PART THREE: UTOPIAN VISIONS LEAD TO BLOODY REVOLUTIONS
(To read the previous installment, go here)
In 1792 the French liberal intelligentsia, imbibing the heady wine of Rousseau’s theories, inflamed the urban mobs against the upper classes. To be born into wealth or privilege was deemed an act of treason against “the People”.
No level of dissent was tolerated: disagreeing with the goals or bloody methods of the radical political clubs and demagogues that the revolution placed in charge, invited an appointment with “Madam Guillotine”. Even women and children were beheaded by the revolutionary authorities (among such victims was Olympe de Gouges, an early feminist and supporter of the revolution).
By the time the Terror ended, 50,000 had died for the crime of being born into the wrong class or disagreeing with the radicals in charge.
Did this first leftist revolution, born in blood, lead to a better world?
No. It led to dictatorship.
As was to prove invariably the case, the leftist revolution in France gave birth not to utopia but to the dictatorship of Napoleon.
Whatever one thinks of Napoleon, his “glories” led to the deaths of between three and six million Europeans. He is emblematic of what so often happens in the romanticized world of the Left: the arrival of the leftist champion on a white horse,to sweep away opposition and lead the revolutionary vanguard on to ultimate triumph. Unfortunately, all too often “utopia” is ephemeral while the dictatorship of the revolutionary leader is all too real.
In the middle years of the 19th century, Karl Marx, advancing the theories ofRousseau to the next level, putting forward the concept of “class criminal”. That economics (and the left believe that all politics are driven by economics) is a “zero sum game”. That is, if someone has more than someone else must have less. So, by extension, the wealthy are rich at the expense of the poor.
Again working from Rousseau, Marx arrived at the answer: a “classless” society which outlawed private property, redistributing all evenly to the proletariat masses; and in which the workers owned the means of production.
The 20th century gave leftist a chance to create their versions of utopia as a wave of Marxist revolutions took power around the globe; and produced the most violent century ever.
In February of 1917 Czar Nicholas II of Russia, an authoritarian ruler to be sure, was overthrown by a revolt of soldiers and sailors; and a Provisional Government attempted to establish a democracy. Unwilling to work within a democratic framework, the communists (Bolsheviks) in October 1917 took up arms and seized power from the Provisional Government, and instituted the Soviet Union.
An authoritarian regime was replaced by a totalitarian one. This was a model that would follow as night follows day everywhere the left took power: monarchs or dictators wielding authoritarian power and often leading corrupt regimes were overthrown by bloody-minded leftist revolutionaries who then, in turn, established totalitarian regimes even more brutal and less free than that which they replaced.
In Russia opponents of Bolshevism banded together under the banner of the “Whites” to oppose the Bolshevik “Reds”. The Russian Civil War (1917-1923) that followed claimed the lives of an estimated 9 million people. When the blood-soaked dust settled Lenin (and his successor, Stalin) began happily breaking eggs in order to create their socialist omelet.
As seen in France a century earlier, the “democratic republic” promised by the leftists led instead to dictatorship. First Lenin and then Stalin ruled Russia far more ruthlessly than had the Czar they had replaced in the Kremlin. 
Establishing a vast internal security and prison system, Lenin and Stalin arrested any who opposed their communist utopia. Spies and informants were everywhere, with neighbor informing on neighbor, wives informing on their husbands, and children denouncing their parents (a common theme in every leftist-controlled country). In the dead of night, the Chekisty or Cheka (State Security Police, forerunner of the NKVD and KGB) would come. Tens of thousands were arrested for voicing anti-party opinions, in public or private.
In the gulag prisons established throughout the vast wastelands of greater Russia, millions were worked to death. In the Ukraine, the free land-owning peasants, called Kulaks, were systematically wiped out for the crime of having more land and being more productive than the state-run collective farms established by the communists. Starvation was deliberately used as a tool to bend recalcitrant populations to their will.
The result was hardly the paradise Marx promised. Instead it was a hell where men were afraid to speak and retreated instead into drink and taciturn silence. Where corruption flourished, because “all pigs are equal, but some pigs are more equal than others”: the Party officials lived like the old nobility, while the “proles” lived in Spartan squalor. Where the environment, like the people themselves, was ruthlessly exploited by the crushingly oppressive state.
