Never Forget (Update)

January 23rd, 2010

By Brianna Aubin

(This article was originally published on January 21, 2010. The update includes videos at the end of the article.)

In It Can Happen Here I pointed out that socialism, along with its brother doctrines of fascism and communism, have killed too many people in too many revolutionary seas of blood to be regarded as anything but pure, naked evil. Unfortunately, with the notable exception of the Holocaust, a lot of this past has been sanitized or outright omitted from the history textbooks. For example, nearly everybody can name the number of Jews murdered in WWII, but how many people can name the amount of people killed by the Soviet Union? (Answer: 20 million.) By the famines in the Ukraine? (Answer: 2 million.) By the Mao’s Cultural Revolution in the 50s and 60s? (Answer: 65 million.) By Pol Pot in Cambodia in the 70s? (Answer: 2 million.) By Kim Jung Il in North Korea in the 90s? (Answer: 2 million.) For that matter, how many of you were even fully aware that all of these deaths had happened? Because if you’re anything at all like I was six months ago, you probably weren’t able to name them all off the top of your head.

Tomorrow night at 5:00 pm EST there is going to be a documentary on the Glenn Beck program. It is called “Live Free… or Die” and I am asking you to watch it because, unless you are already an expert on Eastern European and Asian 20th century history, chances are you will have something to learn.

Perhaps some of you will think that I am being silly or exaggerating, or that Glenn Beck is being silly or exaggerating. Perhaps they will accuse his title of being “extremist” or “fear-mongering,” or say that Che and Stalin have nothing to do with America today. But the simple truth of the matter is that the title of Beck’s documentary is not any sort of exaggeration, merely a succinct summation of a simple, historical fact. At the core of every person’s life is a single choice: freedom, or dependency. At the core of every nation’s existence is a single choice: individualism, or collectivism. America chose freedom and individualism, and it became the greatest nation in the history of the world; these countries chose dependency and collectivism, and they became home to death camps and mass graves.

I am putting this up today as advertising, but I will put up the links tomorrow for those who cannot watch this live. You are of course free to think whatever you like after you have watched it… but you will not be free to claim innocence from the consequence of your ideas. Or in other words:

Some might think — though I don’t — that nine years ago there was some excuse for men not to see the direction in which the world was going. Today, the evidence is so blatant that no excuse can be claimed by anyone any longer. Those who refuse to see it now are neither blind nor innocent.

The greatest guilt today is that of people who accept collectivism by moral default; the people who seek protection from the necessity of taking a stand, by refusing to admit to themselves the nature of that which they are accepting; the people who support plans specifically designed to achieve serfdom, but hide behind the empty assertion that they are lovers of freedom, with no concrete meaning attached to the word; the people who believe that the content of ideas need not be examined, that principles need not be defined, and that facts can be eliminated by keeping one’s eyes shut. They expect, when they find themselves in a world of bloody ruins and concentration camps, to escape moral responsibility by wailing: “But I didn’t mean this!

Those who want slavery should have the grace to name it by its proper name. They must face the full meaning of that which they are advocating or condoning; the full, exact, specific meaning of collectivism, of its logical implications, of the principles upon which it is based, and of the ultimate consequences to which these principles will lead.

They must face it, then decide whether this is what they want or not.

Ayn Rand, April 1946

Update: Here are the videos for the Glenn Beck documentary “Live Free … or Die:”

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6 Responses to “Never Forget (Update)”

  1. Brianna |

    Ah, just noticed a mistake. Brian was right, the Ukranian estimate was lowball. According to The Black Book of Communism, the proper number is 6 million.

  2. larry |

    Hopefully America is waking up and taking stock of what is happening to our political system. Enough of this presidents “mumbo jumbo” political efforts. When he didn’t stop the Democrats from locking the public out of the healthcare hearings, he lost what little credibility he had. I believe that the Scott Brown victory is just the begining.

  3. Tom |

    I watched all the videos. Kind of interesting, but really just a review of history that’s already well-known, at least among reasonably educated people.

    For once, Beck didn’t go overboard with extremist claims and conspiracy theories. But taking it all in context, the pretty clear subtext is that President Obama and his fellow-traveling Democrats are leading the U.S. in the direction depicted in these historical examples. That’s nonsense. It’s true that Obama, many Democrats (but certainly not all), and liberals in general tend to favor government solutions to problems, and most would see the European model of social democracy as good. It’s fine to disagree with them, as I do in specific respects, but this constant right-wing drumbeat that Obama has some kind of agenda to destroy the country isn’t helping anyone. Nothing the Democrats want to do could conceivably lead to anything like the horrendous events depicted in Beck’s program, and claiming (or hinting) that they would is not justified.

    A final point: What we’re seeing now is the people rejecting Obama’s agenda, or large parts of it. That’s democracy in action. We’re now going to see Obama adjust his agenda to come closer to what most people want. What else could we want?

