According to a 2007 poll, 95% of Sweden’s young people between the ages of fifteen and twenty know what Auschwitz was, yet 90% don’t know what the word ‘Gulag’ refers to, despite the Russians having dispatched to these infamous labor camps thousands of innocent people.
This lack of knowledge is not the fault of the young, but of the media and of other social institutions, whose proper role is the capturing and transmission of truth. Sweden is a Socialist country, and one suspects that the failure to accurately portray Communism is a consequence of the sense of kinship the Swedish Left feels for Socialism’s rabid brother. Because of this betrayal of the truth, the generation about to assume leadership in Sweden will face that grave responsibility stuffed with false information. For example, some 43% of those polled believe that Communism has spread prosperity – not famine – wherever its chill grip has extended. Although they realize Communism has cost some innocent lives, 20% of these young people estimate that loss of life at 10,000. 43% come slightly closer to the mark, with an estimate of 1 million. Few, however, realize that the actual total exceeds, by 50%, the combined total deaths of the two World Wars. The correct estimate of lives destroyed by Communism already exceeds 100 million, a tally that continues to mount today.
This lack of awareness of what Communism has wrought in the past and of what, unchecked, it promises for the future, is not confined to youthful citizens of Sweden. Such ignorance is epidemic on American college campuses, despite – perhaps because of – the ubiquity of professors whose field is some species of Applied Marxism. There seems almost a direct correlation between the presence of Marxist faculty on campus, and the level of ignorance among faculty and students of the historical consequences of Marxism.
Attempts to convince the Career Marxist with facts and evidence of the pernicious effect of Communism in so disparate cultural contexts as Ukraine, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Cuba, China, Angola, and Albania are doomed to futility, no matter how many acres of Soviet archives one spreads out before him. The devout Marxophile will simply doubt or disbelieve whatever evidence and argument contradict his neatly formulated assumption. Marxist academics, whose strength lies in polemic rather than in argumentation, also retreat into the silly mantra that all those heaps of bodies don’t represent pure Marxism, but, rather, some bastardized variety of it: “That’s just Marxism as practiced,” they’ll solemnly proclaim, unwilling to accept the parallel thesis that it’s just free-market capitalism as practiced to which they object.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, it seemed, for a time, that Communism was in eclipse, with campus Marxists rapidly on their way to becoming waxworks museum pieces. In what are supposedly the final years of Vladimir Putin’s presidency, however, things have changed. Communist policies and terror tactics are being revived, and reforms rapidly defenestrated. The Russian government is once again seizing privately held businesses, imprisoning the owners of the businesses on specious grounds and selling the confiscated property to their friends. Journalists critical of the government are being assassinated. A cyber-attack paralyzes the economy of Estonia, the most irksome reminder to the Communist world of how free market capitalism can rapidly produce prosperity.
Here at home, we can expect renewed vigor on the part of Communist apologists and anti-American activists, who are already influential on our campuses. Academic Marxists will most certainly continue to transmit to this generation and the next their contempt for ordinary people, this “workers'” movement whose proselytizers ever envision themselves as the herders, and never the herded.
The time has thus come for university faculty and administrators to expose Marxist ‘thought’ for the evil buncombe it is, rather than allow students to be misled by letting Marxism go unchallenged, out of some false sense of’collegiality.’ It is no virtue to enjoy cordial relations with evil. The university is the guardian of Truth, or its enemy.
Some years ago, someone asked William F. Buckley, Jr., to identify the greatest threat facing America. Mr. Buckley responded, “Self-doubt.” We must have confidence that, for all her imperfections, America is the closest to the City on a Hill that man has ever achieved. We must have the courage to assert this, and to assert it publicly, boldly, and unequivocally. And we must have the courage to recognize and expose to our young people the evils of Communism, however unfashionable it is to do so.
Several years ago, our child’s disability necessitated my resigning my tenured, full professorship and moving 1900 miles across the country with my family. For nearly a year, I looked for work. Among those I turned to for help was a fellow English major I’d attended college with some 30 years before, now the chairman of an English Department. He was kind and helpful,until I emailed him I’d landed a part-time job, working for my friend Lee Edwards, doing fundraising “for the Victims of Communism museum and memorial.”
“Do you mean a museum commemorating the Americans who were blacklisted under McCarthy?” he wrote back.
“No,” I responded. “I mean a museum commemorating the 100 million people whom the Communists, and the heroes who resisted Communist oppression.”
After his reply, arguing that those who warranted a memorial were the blacklisted artists rather than the anonymous butchered, I never heard from him again.
Faculty who manifest such inverted values are all too common in today’s university, and men like Lee Edwards all too rare. Lee conceived of the idea for this project in the early 1990s, and brought it to fruition working solo much of the time. So compelling did he make the case for the need for this memorial that the Resolution to establish it, H.R. 3000, passed unanimously on December 17, 1993, and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. Lee garnered international support as well, talked the Department of the Interior into granting an appropriate space for the Memorial in downtown D.C., and, in November, 2005, received approval from the National Capital Planning Commission for the design for the memorial – a 10-foot tall bronze replica of the “Goddess of Democracy,” the statue modeled on our own Statue of Liberty, that was erected in 1989 by student protesters in Tiananmen Square. Having raised $825,000, Lee scheduled groundbreaking for September, 2006.
And now this morning, at long last – on the 20th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” speech – the Memorial will be dedicated. It stands at the intersection of Massachusetts and New Jersey Avenues and G Street, NW, and bears the following inscriptions: “To the more than 100 million victims of Communism and to those that love liberty”; and “To the freedom and independence of all captive nations and peoples.”
It is sometimes pleasant to forget. Past injuries can blight the soul, and haunt the present. If, however, the horrors of the past prompt us to guard against possible dangers to come, those who were so cruelly treated will not have died in vain.