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It is impossible to deny that communists tend to receive much better treatment from pundits and historians than do Nazis, despite the fact that the former piled up even more bodies in the past century than the latter.

Having been a life-long communist is often depicted as reflective of idealism, however misguided, whereas any association with Nazism, even at an early age and if later disavowed, forever disqualifies one from polite company.

The Guardian, a respected left-leaning media source, just last week ran a flattering portrayal of Communist Party USA on the occasion of its 100th anniversary, with the suggestion that the rising popularity of democratic socialism would open up new opportunities for expanding its influence into the American mainstream. The article depicted the CPUSA as a natural partner of American progressives and liberals on behalf of reform causes, without commenting in any way on its long-standing Stalinist orientation.

That the Western democracies fought the worst war in human history against fascism accounts, of course, for part of this discrepancy in treatment, with Stalin's otherwise unsavory Soviet Union a crucial if awkward ally in that campaign.

Still, it is relevant to point out that during the 45-year long Cold War that followed defeat of the Axis powers, many Western intellectuals either straddled the fence or tilted toward the Soviet side, hence the once-common phrase "fellow travelers" (those who weren't actual party members but routinely offered up apologies for Soviet behavior when needed, which was often).

At first glance, this seems, again, contradictory and reflective of an ideological double standard. After all, both National Socialism and Marxism-Leninism were totalitarian ideologies viscerally hostile to and bent upon the destruction of liberal democracy, with Stalin's regime, building on the sturdy police-state foundation laid by Lenin, established both before and serving as a model in many respects for the Third Reich (despite the titanic falling-out later on the Eastern front).

Ultimately, the reason that the crimes committed by communists count for less, even if adding up to more, can most likely be found in the differing rigor and content of the two belief systems.

Fascism was always less theoretically coherent and systematic than Marx's "historical materialism," with the latter's patina of scientific certainty, making it catnip for intellectuals requiring overarching, deterministic explanations for historical experience (one consequence of which is that it is still possible to meaningfully call someone a communist, while fascist has become merely an all-purpose pejorative flung at anything someone doesn't like).

Even more important has been communism's utopian appeal, its promise of a world of equality and full human freedom, a glorious "heaven on Earth" as the last stage of history itself. The triumph of the revolutionary class, the proletariat, would mean the end of class struggle, inequalities flowing from private ownership of property, and the full satisfaction of basic human needs.

In stark contrast, fascism was defined by bloodlust, hyper-nationalism and ethnic hatred. A world in which Marx's vision triumphed would have been a wonderful one for all; a world in which Nazism had won out would have been wonderful for the Aryan race and hell on Earth for everyone else. The goal of communism, although obviously never achieved, was human liberation; the goal of fascism was human enslavement.

In short, communism could appeal to anyone wanting a better world than the money-grubbing, inevitably imperfect one that capitalism presents, whereas Nazism, with its hyper-militarism, promised only never-ending war and extermination based on ethnic/racial criteria.

The crimes of communism allegedly came from misapplication (likely flowing from infeasibility); the crimes of fascism came from intent.

Almost certainly because of its more idealistic core and scientific pretensions, communism's appeal would be more enduring than that of fascism (fascist tendencies might have continued, but overt fascist movements largely died off after Hitler's suicide and Auschwitz); indeed, long after the Soviet system was revealed as the giant concentration camp it had always been, what the late Paul Hollander called "political pilgrims" continued to search for a communism they could believe in, and at least temporarily found it in succession in places like Beijing, Hanoi, and Havana (and most recently, if pathetically, in Caracas).

Still, few would have predicted just a quarter-century ago, in the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dismal end of the Soviet experiment, that socialism would by now have made tremendous gains in popularity in a country long assumed to be structurally immune to it, a circumstance which also points us to an additional difference between communism and fascism.

All things considered, the appeal of both ultimately flows from the manner in which each provided convenient enemies to satisfy the basic human need to hate. In the case of the communists it was the "bourgeoisie" (or that Stalinist offshoot, the "kulaks," or these days the "1 percent"); in the case of the Nazis, the allegedly perfidious Jews.

Communism, however, has proven more resilient than fascism because it allows for people to express that hatred while claiming to serve humanity.

Fascism, being simply hate unvarnished, lacks such a disguise.

------------v------------

Freelance columnist Bradley R. Gitz, who lives and teaches in Batesville, received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois.

Editorial on 07/01/2019

Print Headline: BRADLEY R. GITZ: Of Nazis and Reds (Part II)

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Archived Comments

  • mozarky2
    July 1, 2019 at 7:26 a.m.

