We hear a little about Muslim persecution of Christians these days, though not much. But is anyone aware of the much larger and continuing evil presence that violates the rights and very lives of Catholics and other believers in our world? It’s called Communism, and in China, Vietnam, Cuba, and a gaggle of wannabe Marxist dictatorships, this murderous ideology continues to generate high body counts and gulags for the Christians of the world while the mainstream media and prominent intellectuals hardly seem to notice.
There is ample precedent for this lack of interest going back even before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of Communism in Eastern Europe. Throughout the twentieth century, the progressive intelligentsia was sympathetic to the idea that Marxist-controlled states would eventually give birth to an international utopian community. To maintain this view, they defended, denied, or overlooked the crimes against humanity committed by Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot, and their henchmen.
Even as the very foundations of the Iron Curtain were crumbling in the late 1980s, many leftist thinkers continued to promote Communist “truth.” For instance, one year before the fall of the Berlin Wall, America’s oldest left-wing journal, The Nation, refusing to face the harsh facts about the Soviet totalitarian menace, toed the party line by condemning the Center for Democracy, created by U.S. citizens, to aid the only independent publication in the U.S.S.R., Glasnost.
One European who had the courage to expose the lies was the late French philosopher-journalist Jean-Francois Revel (1924-2006). This World War II resistance fighter and Social Democrat fearlessly fought the ideological bullies of his time. For him, they functioned “as a machine to destroy information even at the price of making assertions in clear contradiction of the evidence.” And they still do. As Paul Valery, a French poet, once observed, “everything changes but the avant-garde.”
Revel swam against the French intellectual tide by arguing that evil is inherent in Communism’s DNA. History, he believed, proved that as a governing system, it was never economically viable and retarded social justice: “Incarceration camps and prisons, show trials, murderous purges and deliberately induced famines have accompanied each and every Communist regime from beginning to end, without exception.”
The global left, of course, despised Revel. In a series of trenchant works, The Totalitarian Temptation (1976), How Democracies Perish (1983), The Flight From Truth (1991), and Anti-Americanism (2003), Revel assaulted those “who openly and on principle allow the annihilation of whole masses of humanity. . .to secure the realization of the Communist ideal.” He denounced leftists who, in the name of progress, yielded to the totalitarian temptation and became accomplices to political crimes.
In Last Exit to Utopia, a book of his just translated and published posthumously, Revel gives socialist apologists his last dig. Revel makes the case that many leftist intellectuals have been in a state of denial since the death of the Soviet leviathan. They cannot admit they were intellectually wrong or morally compromised. Communism, they still insist, was an engine of social justice that and had good intentions. Genuine Communists tried to create a good society that would save the masses from “enslavement to consumerism.” Revel calls this behavior “voluntary blindness;” ideologues ignoring or deforming truth to rationalize their apriori schemes.
To maintain the fiction and to take the spotlight off their short-comings these leftists have aggressively pursued a “take no prisoners” offensive strategy. The root of all evil they insist is “savage capitalism” and the devils who promote this depraved system are Americans. Critics of Communist regimes are “simplistic” and “obsessive” mean-spirited right-wing reactionaries or just plain old fascists.
Scholarly works that document Communist oppression are dismissed as “nostalgia for the Cold War.” “Why drag out that old stuff” is the typical reaction from the leftist chorus. “Haven’t we heard it all before? Let’s move on.” American leftist elites employed this approach in their failed attempt to stop the acclaimed Yale University Press Annals of Communism series which publishes previously inaccessible documents from Soviet state and party archives.
The most vicious outcry was against the 800-page compendium detailing the crimes of Communist regimes worldwide, The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression. Furious leftists used every vicious tactic to discredit the findings of the five French authors that over 100-million people were murdered for belonging to political parties, churches, or some hated social class. Critics pressured and intimidated the contributors—even threatening to get them fired from their academic posts—if they did not recant.
One delusional protester, the Marxist Jacques Rossi, who actually served time in the Gulag, defended the prison system claiming these Soviet camps were fine institutions that “served as a laboratory for the Soviet regime in order to create an ideal society: to compel obedience and indoctrinate.”
Revel boldly rejected these cover-ups. Western ideologues, he declared, “may have no blood on their hands; but their pens are dripping with it.” Contrary to their claims, totalitarian states, unlike capitalist democracies, must commit crimes to survive. Recent actions by remaining Marxist regimes confirm his thesis: North Korea’s Communist masters have systematically starved over 3 million of their people. In Tibet 1.2 million people—20 percent of the total population—have been eliminated under China’s occupation of that nation. And in China itself, the regime has set up a subservient Patriotic Catholic Church to keep Catholics from following the real Church with its head in the Vatican.
Communism writes Revel “promises abundance and engenders misery; promises liberty and imposes servitude. . .promises respect for human life and then perpetuates mass executions; promises the creation of a ‘new man,’ but instead fossilizes him.” Yet, by using “evil in the name of good” Revel observes, this failed experiment tragically continues to attract “angelic accomplices, in the name of ideals they have shamelessly trampled underfoot.”