The poet and Red Army officer Yevgeniy Dolmatovsky holding the head of a Hitler statue during the liberation of Berlin, May 2, 1945.
By Allison P., Red Phoenix international correspondent.
November 7 marks another silly holiday for American students: National Victims of Communism Day. On this day, students from a number of states (including Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, Texas, Idaho, and Utah) will receive 45 minutes of education on the horrors of communism. In the State of Florida, for instance, students must receive education on Mao Zedong in China, Joseph Stalin in the USSR, Fidel Castro in Cuba, Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, and Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.
The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation claims that communism has killed over 100 million people, a number most commonly found in the Black Book of Communism. The scholarship of the book is heavily disputed, including by its own authors, claiming that the numbers were inflated and pushed toward the 100 million mark. The Black Book of Communism counts the deaths resulting from famines in the total, including the Russian Famine of 1921, an event notably that occurred before the conclusion of the Civil War. The total supposedly also includes Nazis killed by the Soviets, babies who were not born due to famine and industrialization in China, and sometimes an extra million or two victims thrown in periodically despite other authors never claiming that number of deaths. The book also promotes “double genocide theory,” a form of historical revisionism and Holocaust denial and minimization. The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation has continued to add claimed victims to the total, most recently the victims of COVID-19, of which Americans make up 1.1 million of the dead.
It is undoubtedly the case that students in these states today will learn about a variety of supposed horrors of past communist states: the brutality of the Gulags, while ignoring their own country’s prison systems; the tragedy of the famines, while ignoring the millions who die from lack of clean water and hunger; political repression, while ignoring their own country’s political repression; political killings, while ignoring the millions killed at home and abroad by the United States; and supposed genocides which did not occur, while downplaying or ignoring their country’s own history of the extermination of indigenous populations.
The institutionalization of Victims of Communism Day provides another clear demonstration of right-wing bias and indoctrination in education, joining so-called Patriotic Education and lies about the American Civil War. On its face, this should seem worrying, but we should remember that if socialism wasn’t a real means to change things in favor of the common worker, these efforts to persuade us that it is evil simply wouldn’t exist. There are no annual seminars indoctrinating children against the divine right of kings.
These extra seminars are ultimately a moot point. Every day, we grow up surrounded by anticommunist propaganda: jokes about Gulags and famines, and arguments insisting that socialism is against human nature and makes nations poor. Most of us were not born to socialist families. We were not raised in households that espoused socialist thought. The conditions of our and others’ lives under capitalism made us socialists, and will continue to. Will an extra 45 minutes of indoctrination really make the difference?
In honor of this day, let us take a moment to remember the many true victims of communism: landlords, feudal lords, colonial rulers, capitalists, fascists, and Nazis.