to just wealth) is ultimately injurious to the individual. Therefore, the concepts of dictatorship of the proletariat, State ownership of the means of production, and other similar tendencies within Marxist thought are anathema to an anarchist, regardless of whether the State in question is democratic. There are, also, strong anti-anarchist tendencies among Marxists (specifically, those who have risen to power in the 20th century - but arguments had been going on between Marxists and anarchists for almost 50 years prior to the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917).
Anarchists were glad of the 1917 revolution, as an example of workers taking power for themselves. It quickly became evident, however, that the communists and the anarchists had very different ideas regarding the kind of society they wanted to build there. Anarchist Emma Goldman went to Russia enthusiastic about the revolution and left beginning to write her book My Disillusionment in Russia. Anarchist Victor Serge, in response to the pro-leninist sentiment in the global Left, said, "All right, I can see the broken eggs. Now where's this omelette of yours?"
Anarchists often cite the crushing of the Kronstadt Rebellion, in which the Red Army defeated an embryonic anarchist commune, as a specific example of what was wrong with the Bolshevik government.
During the Spanish Civil War, a pro-Soviet Communist Party gained considerable influence due to the neccessity of aid from the Soviet Union. Communists and liberals on the Republican side fought mainly against the fascists, but also put some effort against theanarchist revolution, ostensibly to bolster the anti-Fascist front (the anarchist response was, "The revolution and the war are inseperable"). The most dramatic action against the anarchists was in May of 1937, when Communist-led police forces attempted to take over aCNT-run telephone building in Barcelona. The telephone workers fought back, setting up barricades and surrounding the Communist "Lenin Barracks." Five days of street fighting ensued. After all of this, the anarchists began to hate the Communists, and unity became essentially impossible.
Bitter feelings between anarchists and communists are apparent even today in revolutionary circles. Much infighting and arguing occurs as it did in the 19th century between Marx and Bakunin. However, in these times, anarchists and communists may join in protest (at least superficially) on certain issues, such as the recent Iraq War.
Fascism and Anti-Communism
Fascism and "Soviet" Communism are political systems that arose to prominence after World War I. Historians of the period between World War I and World War II such as E.H. Carr andEric Hobsbawm point out that liberal democracy was under serious stress in this period and seemed to be a doomed philosophy. The success of the Russian Revolution of 1917 resulted in a revolutionary wave across Europe. The socialist movement worldwide split into separatesocial democratic and Leninist wings with the formation of the Third International prompting severe debates within social democratic parties resulting in supporters of the Russian Revolution splitting to form Communist Parties in most industrialised (and many non-industrialised) nations.
At the end of World War I there were attempted socialist uprisings or threats of socialist uprisings throughout Europe. Most notably in Germany where the Spartacist uprising in Germany led by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in January 1919 failed. In Bavaria, Communists successfully overthrew the government and established the Munich Soviet Republic that lasted from 1918-1919. A short lived Soviet government was also established in Hungary under Béla Kun in 1919.
The Russian Revolution also inspired attempted revolutionary movements in Italy with a wave of factory occupations, a strike wave in Britain, the Winnipeg General Strike, the Seattle General Strike and other radical events.
Many historians view fascism as a response to these developments -- a movement that both tried to appeal to the working class and divert them from Marxism and also appealed tocapitalists as a bulwark against Bolshevism. Italian fascism founded and led by Benito Mussolini took power with the blessing of Italy's king after years of leftist unrest led many conservatives to fear that a communist revolution was inevitable. Throughout Europe numerous aristocrats and conservative intellecutals as well as capitalists and industrialists lent their support to fascist movements in their countries which arose in emulation of Italian fascism while in Germany numerous right wing nationalist groups arose, particularly out of the post-war Freikorps which were used to crush both the Spartacist uprising and the Munich Soviet.
However, certain anti-communist authors have disputed the view of fascism as a reaction against socialist revolutionary movements and instead stressed what they believed to be essential similarities between communism and fascism in both theory and practice. The noted Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek, author of The Road to Serfdom, argued that various modern totalitarian movements, including fascism and communism, have common philosophical roots, both springing from the opposition to the classical liberalism of the 19th century. Anti-communists arguing from these positions see it as far more than a coincidence that Benito Mussolini himself was an enthusiastic Marxist socialist and a prominent member of the Italian Socialist Party before the World War I, while many philosophical founders of fascism, such as Sergio Panunzio and Giovanni Gentile, came from a Marxist or syndicalistbackground.
With the worldwide Great Depression of the 1930s it seemed that liberalism and the liberal form of capitalism was doomed and Communist and fascist movements swelled. These movements were bitterly opposed to each other and fought each other frequently. The most notable example of this conflict was the Spanish Civil War, which became a proxy warbetween the fascist countries and their international supporters who backed Franco and the worldwide Communist movement (allied uneasily with anarchists and Trotskyists) who backed the Popular Front and were aided chiefly by the Soviet Union.
