The New York Times recently published an “opinion piece” from radical feminist Vivian Gornick where she spoke glowingly of communism, describing it as “inspirational” ideology despite it being responsible for the deaths of 100,000,000+ people.
Why does the mainstream media continually publish vapid articles like “When Communism Inspired Americans” which only serve to whitewash the bloody history of a murderous ideology? WATCH VIDEO HERE
How many victims has communism claimed? The answer depends on how you define victim. In one sense, every man or woman living under a communist regime is a victim, since this tyrannical ideology restricts their rights and denies their human dignity. Under this definition, in China alone there are almost 1.4 billion current victims of communism, not to mention the approximately 130 million victims in Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba, and Laos. This amounts to one in five people alive today. Add in the several generations that suffered under Soviet tyranny and top it up with the other countries of the communist bloc and the number of victims runs into the billions.
A narrower definition of victim would be limited to those people whose lives were suddenly extinguished or dramatically foreshortened by the acts and policies of communist states. Historiographical debates regarding intentionality aside, it is reasonable to go beyond direct executions and include here state policies whose implementation could reasonably have been expected to result in the deaths of innocents. Stalin’s policies of forcible food requisitions in Ukraine, for example, led to famine; and mass deportations to Siberia without adequate cold weather provisions resulted in the deaths of millions. The examples go on.
Understandably, the numbers involved in this tally are subject to disagreement. Some interpretation of the historical and political record is required, and differences may arise based on definition, methodology, or bias. There are scholars who seek to minimize the numbers of the dead, and others who seek to maximize it. Given that many of communism’s victims died anonymously without record, there will never be a comprehensive list of names of the victims of communism, so we will always have to rely upon estimates.
Without seeking to establish the relative scholarly value of any particular estimate, it is a valuable exercise simply to observe how widely they range, as even the lowest estimates represent a profound moral indictment of the communist political system.
Perhaps the most widely known estimates are those provided in The Black Book of Communism (1997), which are as follows:
North Korea: 2,000,000
Eastern Europe: 1,000,000
Latin America: 150,000
International Movements not in power: 10,000
When the book was published, the estimated total number of deaths was 94,360,000. Over the last 19 years, many scholars have re-examined the history of communist states and sought to establish revised and more precise estimates of communism’s human toll. For instance, in Mao’s Great Famine (2010), Frank Dikötter estimates that 45,000,000 Chinese perished—rather than the 30,000,000 commonly estimated—as a result of the famine that lasted from 1958 to 1962 and was directly attributable to the decisions of Chinese Communist leaders. The earliest years of the People’s Republic, from 1949 to 1953, are also being reassessed after long being considered a revolutionary golden age.
A brief survey returns the following high and low estimates for the number of people who died at the hand of communist regimes:
China: 29,000,000 (Brzezinski) to 78,860,000 (Li)
USSR: 7,000,000 (Tolz) to 69,500,000 (Panin)
North Korea: 1,600,000 (Rummel, Lethal Politics; figure for killings) to 3,500,000 (Hwang Jang-Yop, cited in AFP; figure for famine)
Cambodia: 740,000 (Vickery) to 3,300,000 (Math Ly, cited in AP)
Africa: 1,700,000 (Black Book) to 2,000,000 (Fitzgerald; Ethiopia only)
Afghanistan: 670,000 (Zucchino) to 2,000,000 (Katz)
Eastern Europe: 1,000,000
Vietnam: 1,000,000 (Black Book) to 1,670,000 (Rummel, Death by Government)
Latin America: 150,000
International Movements not in power: 10,000
The combined range based on the estimates considered, which derive from scholarly works, works of journalism, memoirs, and government-provided figures, spans from 42,870,000 to 161,990,000. While reasonable people will disagree in good faith on where the true number happens to lie, any number within this range ought to provoke horror and condemnation. And as previously mentioned, these figures estimate only the number of people who perished, not those who were merely tortured, maimed, imprisoned, relocated, expropriated, impoverished, or bereaved. These many millions are victims of communism too. The commonly cited figure of the deaths caused by communist regimes, 100 million, falls midway through this range of estimates. As scholars continue to research the history of the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China, and other communist regimes, and as they gain access to previously inaccessible records, the scale of communist crimes will gradually come into even sharper focus.
Brzezinski, Zbigniew. Out of Control: Global Turmoil on the Eve of the 21st Century. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2010.
Courtois, Stéphane, Nicolas Werth, Jean-Louis Panné, Andrzej Paczkowski, Karel Bartošek, and Jean-Louis Marolin. The Black Book of Communism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999.
“Cambodians Recall Massacres.” AP, May 22, 1987.
Fitzgerald, Mary Anne. “Tyrant for the taking.” The Times (London), April 20, 1991.
Katz, Lee Michael. “Afghanistan’s President is Ousted.” USA Today, April 17, 1992.
Li, Cheng-Chung. The Question of Human Rights on China Mainland. Republic of China: World Anti-Communist League, 1979.
