Why many young Westerners hate Hitler but are unsure about Stalin? | Full Report
In September 2010, Stanford University published an article called “Stalin killed millions”, with the punchline: “When it comes to use of the word “genocide,” public opinion has been kinder to Stalin than Hitler”. The article is an overview by Stanford historian Norman Naimark of his own book called “Stalin’s Genocides”. Naimark argued that there was more similarity between Hitler and Stalin than usually acknowledged:
“Both chewed up the lives of human beings in the name of a transformative vision of Utopia. Both destroyed their countries and societies, as well as vast numbers of people inside and outside their own states. Both, in the end, were genocidaires.”
And yet, in the West, public opinion has been and continues to be more hostile to Hitler’s ideology and actions than those of Stalin’s, even though they both represent the same thing: totalitarian dictators who promised to bring those who believed in their ideology to Paradise, but instead delivered the greatest catacombs humanity has ever known.
In a very recent and moving interview with British historian, Giles Udy, Konstantin Kisin and Francis Foster, who were the hosts, have asked a series of questions which strike at the heart of the problem: “how come we don’t have a Schindler’s list for the victims of communism?”, “why is it that the Nazi’s swastika is deservedly seen as a horrendous symbol of evil and of oppression, but the hammer and sickle, people just shrug their shoulders?”, “why were we never taught this?”, referring to the crimes committed by Lenin and Stalin.
Many Westerners, while rightly and fiercely condemning Hitler and the national-socialists, continue to have a romantic view about international socialism (communism), often expressed in apologetic slogans such as “that was not real communism”, aimed at whitewashing Marx’s ideology that has been responsible for over 100 million deaths over the past 100 years.
Saying “that was not real communism” is akin to denying the Holocaust, although in a different manner: those who deny the Holocaust, believe that the systematic and planned killing of the Jews under the Nazi regime never happened. Some go even further and utter that the whole thing was and is part of a conspiracy orchestrated by powerful, shadowy figures to distort history. Such offensive nonsense is often met with just criticism and a certain amount of disgust.
Meanwhile, those who believe that what happened throughout twentieth century under communist regimes was not “real communism” often acknowledge the failures of the socialist states, including the deaths and famines that happened. Therefore their statement indicates that either they believe that the killings were necessary or a mistake in the process of tweaking the socialist experiment in order for future trials of communism to succeed. More so, the refusal to acknowledge the crimes of the communists or to whitewash them is tolerated and, in some circles in the academia and politics in particular, even suggested. What is more sickening: to deny that millions died under communism or to believe that their deaths were unimportant relative to the promised egalitarian utopia?
This report provides evidence of pro-socialist views among many Westerners, especially the young and aims to answer the questions posed by Kisin and Foster. Often, the answer to the question why people gravitate towards socialism despite its history is provided in an economic sense, focusing on challenges such as: high student debt, insane real estate prices that make it difficult to buy a house and transform it into a home that represents the direct stake in society, to a devaluation of the purchasing power of fiat-money wages.
However, these economic hardships faced by young people in the West are not sufficient to make them resentful and find comfort in the promises of socialism, at least not without two major influences: the academic world and the entertainment industry. But first, let’s take a look at just how much young people are attracted to socialism.
Is Socialism in Vogue in Today’s Western World?
The short answer to the above question is “yes”. The evidence is both qualitative and quantitative. Let’s start with some numbers.
In June 2021, the Independent reported that “Support for socialism gaining traction in the USA, poll suggests”, citing findings from a poll by Axios. However, headlines such as the one above are misleading: those that are leaning towards socialism are mostly the young. Below are a few statistics from various Western countries. By “Western countries”, I mean nations that have embraced Western values and not necessarily those that are geographically placed in the West.
From the Axios poll (2019) regarding the United States of America: “18-34 year-olds are almost evenly split between those who view capitalism positively and those who view it negatively (49% vs. 46%). Two years ago, that margin was a gaping 20 points (58% vs. 38%). By contrast, views among adults ages 35 and older haven’t budged, with wide margins of 35-64 year-olds and 65+ saying they view capitalism in a positive light.”
Another survey focused on the USA, conducted by YouGov in 2019, found that only 57% “of 23 to 38-year-olds believe the Declaration of Independence better “guarantees freedom and equality” than the Communist Manifesto, with only 50% viewing capitalism favourably. […] More than a third of millennials in the US now approve of communism, while the popularity of capitalism has plummeted since 2018, according to YouGov polling.”
Furthermore, analysis conducted by journalist Glen Greenwald has showed that not an insignificant number of Left-leaning individuals in the United States have drifted further away from the classical definition of a liberal, embracing more radical views. During an hour long discussion on recent polls on political views, Greenwald highlighted that there is a “mountain of data of conclusive, definitive evidence demonstrating how authoritarian self-identified followers of the Democratic Party have become.”
From data gathered by the Institute of Economic Affairs, a libertarian think tank, regarding the United Kingdom: “67% of young Brits want a socialist economic system; 75% agree with the statement that ‘socialism is a good idea, but it has failed in the past because it has been badly done’.”
Still within the United Kingdom, according to a 2016 YouGov poll: almost 40% of people aged 18 – 24 and over 40% of those aged between 25 – 49 have a favourable view on socialism.
A similar poll was conducted in 2018 by Number Cruncher Politics in cooperation with CapX. The results showed that close to 40% of the people in the age brackets 18 – 24 and 25 – 34 agree that “communism could have worked if it had been better executed” and close to one third of those aged between 35 – 44 agree too. However, the staggering chart (below) shows that across “all age groups”, British people continue to disagree with the idea that communism could have worked, suggesting that the majority of those who romanticise about socialism are Gen Z and younger Millennials.
The title of the above figure could have very well been “that was not real communism”…
From a 2019 survey by United States Studies Centre and YouGov regarding Australia: “Socialism is generally much more popular in Australia than America”. As the ABC news network reported on the study: 59% of respondents “offered a response that was even close to any conventional definition of socialism (greater equality, public control of the means of production, etc).”
Leaving aside the nonchalant “etc” and the lack of details around “greater equality” which in socialist regimes means equality of outcome not of opportunity, the bottom line is that, in Australia, people seem to be inclined towards socialism while also having a rough idea of what it means. However, the same trend as in other Western countries can be identified: the bulk of support for socialism came from the young, although more than a third of respondents aged over 65 also preferred more socialism.
Part of the reason of why many young people seem fond of socialism (from its softest forms to its more radical ones, like communism), is found in the qualitative evidence: there are plenty of cultural icons who promote socialist views of the world. These are, for the most part, ultra-rich individuals who are either uneducated on what communism is or they are educated and still promote socialist values with recklessness, if not with ill intent.
As I wrote in “Hardcore Posers”, plenty from the Hollywood elite are casually promoting radical left-wing ideas and values. A recent event that revealed the amorous relationship of these present day cultural icons with socialism, were the pictures of Grimes reading the Communist Manifesto. Although this was an innocent prank, it highlighted deeper ideological alliances within what is now called “woke” (identity Marxists) promoters:
“[…] the issue here is not that Madonna or Jay-Z or any other multimillionaire artist supports a radical left-leaning establishment that threatens the very values which enabled their success. If they want Marxism, let them have it. The matter at hand is the dissonance that results from what they claim to be and what they reveal themselves to be, from what they claim they stand for and for what they actually stand for.
