The capitalist class doesn’t hate communism out of concern for mass murder. The accounts of the mass deaths that communism has supposedly caused are exaggerated or fabricated, and capitalist governments have caused hundreds of times more deaths than can be attributed to communist ones. Anti-communism isn’t about human rights, at least not human rights as a socialist would define them. Capitalists and imperialists vilify countries like China because they don’t like that these countries have challenged the “rights” to exploit and oppress.
This is the essence of the concerns of the rightists who’ve worked to undermine the Chinese Communist Party in Hong Kong. Their theatrics about the need to protect “human rights” are motivated by the desire to solidify Western imperialist control over the city, which China threatens. China isn’t the one responsible for the decline of Hong Kong’s living standards, the Western-aligned Hong Kong capitalist class is. And China’s policy control over the city is so limited that it’s hard to honestly argue China is oppressing Hong Kongers. The Western imperialists have manufactured violent protests in Hong Kong because this helps their geopolitical and corporate interests.
“The ‘human rights’ advertised by the imperialists are privileges of the rich, privileges to do anything on the strength of money,” Kim Jong Il wrote in Socialism is a Science. “The imperialists do not recognize the right of unemployed people to work, or the right of orphans or people without support to eat and survive, for instance, as human rights. As they do not grant working people elementary rights to existence and as they pursue anti-popular policies and policies of racial and national discrimination and colonialism, the imperialists have no right to speak about human rights. The imperialists are the most heinous enemy of human rights. They violate the people's right to independence and interfere in the internal affairs of other countries on the pretext of ‘defending human rights.’”
Just as the reactionary capitalists who advance these narratives often view it as a violation of their rights for them to have any of their tax money redistributed to the poor, they view it as an atrocity when a socialist government makes an effort towards taking the capitalist class out of power. This is why when we hear demonizations of the Soviet Union, what often comes up is Stalin’s supposed atrocities against the petty bourgeois class of landowners called the kulaks. Yet Stalin’s approach for collectivizing the property of the kulaks was done with restraint, and the ensuing class warfare between the landowners and the peasants was essentially out of Stalin’s hands. As the historian Bruce Franklin has written:
It was the hour of Russia's peasant masses, who had been degraded and brutalized for centuries and who had countless blood debts to settle with their oppressors. Stalin may have unleashed their fury, but he was not the one who had caused it to build up for centuries.
The staggering selfishness that these petty tyrants showed when Stalin tried to make their resources available to a desperate populace-with many of the kulaks having burned their supplies rather than share it-is also ignored by bourgeois commentators who see the kulaks as victims. From a capitalist perspective, taking away someone’s means for exploiting the proletariat is a heinous crime, and the kulaks were only defending themselves.
Such is the nature of how bourgeois society views the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. We’re constantly invited to sympathize with the landlords and capitalists who came under attack throughout the campaign to get them out of power, yet bourgeois portrayals of these events always omit their context and what resulted from them. Most of the landlord killings were spontaneous actions from the peasants, who were given the opportunity to gain personal justice after centuries of oppression against their people. Like is the case with the struggle between the kulaks and the Russian peasants, a historical context makes it easy to sympathize with the side of the peasants; China’s peasants hated their landlords because they had had the power to rob, rape, and kill peasants with impunity, had taxed peasants into starvation, and had even taken the wives and daughters of peasant families if the families didn’t have enough food to give up.
During the Cultural Revolution, when Mao used a paramilitary force to take rightists out of prominent positions, the actions of the communists also couldn’t honestly be viewed to be wholly wrong or to have mainly negative consequences. Ann Tompkins, one of the few Americans who’s lived through and participated in the Cultural Revolution, wrote in a Reddit post three years ago that “I do not feel remorse for participating in a revolution in which some blood was shed and some suffering occurred. I am still in doubt of the ‘official’ numbers of the atrocities from either China or other sources.”
Tompkins’ differing perspective about the Cultural Revolution exists because in addition to the misleading ways in which the Revolution’s death count has been typically presented, the Revolution resulted in indisputable gains for Chinese society. When Mao’s campaign removed many reactionaries from power and made it so that all members of the social strata were directly participating in the running of society, healthcare and education were expanded while students were made able to openly criticize their schools. Despite the continual bourgeois efforts to paint the Cultural Revolution as a humanitarian disaster wherein some vaguely defined Maoist “dictatorship” was solidified, China would now have lower living standards and be less democratic had the Revolution not happened.
But these are all mere details for those who have a vested interest in demonizing class liberation efforts. The same narrative-the one of tyrannical communists victimizing innocent businesspeople and rightist political leaders-is also the default for how we’re told to view the events of Cuba’s revolution. Che Guevara is presented as a heartless murderer for having fought in battles against the torturers, executioners, and other war criminals who served the regime of capitalist dictator Batista. And as the anti-imperialist Peter Bolton assessed in an article this year, the bourgeois narrative about the supposed injustices of Castro’s land reforms also come from the position that capitalists have a right to do what they wish with people and land:
According to this belief system, the tyrannical Fidel Castro seized for himself everything from everyone so that all but he might be equal. The reality is far more nuanced than this picture suggests. For one thing, the Cuban exiles who left in the early days of the revolution abandoned their properties as they fled for Yankee shores. (And many of them did so long before the country officially embraced communism in late 1965 – almost six years after Castro seized power from Batista.) So they could not have reasonably expected to have them returned to them no matter what political and economic system Cuba eventually adopted. Furthermore, Fidel Castro made clear that expropriation would apply to everyone, including him and his cadre of revolutionaries themselves. Indeed, one of the very first things that his government nationalized after the revolution was his own family farm in the island’s Oriente province.
In their response to these actions from communist governments, the capitalist class and its supporters have revealed the real reason why they demonize these governments: because they’ve challenged bourgeois rule. For people who believe that it’s a right to accumulate as much money as possible while depriving others of a comfortable life, the actions of leaders who believe in equality and egalitarianism will always look like atrocities. This is simply how the capitalist philosophy leads one to view socialism. And as long as we allow people with the capitalist philosophy to hold power, their warped definition of “rights” will continue to be the rule in our society.
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