Q: Which political-economic system has been the most brutally murderous towards its own citizens since the beginning of the twentieth century?
A: Socialism, no other system even comes close.
R. J. Rummel (1932 – 2014) devoted his academic career to the study of what he called “democide,” which is defined as “the intentional killing of an unarmed or disarmed person by government agents acting in their authoritative capacity and pursuant to government policy or high command.” This definition covers a wide range of deaths, including:
- forced labor and concentration camp victims
- extrajudicial summary executions
- governmental acts of criminal omission and neglect
- deliberate famines
- killings by de facto governments, i.e. civil war killings.
Note that democide includes genocide but excludes deaths caused by wars that are not civil wars. Thus, the Chinese civil war (1928 – 1949) is included but World Wars I and II (among others) are excluded. This data thus allows us to examine murderous government actions outside the scope of warfare. However, we will return to the issue of warfare in due course.
The following figure summarizes this democide data. I have added color coding to the table’s rows to indicate the political-economic nature of the regimes.
Based on this assessment I have generated the total number of killings for each regime type in the following figure.
Note that socialist governments murdered almost four-times more people than did fascist regimes (the second most brutal regime type) and over 133 times more than capitalist governments. The conclusion is thus clear. Socialist governments are the most brutally murderous by far.
However, it’s worse than that. Dr. Rummel also studied death caused by warfare. He then compared death by warfare and democide on an annual basis, resulting in the following figure (note that the same color coding as above is used to identify the regime type).
The result is stunning. Note that from 1920 to 1984 the annual rate of death by the hands of a government (i.e., democide) dwarfs those caused by warfare (even though this period includes WWII). And, note further that it is primarily socialist governments (with a powerful contribution by fascists between 1940 and 1945) who were murdering their own citizens at rates of 5 to 20+ times greater that of warfare.
The actual results of socialism range from economic stagnation to societal collapse to democidal totalitarianism. The specific and undeniable examples of this last result are sickeningly numerous, including the Soviet Union, Communist China, Cambodia, Vietnam and North Korea (to name only the worst, see above for more). Progressives may say that, well, socialism doesn’t always lead to democide. While that’s true, doesn’t it reveal something profound when a supposedly “morally superior” ideology is by far the leading cause of governmental mass-murder?
Progressives will also say that “real socialism hasn’t been tried yet.” But, doesn’t it reveal something profound about their actual morality when they are eager to foist a system upon humanity that has so often led to terrible consequences? If socialism is so hard to “get right” maybe it’s because it’s an utterly evil, corrupt, idiotic idea that shouldn’t be tried anymore.
Given this track record of massive democide, why do Progressives yet embrace and recommend socialism? In large part it may be utter ignorance about the actual results. It still must be judged as morally irresponsible to demand that we embrace socialism while living in purposeful ignorance of its consequences.
However, I’m afraid that in too many cases Progressives support socialism while clearly knowing what has happened in the past. For example, the editors of the New York Times shamelessly published an article that minimized and justified these unprecedented crimes against humanity (emphasis added) in order to press their demand for socialism.
We can get to this Finland Station only with the support of a majority; that’s one reason that socialists are such energetic advocates of democracy and pluralism. But we can’t ignore socialism’s loss of innocence over the past century. We may reject the version of Lenin and the Bolsheviks as crazed demons and choose to see them as well-intentioned people trying to build a better world out of a crisis, but we must work out how to avoid their failures…
What possible conclusion can be drawn other than that unless socialism literally brings Hell up to earth the Progressive Left will always ignore, excuse, whitewash and deceive in order to maintain the viability of their bloody socialist ideology?
For many others the fantasy utopia supposedly sought by socialism overwhelms all rational thought or human regard. We err greatly by underestimating the power of idealistic, utopian thought to obfuscate hard reality. In explaining this dynamic I simply cannot improve on this final paragraph from The Black Book of Communism’s Forward.
However, to embrace evil in order to pursue a fantasized but impossible end is not humanitarianism.
Finally, we must face up to the fact that many in the Progressive Movement lust after the absolute power that socialism can deliver. As has been recently pointed out, there is a disturbing thread that ties the vile totalitarians of practiced socialism to the yearnings and behavior of many on today’s Progressive Left (emphasis added).
While the vast majority suffer under socialism, such suffering is by no means universal. Any number of commissars, Stasi informants, Cuban snitches, petty apparatchiks with dachas, etc., have parlayed their sadistic tendencies into good livings and what they want most, power over others. If you follow Twitter, or generally pay attention to the American Left, you see an army of would-be commissars who yearn for the day when they can accuse a neighbor of wrongthink and have him sent to an American Gulag. In the meantime, they settle for mob action, “doxxing,” and so on.