  4. Brianna |

    Tom, it’s not that anyone seriously thinks we’re going to see cannibalism and death camps in the US. The points are this:

    1) There is a party that shares many of the ideological goals of the hard-line collectivist parties of the 20th century… and despite all the accusations that have been thrown for the last half-century, that party is not the conservative Right.

    2) This is what the ideas that much of the Progressive Left holds lead to when taken to their logical extreme. Things like universal health care and old age pensions were not the cause of the gas chambers; rather they were all symptoms of the same disease, the cause of which is the faulty base idea at the root of all socialist movements that “we are our brothers’ keepers.”

    3) If this history was taught in school, had not been sanitized and omitted from the textbooks, people would not be able to get away with touting the progressive agenda because they would recognize the warning signs well before anyone got to any serious danger zones. I once saw an interview with (if I remember correctly) the Pres. of the Czech Republic; he said that if anyone had run for office in his country spouting all that hope and change nonsense Obama likes to use, they would not have stood a chance. They would not have stood a chance because Eastern Europe has been there, done that, and frankly didn’t much like it the first time. They know from hard-won experience the ultimate destination of someone who springs up shouting populist slogans, and they’re smart enough not to try that road twice.

    I don’t think Obama has any specific agenda to destroy the country. Neither do any of the people who support his policies. But the fact remains that the road to hell is paved with good intentions and the road to totalitarian government is paved with very specific slogans, agendas, ideological consistencies. Obama may not want to starve the evil redneck farmers or throw the bankers into concentration camps, but the progressive agenda shares all too many ideological traits and common goals with the people who DID commit those crimes, and we would be fools not to recognize that.

  5. Tom |

    I understand what you’re saying, Brianna.

    It would also be correct to say that the first signs of a cold are indicators that we’re heading along the path of the deadly 1918 influenza pandemic. Keep pumping out that message, and enough people will believe it to cause panic, generate conspiracy theories, and promote the rise of extremist reactions among people who aren’t very knowledgeable. Despite the almost infinitely small possibility that it’s true, what good does it do to promote doomsday thinking? That’s especially true if it’s done for political purposes.

    Czech President Vaclav Klaus, aside from being an author, academic, and randy dude, is a somewhat eccentric politician. He’s a lovable character, but he’s about as unrepresentative of the thinking of European leaders as anyone you could have picked. That’s like pulling one outlier from a data set and generalizing it to predict the overall performance of a system. Isn’t that what the global warmers get criticized for?

  6. Brianna |

    Bad comparison, Tom. If it were one person who had a “cold”, or a few isolated people; if the “cold” had shown no signs of being prelude to a serious disease; if the “cold” was not terribly contagious; if nobody went out in an active effort to spread the “cold”; if the American people had been taught to recognize the symptoms of the “cold” and treat it promptly, or avoid the people who had it if they were not already ill… your analogy might work a little better. As it is, a better way to look at this is a slow-acting disease that can progress in multiple different ways, but always ends in death when left untreated. I agree that America is still in the fairly early stages and that the course of the disease which leads to death chambers is incredibly unlikely; the idea is simply too alien to the American character. However, that doesn’t mean that the other paths to the final destination wouldn’t leave us just as dead. You may think that European Democratic Socialism is a perfectly fine way to run a government, but with some characteristics that simply won’t translate to America because we’re not Europeans. I think what Europe is doing to itself right now is a form of civilizational extinction, and that one of the primary culprits is the Social Democratic welfare state because it kills the ideas of independence and self-reliance. All you have to do is look at their reproduction rates to know that this is true; how long can Europe survive qua Europe when its average reproduction rate is 1.6 and they’re forced to import immigrants to take up the slack?

    As for the question of extremist reactions… has anyone been arrested in any of the Tea Party protests? Have there been any reports of violent behavior from the “radical right”? Even if there were, could you honestly hold Beck responsible for the actions of a few crazies, or justify restricting his right to say as he pleases in the name of a little temporary security? Or do I have to point out again what happened to Britain when it refused to let Winston Churchill warn the nation against Hitler? I’ll bet the BBC didn’t think a German invasion was all that likely either when it accused Churchill of being “too controversial”.

    Finally, wrt Klaus, I didn’t say that he said that he himself, personally, would feel that way (though I think he would), or that his attitude was representive of Europe’s leaders. I said that he said it was how his country as a whole would feel. It is possible to be a strange person and yet still be able to accurately gauge the prevailing opinion of your country about an issue, rather like I can comprehend that many people think global warming is an impending catastrophe, but personally feel that it is at worst a mild concern. If you want to argue that his opinion of how his nation would react to such a politician is false, or that the Czech Republic is an outlier when it comes to this attitude, you can do that. But saying that it is untrue that the Czech Republic would not have voted for a man who said the things Obama did because Pres. Klaus, the person who pointed it out, is “eccentric” is a false argument.

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