- Capitalism and Alternatives -

The 'Crimes' of the Left, or: Why Stalin&Mao are not

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( EFZ, MA, USA ) on April 12, 1999 at 18:57:00:

Someone has recently made a reference to "the Left and its theft and murder." I would like herein to make the argument that the Left has committed relatively little theft and murder and that on the whole it has very little to be ashamed of.

The theft contention is easily refuted. How can you steal from people who don't deserve what they own. generally, properties that ahve been nationalized by leftist govrenments were either things taht clearly ought to be public property (e.g. mines, banks) or factories and farms where the woners were not producing anything of value anyway. As has been stated before, a capitalist who merely contributes money towards the production of goods is relaly contributing nothing of value towards production, and is not nentitled to teh fruits of other people's production. A good should belong to those who produce it, adn public goods should belong to teh public. That ,means that workers and farmers, not bosses or owners, should control factories and farms. nationalizing the means of produvction, is not tehft, but rather it is restoring these items to tehir rightful owners. Capitalsits taking a share of the profits, now taht's theft. Returning property to its rightful owners is teh very opposite of theft.

As for "murder", let's first say that Communism may take many forms. Included are broad-based party-states (Vietnam, Cuba), which may not be "elected in the multiparty sense, but also multiparty democracies (Nicaragua), states within a social-democratic or even capitalistic superstructure (Kerala) or ytransitional coalition governments (Thomas Sankara). one type of regime taht CANNOt eb communit in any meaningful sense, hwoever, si teh one-man dictatorship of teh type pioneered by mao, Stalin and Saloth Sar. In these systems teh vanguard party was clearly subordinate to one man, as is evidenced by the frequent purges and the emanation of directives from teh central leader. As communism depends on democracy, a regime can eb communist only inasmuch as some form of democracy (multiparty, participatory, or other) is practiced. In a one-man dictatorship, obviously thsi criterion is not met. therefore, Stalin and Mao were dictators, while Castro's Cuba is patently not. A "party dictatorship" is an oxymoron; either teh party is powerless, in which case why not call it a one-man dictatorship, or else the government is not a dictatorship. You can't have a dictatorship without a diuctator.

therefore, I refsue to consider the monstrous crimes of mao, Stalin, etc. in the assessment, because these governments were not true leftists. This is particularly evident in Stalin's case. An anti-scientific, warmongering inciter of racial passions, he betrayed everything teh LEFT stands for. Calling Stalin a leftist is like calling the Unabomber a capitalist.

Next point. the executions in places liek Cuba, small in number 9castro killed 12,000 in 40 years by teh broadest assessment I've seen, while the capitalist Batistakilled 20,000 in seven) nevertheless did occur. The difference is, tehse people were executed for committing crimes. You amy argue taht what they did was not actually criminal or seditious. But the fact is, they were not arbitrarily killed, tehy were killed for crimes committed. the US, too, kills and imprisons peopel for sedition. Cuba defines sedition a little more loosely, that's all. generally, the true communist states were less into the arbitrary elimination of racial groups, teh punishment for collective crimes, and teh killing to spread terror than were rightist regimes like indonesia, the DR under Trujillo and the Contras. Witness Trujillo's murder of 40,000 Haitian migrants as scapegoats for a financial crisis, Obviously, Stalin and mao went in for all tehse things in a big way. But as I previously stated, they led neither democracies nor real party states (the party in both countries was weak and powerless, being constantly purged.) therefore, the pathological regimes of Stalin and Mao are not communsit but rather one-man dictatosrhips.

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