By John McClaughry
A hundred years ago last week armed Bolsheviks seized the Winter Palace in Petrograd — now St. Petersburg — and arrested ministers of Russia’s provisional government. The world’s first Marxist-Leninist revolution put the Communist Party in full control of the totalitarian state.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, David Satter says, “In countries where communism came to hold sway, it hollowed out society’s moral core, degrading the individual and turning him into a cog in the machinery of the state. Communists committed murder on such a scale as to all but eliminate the value of life and to destroy the individual conscience in survivors. In a 1920 speech, Lenin said that communists subordinate morality to the class struggle. Good was anything that destroyed ‘the old exploiting society’ and helped to build a ‘new communist society’.”
“Communism’s rise to power set the stage for decades of murder on an industrial scale. In total, no fewer than 20 million Soviet citizens were put to death by the regime or died as a direct result of its repressive policies. This does not include the millions who died in the wars, epidemics and famines that were predictable consequences of Bolshevik policies. Add in the deaths caused by communist regimes that the Soviet Union created and supported — including those in Eastern Europe, China, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia—the total number of victims is closer to 100 million. That makes communism the greatest catastrophe in human history.”
Even though the Soviet Empire is gone for a quarter century, the evil of Marxist-Leninist ideology, and its less vicious offspring “democratic socialism,” are still with us.
John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute.