When it comes to “death tolls” attributed to the socialist countries of the 20th century:
– Most of it wasn’t due to shooting, but instead to famines caused by droughts that had occurred regularly every decade or so for hundreds of years, causing famines each time. But capitalist-hired historians will only mention the famines that occurred during revolutionary times, and let the reader conclude this was the revolutionaries’ fault.
– Much of the capitalist-hired “research” is totally baseless, or based on hearsay from defectors and never corroborated. Believe it or not, the capitalist media has no problem pushing baseless, academic-seeming anticommunist writings to prominence. (For the USSR, some of the deaths counted by the most prominent anticommunist “historians” were people the Nazis killed. .. ???? How is a Nazi invasion the Soviet Union’s fault?)
– The vast majority of the people intentionally killed are class enemies, e.g., landlords and the mercenaries they hired to kill and terrorize people whose work kept them rich.
– Some innocent people die in a revolution, this is unavoidable. As Malcolm X said, ” Revolution is bloody, revolution is hostile, revolution knows no compromise, revolution overturns and destroys everything that gets in its way.”
(More on the subject of properly understanding the history of the socialist countries here.)
Some words should be said about that final one. Some people will say, “Even one innocent person is too much.”
And I say, no, you don’t get to say those words. Because as soon as you try to, there is in fact no moral high ground left available to you.
Once you have waded into this argument, you have become ethically complicit in the deaths of innocent people *either way*.
Because 20 million innocent people die of deprivation needlessly every year under capitalism, and the experience of the socialist countries of the 20th century proves just how needless that is. We *have* constructed systems that feed, shelter, and provide medical care to everyone–planned economies. Arguing against communism is arguing for remaining within the capitalism that kills so many people each year.
And yeah, that’s a brutal calculus–x thousand innocent people dead in a revolutionary war, or y million innocent people dead each year from starvation and disease in “peacetime” under capitalism.
But once you assume the ethical responsibility of weighing in on capitalism-vs-communism argument, nothing at all relieves you of the ethical burden of the consequences of your argument. Just as you sought the ethical valor of arguing for the right side, you are ethically liable if it turns out your arguments are actually leading to more deaths of innocent people.
Yes, I accept it–my arguments will lead to thousands of innocent people dead in a war, killed by stray bullets or disrupted supply chains or even mistaken identity–but if you argue against such a revolution, you are complicit in the deaths of 100 million innocent people every five years.
And if at this point you recoil and refuse to investigate any of these claims you’re skeptical of, you are no less liable. Refusing to investigate the consequences of your actions does not take you off the hook for those actions.