Wednesday, August 19, 2015

For people who cite the Black Book of Communism or believe "communism killed more people than capitalism"

I am so naive I once believed facts would matter online, that the internet would be the graveyard of bad ideas instead of the place where they live forever. Have a relevant quote:
"Of all the ways of defining man, the worst is the one which makes him out to be a rational animal." —Anatole France
Today, a friend on Facebook shared:
“Nationalism of one kind or another was the cause of most of the genocide of the twentieth century. Flags are bits of colored cloth that governments use first to shrink-wrap people's minds and then as ceremonial shrouds to bury the dead.” ― Arundhati Roy
In the comments, someone said, "In my universe it was various flavors of socialism with a little bit of nationalism," and someone else added "The two greatest instances of genocide were Communist China and Communist Russia." So I shared Hitler Explains to GOP Why They Are Wrong about National Socialism, then made these comments:
...if you want to sound informed, you could do worse than this, which begins by pointing out the flaws in the studies you seem to be thinking of:
Attempting the Impossible – Calculating Capitalism’s Death Toll | Peter Says Stuff
PS: I'm not recommending that post in particular. There are many places that point out the flaws of the studies you cite, so you should feel free to try others if you don't like that one. It was literally the first that came up when I googled something like "capitalism or communism who killed more".
And then I relied on a point that I didn't originate: for your insistence that Nazis must be socialists because of their name, do you also insist the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is democratic?
When it occurred to me that this might deserve to be a post, I wondered if I'd blogged about it already (because I've written about it before, in comments if not in posts), so I googled shetterly "black book of communism". On the first page of hits was a Vox Day post that includes this:

62.  bob k. mandoJuly 19, 2014 5:23 PM

Salt July 19, 2014 5:19 PM
What is historically and observably true?

what is historically and observably true?


you go and try to explain to Shetterly or Brust how Marxism is the most murderous ideology ever seen on the face of the planet, more murderous by far than anything any people of 'faith' have done.

good luck with that.

67.  VDJuly 19, 2014 5:44 PM

Dinesh pointed out the mass killings under Stalin, Mao, etc. I never heard him attribute this to VD. But the interesting thing is that Hitchens did not use that argument again.

That argument is not original to me. It's well-known to anyone familiar with the Black Book of Communism. Harris even anticipated it, and addressed it unsuccessfully in The End of Faith.

68.  SaltJuly 19, 2014 5:51 PM


Shetterly or Brust's understanding is not determinative as whether something is true or not.
I'm not bothering to comment there, partly because I agree with Salt's specific comment: we're all human, with all the shortcoming that entails. That's why we should seek facts with a scientific attitude, doing all we can to avoid confirmation bias. If you do that, you won't cite The Black Book of Communism, just as you wouldn't cite The Protocols of the Elders of Zion or any other work based on lies or extremely flawed research.

We are irrational animals—that's all the more reason to value reason.

ETA: Nazism: Position in the political spectrum - Wikipedia