One hundred years ago, the October Revolution unleashed a great evil upon the world. Not to diminish the crimes of the Nazis, but the fact is that communism has killed far more people than fascism ever did — in the Soviet Union, Communist China, Vietnam, Cambodia, North Korea and Cuba. Yet, although we are never hesitant to describe fascism and Nazism as “evil,” many are reluctant to do so when it comes to communist regimes.
What explains this phenomenon? Why does communism get a pass that fascism never does? I contend that it is the result of a lack of education about communism, or even worse, mis-education. There are courses aplenty on college campuses about the Cold War and the Soviet Union. But while historical treatments of Hitler’s Germany do not shrink from a moral judgement about Nazism, all too often, the Cold War is treated as a confrontation by two morally equivalent superpowers.
I believe that there are two main reasons for this. The first is that communism always gets credit for its promises rather than its reality. Too many in the academy accept its utopian promises — in the abstract — as morally superior to capitalism’s mundane reality. In theory, communism promises true equality. All that must be done is to abolish private property. Once that occurs, social classes will disappear and the state will “wither away.” The result will be heaven on earth.