Since the beginning of the centennial of World War I, I have been writing a series of essays about the war as the memory of events passes us by–a hundred years later. But as we approach the centennial of the Bolshevik Revolution, I find it nearly impossible to delimit my thoughts on this profound event in the history of the human race as if it were only a passage of the war, like the Somme, or American intervention, or the internment of enemy aliens.
There are so many narrations of the “event” itself. There are so many answers to the question “why.” There are so many clashing depictions of tectonic shifts in Russia and the world at that time, of Lenin, Trotsky, Dzerzhinsky and the rest as actors, heroes, villains, and (to some modern day sycophants) secular saints.
The inhuman cruelty, the killing capacity of this Marxist-Leninist movement which styled itself occasionally as the champion of the “people” (though much more often and much more truthfully as the vanguard of the proletariat on the march toward a revolutionary conflagration that would produce the new man) truly tests the bounds of human comprehension. Even if we take into account a group of recent historians who minimize standard historical estimates of total non-combat, democidal totals of deaths (based in part on recently found archival materials, but in part on soft hearts still loyal to the Great Experiment), the median calculation of Communist mortality by historians and demographers credits the Soviet Union of Lenin and Stalin with somewhere between eighteen and sixty-two million deaths beyond technically military losses. If we add up the democidal killings of spin-off Communist regimes across the globe, the totals are astronomical, with the estimates by historians, sociologists, demographers, and other serious analysts hovering around a hundred million human beings.
This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on Oct 31, 2017.