SA's communists are still in denial about Marx and murder - Business Day, 23rd July 2012.

The Institute's CEO, John Kane-Berman, argues that one cannot buy into Marxist economic policies without accepting its political ones as well.

If anyone in SA went around sporting a T-shirt swastika, regurgitating Mein Kampf and demanding a return to Nazi doctrines, they would be excoriated, reported to the Human Rights Commission, charged in the equality courts and condemned the world over.

Our ruling tripartite alliance would mount a demonstration that would attract more support than the one it organised in protest against the Zuma penis painting.

Yet the hammer and sickle is ubiquitously displayed in SA, Lenin is adoringly quoted, and more and more people here and abroad are urging a return both here and abroad to Marxist policies in light of the alleged failure of the capitalist system.

This is despite the fact that communism murdered four times as many people as did the Nazis — 100-million against about 25-million-30-million.

Apologists for the communist system generally blame its mass murders on Stalin — a case of unfortunate pilot error, as it were.

Yet Stalin did nothing that Lenin had not already perfected, from shooting trade unionists to murdering people in slave labour camps to starving millions of peasants to death in state-sponsored famines. Nor did the crimes committed by communists take place only in Russia and China.

Communist bosses in other countries, among them Vietnam, North Korea, Cambodia, Afghanistan, parts of Eastern Europe, and parts of Africa and Latin America, eagerly followed the ideology and the practices of the Leninist prototype. Like Lenin, Stalin, and Mao Zedong, they turned the governments they controlled into instruments of criminality.

The most intriguing question about the history of the western intelligentsia is why the crimes of communism have not been given the same treatment in the media, academia and on stage and film as those committed by the Nazis. Until they are, the beguiling but evil doctrine of Marxism will keep on surfacing as if it were some kind of acceptable alternative to, or way out of, the current global economic crisis.

In its recent draft five-year plan, titled The South African Road to Socialism, the South African Communist Party (SACP) says it will not "become denialist about the grave errors and crimes committed in the name of ‘communism’". These include "dogmatism, intolerance of plurality, and above all the curtailment of a vibrant worker democracy with the bureaucratisation of the party and the state". Moreover, "millions of communists were among the victims of Stalin’s purges".

This sanitised account is a perfect example of the very "denialism" the SACP claims to deny. It is like talking about the Third Reich without mentioning Auschwitz.

Scapegoating Stalin, as the SACP and other apologists do, neatly lets Karl Marx off the hook. Yet it was Marx who invented the ideas that, implemented by others, caused states to become criminal.

That this happened not sometimes, but routinely, tells us that criminality is a logical outcome of Marxism, not just an aberration.

Marx believed in the use of both dictatorship and terror, while Lenin positively relished the use of terror.

It is no coincidence that terror has been so widely used ever since by communist regimes, including those still in power in Cuba and North Korea.

Forcing nations to conform to a preconceived paradigm necessarily involves both economic and political coercion if your paradigm is wrong, and if you believe that the end justifies the means.

Moreover, if you destroy private property ownership and the rule of law, you render the individual defenceless against the state. It might seem inconceivable that any country would today return to communist criminality. Zimbabwe, however, has done just that. Arguably, so has Russia.

Communists always deny that there can be any separation between the economic and the political.

Much of the recent debate about the "second transition" in discussion documents for the recent policy conference of the African National Congress revolves around this point.

The issue then is whether one can adopt Marxist economic policies without willy-nilly buying into the political ones. History shows, however, that the one comes with the other.


(To read the article on the Business Day website, please click here.)