Grimes might have made an innocent joke that attracted the attention of newspapers and the social media crowds, but the prank was an echo of something much deeper among some of the most successful and wealthy people on the planet, who are icons or global stars, be them musicians, actors, presenters and so on. More precisely, Grimes’s joke surfaced the hypocrisy found in these elite circles of the entertainment industry. […]”
More recently, the Hollywood Reporter recently wrote an article on how “Leah Cameron takes pride in The Communist’s Daughter having an unabashed socialist streak, even if her Canadian uber-left web comedy is a world away from Russian bread lines and iron-fisted Stalinism.” Cameron added: “I wanted to make a show where even if the quest of the politics and the neighborhood gets petty and silly, we can still see the positive in the ideals of socialism and Marxism, and they’re worth fighting for.” (Bolded text is mine).
The above events are not some rare occurrences. For example, in a 2021 paper entitled “Left turn?”, the Institute of Economic Affairs gathered a long list of articles from Teen Vogue, a publication directed towards teenagers which, in 2017, stated that “our readers consider themselves activists”, that illustrates the clear Left-leaning angle in its articles. Here are a few: “Who is Karl Marx: Meet the anti-capitalist scholar” (2018), “Kshama Sawant: I’m a socialist taking on Amazon and a corporate onslaught in Seattle” (2019), “Socialist Feminism: What is it and how can it replace corporate “Girl Boss” feminism?” (2020), “Young Democratic Socialists of America explain what socialism means to them” (2020).
Imagine the reaction to these titles if Teen Vogue suddenly decides that all kinds of socialism are good, not just international socialism: “Young Nazis of America explain what socialism means to them” or “Nazi Feminism: What is it and how can it replace corporate “Girl Boss” feminism?”. As we shall see, part of the reason why these sort of sickening headlines are not published is because the acolytes of socialism have, for decades, desperately tried to make a distinction between socialism and communism when, in fact, socialism is at the heart of communism (international socialism) and Nazism (national socialism).
Moreover, it is no coincidence that the young are prone to embracing this dangerous ideology: it is part and parcel of the process of indoctrination of uneducated and dreamful minds to transform them into useful idiots – the new men.
However, we are now verging on the process of how public opinion of something – here socialism – is constructed. It is what Noam Chomsky called “manufacturing consent” and what Walter Lippman wrote about in Public Opinion. This is a process of propaganda which we will explore in a moment. For now, let’s turn out attention to the next important question: what does Hitler and Stalin represent for the West?
The Dead and Undead Enemies of the West
A simplistic but not entirely untruthful answer to the questions posed by Konstantin Kisin and Francis Foster is that the West was allied with the USSR against the Nazis, hence why the difference in perception of the two totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century.
From this line of thought follows that the animosity towards national socialism, as depicted throughout many internationally renowned movies from the most serious ones like the incredible Schindler’s List (1993) to the more comic ones, like Inglorious Bastards (2009), is rooted in recent history: Hitler and what he represented was evil incarnate and the actions of the Nazis scarred the minds and hearts of people for centuries to come. Indeed, there are articles written in recent years with titles such as “Why are we obsessed with the Nazis?” and documentaries looking to understand the “meaning of Hitler”.
However, if the main reason for why public perception of the diabolical actions of national socialists was because they were the enemies of the West, then what about Imperial Japan?
As Avani Sihra from the Atomic Heritage Foundation, a Washington DC institution that is “dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the Manhattan Project and the Atomic Age and its legacy”, wrote: “German crimes such as human medical testing committed in concentration camps tend to receive more attention than Japan’s crimes against humanity […] However, the Japanese too played a part in human medical testing in a secret project called Unit 731.”
How many times did you hear Emperor Hirohito being talked about as the face of evil? Probably never. Moreover, ask yourself when was the last time you saw an advertisement for a movie, a show or a book about the ideas and behaviours of Imperial Japan throughout the twentieth century? Take all the time you need, but I bet you don’t need much to think about when was the last time you saw a movie about the Nazis, or you heard them being discussed in the press.
Here are the results of a quick Google search for “Nazi” and “Imperial Japan” as of 8 December 2021. For the former, we have the following top five results: “Nazis: news, videos, reports and analysis – France 24”, “Nazi salute haunts Swedish minister”, “Nazism | World | The Guardian: The latest news and comment on the German Nazi Party”, “Holocaust survivor, 86, addresses trial of 96-year-old Nazi ‘secretary of evil’” and “Outcry at plans to move Nuremberg opera to Nazi rally site”. These links go to stories that discuss the Nazis in today’s context, not in a historical sense. In total, we got 2,170,000,000 results.
For the latter term, there is no news story that immediately shows up on the first page of the search. However, by going at ‘News’ tab we have: “Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan Each Had Eyes on Madagascar”, “Flying Boats Flew Japan’s Little-Known Follow-On Raid On Pearl Harbor”, “New Pearl Harbor book tells the Japanese side of events in fateful attack”, “Japan Hid Its Pearl Harbor POW. He Survived and Left a Tale of Resilience.” and “‘Britain’s Pearl Harbor’: Japan’s December 1941 attack on the British colony of Malaya”. None of these articles discuss Imperial Japan’s actions or ideology in the context of today’s events. In total, we got 1,400,000,000 results.
Quite paradoxically, in recent years, Imperial Japan has been portrayed as the victim of nuclear attacks, despite being at the time of World War II a genocidal and fanatic nation whose leaders conducted terrifying human experiments in its now notorious Unit 731 and sent thousands of kamikaze pilots to blow their enemies and themselves up.
However, a summary search on Google is not thorough research. Therefore, let us look on one of the world’s biggest digital marketplaces: Amazon.
A search on Amazon.com (on 8 December 2021) of the term “Nazi” in ‘Books’ yielded over 20,000 results. For Hitler, we got a similar result. The same search for “Imperial Japan” provided just over 1,000 results, but for Hirohito it resulted in only 547. Therefore, we have a total of about 40,000 results for books on “Nazi” and “Hitler” and between 1,500 – 2,000 results for books on “Imperial Japan” and “Hirohito”.
In terms of movies and documentaries, going on IMDB, as of 8 December 2021, the keyword “Nazi” gave 2,2428 titles. Only 89 titles for the keywords “Imperial Japan”. Moreover, for “Hitler”, we got 200 titles and for Hirohito only 75. Consequently, for we have about 2,500 movies and documentaries on “Nazi” and “Hitler” and barely 200 on “Imperial Japan” and “Hirohito”.
As such, we shouldn’t be surprised if, outside the United States, we find it difficult to meet people with a knowledge of how the Japanese behaved before and during World War II. If it was not for the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, we could even question whether the American public today would be aware of the threat that Imperial Japan posed.
The similarity of the gravity behind what the actions that the Nazis committed and how Imperial Japan behaved is probably best illustrated by the Nürnberg and Tokyo trials, during which high ranking officials from the two regimes were trialled under Article 6 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal for crimes against humanity.
Consequently, here we have two genocidal regimes ruled by authorities charged with crimes against humanity who were allied against the West and yet one of them – Nazi Germany – has received a lot more attention than the other one – Imperial Japan. What is even more interesting is that, in comparison with Nazi Germany, a regime which had socialist elements embedded in its ultra-nationalistic ideology, Imperial Japan was purely ultra-nationalistic, what is known as far-Right.
Also important to note is that there have never been similar trials for the crimes of communist regimes. Not even today, more than three decades from the fall of the USSR, when bodies of those killed by communism are still being uncovered.
The fact that Westerners do not see what happened under the USSR as crimes against humanity was vividly displayed by a poll conducted by the New Culture Forum in 2017. The question was: “For each of the following figures, please indicate whether you would associate them with crimes against humanity, or not, or if you have not heard of them”.
