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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Some Dictatorships are More Equal than Others

Glenn Reynolds wonders at the disparity between Western attitudes toward communism verses Nazism. While most among our elite now acknowledge that abuses took (and take) place in communist regimes, abuses that used to be politely ignored, there is far more attention paid to the atrocities of Nazism; this despite the general consensus there were over 150 million people who died at the hands of the communists in the last century, far more than those murdered by the Nazis.

The reason for the muted reaction to communist abuses, I think, is that Western culture is overwhelmingly dominated by liberals and ultimately there isn't a whole lot of difference between liberals, in their modern incarnation, and hard-line Stalinists. The goal is the same; the only difference is the timetable. It was not for nothing around 1935, during the New Deal, it was popularly said by communists to their liberal colleagues that they were simply "liberals in a hurry." And to what were they hurrying? Forced equality, at the point of a gun if necessary, just like the liberals.

The tacit endorsement of communism by liberals was made strikingly clear to me back in the 'nineties when a bar opened in the newly-hip Lower East Side (after, of course, Republican ogre Rudy Giuliani had cleaned up crime in New York). I can't remember its name, the "Politboro" or the "Kremlin"--it doesn't matter, but the theme of place was the former Soviet Union, with a hammer-and-sickle and red stars motif, along with portraits of Uncle Joe Stalin and the gang, photographs of May Day parades--you get the idea.

The joint was hugely popular for a while and was considered by many (for almost a whole year!) a Bar of the Century. I remember, though, at the time wondering just how well that bar would have been received had it adopted as its theme Nazi Germany, with portraits of Hitler and Himmler and stills from "Triumph of the Will" hanging on the walls. Not terribly well, was my conclusion; some forms of tyranny are absolutely unacceptable to the hip liberal elite.

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