By the end of Stalin’s time in power, the death toll reached some 51 million dead. A lot of eggs to make a very nasty tasting omelet!
The butchers bill for leftist movements in the 20th century began with Lenin and Stalin, but didn’t stop with the Soviet Union. Everywhere the Left took power, death and repression followed.
- 80 million died in Mao’s People’s Republic of China
- 2-3 million were killed in Pol Pot’s communist Cambodia
- 1.6 million in North Korea
- 1.7 million in various communist insurrections, terror movements, and dictatorships in Africa
- 1.5 million in Afghanistan
- 1 million in the Communist states of Eastern Europe (with tens of thousands more imprisoned)
- 1 million in Vietnam
- 150,000 in Latin America
- 10,000 deaths “resulting from actions of the international Communist movement and Communist parties not in power.”
(The death toll of victims includes executions, intentional destruction of population by starvation, and deaths resulting from deportations, physical confinement, or through forced labor.)
These numbers above are from the Black Book of Communism; edited by a team of French intellectuals. These numbers are considered on the conservative side.
Do not kid yourself: wherever the left takes power totalitarian regimes soon replace whatever came before; and executions and work/death camps follow. (“Re-education Camps” is the euphemism used by leftist for labor-prison camps. In their world-view, the left believes that one is not a leftist only because of lack of education; or because one suffers from a mental disorder. So in the old USSR, Eastern Europe, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela today opponents of the regime were/are committed to mental institutions indefinitely, as they must be insane not to be communists. Recently, leftist actor Sean Penn suggested that Sen.Ted Cruz and other Republican or Tea Party conservatives should be forcibly committed, by Presidential Executive Order, to mental institutions. Penn merely showed here his mainstream communist beliefs.)
“I don’t think we’ve yet come to grips with the horrors perpetrated by Mao,” said Roderick MacFarquhar, professor of government at Harvard University.
After overthrowing the authoritarian, corrupt, but at least semi-democratic Republic of China under Gen. Chiang Kai Chek in 1949, Mao’s communists oppressed, imprisoned, starved, and outright murdered the Chinese people for 25 years.
Mao, unlike Stalin, did not target individuals for assassination, did not directly supervise any of the killing and did not revel in it. And unlike Hitler, he did not select a whole people for extermination.
What Mao did was unleash mass movements against his rivals and the “bad classes” of society. He did in fact target segments of society for repression, which sometimes led to public humiliation of the victims and death by torture, unchecked by any legal constraints. Mao used social isolation and humiliation as instruments of mayhem. During mass campaigns, designated “enemies of the people” were hounded, tortured and broken psychologically. Many committed suicide.
“Mao was unsystematically, fanatically dangerous,” said a former well-placed Chinese official in Beijing who was persecuted and jailed as a “rightist” during the Cultural Revolution. “He was not a mass murderer, but his lunacy probably caused the deaths of more people than Stalin.” 
“Class Enemies” languished in Mao’s gulags, where millions were worked and starved to death; a precursor to the Killing Fields of communist Cambodia.
Communist social and economic policies (particularly forced collectivization of the peasantry) led to massive famines. Food shortages in the countryside were so great even cannibalism was seen; including parents cooking and eating their children (63 such cases are documented). During the Great Leap Forward tens of millions died because of famine caused by government policy.
Estimating the ‘butcher’s bill’ in Maoist China is difficult. But the latest scholarship puts the number upwards of 80 million dead, making Mao (and his policies) the greatest mass murderer in history.
In Khymer Rouge Cambodia in the 1970s the first thing the communists did was round-up all the educated classes in the cities, and march them to “re-education camps” in the countryside. There they were worked to death or killed outright. Their crime (aside from not being communists)? Not being peasants. That by not being peasants, they were betraying the peasants. Only laborers were legitimate in Pol Pot’s version of Maoism.
In the “Killing Fields” they turned the country into, the Khymer Rouge communists murdered a quarter of the population of Cambodia; and most of that the educated classes.