According to the numbers, 87% associated Adolf Hitler with crimes against humanity, but only 61% considered Stalin in the same context and only 31% regarded Lenin to be connected with crimes against humanity. Perhaps shockingly, only 19% thought of Pol Pot to be associated with crimes against humanity (while 72% have not heard of him!) and, similarly, only 20% considered Mao Zedong to be linked to crimes against humanity while 70% have not heard of him.
Efforts from Central-Eastern European institutes are being made for “Nuremberg Trials for Communism”, but so far the appeals have not resulted in anything meaningful. This is despite the fact that the relationships between many Western nations and the USSR following World War II turned sour, at least in perception. In other words, the USSR was no longer seen as an ally against the defeated Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan but was perceived as a foe – both militarily and ideologically. This position persists even today, after three decades from the fall of the USSR.
Surprisingly however, it is not because “communism” or “Stalin” are obscure terms for Western audiences that the crimes of communist regimes are not seen with the same severity as those of the Nazis.
On Google, we have the following top five searches for “communism” (on 8 December 2021): the top five links contain no news story on communism, only links to definitions of communisms, such as “Communism”, “communism”, “ and “Communism”. Going in the ‘News’ tab we have: “Albanian Leaders Strike Opposing Tone, Commemorating Communism’s Fall”, “‘Communist Daughter’ Director on Uber-Left Comedy, Socialism and Marxism: “They’re Worth Fighting For”, “Xi Jinping wants lawyers in China to ‘follow and embrace’ the Communist Party’s leadership”, “Indonesia: how British spies helped destroy the Communist Party” and “China Communist Party discipline inspectors have visited PBOC headquarters”. In total, we got about 2,110,000,000 results. This is very similar to what we got for “Nazi”, although slightly lower, and far above the results we received for “Imperial Japan”.
Meanwhile, on Amazon.com (on 8 December 2021) the term “Stalin” in ‘Book’ yielded over 10,000 results and “communism” provided over 30,000 titles. As such, a rough aggregate of 40,000 titles on “Stalin” and “communism”, very similar to what we got for “Hitler” and “Nazi”.
Moreover, a search on IMBD on 8 December 2021, for the term “Stalin” resulted in 80 titles and for “communism” yielded 1,483 titles; a total of about 1,600 titles. This is below the roughly 2,500 for “Hitler” and “Nazi” but way above the below 200 for “Imperial Japan” and “Hirohito”.
As such, we can conclude that “communism” and “Stalin” are not all together absent from the public mind of the West: there is plenty of material for people to document themselves on these topics.
To summarise the situation so far: as quantitative and qualitative analysis has shown in the first part of this essay, enough Westerners, especially the young, are embracing socialism and some even communism. The excuse that there is no information about “communism” or “Stalin” cannot be supported – as the above data from Amazon and IMDB shows, there are plenty of resources.
Moreover, we have seen that while the national socialists continued to be discussed in the press in the tone of current events, international socialism is confined to history (like the fate of Imperial Japan) or is discussed through the lens of “not real communism”, highlighting the positives and the “fun”, anti-system, activist aspects of the ideology which appeal to rebellious teenagers or frustrated grownups.
How do we explain the apparent absence of the crimes committed by Imperial Japan from Western public consciousness, the appallingly persistent admiration of communism (international socialism) and the justified hatred towards national socialism?
The Difference between Marxism, Socialism and Communism
In order to contextualise our discussion on these two topics – propaganda and education – in relation to socialism, and even communism, we must begin with a brief history of the current stripe of socialism with which we are dealing today: Identity Marxism. To do so, I will use the incredibly valuable resources that James Lindsay has been putting out with great urgency on New Discourse.
I will use one of Lindsay’s recent videos entitled “A brief history of Identity Marxism”. However, for those who want to dive into this imminently important topic in more detail, I recommend you consume the following materials in the following order:
- “Hegel, Wokeness, and the Dialectical Faith of Leftism”;
- “Antonio Gramsci, Cultural Marxism, Wokeness, and Leninism 4.0”;
- “How Not to Resolve the Paradox of Tolerance”;
- “One Pill, Two Pill, Red Pill, Blue Pill: Herbert Marcuse and the Administered Society”, “Repressive Tolerance: Left Good, Right Bad, What Could Go Wrong?”;
- “Critical Theorists as Grand Inquisitors: The Logic of “Repressive Tolerance”;
- “The Birth of Identity Marxism as Critical Theory’s New Proletariat”; and
- “Sustainability: The Tyranny of the 21st Century”.
The initial video – “A brief history of Identity Marxism” – touches on all of these but not in any detail as it is designed to be a summary for those that are familiar with the journey of socialism so far. With this short introduction, which I hope you will find useful as it is always difficult to research through a lot of information, let’s begin.
Marxism, Socialism and Communism
First of all, Marxism, socialism and communism, although related, are not the same thing. Marxism is the ideology that provides the tools, rooted in Hegelian philosophy, in the atheism of Ludwig Feuerbach and in the ideas predominant in the late French Enlightenment which culminated in the French Revolution, to bring about the revolution that precedes socialism: a state of utopia of absolute or total equality between human beings.
Communism is international socialism, achieved by applying Marxism. Communism sits at the opposing end of the spectrum of socialism from its evil cousin with ultra-nationalist elements – national socialism. Although there are plenty of visible difference between the Nazi and communist regimes, both systems yield the same end result: totalitarianism. This is because, once we examine the two manifestations of socialism closer, we shall see that, especially in light of the upcoming discussion on Identity Marxism, there are also many similarities between Nazis and communists: when one examines evil closer, one realises that despite its different genesis and rhetoric, its wretched heart is the same: anti-human.
Indeed, for the socialist utopia to ever prevail, the world in which that can happen can only be totalitarian as it is the only form of socio-economic-cultural relationship between different human beings that levels them to identical elements.
So: Marxism is a set of ideological tools, socialism is the state of the world that by applying these ideological tools we ought to get, and communism is a version of socialism.
What is socialism? At the core, socialism is not political, nor is it about economics: rather, socialism is a godless or atheistic religion. Most readers upon hearing this will revolt in pointing out that Marx was fundamentally against religion, having coined one of the most well-known phrases, a version of which was also sung by John Lennon in “Working Class Hero”. Marx wrote that “religion is the opium of the people”, with other variations including “religion is the opium of the masses”.
“Religion and communism are incompatible, both theoretically and practically,” wrote Bolshevik N.I. Bukharin. This line has been demonstrated by the bloody persecution of the clergy under so many socialist regimes. Here is for example the atrocities committed against the Greek-Catholic Church in Romania by the communist authorities, although there are many other such instances, as Reason Magazine explains:
“In 1919, writes Paul Kengor in his 2017 book A Pope and a President, “Lenin issued a stern order: to kill anyone who dared to observe Christmas.” The Soviet leader demanded that “the entire Cheka must be on alert to see to it that those who do not show up for work because of [the religious holiday] are shot.”
In the Soviet Union, thousands of churches and monasteries were destroyed, their bells melted down and recast into more “useful” things. Priests and bishops who did not cooperate with the regime were imprisoned or disappeared. “The Bolsheviks forbade religious instruction to anyone under eighteen years of age,” Kengor writes, “and children were encouraged to turn in parents who taught anything about God.”
Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, would eventually acknowledge that the USSR had engaged in a “war on religion.”
