By Nathan Barton
I failed to finish this article in time for MamaLiberty to post it on the 7th, which was the 100th Anniversary of the infamous “October Revolution.” (This was so-called because at the time, Russia still used the old calendar and its dates were off more than a month from the rest of the world.) This revolution in post-Czarist Russia, was when Vladimir Lenin and his Bolsheviks (Communists) began their rise to power. It was the beginning of a nightmare which lasted until 1991. And which legacy of blood and terror remains with us to this day.
But that was indeed the 100th anniversary of the most massive effort to impose totalitarian socialism on a huge segment of humanity in history. The October Revolution was NOT against the Czarist (Imperial) monarchy; but rather against a nominally democratic government which had replaced the monarchy, and tried to continue to fight the Germans and Austrians (as allies of the Brits and French) in the Great War (1914-1918), which we now call the First World War.
It was not the first attempt to establish a fully-socialist government over a nation. After numerous attempts to impose that governmental/economic system on various parts of Europe beginning in 1848, including the fiasco of the Paris Commune of 1870, Marxism (in the form referred to as Marxist-Leninism) finally got a toehold on an entire nation – indeed, an empire. Later attempts to do so in places like Germany and Italy failed rather more quickly: the Spartacist revolt in post-WW1 Germany, and the later Fascist effort in Italy, and of course, National Socialism in Germany, lasted only a fraction of the time that Communism in Russia did.
In Russia, it took four years of civil war for the Reds, the Bolsheviks or Communists, led by the repatriated Vladimir Lenin, to gain control of Russia itself, and more time to gain control of the other portions of the former Russian Empire, now transformed into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), or Soviet Union. It took a decade to pretty much eliminate most internal resistance, including the infamous induced famine in Ukraine and Belarus. Lenin was replaced, after his death, with Uncle Joe (the first Uncle Joe – Josef Stalin), who ruled the Soviet Union for about three decades. This was a record for a tyrant rivaled only by Francisco Franco of Spain and Antonio Salazar of Portugal, and of course, Fidel Castro in Cuba.
The major impact on the world resulted from Lenin and Stalin’s export of Communism to as much of the rest of the world as they could, beginning with Outer Mongolia in 1924, and ultimately including most of Central Europe, China, Indochina, half of Korea, and Cuba. And fleetingly, any number of countries in Asia (such as Afghanistan), Africa, and Latin America.
As a result, hundreds of millions of people died prematurely, in such things as the famine in Ukraine I mentioned above, the Cultural Revolution in China, the massive killing fields of Cambodia, and indirectly, the bloodbath of World War Two’s Eastern Front and the post-war creation of the Eastern European satellite states.
And less obviously: there was a significant impact on the coalitions of nations which were established to resist Communist expansion across the world. Particularly the “democracies” of Western Europe and the British Empire/Commonwealth, the United States and other Western Hemisphere nations. The longer they fought against Lenin’s, Stalin’s Khrushchev’s, Brezhnev’s and Gorbachev’s “International Socialism” or “International Progressivism” (Communism), and the variants of Mao (and his successors) in China and Tito in Yugoslavia, and Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, the more these “Western Powers” became like them: socialist and authoritarian. This is something we live with, very much, today.
Of course, much of the blame for the original rise to power of Lenin, and the survival of Stalin, can be assigned to those very same governments in the West, and the crony-capitalists which supported and controlled and manipulated them. That story is scarcely known today, but well-established. Without aid and a series of actions provided by the West, starting with Imperial Germany getting Lenin back to Russia, there would have been no Soviet Union or Empire, and no massive Communist community (or Empire) devastating much of the world for most of a century.
To use a common comparison today, bad as all government is, Communist government proved to be evil on steroids.
Can we learn the lessons we should from this last century? Unquestionably, the most dangerous and bloody in the history of the world? And can we apply the lessons learned? If we do not, we risk a repeat, sooner or later. The lust of too many people for power and domination over their fellow humans has not, and will not, slake itself: future attempts at socialism (including the current version, Transnational Progressivism) certainly will learn from Communism and its cousins (National Socialism – as seen in Italy, Germany, Spain, Argentina) in order to again take control of people in many nations.
Indeed, Communism is not dead: yes, even China has “reformed” its version, as has Vietnam. It is claimed that Cuba has done so, whereas North Korea continues to be as “Communist” (in its own unique and highly deadly way) as it has been since 1945. And then we have Venezuela, and less virulently, Bolivia. And such fun places as Zimbabwe, which is not officially Communist or even Socialist but is very similar. Communism is far from dead, and not just in parts of the old Soviet Union.
And socialism, admittedly in “mixed” versions, is very much a force in much of the world, where governments carefully and nearly-completely control “private” property and business, and micro-manage the lives of the people they rule.
At the same time, there is hope: the bloody, evil record of Communism is so bad that maybe it IS going to be a strong incentive to push back all kinds of government, and establish liberty as the norm for human existence.
Mama’s Note: To be clear, it is the non-voluntary governments we’re talking about. Even the most “democratic” of Western government is not voluntary by any means!
I remain convinced that the root of all evil is the desire/compulsion to control the lives of other people. And that is regardless of any “good” intentions.