Initially, the Soviet Union supported the idea of a coalition with the western powers againstNazi Germany as well as popular fronts in various countries against domestic fascism. This policy was largely unsuccessful due to the distrust shown by the western powers (especially Britain) towards the Soviet Union. The Munich Agreement between Germany, France and Britain heightened Soviet fears that the western powers were endeavoring to force them to bear the brunt of a war against Nazism. The Soviets changed their policy and negotiated a non-aggression pact with Germany, known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939. The Soviets later argued that this was necessary to buy them time to prepare for an expected war with Germany. However, some critics question this claim, pointing out that along with a non-aggression clause, the pact also laid out extensive economic cooperation between the Soviets and Germans, in the form of the German-Soviet Commercial Agreement, providing Nazi Germany some of the materials it needed to build its war machine. This detail is used by the aforementioned critics to argue that Stalin expected the war to be waged solely between Germany and the Western Allies, with the Soviet Union keeping its neutrality while its two greatest enemies fought each other.
Whatever the case, it is clear that Stalin did not expect the Germans to attack until 1942, so he was taken by surprise when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941. Fascism and communism reverted to their relationship as lethal enemies - with the war, in the eyes of both sides, becoming one between their respective ideologies.
Anticommunism in the United States and Cold War
The first major manifestation of anti-communism in the United States occurred 1919 -1920 in the Red Scare led by Attorney General Alexander Mitchell Palmer.
Following World War II and the rise of the Soviet Union many of the objections to Communism took on an added urgency because of the stated Communist view that the ideology was universal. The fear of many anti-Communists within the United States was that Communism would triumph throughout the entire world and eventually be a direct threat to the government of the United States. This view led to the domino theory in which a Communist takeover in any nation could not be tolerated because it would lead to a chain reaction which would result in a triumph of world communism. There were fears that powerful nations like the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China were using their power to forcibly assimilate other countries into communist rule, in a new form of imperialism. The Soviet Union's expansion into Central Europe after World War 2 was seen as evidence of this. These actions prompted many politicians to adopt a kind of pragmatic anti-Communism, opposing the ideology as a way of limiting the expansion of the Soviet Empire. The US policy of halting further Communist expansion came to be known as containment.
The United States government has usually motivated its anti-communism by citing the human rights record of some Communist states, most notably the Soviet Union during the Stalin era, Maoist China, the short-lived Khmer Rouge government in Cambodia led by Pol Pot and North Korea.
Anti-communism became significantly muted after the fall of the Soviet Union and communist backed regimes in Central Europe in 1991, and the fear of a worldwide Communist takeover is no longer a serious concern. Remnants of anti-communism remain, however, in United States foreign policy toward Cuba, the People's Republic of China, and North Korea. In the case of Cuba, the United States continues to maintain economic sanctions against the island in a policy which is sharply criticized outside of the United States, but which has substantial support in the US, particularly from the conservative wing of American politics.
Due to American trade interests in China, much of the United States foreign policy establishment does not regard China as Communist in any meaningful sense. Nevertheless, there is some hostility toward China, particularly among conservative Congressional Republicans which can be regarded as remnants of anti-communism. North Korea remains staunchly Stalinist and economically isolationist, and tensions between the country and the US have heightened as the result of reports that it is stockpiling nuclear weapons.
Repression and Anti-Communism
After the October Revolution, allied intervention troops tried to crush the revolution. In the summer of 1918, some 13,000 American soldiers, 44,000 British, 13,000 French, and 80,000 Japanese were fighting against Red Army. In addition, the these countries provided significant financial and material help to White Movement (e.g., USA provided $500,000, 400,000 rifles, etc.).
Communist political parties and organizations were actively persecuted by conservative governments in Eastern Europe after the failed communist revolutions around 1920, in Nazi Germany and German-occupied Europe, in Japan during World War II, in China by theKuomintang in the 1920s and 1930s, in post-war Taiwan and South Korea, in Latin Americaby various right-wing military regimes (Pinochet in Chile, Dirty War in Argentina, civil war in El Salvador, etc), and in many other places and instances.
There was also some anticommunist political repression in the United States, most notably in the Red Scare of the 1920s and the McCarthyist era after World War II. Communists and communist sympathizers often emphasize the persecution of their political movement by "reactionary" forces, which they feel is being downplayed by capitalist governments. Anticommunists respond to this by pointing out that communist governments have often used similar methods to deal with their political enemies, including fellow communists (indeed, the repression of fellow communists is often brought up as an argument for the idea that such governments were not actually communistic). Regarding this issue, the opinions of Communists are divided: some of them support the actions of those communist governments on the grounds that they were necessary in order to deal with dangerous terrorists and criminals, while other communists agree that such actions cannot be justified and put in question the self-proclaimed communist nature of the governments willing to carry them out.
Little is known about anticommunist massacres after World War II, not least because of the efforts by the anticommunist regimes to cover up such events. Such a massacre happened on the island of Jeju (South Korea) in April 1948. The estimations about the number of victims range from 30.000 to 140.000. Another example is the 228 Incident in Taiwan in1947, which until recently was considered a taboo subject even in private.
