Stalin, Mao, Castro and all that!

Chris M. Sciabarra sciabrrc at is2.NYU.EDU
Fri Jul 7 05:42:59 MDT 1995

I have sat here in amazement for a few days while some on this list
continue to debate the relative worth of such individuals as Stalin, Mao,
and Castro.   Excuse this outburst, and you may place it
in context--after all, I am not a card carrying communist.  I am a
libertarian who likes Hayek and yes, Ayn Rand.  But I have great respect
for the intellectual traditions of the left from Marx on down.  I simply
can't believe that a tradition which has extolled the ideal of social
relations based on non-exploitation and human dignity--continues to
debate the relative worth of such individuals as Stalin, Mao, and
Castro.  Granted, one cannot abstract such individuals from their
historical circumstances--which often dictated various means of achieving
certain ends that in the final analysis, only undermined the end itself.
But hasn't the left had enough with one party rule, authoritarian
leadership, censorship, imprisonment of political dissidents, execution
of "class enemies," non-market state control of political, social and
economic life, oppression of gays and lesbians, and expropriation without
due process?  Stalin murdered millions and millions of people in a
network of Gulags that is so well-known, it is beyond me how ANYONE could
justify ANYTHING that this monster did.  Even Jim--no friend of Ayn
Rand--once said that LOTS OF PEOPLE opposed the Nazis, and that this was
no proof of their virtue.  Stalin--consistent with his nationalist
Russian roots--had just as many imperial designs on Finland and Eastern
Europe as did Hitler.  What he did in collectivizing agriculture and in
his paranoid execution and oppression of ethnic minorities and "enemies"
is absolutely inexcusable--even if it is somewhat understandable within
the context of imperial Russia and emergent Bolshevism.  Understanding
things and placing things in historical context does not eliminate the
need for moral outrage.  It is moral outrage that once marked the passion
of the left.  Continued apologia for Stalinism--or the cultural
revolution of Mao and his reign of terror--or Castro's Cuba, which for
years benefitted from Soviet military power, which, for years has
oppressed gays and lesbians--this is not what is going to save the
left--or ANY movement that claims to be RADICAL.  Where is the moral
outrage of the left?

None of this should be construed as taking an agnostic position on the
historical role of the Colossus of the North.  I am perfectly comfortable
with characterizing the United States as a neofascist state with lots of
social problems that must be analyzed and transcended.  I am not here as
an apologist for fascism.  But I simply cannot believe that the Left is
still so preoccupied with defending this record of barbarism in the
twentieth century.  In comparison with such barbarism, I am amused--if
nothing else--by those who continue to call Ayn Rand a "fascist."  Or
Hayek an "apologist for fascism."  And I simply cannot believe that Karl
Marx would look at this twentieth century tragedy and say:  "Nice

					- Chris
Dr. Chris M. Sciabarra
Visiting Scholar, NYU Department of Politics

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