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A monument to the Captive Nations stands at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

Communism is an atheistic political system which replaces the private ownership of the means of production with government ownership (see nationalization, as in Venezuela). It is based on Karl Marx's proposed establishment of a "classless society", but its philosophical basis is so deeply flawed that no Communist country has ever achieved its stated goal of creating a classless society (often called "small-c communism"); each has been dominated by a self appointed Nomenklatura.

In the belief that "people cannot change", governments under the banner of communism have caused the death of somewhere between 40 million to 260 million human lives.[1][2][3][4][5][6] Dr. R. J. Rummel, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Hawaii, is the scholar who first coined the term democide (death by government). Dr. R. J. Rummel's mid estimate regarding the loss of life due to communism is that communism caused the death of approximately 110,286,000 people between 1917 and 1987.[7]

Today, communism continues to rule over one-fifth of the world's people.[8]


The hammer and sickle, the international symbol of communism, stands for the uprising of the peasants (the sickle) and the workers (the hammer). In certain countries, it is considered to be offensive in the same manner as the swastika is.[Citation Needed]

Communism is based upon Marxism, a philosophy which uses materialism to explain all physical and social phenomena. The theory of evolution influenced the thinking of the Communists, including Marx, Engels, Vladimir Lenin, and Joseph Stalin.[9] Marx wrote, "Darwin's book is very important and serves me as a basis in natural science for the class struggle in history." Marx offered to dedicate the second German edition of his polemic "Das Kapital" to Charles Darwin, but Darwin declined the "honour." [10] [11]

Economically, communism advocates a socialist economy in which the public owns the means of production. In countries where communism has been imposed, the government has taken ownership of farms, factories, stores and so on in the name of the people; see "dictatorship of the proletariat". This drives all market-based economic activity underground and leads to inefficiencies and shortages.[Citation Needed] In both the Soviet Union and Red China, the number of people who starved to death when the government confiscated their farm products (animals and grain) is estimated in the tens of millions.[Citation Needed]

Members of the ruling party (see Nomenklatura) have special stores in which ordinary people are barred, stores which are immune to the shortages which the lower class must endure (see queuing).[Citation Needed]

Various communist doctrines have evolved or been adapted to the time and place they have been implemented. Marxism, developed by Karl Marx, and its modifications under Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong, advocates the overthrow of the existing order by a revolution of the proletariat, the social group which does not control the means of production. The goal of Marxism is supposedly to create a classless society which would result in no longer the need for any government (Communism).

The most famous government to label itself "communist" is the former USSR or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; the Communist Party controlled its government from 1922 to 1991. This government was officially atheist and attempted to suppress all religion. Like many authoritarian regimes, it tried to cultivate reverence for the state as a psychological substitute for religion. Left-wing critics of the USSR charged that it was communist in name only, and had betrayed the revolution which founded it. George Orwell expressed this viewpoint eloquently in his 1945 fable Animal Farm.

Marxist theory is intended to appeal to its adherents with the phrase, "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs", which essentially states point blank a worker does not get paid according to his abilities, and there is no incentive within the economic theory. Another quote by Marx was, "The theory of the Communism may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property," or as some have phrased it, legalized theft.

Communism and militant atheism

Karl Marx established atheism as a key part of communism. He famously said, "Religion ... is the opium of the masses."[12] He believed it was part of the "superstructure," a false culture built to maintain the status quo. Thus he denigrated Christianity as a fictional religion. Instead, Marx was an avowed atheist, as he wrote, "Communism begins from the outset with atheism; but atheism is at first far from being communism; indeed, that atheism is still mostly an abstraction."[13]

Vladimir Lenin similarly wrote: "A Marxist must be a materialist, i. e., an enemy of religion, but a dialectical materialist, i. e., one who treats the struggle against religion not in an abstract way, not on the basis of remote, purely theoretical, never varying preaching, but in a concrete way, on the basis of the class struggle which is going on in practice and is educating the masses more and better than anything else could."[Citation Needed]

The atheism in communist regimes has been and continues to be militant atheism and various acts of repression including the razing of thousands of religious buildings and the killing, imprisoning, and oppression of religious leaders and believers.[14][15][16][17][18][19][20]

Marxists justification for its persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church was based upon the claim that the Church was a "willing tool of Tsarism."[21]

The clergy openly stated its support for the counter-revolution (White Revolution). Lenin proclaimed that a communist regime must show itself to be merciless toward the question of religion. There was no place for the church in Lenin's regime. This led to anti-religious decrees and propaganda. All church property was expropriated by the new Soviet government. [22]

During the late 1930's and later 1940's the restrictions on church activity were loosened as Stalin needed all the support he could get for the war. This doctrine of co-operation between the church and state continued through out the existence of the Soviet republics and the other Warszawa pact nations. Though never going as far as a leader of the Soviet Union asking god to bless the country the clause in the Soviet Unions constitution addressing the separation of church and state was rendered useless.