Communist revolutions swept though post-colonial Africa in the 1970s. Wherever they came, death on a massive scale followed.
In the African nation of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), a communist insurrection (supported by the Soviet Union) erupted in the 1970s. Two main factions battled the white-settler dominated government in Salisbury: ZANU, led by Robert Mugabe; and ZAPU, led by Joshua Nkomo. Murder gangs of communist thugs fanned out throughout the countryside, attacking the white-owned farms that fed the country. Men were killed, women raped and then murdered. By the time the communists negotiated a peace that put them in power, 30,000 had died.
In the subsequent years since Mugabe and the communists took power, the country has sunk into economic chaos and political terror. Most of the productive white-owned farms have been taken over by Mugabe supporters from the urban poor. Having no knowledge of farming, these now squat on the land seized, and the country starves for lack of productive farmers.
Sokwanele, a non-governmental organization has compiled details of more than 1,300 political attacks ranging from the wanton destruction of property to vicious murders. Using techniques chillingly reminiscent of those employed to quell backsliders during the “liberation” war, Mugabe’s militiamen have terrorized “enemies” of the regime. Some victims were simply beaten to a pulp. Others had their limbs hacked off or were burnt alive. One brutal technique, known as falanga, is an updated version of the bastinado: beatings administered across the buttocks or soles of the feet so hard that victims are scarred for life and sometimes unable to sit or walk again.
In neighboring Mozambique, the communist FRELIMO guerrillas took power in the wake of the disintegration of the Portuguese colonial empire. Aside from the some 50,000 civilian deaths during the insurrection against the Portuguese a further 800,000 have fallen victim to murder by the FRELIMO government and its oppressive policies since taking power in 1980.
Ethiopia, Somalia, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo all experience communist take-over during the late 1970s and early 1980s. In every case gulags and killing fields followed. In Ethiopia, forced collectivization of formerly productive farmers led (as always) to famine and mass starvation.
Central and South America were likewise targets of communist revolution.
In Nicaragua, a coalition of freedom fighters calling themselves the Sandinista over threw that country’s long-time dictator, Anastasio Somoza in 1980; and a fledgling democracy was started. Within months of taking power, the communist faction drove out their coalition powers and closed down all opposition parties. Thousands were killed, arrested, or forced to flee the country.
By 1986, some 35,000 identified political prisoners had been processed though Sandinista prison camps; higher by a factor of 10 than the greatest number ever assigned to the Somoza regime. Most were arrested by DGSS security agents and sentenced without any semblance of judicial process. The Miskito Indians were particularly repressed by the new communist government.
As is so often the case, an authoritarian and corrupt regime had been replaced by a totalitarian communist regime. Instead of the corrupted ballot boxes of the Somoza Era, Nicaraguans now had only one party to vote for: the communist Sandinista.
The same story writ large was seen decades earlier in Cuba. Since taking power there Castro’s communist regime has outright killed between 9,000 – 12,000 people since 1959; and is directly responsible for the deaths of a total of 97,000 though forced imprisonment, torture, and starvation.
Che, the iconic hero of Cuba’s communist revolution, was famous for putting hundreds of military and political prisoners at a time up against the wall to be executed. Some 5,600 of the victims of Cuba’s communist murders were shot by Che’s firing squads.
“To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary…These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail. This is a revolution! And a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate. We must create the pedagogy of the The Wall! (El Paredón)” – Che
Wherever the left takes power, corrupt or authoritarian regimes are replaced with totalitarian states that routinely use indefinite imprisonment, forced re-education and labor, starvation, torture, and outright murder on a genocidal scale to achieve their vision of the “worker’s paradise”. To make the “perfect socialist man”, the left has always been willing to sacrifice millions of lives.
No ideology in history has spilled more blood than the far-left.
Next: Leftist Violence in America, a Historical Perspective
- It is telling that these leftist leaders, while espousing equality of all, invariably end-up living in the palaces of the monarchs or dictators they supplant, in every bit as much luxury and splendor.
- George Orwell, “Animal Farm“
- Daniel Southerland, Washington Post, July 17, 1994