    Speaking of Nazis and Reds, here's Kurt Schlichter in today's Townhall:
    I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling pretty good about the election after last week’s two-day Democratic clusterfark, and the president has got to be feeling pretty good too, since he just won it. Oh, we have 17 more months of media pimping of whichever commie candidate is currently the least embarrassing, but the debates made it very clear that Trump is going to be POTUS until Ric Grenell is on the victorious GOP ticket in 2024.

    In the Dems’ defense, they do have an uphill battle. The economy is on fire, we’ve dodged all the new wars our garbage elite has proposed, Mueller (who went unmentioned) delivered only humiliation, and all 723 Democrats running are geebos. But say what you will, they are a diverse bunch in every way except thought – among the weirdos, losers and mutations onstage were a fake Indian, a furry, a guy so dumb he quotes Che in Miami, a raving weather cultist, America’s shrill first wife, a distinctly non-fabulous gay guy, T-Bone’s homie, whatever the hell Andrew Yang is, and Stevie Nicks.
    (snip)
    Exactly who, outside of Manhattan and Scat Francisco, think Americans are dying to stop even our feeble enforcement of the border, make illegal immigration not illegal, never send illegals home once they get here and – think about this – take our tax money to give these foreigners who shouldn’t even be here in the first place better free health care than our vets get? That should go well in places like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. I eagerly await Salena Zito’s interview with a bunch of construction workers at a diner near Pittsburg who tell her, “It really bugs me, Lou and Joe here that those people coming into the country illegally aren’t getting free heath care on our dime. We all want to work an extra shift so we can give it to ‘em. We need a president who finally puts foreigners first! Also, we all agree we ought to give up our deer rifles because people in Cory Booker’s neighborhood can’t stop shooting each other.”
    (snip)
    By the way, Kamala’s heart-felt plea about busing in that racist hot-bed of Jim Crow, Berkeley, was especially amusing to me. I’m two months younger than her, I grew up across the San Francisco Bay from the future Not-Mrs. Wille Brown, and I was bused too. No one cared. It was no biggie in the Bay Area. You weren’t exactly marching to Selma, you goof.
    (snip)
    Of course, if Trump doesn’t win in 2020, we’re in for chaos. From Willie Brown’s Girlfriend’s pledge to rule by decree to Beto, who is a furry, demanding we allow people dressed like cartoon foxes into our bathrooms, to Swalwell wanting to go all Nagasaki on Americans who insist on that inconvenient Second Amendment thing, a victory by any of them would require you set your futures to “Dystopian.”
    (excerpt-read more at Townhall)

  • mozarky2
    July 1, 2019 at 12:12 p.m.

    Here's Kamala on forced busing:
    “I support busing. Listen, the schools of America are as segregated, if not more segregated, today than when I was in elementary school. Where states fail to do their duty to ensure equality of all people and in particular where states create or pass legislation that created inequality, there’s no question that the federal government has a role and a responsibility to step up”.
    Kamala just lost the rich lefties she needs for campaign funds. If there's one thing they won't stand for is the education of their spoiled snowflake children. No way they will support busing their little ones to minority-majority schools or bringing poor kids of color into their own schools.

  • mozarky2
    July 1, 2019 at 1:09 p.m.

    Very interesting "poll":
    Political betting is currently illegal in the U.S., but is alive and well in other markets. In fact, US-Bookies predicted via press release Tuesday that over $100 million will be spent in the 2020 race, “making it the biggest non-sports betting event of all time.”
    The front runner for Democrats, no nobody’s surprise, is Joe Biden, with a 16.4 percent chance of becoming president. This is double Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg’s 8.2 percent. Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders come in at 6 percent, and O’Rourke leads the also-rans at 2.2 percent.
    Interestingly, President Trump has a 45.2 percent chance of winning a second term, US-Bookies says. I wondered if this statistic had something to do with the fact that Trump is already the de facto GOP nominee, and a company spokesperson told me that yes, indeed, that was the case. However, even in a straight-up battle with Biden, Trump still enjoys 51.2 to 48.8 percent lead over the former vice president, the rep told me.
    Rather than a percentage lead, however, “these numbers are an expression of probability of each candidate winning 2020, derived from the global betting markets (worth $100m or more), where investors are asked to make an accurate prediction as to who they think will win the race,” the spokesman said. “The money wagered on each candidate dictates the odds and therefore the percent chance, based on simple laws of supply and demand. In 2016, some election simulators and polls gave Trump under a 2% chance of success, while the betting market comfortably gave the president anywhere between a 25% and 40% chance of success.”
    I’ll leave you with this from the US-Bookies press release:
    "But as many turn to the odds to get an accurate picture of the Dem candidates' varying prospects, the message from the bookmakers remains crystal clear: there has never been a better chance of another 4 years of Trump in the White House.”

