17/06/2013

Anti Communism: Denying Freedom Of Speech.

Communism. A revolutionary, socialist movement with the intentions of creating a classless, stateless and money-less social order. Communis - Latin for "belongs to all." Ironically, there are things in our world which do not appear to "belong to all". Even more ironically, is that modern believers in communism have been deprived of certain rights which are categorically, belonging of all.

Red scare?
John Stuart Mill an economist, politician and philosopher, founded the Harm principle which aimed to protect three rights of freedom; freedom of speech, freedom of belief and freedom to associate with others and unite. This principle was devised to prevent definitive harm to others. Mill agreed that it is indeed more offensive to ban offence than to allow offence (since it encroaches on the three rights of speech, belief and association) but argued, "the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others". While this principle is ambiguous, the predominant point is that harm would need to be profound before power can be exercised preventing freedom in the three areas.

In the last century particularly, it can be argued that communist leaders, believers and revolutionaries have been denied these basic rights of speech, freedom and association. Anti communism has been deemed more socially acceptable as a political stance than that of communism itself by a number of countries, (America, Germany, Italy, England) dictators (Hitler, Mussolini, Dinh Diem) and the general public.

The theories of both containment and the domino effect encourage the prevention of communist expansion; the Domino Theory (particularly rife during the Vietnamese war) suggested that should Vietnam 'surrender' to communism, a proportion of other Southern East Asian countries would also be not only exposed, but influenced by communism and in turn, become communist states also. Containment is a policy generally associated with the U.S, which attempts also to prevent the 'spread' of communism.

Unfortunately the "threat" of communism allows anti communist propaganda to encourage the expansion of anti communism which in turn, as seen in both World War Two and the Vietnamese War leads to the encroachment of human rights for communists. Imprisonment, brutality, death, war, denial of human rights, all allowed to happen in the name of Anti Communism.

The problem with anti-communism, is that while in itself it is permitted as an acceptable (or more than acceptable) political stance, it encroaches on the beliefs of others (namely communists). Every individual, apparently, has the right to hold political beliefs, ideologies and theoretical concepts, however those who fall in line with Communism concepts and beliefs have suffered the hand of inhumane inequality, unjust treatment and constant undermining.

While communism may not necessarily work in the real world due to the potential impracticability of it's ideology, it seems unjust that human beings should suffer torment, or countries should suffer unnecessary intervention from other anti communist countries due to these beliefs.

Communism is believed threatening for an array of reasons. Firstly, it's anti capitalist position which appears frightening to particularly westernised cultures which have lavished in luxurious, materialistic and wealth orientated lifestyles for decades. For us in western cultures, it may be believed that the only people who will benefit from communism are those who have nothing - 'peasantry'. Secondly, the Cold War. The Cold War tends to be an answer given to the question of why communism is so threatening by those who have little knowledge of Communism. Thirdly, the "deaths". Communism is accused of up to, less than, or around 95 million deaths. Courtois, an author and editor of "The Black Book of Communism" states that 'communist regimes turned mass crime into a full blown system of government.' The book has since been accused of extreme bias, and serious and inconsistent flaws.

In response to argument one, communism holds other traditional values; equality, liberty and community. The third perhaps, is something that could be embraced in today's era. In response to the claim that only the peasantry can gain from communism is an answer in itself as to why there is a need for greater community. Counter argument to number two, by answering 'The Cold War' one is suggesting that instead their predominant fear is the potential the Soviet Union had as emerging as a 'super power' ergo, fear of losing one's own power (i.e. America becoming less dominant in both foreign policy and world politics). In response to the third argument against communism, while the Black Book compares the deaths of communism with those of fascism (allegedly 20 million) it makes no attempt to explore the deaths under capitalism, which would bracket the deaths of those in the Slave Trade, the First World War or the slaughter of Native Americans.

Communism is a subject that has been dealt the unfortunate card of suspicion; it is accused of both naivety and malice without due research or exploration of core values and traditions. As established, it may not work perfectly in practice, but essentially the fact that it is at least held as an ideology by supporters, should be respected. Just as the far right English Defence League movement which opposes Islamic extremism and the promotion of Sharia Law is respected, or just as the equally far right British National Party which advocates both an anti immigration rhetoric, capital punishment and the promotion of 'the nuclear family is respected. By this logic, the communist party which promotes a money-less, classless and stateless social order should be respected.

Instead, communist leaders, founders and believers are criticised as malicious, evil pigs who are attempting to thwart capitalism with the ambition of accumulating the entirety of the states wealth for themselves. Indeed, this is not necessarily the ambition of socialist revolutionaries, but instead, the promotion of the values of the party itself - (reiterated for a third time) - a money-less, classless, stateless social order.

U.S intervention in what was previously considered as a civil war between the North and South Vietnam essentially occurred to prevent the expansion of communism via the belief in the domino theory. The validity of this theory is questionable as the predictions of the theory were unable to be proven due to U.S intervention. While U.S intervention is a contested topic, perhaps it is contested for the wrong reasons. Put simply, it is none of the United States of America's business whether a South East Asian country decides to turn communist, furthermore, it is not the business of the U.S.A nor other countries if the domino theory actually proved true, and communism had expanded to other South East Asian countries.

What was the business of America, was their own government and the unanimous protests against the Vietnamese war effort. Power rules everything in our world closely followed by the economy, and the expansion of communism would not only have threatened America's power in world policy, but would have also affected its economic trade through the lack of capitalism in countries it was trading with. That is why the U.S.A intervened in the Vietnamese war.

The point is that if the people of a country would like to live in a communist state, they should not be treated as vermin. They should not be treated with a complete lack of regard and respect based purely on their political beliefs; yes if the government of a country (communist, fascist, or democratic) becomes utterly corrupt and is harming its people, perhaps intervention from other super world powers is needed, but before the corruption, before the harm, there should be three areas of freedom which deserve respect so long as the citizens they apply to are not promoting harm; freedom of speech, freedom of belief and freedom to associate.

Communists have been denied rights in these three areas on the grounds that communism is malicious. The causes of the fear of communism have been investigated during this article, and counter arguments have been provided. This piece is not about which political stances are correct, nor whether communism is better than capitalism. This article has the sole intention of simply illustrating the denial of basic human rights which has struck certain people with certain political beliefs.

"The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others" - John Stuart Mill.

1 comment:

  1. Good stuff Anna, as a socialist and a BRFC fan, this article particularly interested me, and I agree with a lot of what you say.

    Communists and socialists have long been hunted throughout modern history, but it is important to note that many interpretations of both of these ideologies are twisted by the West for reasons which you point out.

    People like Stalin, in my opinion, was not a communist or a socialist, nor is anyone who denies liberty and commits genocide. Kim Jong Un, for example, of the supposedly communist North Korea, is not a communist and does not run a communist state, much like Capitalist China, who are also supposed to be Communist. It's these interpretations that the West often use to taint the true meaning of socialism and communism.

    You rightly mention deaths under Capitalism and give certain examples of genocides and mass killings. It is also important to note that Capitalism creates a lot of wealth inequality that can often lead to extreme poverty where poor people are exploited for the benefit of the rich. This happens in many developing countries, and a lot of deaths come from it. These numbers aren't often thought about when comparing ideologies in this way, but it is vital.

    In terms of free speech, it is often a problematic area. I am completely for freedom of speech and opinion, but would I allow a Nazi to preach hate-speech in the center of town? No, never. I guess I'm a hypocrite!

    Just thought I'd offer my thoughts, hope to see more political writing from you!

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