One of the main reasons behind the persecution of religious men and women is that both socialism and religion function on the same currency: faith. However, unlike religion, which provides people with ways to communicate with God and offers the rewards of Paradise, socialism replaces the rule of God with the rule of man and the Paradise with the socialist utopia brought about by revolution through any means. From Marxists.org, citing from Carl Beker’s The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth Century Philosophers:
“The mainstream of Messianic thinking after the Reformation, however, was expressed no longer in religious thought, but in philosophical, historical and social thought. It was expressed somewhat obliquely in the great utopias of the Renaissance, in which the new world is not in a distant future, but in a distant place. It was expressed in the thinking of the philosophers of the enlightenment and of the French and English Revolutions. It found its latest and most complete expression in Marx’s concept of socialism. Whatever direct influence Old Testament thinking might have had on him through socialists like Moses Hess, no doubt the prophetic Messianic tradition influenced him indirectly through the thought of the enlightenment philosophers and especially through the thought stemming from Spinoza, Goethe, Hegel.”
However, the socialist religion is more akin to a cult of a gnostic consciousness, as Lindsay explains: “He [Marx] even said ‘don’t question me’, just believe it. […] Only socialist men can actually understand this [socialism], which is just a gnostic consciousness […]”.
The cult-like aura of socialism is rotted into its origins linked to the ideas preceding the French Revolution and the actions that unfolded during 1789 in France. From Albert Camus’ The Rebel, we learn that:
“Seventeen eighty-nine is the starting-point of modern times, because the men of that period whished, among other things, to overthrow the principle of divine right and to introduce to the historical scene the forces of negation and rebellion which had become the essence of intellectual discussion in the previous centuries. […]
[…] the condemnation of the king is the crux of our contemporary history. It symbolizes the secularization of our history and the dematerialization of the Christian God. Up to now God played a part in history through the medium of the kings. But His representative in history has been killed, for there is no longer a king. Therefore there is nothing but a semblance of God, relegated to the heaven of principles.”
It is in this giant theological abyss caused by the severance described above that socialism inserts itself, provoking the great German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, to exclaim with tragedy behind his words that “God is dead!” – for in the place of God, man took the helm and in the place of Paradise, a manmade utopia was put. It is in this context that socialism has to be understood: as a manmade, godless cult.
This is part of the reason why it is also appealing to so many young people living in a secular world: socialism fulfils a theological need that religion used to perform – the connection with a higher ideal, with a perfect world of spirit. Of course, socialism does not do this, for it is a scam that preys on the hearts and minds of the young. Nevertheless, this cult-like aspect of socialism is an important selling point to the youth.
To summarise: Marxism is a set of ideological tools (discussed below) which, when applied, ought to provoke a revolution that shall bring those who believe in it (the socialist men) to the egalitarian utopia of socialism (a godless, manmade cult) which can be international socialism (communism) or national socialism (Nazis), both being totalitarian.
Now, let us look at a brief history of socialism from the beginning of the twentieth century to our day. It is in this journey that the key as to how propaganda and a lack of education about the crimes committed under international socialism work in providing young people with some admiration for international socialism and a hatred of national socialism.
Pointing out the Spiritual and Mental Disease: Identity Marxism
The first serious application of Marxist ideology was in Russia during the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.
As we all know by now, the Bolshevik experiment was a total catastrophe: the notion that if you force equity through revolution then justice and communism “just works” failed as the contradictions of stage three of the path towards the egalitarian utopia did not lead to stage four, which was supposed to be the perfect society, but jumped to the next stage of terror under the rule of the revolutionaries. These “contradictions” is the Hegelian dialectic at work.
In addition to the failure of the Bolshevik Revolution, many industrial centres in Europe and North America grew without producing the required disgust in the working class towards capitalism; i.e. the needed fuel for the revolution had not materialised. This fact was acknowledged by the next generation of Marxists, like the Italian Antonio Gramsci, the Hungarian György Lukács and the German Herbert Marcuse: it was a consensus among these Marxist luminaries that the “idiot working class” had to be pushed towards its revolutionary destiny instead of enjoying the fruits of their labour and developing a better lifestyle.
However, as the Leninists failed to live up to the promises made by Karl Marx, in the 1920s and 1930s, the radical Left-wing intellectuals realised that something was awfully wrong with the theory. From this realisation the two main strains of Marxism – Cultural Marxism and Critical Theory Marxism – emerged. These sit both under the umbrella of Neo-Marxism.
Cultural Marxism resulted primarily from the works of Gramsci and Lukács who realised that the cultural values and institutions within which the working class was developing and growing into the middle class needed to be infiltrated with Marxist thought and torn down so that the proletariat could not find any comfort and direction outside the path towards the promised utopia of the socialist cult. From Lindsay’s discussion on Cultural Marxism:
“Though he didn’t coin the term, the idea fellow communist Rudi Dutschke would name “the long march through the institutions” in 1967 is ultimately Gramsci’s roadmap to getting communism to take hold in the West. Gramsci identifies that the “cultural hegemony” of Western cultures prevented communism from having any chance of taking root, so he recommended a strategy that seeks to tear apart and capture major cultural institutions, including religion, family, education, media, and law. Mao understood this clearly and used it to devastating effect. The same thing is happening throughout the West today.”
Indeed, Mao Zedong, through his Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976), although it is unlikely that he read the European Cultural Marxists, put some of the ideas of this strain of Marxism into practice, focusing on indoctrinating and using young people (the Red Guards), whose minds have always been the most malleable. One of the core notion behind the application of Cultural Marxism is to acknowledge that people are the way they are (i.e. not an army of revolutionaries) and to deny that reality by forcing them to mould into the “new man”, the “socialist man”, tools that are needed to make possible the egalitarian utopia promised by the socialist cult.
Meanwhile, throughout the same period of 1920s and 1930s, in Germany’s Frankfurt School, the critical theorists of whom the most well-known and perhaps the most influential were Herbert Marcuse and Max Horkheimer, also identified what was wrong with Marxist theory and came to similar conclusions as the Cultural Marxists in that the working class needed to be directed towards the revolution because it could not have done so by itself. From New Discourses:
“The big-picture agenda of the Frankfurt School was to marry Marxian economic theory to Freudian psychoanalytic theory in order to explain both the rise of fascism and the reasons that the communist revolutions were not taking place in Western democracies as had been predicted.”
The Frankfurt School gave birth to another Neo-Marxist strain by applying what is known as critical theory to Marxian thought and the society around. Critical theory used in a broad sense refers to “the descriptive and normative bases for social inquiry aimed at decreasing domination and increasing freedom in all their forms”. However, this is not what the As Lindsay explains:
“Max Horkheimer defined a “Critical Theory” in direct opposition to a “Traditional Theory” in a 1937 piece called Traditional and Critical Theory. Whereas a Traditional Theory is meant to be descriptive of some phenomenon, usually social, and aims to understand how it works and why it works that way, a Critical Theory should proceed from a prescriptive normative moral vision for society, describe how the item being critiqued fails that vision (usually in a systemic sense), and prescribe activism to subvert, dismantle, disrupt, overthrow, or change it—that is, generally, to break and then remake society in accordance with the particular critical theory’s prescribed vision. This use of the word “critical” is drawn from Marx’s insistence that everything be “ruthlessly” criticized and from his admonition that the point of studying society is to change it. Of note, then, a Critical Theory is only tangentially concerned with understanding or truth and has, as Hume might have it, abandoned descriptions of what is in favor of pushing for what the particular critical theory holds ought to be.”
As the Cultural Marxists identified the “cultural hegemony” that was responsible for preventing the working class from rising up in arms against the capitalist system, so did the Critical Theory Marxists constructed the “critical consciousness” which was this quintessence of the proletariat that needed to be brought to life by any means necessary so that the workers would be forced to fulfil their Marxian destiny and lead the revolution.
