Joseph Stalin died on March 5, 1953, making the world a measurably cleaner place by his passing. While he ruled the U.S.S.R. he killed, or had killed, something between 20 million and 60 million people, making him one of the top mass murderers in history. He not only killed more than the Spanish Inquisition and the infamous Witch Hunts combined, he killed an order of magnitude more. And yet when the horrors of the 20th Century are enumerated, if Stalin is mentioned at all he is named after his contemporary, a certain Austrian Corporal turned Dictator, who is generally agreed to have topped out at the low end of Stalin’s death toll.
The issue is that Stalin branded himself as a Communist. The Intellectual Class of the West started playing around with collectivism as early as the first few decades of the 19th century, and never really got over it no matter how many collectivist failures occurred. When Marxism came along they fell for it like a ton of bricks, and swallowed its pretensions of being scientific hook, line, sinker, and pole. When the Russian Revolution happened in the middle of World War I, the Intellectuals developed a taste for Radical Chic that has never really passed. They heaped scorn on those who viewed Bolshevism as a menace, organized Soviet Friendship groups, and generally carried on like bobbysoxers at a Frank Sinatra concert. The amount of drivel written about The New Dawn is embarrassing to contemplate, and what critical examination Intellectuals gave Stalin’s Soviet Union was simply drowned out in the political mash notes.
Like a great many (indeed, one is tempted to say most) other political/social groups, the Intellectuals imagine that the world would be a much better place if only they were running things. Consequently they are great fans of Urban Planning, Family Planning, and similar long-sighted buttinskiism. Since Marx’s brand of Communism, while making promises of a vague future in which The State will waste away, calls for a near infinity of State control in the near future, its appeal to the Intellectual Class is fairly obvious. Rather like the Divine Right of Kings was a wonderful justification for the privileges and prerogatives of the Aristocrats, Marxism is a wet dream of the Intellectual … if it works.
It doesn’t. In fact the history of long-range social planning is full of failures. Human society is too chaotic to permit effective planning beyond the very basics. Which hasn’t ever stopped various elite groups from trying, or from being outraged when any peasants had the gall to point out their failures. The better elitists have, at least, tried to own up to their failures. The vast majority have clung onto their power, their plans, and their justifications until forcibly pried off them, usually by a war or three.
The Western Intellectuals are no different. A few, like George Orwell or David Horowitz, have confronted the failures of Collectivism, Radical Chic thinking, and similar Sacred Cows. The rest have clung to their delusions as long as possible, and even when the lies and blather have been long exposed, they will return to The Dream if not brought up short. It is clearly known that Stalin was a monster, and Mao another, but the Western Intellectuals are still trying to find justification for falling for both, one suspects because they do not want to admit to themselves that they were used to run interference for mass murder. They still, unless vigorously challenged, skirt the issue of Alger Hiss’s Soviet records. When confronted with the undeniable records of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc. they retreat into attacks on the likes of Franco and Pinochet, although neither man managed anything even close to the grand scale of mass death common to most Communist revolutions.
The Western Intellectuals are no worse than the self-selected elites that came before them; the Aristocracy of Europe, the Planters of the Old South, the High Churchmen of the Middle Ages. But they are no better either. Their constant attempts to shape society to their will are no better then the various programs of the Catholic Church, the Peculiar Institution of American Slave-owning, or any other attempt to constrain the Little People for ‘their own good’ and the aggrandizement of the few.
What progress civilization has made has mostly come about as little people discovered ways to gain control of their own lives. The positions of the Western Intellectuals are clearly that liberty is a fine thing … for them. Not so much for anyone whose goals and tastes they disagree with. Their Plans and Crusades should be, at all times, viewed with profound suspicion.