The suggestion that the Nazis were responsible for the launching of WWII (See here and here), and that’s why Nazism is seen as more evil than Communism, elicited a lot of email. Here are a few:
I think that communism would never be viewed as equivalent to evil as Nazism is even if the Reds had started WWII by attacking Germany.
Much of the bien pensant reaction to communism is informed by a feeling that communists’ hearts are in the right place. The Reds are trying to bring equality to the world and relieve the burden of oppression that weighs down the proletariat; the Nazis are concerned with the progress of the Volk.
The intelligentsia does not see communism as fatally flawed but overzealous. (if they did, they would not be leftists).
Re: The reader who says starting World War II was equal to the Holocaust in giving Hitler an evil reputation.
Yes, Hitler and fascism became synonymous with evil because the wars he started made it impossible for the world to ignore his crimes. Also, having our soldiers capturing some of his death camps made it that much harder to overlook what really happened. And his victims had more relatives in Western Europe and the US than Stalin’s victims did.
This is an issue that has puzzled me for years, ever since reading Gulag Archipelago when it appeared in the mid 70s. In my childhood I got the impression from documentaries and stories on World War II that we had learned our lesson never to appease a murderous dictator. Then Solzhenitsyn shows how we kept on doing it to another one (Stalin) all the years we were fighting Hitler, and beyond. I suspect that appeasing and ignoring what a dictator does to his own people is the default behavior of most nations and peoples, even now. Zimbabwe comes to mind, and how George W Bush is demonized for the invasion of Iraq. It takes an unusually aggressive dictator (to neighboring countries) like Hitler to rouse other countries to overthrow him.
Greetings “Dr. JG”,
I just caught up on the LF blog and wanted to comment on your reader’s letter regarding Fascism’s “evil reputation” vis a vis the relative pass that Communism/socialism get. Specifically, methinks its necessary to knock down the historical innaccuracies regarding the Soviet Union that he’s perpetrating.
The Soviet Union bears just as much responsibility for starting WW2 as does the Third Reich. It was an ALLIANCE with Germany that “greenlighted” the Wehrmacht invasion of Poland, with the Soviet Union rolling in from the other border a few days later. The SU then proceeded to attack neutral nations without provocation, i.e. Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Finland. We came pretty close to seriously aiding the Finns, had the geography been more favorable, there might very well have been “Flying Polar Bears” led by Chenault as well. Subsequently, the Soviet Union made a non-aggression pact and cleared the way for the Japanese to move ahead with their grand imperial designs. Of course, the “honorable” Soviets ditched that pact as soon as they were assured that they could be successful in their aggression. The reason for the overarching villification of the fascism compared to socialism/communism is simply the convenience of history (SU on our side vs the Axis) and the wholesale obscuratisnism and revisionism undertaken by the Left that you’ve already identified in your book.
Your reader who discounts the Holocaust in favor of starting World War II as the primary reason fascism is reviled while communism is (at least in those countries that did not experience it) is not, ignores one simple fact: the USSR as much as Nazi Germany is responsible for starting the war (at least its European phase, which is, let’s face it, the only part that Europeans and Americans really care about). Without the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Hitler could not have invaded Poland, or if he did, would have had to contemplate running headlong in the the Red Army coming to Poor Little Poland’s “rescue”. The Pact also allowed the USSR to occupy the eastern half of Poland, and gave Stalin a free hand in Finland and the Baltic states. In other words, Stalin was just as much a co-conspirator in the initiation of the war as Hitler (which, of course, raises the irony of Ribbentrop being hanged for war crimes after Nuremberg, while Molotov lived in peaceful retirement to a ripe old age).
I think the real reason for fascism’s evil reputation vs. the relatively benign reputation of socialism, or even communism, has more to do with the adoption of the latter two as the preferred ideology of the intelligentsia in the liberal West, which permits them to engage in intellectual peregrinations to justify their beliefs despite the manifest results thereof. In their minds, fascism per se is evil (evil in its essence?), while socialism and communism are per se good–and only evil in their execution. The conceit allows them to think, “If only we had been running the show, things would have turned out differently”. To paraphrase G.K. Chesterton’s aphorism on Christianity, they believe “Communism has not been tried and found wanting. it has been found difficult and thus never tried”. As long as the Left can engage in such sophistry, they will never have to confront the reality of their beliefs. And, from their perspective, a good thing, too.