Again, the Cultural Marxists and the Critical Theory Marxists are both Neo-Marxists: both schools of thought sought to identify what was wrong with Marx’s theory, ignoring the failures of Bolshevism and attempting to give socialism new ideological and revolutionary tools to fight society, not just economically but culturally as well.
If Karl Marx can be viewed as a thinker who theorised that the path towards socialism is through economic feuds between classes, the Cultural Marxists saw culture as the battleground and the Critical Theory Marxists viewed the fruits of the Enlightenment – science and reason – as the obstacles that prevented the proletariat from fulfilling its socialist destiny. However, not all that Marx said was wrong or dangerous. In fact, no idea is dangerous in itself – only its application can be so. As such, we need not throw away the entire body of work created by Marx for there are important insights that are pertinent to human nature in a truthful manner, such as the theory of labour alienation.
Similarly, the other schools of Marxism have their merit. For example, the Critical Theory Marxists Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, two leaders of the Frankfurt School, in the book Dialectic of Enlightenment “concluded that the Enlightenment was to blame for all the authoritarianism and barbarism that characterized the first half of the 20th century, on the grounds that it was all the inevitable result of a misguided attempt to exert control over nature through science and reason”. This is, in part, true. We are seeing now, during the pandemic, how “science” is being used to divide and destroy the rights of individuals while the elite plays by different rules. Furthermore, the view that human beings are mere animals, a purely scientific perspective, has led to miserable treatment of people (remember Unit 731?). Even the socialists used science and reason to destroy people: in Romania, the communists used Pavlov’s data to conduct the brainwashing and inhumane Pitesti Experiment.
There are other things to discuss here, such as the conflict between Marx’s views on science and reason and those of his later acolytes but in the interest of time, the point we need to understand is that not everything that the Marxists wrote or observed is wrong. It is the application of their views that mutilates, not the fact that these ideas were written down. Why is this so? Because as long as the corpse of God hangs over humanity and the Divine moral law is not restored above the state and thus, above all men, socialism will replace the path of God with the path of man, the road towards Paradise with the road towards utopia which will forever destroy.
Alongside the Neo-Marxists of the twentieth century, a related but distinct philosophical movement has been developing in France during the 1960s: the postmodernists. Some of the most well-known names are Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Jean-François Lyotard (who also coined the term “postmodern”) and Richard Rorty.
According to Helen Pluckrose, postmodernism “drew on avant-garde and surrealist art and earlier philosophical ideas, particularly those of Nietzsche and Heidegger, for its anti-realism and rejection of the concept of the unified and coherent individual. It reacted against the liberal humanism of the modernist artistic and intellectual movements, which its proponents saw as naïvely universalizing a western, middle-class and male experience.
It rejected philosophy which valued ethics, reason and clarity with the same accusation. […] Above all, postmodernists attacked science and its goal of attaining objective knowledge about a reality which exists independently of human perceptions which they saw as merely another form of constructed ideology dominated by bourgeois, western assumptions. Decidedly left-wing, postmodernism had both a nihilistic and a revolutionary ethos which resonated with a post-war, post-empire zeitgeist in the West. As postmodernism continued to develop and diversify, its initially stronger nihilistic deconstructive phase became secondary (but still fundamental) to its revolutionary “identity politics” phase.”
Moreover, as Lyotard argued in “The Postmodern Condition” (which you can find the first five chapters on Marxist.org) that postmodernism is “an incredulity towards metanarratives.” Metanarratives are wide-raging and cohesive explanations of large phenomena, such as the creation of the universe. Metanarratives include religion, for example. Lyotard argued replacing these with “mininarratives”, or personal (and thus more subjective) truths.
Alongside the subjective and relativistic views introduced by Lyotard, Foucault focused on bringing relativism into culture and history. As Pluckrose explains further:
“For Foucault, discourses control what can be “known” and in different periods and places, different systems of institutional power control discourses. Therefore, knowledge is a direct product of power. […] We see in Foucault the most extreme expression of cultural relativism read through structures of power in which shared humanity and individuality are almost entirely absent. Instead, people are constructed by their position in relation to dominant cultural ideas either as oppressors or oppressed.”
Foucault’s work inspired Judith Butler to construct her queer theory around the notion that gender is a social construct and also inspired “Kimberlé Crenshaw in her development of “intersectionality” and advocacy of identity politics”.
However, the postmodern thinker who aimed to totally destroy language through his concept of “deconstruction” was Derrida. He rejected the idea that words refer to anything clear or straightforward and argued that words are “contexts without any center of absolute anchoring”. For example, “horse” may mean to me the animal but to another person it can mean a splash of red.
Importantly, postmodernists were not Marxists per se – some of them were quite critical of Marxist theory – but they were distinctly on the Left, although against more invisible aspects of society other than economic classes, such as culture, language and values. What they opposed (because the Left often aims to oppose something rather than to preserve it) were the fruits of the Enlightenment, which, in turn, were the result of the applications of reason.
The postmodern thinkers however rarely explain themselves clearly (as Sir Roger Scruton has showed at length in “Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left”) and therefore, it can be difficult to actually understand some of their ideas and decide whether the notions have any validity behind them. Even those who read the postmodernists agree on this point. The first five star review of Lyotard’s “The Postmodern Condition” states: “Therein is the problem, Postmodernism is often wrapped in impenetrable, obscurantist language. It is that way for a reason.”
Nevertheless, we can enumerate some of the crucial and dominant ideas of postmodernists that are pertinent to Identity Marxism:
- lived experience takes priority over empirical evidence;
- the views of minority groups take priority over those of the consensus which can be scientific, ethical and so on;
- the link between language and power structures delegitimises the objectiveness of knowledge, transforming knowledge into a direct product of power plays;
- individuals are socially and culturally constructed, meaning that one’s identity is not as much derived and shaped by one’s thoughts and actions as much as it is a by-product of societal forces;
- the dialectical relationship between the oppressors and the oppressed continues to present a potent lens through which human existence is analysed;
- language (words) are nothing but symbolic frameworks in which we insert our subjective meaning.
These two currents of thought – the Neo-Marxists (Cultural Marxists and Critical Theory Marxists) and the postmodernists – have mixed today to give birth to Identity Marxism:
“The ideology that is most conveniently identified as “Wokeness” is much more accurately described by the phrase Identity Marxism. That is, Wokeness is a Marxian approach to identity politics for similar aims to those Marxism has always touted. In this regard, Critical Race Theory is Race Marxism; Critical Gender Theory is Gender Marxism; Queer Theory is Gender, Sex, and Sexuality Marxism; Fat Studies is Fat Marxism; Postcolonial Theory is Postcolonial Marxism; and Disability Studies is Disability Marxism. All together, working intersectionally, they are one new species of Marxism: Identity Marxism.”
Here is a chart that aims to link these currents of thought together. It comes from Hick’s book “Explaining Postmodernism”:
Identity Marxism, the fusion of Cultural Marxism, Critical Theory Marxism and elements of postmodernism, is the plague of today’s Western world. Instead of dividing the world in economic classes, Identity Marxism uses identity as the basis for division, boxing people into groups of oppressed versus oppressors based on any element of their complex identity: race, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs and so on, all of which are thought by these Left-wing thinkers to be social constructs: nothing else (like biology or individual decision making) plays a role, or if it does, it is minimal and it can be ignored in deciding one’s identity as much as societal forces.