During cold war many dictatorial regimes, often supported by the US, used the fear of communism as a mean of legitimation (Pinochet's Chile, for example) or an excuse to persecute its opponents. The worst case was probably that of General Suharto in Indonesiawho, using the excuse of foiling a failed Communist coup d'etat attempt, seized executive power and killed about 2 million people in his mass purges arresting more than 200,000 other people on merely being suspected of being involved with the coup. Most communists, alleged communists and so-called " enemies of the state" were sentenced to death (although some of the executions were delayed to 1990). The alleged or demonstrated complicity of the CIA with this regimes seriously discredited anticommunism and the pretense of the US to represent a "Free World".
Criticisms of Anti-Communism
Proponents of communism in capitalist countries tend to challenge the accuracy of anti-communist claims. A common rebuttal of anticommunism is that communist countries had created a new ruling class and thus were not in fact communist. This is a view first put forward by Trotskyists in the 1930s, and today it is accepted by the majority of western communists. Indeed, most modern communists do acknowledge failings on the part of communist governments, saying that Marxism is clearly against these dictators' practices. A useful comparison would be the Catholic Church's Inquisition which is generally seen as a fundamental error in the history of the church.
Anticommunists respond to these claims by saying that they believe communist states are totalitarian by nature, and that in Marxist theory too much power is given to the state. They point out that several communist governments have existed, but none have been considered democracies. Anticommunists also question if a classless communist society can truly be achieved.
Some anticommunists, particularly those with libertarian leanings, extend their criticisms well beyond Soviet-style communism, associating it with any state-run activity beyond the most minimal. People who support a mixed economy where some services are supplied by government-run institutions, such as what takes place in social-democrat countries, resent the association with communism.
Some writers and historians object to anti-communists' comparisons of communism to fascism (under the blanket term "totalitarianism", which they believe to be incorrect). They cite historical evidence, such as the fact that the Soviet Union fought against Hitler duringWorld War II and said that fascism was the enemy of communism (a view that was shared by Hitler himself, who was one of the most virulent anti- communists of the time), while many anti-communists in occupied Europe took the side of Nazi Germany (others, however, placed anti-fascism or national independence above their dislike of communism).
Yet another objection to anti-communism which became more widely advanced in the 1970swas that in pursuit of anti-communism, the United States was conducting a foreign policy in which it supported people and governments that sometimes egregiously violated human rights, which it saw as lesser evils than communism. In order to justify these actions, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick stated the Kirkpatrick doctrine which argued there was a difference between totalitarian regimes and authoritarian regimes.
Many staunchly anti-Communist regimes have been dictatorial and guilty of egregious human rights abuses, oppression, and sometimes genocide. These may include Nazis, secular Middle Eastern dictatorships in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and the Sudan, right-wing military juntas in Latin America, the apartheid regime in South Africa, anticommunists regimes in the Far East as Suharto's Indonesia and the governments of various African nations during times of great bloodshed, e.g. Idi Amin in Uganda and the genocidaire Hutu regime in Rwanda. Citing governments like these as evidence, communists claim that much Cold War policy was driven by simple anti-communism and a disregard for problems in nations ruled by anti-communist but undemocratic governments.
Various Western countries, the United States first and foremost, are also often accused of denial of political or labour rights, racism, oppression and violence, support for governments which presided over mass killings, torture and detention of political opponents, or engagement with regimes (usually on the basis of their shared anti-communism) which practised genocide or racial segregation.
Nevertheless, anti-communists generally believe such claims to be of an "and you are lynching negroes" variety. They argue that while capitalist governments may have some faults, Communist ones are worse. Many also state that they disapprove of some actions undertaken by anti-Communist leaders, the defeat of communism and Soviet influence during the Cold War was a top priority. Some also believe that it is easier for countries previously ruled by an authoritarian, anti-Communist government to transition into a democracy, while it is more difficult for a totalitarian Communist nation to do so.
The communists take the other side in claiming which government is more flawed, stating that while Communist governments may have had some faults, capitalist ones are worse. They also claim that in some former Communist countries, conditions were better before its collapse. An example used in this argument is Russia, which has faced a bumpy transition to capitalism and has a 25% poverty rate.
Ironically, many anti-communists were too focused on the perceived challenges of Communism to notice its internal problems, and few anti-communists were able to predict the fall of the Soviet Union even as late as the mid-1980s.
This section lists a number of significant intellectual, political, and military opponents of Communism. Note that there is a certain overlap between the listed categories. For example, many prominent political dissidents in the former Communist countries, like Vaclav Havel, are also renowned for challenging the theory and practice of Communist regimes in their writings.
The persons listed are not classified by their own ideological positions from which they opposed Communism, and clashes between their views were often no less severe than their opposition to Communism. For example, liberal thinkers like Hayek harshly criticized both thefascist leaders like Franco and the democratic socialists like Orwell, despite their common anti-communist stance.
-- chien si (Chiensidietcong@yahoo.de), January 29, 2005