Communism and Atrocities and Repression

Modern communist regimes have engaged in mass killings on a scale of millions of individuals.[23] A work entitled The Black Book of Communism published by the Harvard Press focuses on the crimes, terror, and repression of modern communist regimes over a 70 year period.[24] This book is fairly controversial partly due to the various estimates regarding the millions of people who died under communist regimes.[25][26][27] [28][29]

Similarly, a influential book which concerns itself with Russian communist torture, repression and atrocities is Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago which won Solzhenitsyn a Noble Prize.[30] In 1983, Alexander Solzhenitsyn in which he gave his explanation of the cause of why millions of people died under Russian communism:

"Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: "Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.

Since then I have spend well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: "Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened."[31]

In communist North Korea, abuse and killing in prison camps is occurring today.[32][33] In addition, the North Korean government practices brutal repression and atrocities against North Korean Christians.[34][35]

In 1999, the publication Christian Century reported that "China has persecuted religious believers by means of "harassment, prolonged detention, and incarceration in prison or `reform-through-labor' camps and police closure of places of worship."[36] In 2003, owners of Bibles in China were sent to prison camps and 125 Chinese churches were closed.[37] China continues to practice religious oppression today.[38]

Communists cite scripture

Some Communist ideology has made its way into the Church as a Social Gospel, interpreting the Gospel as less redemptive of sin and more of a public works campaign and activism. The often cite Jesus feeding the masses and warnings to the wealthy who believed self-seeking is all this world has to offer. Communists often cite the Acts of the Apostles, as early Christians practicing some form of sharing for the common good:

And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. (Acts 2:44-45, KJV)
Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,
Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.(Acts 4:34-7, KJV)

But as Arnold Toynbee has pointed out, this Marxist view denies the most crucial points,

The passage in the Acts represents the philanthropy of the primitive Christian Society as flowing from a God-given grace which was the fruit of a belief in the divinity of Jesus. In other words, the charity which is here depicted as moving the primitive Christians to go—in their mutual concern for one another's welfare—to the extreme length of sharing all their worldly goods is not a mere love of Man for Man (which is the limited literal meaning of the word ‘philanthropy’), but is a spiritual relation to which God is a party as well as His human creatures. In fact, this Christian Socialism is a practical application, on the economic surface of life, of the fundamental religious truth that the brotherhood of Man is a consequence of the fatherhood of God - a truth which is driven home with special force by a religion which teaches that God is not only the father and creator of Man, but also his savior who has been incarnate in human shape and has suffered, and triumphed over, Death.[39]

Demise of Communism

Between 1989 and 1991, many communist governments fell. The Berlin Wall in Germany, which had become a symbol for the division between the West and communist states, was torn down largely in response to Ronald Reagan in 1989, and there was also a large revolution against Romanian dictator Nicolaie Ceausescu. In 1991, the USSR broke up into several countries - each which reformed to capitalism. Some of these remained under autocratic governments, but some have embraced democracy.

Although Communism's influence has decreased dramatically in Europe, it still has a strong presence in Asia, where the most famous country governed by a communist one-party system is China, but others (such as North Korea, Laos, and Vietnam) remain. There is considerable debate as to the extent to which these governments actually implement communist policies.

China has not democratized (note especially the crushing of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989), but its economic policies have been called "red capitalism" by some commentators, as there is a growing sector that behaves in a less-regulated, free market style. China's economy manufactures a wide variety of products that are sold to non-communist countries, and there is quite obvious tolerance of economic inequality, with some provinces struggling with poverty while others prosper. As a result, some consider China no longer communist, but rather an "atheistic autocracy" with a dictatorial ruling party.

One of the only remaining modern communist countries, Cuba, is still kept under economic sanctions by the USA.

President Ronald Reagan speaking to the British House of Commons at the Palace of Westminster said,

What I am describing now is a plan and hope for the long term -- the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people.[40]

Apologists of communism

Apologists for communism like to say that the atrocities of communism were not really because of communism. They say that Communist ideals were internally contradicted, so no government ever met the official definition of "communist". Many states have, however, proclaimed themselves as communist.

Notable communists

Notable communists include:

See also

Notes and references

  1. The Black Book of Communism
  2. The Black Book of Communism
  4. Source List and Detailed Death Tolls for the Twentieth Century Hemoclysm
  5. Memory and Ideology
  6. The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression
  8. Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, Documenting Communism's Crimes Against Humanity.
  11. Karl Marx's Social and Political Thought, Bob Jessop, ISBN 0415193265 (pg 476)
  12. Marx, K. Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right (Classic Quotations) (Standard translation from the original German).
  13. Marx, Karl, Private Property and Communism, 1944.
  39. Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History, Annex II to Vol. V, Part C (i) (c) 2, p. 585, Marxism, Socialism, and Christianity.
  40. President Ronald Reagan Speech to the British Parliament, June 8, 1982. Retrieved from International Republican Institute 05/24/07.

External links