The shifting component of identity within this strain of Marxism is similar to the relativism promoted by the postmodernists: reality is whatever we want it to be and therefore, in the eyes of these social theorists, one’s identity is whatever the label says: white, black, man, woman, fat, thin, etc. Once people have been spread into these categories, which are proxies for oppressed and oppressors, the real mission begins: poke at the supposedly oppressed groups enough to make them rise up in arms and charge towards the revolution after which the glorious land of socialism lies.
With this background in mind, we can attempt to answer the question: why most Westerners hate Hitler but are unsure about Stalin?
Hitler vs. Stalin
As we already pointed out, although there are several differences between communism and national socialism, there are also many similarities – in fact, the resemblances are far more numerous than many people think.
Hitler stands for national socialism (Nazism), while Stain stands for international socialism (communism). At the core, both Hitler’s regime and that of Stalin is socialist. This is true theologically speaking as the hierarchy of God above the State is broken down and man (the dictator) becomes the Party which then becomes the State, and which then becomes everything for those subjugated under it. As Mussolini said: “Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.”
Let’s look at a few of these similarities.
Firstly, they are both totalitarian. The essence of totalitarian regimes was captured by Carl Jung in The Undiscovered Self: “The State takes the place of God […] the socialist dictatorships are religions and the State slavery is a form of worship”. The essence of these totalitarian regimes, of these fanatical manmade religion, is total terror. This has been explored in great detail by Hannah Arendt in The Origins of Totalitarianism.
The notion of total terror is complex and includes multiple elements such as the elimination of competing ideas and of all obstacles to the regime’s ideological version of reality, the abolition of civil and political rights, the control of the media, the exclusion from public life, the confiscation of property, the deportation and murder of entire families and communities and, eventually, the “consciously organized complicity of all men in the crimes of the totalitarian regimes is extended to the victims and thus made really total…forcing them, in any event, to behave like murderers” (H. Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism). Those elements were present in both national socialism (Nazism) and international socialism (communism).
Jerome Kohn wrote in Arendt’s Concept and Description of Totalitarianism that Arendt’s outrage at totalitarianism was “[…] not a subjective emotional reaction foisted on a purportedly ‘value free’ scientific analysis; her anger is inherent in her judgement of a form of government that defaced the human world on whose behalf she sought to expose Nazism and Stalinism for what they were and what they did.”
So, the first similarity is that Hitler’s regime and Stalin’s regime were both totalitarian with a socialist core (the dictator was the Party, the Party replaced the state and then the State became God).
Secondly, as a political system, the Nazis and the Communists shared some similarities. For example, even if in the West there is a misconception that the means of production were left in the name of private individuals under Hitler’s dictatorship, this was demonstrated to be wrong by Ludwig von Mises. In 2001, an article for the Mises Institute, with a clear title “Nazism is Socialism” brought to light the economic and political similarities between the two totalitarian regimes.
More recently, in 2021, George Reisman explained that “it was the German government and not the nominal private owners that exercised all of the substantive powers of ownership: it, not the nominal private owners, decided what was to be produced, in what quantity, by what methods, and to whom it was to be distributed, as well as what prices would be charged and what wages would be paid, and what dividends or other income the nominal private owners would be permitted to receive. The position of the alleged private owners, Mises showed, was reduced essentially to that of government pensioners.”
Thirdly, there are great similarities between how the two regimes approached religion. It is well-known that Stalin (and the communists in general) hated religion. This comes from the acknowledgement by Marx himself and by earlier socialists that religion is the first element that must fall for the revolution to occur and for the utopia of socialism reveal itself.
However, Hitler’s actions towards religion are muddier, but still with a similar sentiment. The Nazi dictator hated both Judaism and Christianity. Allan Bullock in Hitler, A study in Tyranny explained how in “Hitler’s eyes Christianity was a religion fit only for slaves. […] Its teaching, he declared, was a rebellion against the natural law of selection by struggle of the fittest.” Hitler replaced elements of the Abrahamic religions with pagan aspects – this was detailed by Eric Metaxas in his biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a theologian and anti-Nazi spy, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.
However, the embrace of paganism is similar to what the architects of the French Revolutions did to France’s religious order. The French Revolution was the first application of the socialist creed, as produced by the work of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. As Roger Kimball explained in The Fortunes of Permanence: “[…] the revolutionists tossed out the Gregorian calendar and started again at Year One. They replaced the Genesis-inspired seven-day week with a ten-day cycle and rebaptized the months with names reflecting their new cult of nature: Brumaire (fog), Thermidor (heat), Vendemiare (wind), etc.” What are we to do about these similarities? Shall we not be inclined to believe that despite the differences between Hitler’s regime and that of Stalin’s, that evil is at the core the same?
Finally, a 2019 essay from the Foundation of Economic Freedom showed that the “manikin of socialism was identical for the Nazis and Soviets”. As I said before, socialism is the core ideology of the two totalitarian regimes. Both totalitarian dictatorships attempted to shape the nature of man into a “new man” – Hitler attempted this on race-based politics, while Stalin tried it on class-based politics. However, the two attempts, atrocious and disgusting, can be traced to the ideas of the same thinker:
“Those who dare to undertake the institution of a people must feel themselves capable, as it were, of changing human nature, of transforming each individual…into a part of a much greater whole,…of altering the constitution of man for the purpose of strengthening it.”, wrote Jean-Jacques Rousseau in 1762.
Where these regimes differ most evidently, although the way the radical Left manifests itself today through Identity Marxist blurs some of these differences, is in the secondary ideological “values” or views. To put it simply, the Nazis employed ultra-nationalist and race-based politics to construct their ideological vision of reality “for the Germans”, whereas the communists used class-based politics and revolutionary practices to destroy national identity and usher an international order of socialist utopia.
Nevertheless, these differences do not matter in practice: national socialism and international socialism resulted into the same abomination. In fact, despite the proclaimed alliance to national identity of the Nazis, their actions resulted in great destruction to their own culture and history. Hitler’s regime, like the communist ones, burnt books and destroyed art work in order to replace literature, knowledge and art with propaganda. As Anthony Court wrote in Rozenberg Quarterly:
“Whereas the axiomatic ‘idea’ underpinning these ideologies varies, in practice the ‘ideas’ of race or class perform the same organising and reductive function and are therefore virtually interchangeable. Of course historically the distinction between race- and class-thinking is of great relevance, determining, inter alia, the primary victims of the terror. Arendt acknowledges that Nazi ideology was historically unprecedented and perhaps also uniquely destructive insofar as it tended by its very nature to be genocidal. Stalin’s terror, although more complex and ideologically fraught than the Nazi regime of terror, proved to be no less destructive for those reasons.”
A similar idea is echoed by the Foundation of Economic Freedom:
“Though the application of Soviet socialism was Marxian in nature—committed to international socialist revolution and the elimination of class enemies—and National Socialism under the Nazi Party was instituted to the elimination of racial enemies, both were dedicated to the remaking of mankind through class struggle.”
“Winston Churchill viewed Communism and Nazism as breeding one another and alike in all major essentials. In 1937, Churchill compared compare Nazism and communism.
‘There are two strange facts about these non-God religions. The first is their extraordinary resemblance to one another. Nazism and communism imagine themselves as exact opposites. They are at each other’s throats wherever they exist all over the world. They actually breed each other; for the reaction against communism is Nazism, and beneath Nazism or fascism communism stirs convulsively.
Yet they are similar in all essentials. First of all, their simplicity is remarkable. You leave out God and put in the Devil; you leave out love and put in hate; and everything thereafter works quite straightforwardly and logically. They are, in fact, as alike as two peas. Tweedledum and Tweedledee are two quite distinctive personalities compared to these two rival religions.’”
