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"Crimes of communism" in context

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Soviet cogitations: 203
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 25 Aug 2007, 00:17
Pioneer
Post 15 May 2012, 21:41
Just came across this in Chomsky's "Propaganda and the Public Mind" published by South End Press pp 179 which you may find useful.

Quote:
A book came out called "The Black Book of Communism" which is about the huge crimes of communism. We have to have the courage at last to face these crimes, previously ignored, as the new millennium opens, that's the general drift, with only slight exaggeration. We have to have the courage at last to face these crimes, previously ignored, as the new millennium opens, that's the general drift, with only slight exaggeration. The "Black Book" gives the shocking figure of 100 million deaths attributable to communism. Let's say its right. Let's not argue about the numbers.

The worst example of the killing, the biggest component of this alleged 100 million is the Chinese famine around 1958 to 1960. Maybe thirty million died in the famine... Sen [an eminent Indian economist] studied that and he points out although India used to have plenty of famines under the British, it hasn't had famines like that since independence. So there was never a famine in India since the early 1950s in which huge numbers of people die as they did in China. Sen gives plausible reasons for it. He says this is related to India's specific forms of socio-economic, political, and ideological development.

India is more or less democratic. It has a free press. Information comes back from the bottom to the top, and if there are signs of a famine, the central authorities will know about it and there will be a protest about it. In China no information gets back to the centre and any protest will be smashed so you get huge famines. These are crimes of communism, traceable to the nature of the system.

That' s HALF of what Sen says. The other half of this inquiry, which somehow escapes notice, has to do with another comparison. He says China in the late 1940s began to institute rural public health and educational programs as well as other programs orientated toward the mass of the population. India, on the other hand, plays the game by our rules, and it didn't do any of this. And there are consequences for example in mortality rates. These started to decline sharply in China from around 1950 until 1979. Then they stopped declining and started going up slightly. That was the period of the reforms. During the totalitarian period, from 1950 to about 1979 mortality rates declined. They declined in India too, but much more slowly than in China up to 1979

Sen then says, suppose you measure the number of extra deaths in India resulting annually from not carrying out these Maoist style programs or others for the benefit of the population, what you would call reforms if the term wasn't so ideological. He estimates close to four million extra deaths every year in India, which means that, as he puts it, every eight years in India the number of skeletons in the closet is the same as in China's moment of shame, the famine. If you look at the whole period, it's about 100 million extra deaths in India alone after the democratic capitalist period enters.


This is staggering. I fell out of my chair when I read it.

It means that the lack of an effective welfare state in India during the Cold War years indirectly caused as many deaths as can be ascribed to Communism during the entire twentieth century.

And that's just India.

When conservatives and right wing liberals try to lecture us about the horrors of Communism we should throw this fact in their teeth from now on.

I believe something in the order of 190 000 Indian farmers have committed suicide since 1991 when the free market reforms began, driven off the land by debt and agribusiness. Is it any wonder that there is now a Maoist insurgency raging across rural India?

Capitalism without welfare is a killer literally. It caused immeasurably more suffering that communism ever did. Many of us would argue that the communist bloc consisted of Stalinist regimes that were not communist or socialist in the true sense of the word at all. But we don't even need to get into that. We can simply say that one lesson of the twentieth century is that socialism always needs to be based upon democracy and the rule of law but the other is that market fundamentalism is the greatest threat to the world. That was true in the last century and it's true now.
Take the new moon as a sickle. And hammer out a cosmos. Whose sparks shall be the stars.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Sep 2006, 22:05
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Philosophized
Post 15 May 2012, 21:48
It's not very surprising. The hundred million figure is more reflective of the capitalists themselves than of history. 100 million is required to make capitalist death tolls not seem quite so bad. Otherwise the case for communism is already full made.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Aug 2008, 18:12
Party Member
Post 15 May 2012, 23:33
I think it's pointless trying to add up the respective "casualty figures" and then declare which one was worst.

People die everyday and millions have people have died at the hand of capitalist regimes and socialist regimes. What we forget is that capitalism is a necessary stage of human development and socialism is a necessary stage of human development. When socialism occurs in industrialised countries, we have to make sure it is done correctly.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Mar 2010, 01:20
Ideology: None
Forum Commissar
Post 16 May 2012, 02:15
Too many people don't realize the truth about these sorts of comparisons.

There's a Black Book of Capitalism which attempts to address some of these issues.

Sadly, it's not been translated into English yet. (If only our French comrades thought it was a worthwhile pursuit.)
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Aug 2010, 14:21
Party Bureaucrat
Post 16 May 2012, 03:15
Thanks for this Zeitsev, this is very interesting indeed. I don't know much about Maoist China.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 25 Aug 2007, 00:17
Pioneer
Post 16 May 2012, 20:07
Cheers Bagration.

I think this thread deserves to be made a sticky so that comrades have a rabid rebuttal when the Right tries to demonise socialists and communists for the crimes and errors of the twentieth century. I've sent a PM to the mod.

I also think the French Black Book of Capitalism urgently needs to be translated into English since the Anglosphere is still the epicentre of global capitalism and imperialism.
Take the new moon as a sickle. And hammer out a cosmos. Whose sparks shall be the stars.
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Soviet cogitations: 4465
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Mar 2010, 01:20
Ideology: None
Forum Commissar
Post 17 May 2012, 01:21
Vasily Zeitsev wrote:
I also think the French Black Book of Capitalism urgently needs to be translated into English since the Anglosphere is still the epicentre of global capitalism and imperialism.

Agreed... The Black Book of Communism is very widely available and it would be nice to have something handy to throw back in their faces.

I wonder why unmasking the traitor Trotsky seems to be the main priority of our French speaking comrades.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 17 May 2012, 00:16
Ideology: Democratic Socialism
Pioneer
Post 17 May 2012, 01:44
Shigalyov wrote:
Too many people don't realize the truth about these sorts of comparisons.

There's a Black Book of Capitalism which attempts to address some of these issues.

Sadly, it's not been translated into English yet. (If only our French comrades thought it was a worthwhile pursuit.)



I wish they would translate this book. Would be a very interesting read.
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