  • mozarky2
    July 1, 2019 at 5:06 p.m.

    NEW: CNN National Poll (6/28-30)
    Biden 22%
    Harris 17%
    Warren 15%
    Sanders 14%
    Buttigieg 4%
    Booker 3%
    O’Rourke 3%
    Klobuchar 2%
    Castro 1%
    de Blasio 1%
    Gabbard 1%
    Yang 1%
    Under 1%:
    Bennet, Delaney, Gillibrand, Hickenlooper, Inslee, Moulton, Ryan, Swalwell, Williamson, Bullock, Messam

  • mozarky2
    July 1, 2019 at 8:01 p.m.

    SamAdams76:
    This is a monthly posting of Twitter follower growth for the past month to see which 2020 presidential candidates attracted the most new followers in JUNE 2019!
    We just had our first round of Democrat debates and front runner Joe Biden had his a** handed to him. Not that anybody distinguished themselves all that much, other than to show their bitterness towards President Trump, who is rapidly proving to be the best and most effective president of the modern era.
    Why follow Twitter follower growth?
    Good question. During the 2016 campaign, as Trump was getting bashed again over his use of Twitter, I decided that I would start tracking how many followers Trump, and his opponents were attracting. As the summer of 2015 progressed, I saw that former front runners like Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz were seeing less Twitter momentum as Trump climbed ever higher.
    Trump was beating Hillary in Twitter follower growth month after month.
    Slow Joe Biden only gained 29,227 Twitter followers in the month of June. This places him at #12 out of my Top 20. Incumbent President Trump earned over 837,000 new followers during that same period!
    And, the #2 Twitter follower getter is Democrat Andrew Yang. You don't hear that in the mainstream media, do you? During June, Yang garnered just over 214,000 new Twitter followers. It seems Andrew Yang is now the Democratic front-runner.
    On Andrew Yang's heels is Warren with 171,000 new followers and fading media darling Pete Buttgieg with 122,000 new followers.
    It bears repeating that Slow Joe only garnered 29,227 new followers. Folks, Joe Biden is not going to be the Democrat nominee. There is no enthusiasm for Slow Joe.
    I was surprised to see that Kamala Harris wasn't further up in the rankings. She picked up close to 40,000 new followers but I expected much better after her spirited, albeit nutty, debate performance.
    Finally Bill De Blasio snuck into my Top 20. He picked up 6,800 new followers in June. Which pretty much tells me that internet access has apparently been granted to mental institutions around our great nation.
    By the way, I am now tracking 62 presidential candidates. Yep, I even track the total nut jobs like Vermin Supreme and Mark Cuban.
    I should also mention that Trump has some purported Republicans run against him. Let me tell you how they are faring. The drunken Bill Weld picked up 2,552 new followers in June and is number 29 on my list. The total loser John Kasich LOST 688 followers and is #60 on my list. Then you have Bob Corker who LOST 1,054 followers during June to hit #61 out of 62.
    Last place went to the obnoxious billiionaire Mark Cuban - he lost 4,973 followers.
    Finally, remember Beto O'Rourke? Well he is #59 on my list, just ahead of John Kasich, losing 563 followers. Vermin Supreme has better Twitter follower growth than any of these guys. When you are a presidential campaign and you are LOSING followers, you might as well just go home.

  • UoABarefootPhdFICYMCA
    July 1, 2019 at 8:40 p.m.

    Whew Lawd.
    Alot of good reading here tonite.
    Thanks you two!

  • UoABarefootPhdFICYMCA
    July 1, 2019 at 8:42 p.m.

    One Note Mr. Gtiz, the Kulaks were simple farm owners, not serf owners etc, simple farmers, but their efforts and success were seen as a "supremacy".
    They were slaughtered by the Bolsheviks the same time the Romanov's were raped and butchered.

  • UoABarefootPhdFICYMCA
    July 1, 2019 at 9:13 p.m.

    shortly after that the entire country was put into death camps by their socialist overlords.
    later to be seen as martyrs of socialism by marx, etc.
    no, Russia ha paid it's dues. the mongols fall under their republican protectorate and the Russian Republic has often been called into question.
    But the Russian people have always been good people. Simple. But good people.
    The funny thing about true history reflection is that it is all so human, From Adolf Hitler to the Zulu Nation.

  • UoABarefootPhdFICYMCA
    July 1, 2019 at 9:15 p.m.

    Russian people have been staunch defenders of PEACEABLE freedoms and VERY APT at meeting the prevaricator and instigator at the cross roads beforehand and head on.
    The only problem is that USA also likes to play "peacemaker" and angels get jealous of each other.

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