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A Century of Communism: A record of mass murder and oppression

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NORMAN, Okla.-- With it being the centennial of the dawn of the whole-hog communist experiment, it seems appropriate to take stock of the results. The results from multiple sources, including The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, put the figure around 100 million dead from communist governments from the Bolshevik Revolution to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Not a statistic I remember hearing in school, but probably more important than the superfluous baloney that wasted eight hours of an otherwise perfectly good childhood day. Now to the details.

The Soviet death toll alone stands at around 60 million “unnatural deaths”. Stalin’s Holodomor, or the man-made starvation of the Ukraine, which occurred in 1932 and 1933, killed off somewhere between seven and ten million people. Indeed, Stalin’s time in power wasn’t much more than a string of “purges”, where millions of political prisoners and “enemies of the state” were simply shot in the head. The bodies were then dumped in mass graves, of which there are probably many that haven’t been found yet.

In the “bloodlands” of Eastern Europe, 14 million people were alternately murdered by either Russia or Germany, depending who was occupying the region between 1933 and 1945.

Mao Zedong, probably the greatest butcher in a century of them, killed 45 million Chinese peasants through his Great Leap Forward policy in just four years, between 1958 and 1962. The Black Book of Communism puts the death toll from The People’s Republic of China at 65 million.

There were also around nine million deaths from various smaller countries such as North Korea, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, and others. 

Now, 100 million is just a statistic, so take a moment to think about that many people bunched up in one place. Now imagine the sound they made just before they died. I wonder what one hundred million voices would sound like right now if they were to beg for their lives.  Or the sound of millions of babies, starved, bayonetted, and shot, as they gurgled and choked.  Or women and men who had to watch their families murdered first. It would be a sound to unravel the mind. It would make the listener go insane. 

Instead, we have the dry statistic of 100 million dead, which doesn’t really have the same emotional effect. It’s far easier to imagine one person shot dead, or a family, rather than entire populations. But just think about it, 100 million people, either shot, stabbed or starved to death. Then remember that it wasn’t some faceless monster of a nightmare doing the killing, but other humans. 

The evil of human nature is what we are capable of doing while under the influence of an ideology. These 100 million lives didn’t end on their own, other humans had to do the killing, which means other humans shot, stabbed and disemboweled unresisting men, women and children. That capacity for the slaughter of our own species exists in all of us in a way unique in the animal kingdom. What other species erects a State, concocts an ideology, then commands loyalty or death? What other species develops new and better ways to exterminate their own kind the way we do? 

The current situation in Venezuela is a modern laboratory for what state control of all resources, a prohibition on almost anything, does to a country. Alien observers would wonder what war Venezuela had just lost if they looked at it right now. Then they would watch dumbfounded as the inhabitants of this resource-rich nation robbed the local zoo to eat the exotic wildlife, see the rulers living in opulence built on the backs of the starving population, watch as soldiers gunned down protesters, and witness the sham elections as civilization disintegrated. They would then get the hell out.

Indeed, twentieth-century communism in action probably forced more than a few interstellar visitors to give this planet a wide berth, not wanting to get anywhere near a species that machine guns, gases, starves, and nukes each other for imagined reasons. We slaughter our own wholesale and wonder why no one from the stars wants anything to do with us. 

The disease of the human race is the ease with which we believe that we can make the world better through force, through more laws, through the barrel of a gun. Or, more generally, how easily we can rationalize our own bullshit, put guns and soldiers behind it, and make an attempt to cover as many people in it as possible. 

Twentieth-century communism apotheosized Force, and the result was 100 million dead. The experiment with communism should be remembered, and, as grim a task as it would be, should probably replace “social studies” or some other time-wasting subject in our schools if only to prevent the future deaths of entire populations. 

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Shane Smith

Shane Smith is an accountant and freelance writer with a bachelor's degree in economics from...

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