Panin, Dimitri. Translated by John Moore. The Notebooks of Sologdin. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976.
Rummel, R. J. Death by Government. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1994.
Rummel, R. J. Lethal Politics: Soviet Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1917. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1990.
Tolz, Vera. “Ministry of Security Official Gives New Figures for Stalin’s Victims.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Research Report. May 1, 1992. (The figure of seven million direct executions under Stalin, given by a member of the security services heading a commission for rehabilitation, may be taken as an absolute baseline figure to which should be added the many deaths suffered by labor camp inmates and the deaths preceding and following the Stalin period.)
“Top defector says famine has killed over three million Koreans.” Agence France Presse, March 13, 1999.
Vickery, Michael. Cambodia 1975 – 1982. Boston: South End Press, 1984.
Zucchino, David. “’The Americans … They Just Drop Their Bombs and Leave.’” Los Angeles Times, June 2, 2002.
Matthew White’s website Necrometrics provides a useful compilation of scholarly estimates of the death toll of major historical events.
BY JOSHUA DILL JULY 28, 2016
Recently the President visited Vietnam. He relaxed trade on weapons with the country.
I believe that this is some experimental tactic to put Vietnam at odds against China. However the data is frightening …”Vietnam between 2011 and 2015 was the eighth-largest weapons importer in the world, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. ” [U.S. News & World Report Andrew Soergel]
Dale why should I care? Read Seth Lipsky ‘s piece and you’ll get it …
President Obama, standing in front of the American and Communist flags, announced in Hanoi this week that he’s ending the embargo that has for 50 years blocked US arms sales to Vietnam. The move, he said, would end a “lingering vestige of the Cold War.”
Between North Korea, Red China, Cuba and Vietnam, it’s a bit of a trick telling one lingering vestige from another. How about the lingering vestige of the Communist Party? When are we going to end that?
It’s not my intention here to re-litigate the Vietnam War. (In my opinion, history will vindicate the hawks and go hard on the Congress, where America’s hard-earned battlefield victory was given away in pursuit of an illusory peace.)
Yet it’s just bizarre that Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry seem to think that our embargo was more of a problem than the Communism itself. Even if Red China is itching for a war in the South China Sea.
Arms to Vietnam have a certain logic. It’s like Winston Churchill saying, when the Nazis entered Stalin’s Russia, that if Hitler invaded Hell, he’d at least make a favorable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons.
In Southeast Asia, the theory is that the Communists in China are more of a threat to American interests than the Communists in Vietnam, China’s traditional foe. Yet Obama is denying that the end of the arms embargo is linked to China.
It was, he insisted, based on “our desire to complete what has been a lengthy process of moving towards normalization with Vietnam.” But he has brushed aside all sorts of red flags about the nature of the regime.
Human Rights Watch sent him a letter nearly a month ago, warning of what he was dealing with in Vietnam’s Communist camarilla. It called Vietnam’s government “one of the most repressive in the world.”
It noted that expression, association and assembly are “extremely limited,” that the press is controlled and censored and that the Communist Party “controls all public institutions and uses them to maintain its hold on power.”
Human Rights Watch characterized the elections in Vietnam as “a form of political theater.” The president with whom Obama has been treating, Tran Dai Quang, it noted, is the thug who headed Vietnam’s “notorious Ministry of Public Security.”
In Hanoi this week, Obama insisted that any arms deals would have to meet the usual requirements, including human rights. But who believes him after the hash he made of the Iranian appeasement?
Obama doesn’t seem to grasp that the Communism is the human-rights violation. Speaking to students in Argentina two months ago, he brushed off the distinction between capitalism and Communism as “interesting intellectual arguments.”
“Just choose from what works,” Obama said. It was one of the most ridiculous comments of his presidency, given that if the century since the Bolshevik revolution has taught us anything, it’s that we know which one works.
Even the Communists know. They just don’t know — or care — what makes capitalism work. That’s the comprehension that liberty and prosperity are linked. There’s no difference between economic and political freedom.
Oh, there were fine words when Quang and Obama made their toasts in Hanoi. The Vietnamese president quoted the appeal to President Harry Truman from the father of Vietnam’s Communist revolution, Ho Chi Minh.
Ho appealed for American support for independence. America refused in part because he was without standing. He had long since become a Communist agent. He had never stood before his people in an election.
The leaders who have done that are to be found in, say, South Korea and the free Chinese republic of Taiwan.
They have built prosperous countries, where political parties contend, newspapers cover them and people can worship God. And come and go.
No doubt China is the bigger strategic threat, but it would be ironic if we arm Vietnam and it goes into a fight with the Chinese. American rockets could be falling on Chinese Communists instead of Chicom rockets falling on Americans.
Then again, our selling arms to Vietnam could well result in the Communist regime there using them against the Vietnamese people, including those in the South to whom we once supplied arms — and gave 58,209 American lives — to secure their lingering vestige of liberty.