Russia Forgets Too Much

The President is in Europe this week celebrating the anniversary of Hitler’s defeat. The news reports tend to ignore our part in the effort and routinely emphasize the great sacrifice of 26 million Russian deaths. Certainly no one wants to deny the Russians their share in the achievement, but what matters more is that their own government, their Marxist-Leninist Socialist system killed 62 million of them, nearly three times as many as the Germans, before its collapse.

What should matter also is the fact that no post-war Russian government has adequately acknowledged these dreadful murders; Russians themselves don’t seem to be aware of them; there are those who would like a Stalin back; President Putin appears to be just another thug like his predecessors, and our news media doesn’t see this as a problem. The "sainted" Gorbachev, much admired by the Nobel Prize committee, managed to carry on the killing tradition in the Baltics before he lost his job; now Putin continues it in Chechnya. So successful is the propaganda of the Russians and our left-wing media that few seem aware of this or of the nearly 7 million that were killed in the camps after the Stalin era.

Senator Moynihan said, "The world is a dangerous place." This is very true and the attitudes of our intellectuals add to the danger. Professor Steve Cullenberg of the University of California at Riverside was able to claim, "I think it is an exciting time to be a Marxist." One wonders where these academics park their brains. They are the people who teach our young and advise our governments. What may be more important, and a real worry is the way they continue their dislike of free markets (the ethical system) and worship of Socialism (the system based on envy and greed). Until we and the world learn to recognize what a murderous system the Marxist-Leninist form of Socialism was, the strong likelihood that any socialist system will become the same (read Hayek’s Why The Worst Get On Top) and the horrendous risks any society runs when a government is inadequately restrained, we can look forward to a miserable time in the future.

R. J. Rummel coined the word democide to describe a government killing its own citizens just because they were there, not executing them as punishment for a crime, but just killing them. He defined it as the murder of any person or people by a government, including genocide, politicide, and mass murder. The last century was big on this, Socialist governments in particular, but no government came even close to killing as many as the Russians, who epitomized the Marxist-Leninist form of Socialism. The low estimate of the numbers of their people killed by the Russian government during the Soviet era is 24 million; the high estimate is 127 million. Rummel settled for 62 million. Even the low estimate is way above the 15 million Russian battle deaths that occurred during the war.

Like any large organization a government occasionally gets things right, inadvertently or not, and Bush’s speech in Riga was no exception. He was correct to own up to our obvious blunders at Yalta, and he was correct to remind Putin of the need for Russia to own up to its Soviet past and regularize its relations with its immediate neighbors. Of course he didn’t do it to Putin’s face. It was much easier done, if a bit cowardly, while he was in the Baltics since they, like Chechnya, have suffered much from the Russian government, and have little reason to respect it.

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