These differences that unite somehow under the umbrella of socialism are evident in the Woke-ness or Identity Marxism of today. Although predominantly orientated towards communism (Stalin’s regime), Woke-ism has elements from both international and national socialism.
On one hand, it has plenty of revolutionary elements (with organisations such as Black Lives Matter and Antifa), it aims to weaken national identity through re-writing of history (Project 1619 for example) and control of literature and art (books, movies and statues that are not in line with this ideology are banned or removed), it censors political opponents and controls the majority (not all) of the large corporate press, it is for open borders and globalisation, it uses class-based rhetoric to divide people into rich and non-rich, vilifying the former and sanctifying the latter, it is for reallocation of resources as mandated by the government, it is pro-state power and it is anti-religion. All these elements are closer to communism than national socialism, although some of them (such as pro-state power and censorship) are part of both regimes.
However, Identity Marxism also takes a few pages from the national socialists: most evidently are the race-based politics that individuals like Robin DiAngelo and Ibram X. Kendi are promoting in return for good money. Of course, this new strain of Marxism also has elements which are unique to it, such as the extreme biological relativism which states that anyone can be a man or a woman regardless of their body and simply because they say so. This is a trace of postmodernism, a current which did not exist during Hitler’s or Stalin’s reign.
Despite these similarities between Nazis and international socialism, some of which have united again under the current Woke-ism, Hitler’s regime remains portrayed, overwhelmingly so, as a far-Right system. As we showed, it is without any doubt that national socialism employed far-Right ideological ideas, but the core is socialism: it is the godless cult of the Left. But, because of the “Right-wing” label grossly applied over the Nazis, the propaganda from the self-proclaimed Left academia, entertainers and media personalities, have managed to create a line between Hitler and Stalin to such a degree that is fine to talk about communism and socialism in general as something good that has gone bad by mistake while speaking specifically about national socialism must always be done with outmost condemnation. No: both Nazis and communists must be condemned with the same ferocity. There is nothing good to be found in socialism for its application, because it is incompatible with the complex and diverse human nature, mutilates people regardless of whether it manifests in its nationalist or internationalist form.
However, this line created by intellectual farces is a mere illusion and an attempt to white wash socialism of its disastrous past. Nazis being labelled solely as Right-wing is not only wrong but it often comes from a place of no concern for the damage that radical Right-wing regimes (such as Imperial Japan which, as we have seen, despite being trailed for crimes against humanity, is not seen as evil as Nazi Germany) can do; rather, the criticism comes from an attempt to create an aura of misunderstanding around socialism and sometimes communism in order to be able to morally defend parts or the entirety of this ideology. In other words, the worry is that the promise of socialism (which is not compatible with human nature) and the tools (the Marxist collection of ideas) are to be protected by creating a wall between “bad” socialism (the Nazis) and “good” socialism (the communists).
As Orwell observed in 1944, this totalitarian tendency among the makers of ideas (intellectuals) is no secret:
“the intellectuals are more totalitarian in outlook than the common people. On the whole the English intelligentsia have opposed Hitler, but only at the price of accepting Stalin. Most of them are perfectly ready for dictatorial methods, secret police, systematic falsification of history etc. so long as they feel that it is on ‘our’ side.” (Bolded text is mine).
Plenty of Propaganda and a Lack of Historical Education
The fact that academics and, more broadly intellectuals, tend to be Left-leaning is not a new phenomenon. As early as 1941, English writer, George Orwell observed that “there is now no intelligentsia that is not in some sense “Left”.” Importantly, Orwell also noted that prior and during the early years of World War II, “many left-wingers were chipping away at English morale, trying to spread an outlook that was sometimes squashily pacifist, sometimes violently pro-Russian, but always anti-British.” This anti-patriotic sentiment remains common today among many individuals who identify on the Left. However, as the writings of Orwell demonstrate, Left-wing politics and patriotism are not incompatible: in fact, the oppose authority when it becomes illegitimate, a characteristic of moderate Left-wing politics (liberalism), is deeply patriotic.
What is important to note here is simply the intellectuals’ typical political inclination which, when pushed to more extreme, it becomes a fetish with socialism. As Austrian thinker, F. A. Hayek, pointed out in 1949:
“Socialism has never and nowhere been at first a working-class movement. […] [I]t required long efforts by the intellectuals before the working classes could be persuaded […] In every country that has moved toward socialism, the phase of the development in which socialism becomes a determining influence on politics has been preceded for many years by a period during which socialist ideals governed the thinking of the more active intellectuals. […] [I]t is merely a question of time until the views now held by the intellectuals become the governing force of politics.”
The Whitewash of Communism in Educational Institutions
The predominant Left-leaning tendency among the intellectuals has been kept alive and even accentuated since the 1960s onwards. Speaking about the United Kingdom, Sir Roger Scruton observed in 2015 that: “It is not unusual to be a conservative. But it is unusual to be an intellectual conservative. In both Britain and America some 70 percent of academics identify themselves as ‘on the left,’ while the surrounding culture is increasingly hostile to traditional values, or to any claim that might be made for the high achievements of Western civilisation.”
Scruton’s observations were confirmed by a 2017 poll which showed that “the academy’s Left-liberal skew may have increased since the 1960s.” This was also confirmed by the Adam Smith Institute in a 2017 paper: “Individuals with Left-wing and liberal views are overrepresented in British academia. Those with right-wing and conservative views are correspondingly underrepresented. Around 50% of the general public supports right-wing or conservative parties, compared to less than 12% of academics. Conservative and Right-wing academics are particularly scarce in the social sciences, the humanities and the arts.”
Similarly, across the Atlantic ocean, in the United States, a similar trend has been observed. For example, according to a study that dates back to 1969 when the first comprehensive faculty survey on political leanings was conducted in the United States, the percentage of self-identified liberals in the academia went from about 45% at the end of 1960s to around 60% in 2014, while those who self-identified as conservatives saw their numbers dwindle from about 28% in 1969 to barely above 10% in 2014.
Moreover, between 2014 and 2021, the influence of the Left within the universities has grown further. In 2018, speaking of the United States, The Spectator wrote:
“The domination of US universities by the left, particularly in the humanities and social sciences, is well documented. In 2016 a survey carried out by Econ Journal Watch looked at the voter registration of faculty members at 40 leading US universities in the fields of economics, history, law, psychology and journalism/communications. It found that Democrats outnumber Republicans by an average of 11.5 to one. In psychology, the ratio is 17.4 to one; in history, 33.5 to one.
This helps explain a phenomenon identified by the French economist Thomas Piketty whereby university graduates have drifted to the left over the past 50 years. In a paper last February, he analysed post-electoral surveys from 1948 to 2017 and found that, from the 1940s to the 1960s, the more educated voters were, the more likely they were to vote Republican. Today, the opposite is true, with 70 per cent of those with a master’s degree voting for Hillary in 2016.
This phenomenon has coincided with the growth in the number of Americans attending university. In 1948, just 6 per cent of voters had a university degree; by 2016, 13 per cent had a master’s degree or a PhD. Piketty also looked at British and French election data and found the same developments there: a drift to the left among university graduates that went hand-in-hand with a large increase in the percentage of the population obtaining degrees. ‘The trend is virtually identical in the three countries,’ he wrote.”
Of course, it does not meant that all those who are inclined towards the political Left are socialists. Some are liberals in the classical sense. For decades however, there has been a growing body of evidence that among the most elite academics, some are extremely radical. For example, in his 2012 book, The Fortunes of Permanence, Roger Kimball recalls how “[…] philosopher Martha Nussabaum warns that “patriotic pride” is “morally dangerous” while Princeton’s Amy Gutamann reveals that she finds it “repugnant” for American students to learn that they are “above all, citizens of the United States” instead of partisans of her preferred abstraction, “democratic humanism”. New York University’s Richard Sennett denounces “the evil of a shared national identity” and concludes that the erosion of national sovereignty is “basically a positive thing”. Cecilia O’Leary of American University identifies American patriotism as right-wing, militaristic, male, white, Anglo, and repressive force while Peter Spiro of Hofstra University says it “is increasingly difficult to use the word ‘we’ in the context of international affairs.”
The trend towards the Left is now even more powerful given the numbers discussed above. As such, Left-leaning professors and university staff shape the minds of students, particularly in the humanities and social sciences, towards being more sympathetic to Left-leaning views, including socialism and its international version. How the academia turns the young minds into advocates and activists for Left-wing causes has been detailed by James Lindsay in a recent video called “How Education Turned Critical”.
We have already seen the impact of academia in the polls presented in the first part of the essay: the majority of those who view socialism in positive light are the young, most likely students.
In 2017, Harvard student Laura M. Nicolae, a Romanian who knows all too well where socialism leads to, wrote in The Harvard Crimson an article called “100 Years. 100 Million lives. Think Twice” in which Nicolae explained the atmosphere on one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the United States:
“Walk around campus, and you’re likely to spot Ché Guevara on a few shirts and button pins. A sophomore jokes that he’s declared a secondary in “communist ideology and implementation.” The new Leftist Club on campus seeks “a modern perspective” on Marx and Lenin to “alleviate the stigma around the concept of Leftism.” An author laments in these pages that it’s too difficult to meet communists here. For many students, casually endorsing communism is a cool, edgy way to gripe about the world.
After spending four years on a campus saturated with Marxist memes and jokes about communist revolutions, my classmates will graduate with the impression that communism represents a light-hearted critique of the status quo, rather than an empirically violent philosophy that destroyed millions of lives.”
Following the recommendations from the Cultural Marxists, there are quite a few ways through which Identity Marxism has infiltrated education institutions: some of these methos include the political activism conducted by teachers and professors and through the indoctrination with critical race theory (one of the primary vectors of the current strain of Marxism).
There are numerous examples of people within the education systems across the West who have been demasked as political activists. For example, the case of Gabriel Gipe who was suspended for “politically indoctrinating students” is not an isolated one.
“Gipe revealed that he indexes students’ political standings throughout the year, and watches as the class inches further left. “So, they take an ideology quiz and I put [the results] on the [classroom] wall. Every year, they get further and further left … I’m like, ‘These ideologies are considered extreme, right? Extreme times breed extreme ideologies.’ Right? There is a reason why Generation Z, these kids, are becoming further and further left,” said Gipe.”
Meanwhile, critical race theory, which grew out of European Marxism (the two strains of Marxism we discussed above), is the present core of Identity Marxism, which is an American version of Marxism. From Criticalrace.org, a website dedicated to explain what critical race theory is, how it is being used to indoctrinate the young and how to fight it, we have the following information about it:
“An outgrowth of the European Marxist school of critical theory, critical race theory is an academic movement which seeks to link racism, race, and power. Unlike the Civil Rights movement, which sought to work within the structures of American democracy, critical race theorists challenge the very foundations of the liberal order, such as rationalism, constitutional law, and legal reasoning. Critical race theorists argue that American social life, political structures, and economic systems are founded upon race, which (in their view) is a social construct. […]
Advocates of anti-racism and critical race theory use this focus on race to emphasize the importance of identity politics. Movements, such as the wave of “anti-racist” actions at universities and Black Lives Matter, are some ways in which identity politics and critical race theory have captured the nation’s attention. For the political identitarians, simply not being racist is not sufficient […].”
There are various ways in which the education system in the United States of America has been embracing critical race theory (i.e. race-based identity politics): by changing admission policies that ensure greater equality of outcome, by implementing anti-racism training to root out “implicit biases” (a process akin to brainwashing), by changing the curriculum requirements to teach critical race theory (i.e. pseudo-knowledge), by funding critical race theory research (i.e. wasting money) and many more.
A recent article published by the Washington Examiner reported that this Identity Marxist tool has been infiltrated in at least 30 public schools districts in 15 states. Although critical race theory originated in the United States, it did not stay there. For example, the United Kingdom is also plagued, albeit to a smaller degree, by this dogma: “Headteacher at Expensive London School Resigns Over Critical Race Theory” was a November 2021 headline.
What is the connection between critical race theory and socialism? One visible link is provided by the 1619 Project which has been promoted by Nikole Hannah-Jones at the New York Times in an effort to re-write American history in a way that made the foundation of the United States to be the moment when the first black slaves reached the New World, rather than the declaration of independence on the 4th of July 1776. However, as The Heritage Foundation noted the real goals of “The 1619 Project” are to indoctrinate the young with socialist and anti-patriotic notions, all wrapped up in identity politics:
“For at least a generation, many colleges and universities have taught students that America fundamentally is a white supremacist regime in need of deconstruction. By offering an accompanying school curricula, the 1619 Project explicitly targets middle- and high-schoolers, so far largely untouched by this propaganda. But since the 1619 Project’s publication last August, tens of thousands of students in all 50 states have been taught parts of its curriculum.
Last month, the administrators of Buffalo Public Schools announced their district will “infuse 1619 Project resources into the mainstream English and Social Studies … at grades 7-12.” Montgomery County, Maryland, and Chicago Public Schools have followed. Others will join them soon.
The overriding lesson is clear: young people must learn to despise their nation—its Constitution, ideals, economic system, and its Founders. They must resent and reject their past; possess an aggressive, contemptuous, and disobedient attitude toward the present; and strive forcefully to create a triumphant future where the enemies of old are punished, and the innocent finally rule. Teaching young people that they have no country, that there is neither God nor justice, but only their own anger to right wrongs leads not to civilized self-rule, but to fanaticism and self-destruction.”
Liberty Scholar, a Florida-based online forum focused on public education, noted in 2020:
“At the heart of nuanced social justice training lies a subset of ideologies most infamously aligned with Critical Race Theory and the Marxist movement. This training is known as the 1619 Project, and the notably Marxist ideologies which support its founding principles would make any well-read scholar write off the project as political doctrine that cannot exist outside the realm of metaphorical fiction. Despite its lack of historical accuracy, the doctrine has been introduced academically and professionally across America. As parents protest the adoption of this material by their local schools, schoolchildren are getting a taste of the true intentions behind the social justice movement.”
Another link between critical race theory and socialism comes from an explanation given by the World Socialist Web Site, an organisation that describes itself as “the online publication of the world Trotskyist movement, the International Committee of the Fourth International, and its affiliated sections in the Socialist Equality Parties around the world”. In an August 2021 article called “The ideological foundations of Critical Race Theory” – which was actually a report delivered at the Socialist Equality Party – the author, Tom Carter, writes:
“[…] the roots of critical race theory in postmodern subjective idealism”. He then goes on to stated that in trying to talk about critical race theory, one should go to the roots of it: “which can be traced to postmodernism and the conceptions advanced by the Frankfurt School. This is the “critical theory” from which “critical race theory” emerges.” And there you have the link.
Recently, there have been several initiatives to teach students about the evils of communism, especially in the United States. For example, French Hill, the Republican Representative for Arkansas, spoke recently about the need to educate students on what international socialism is, and Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis already signed bills that make teaching about totalitarian regimes compulsory. “DeSantis said students need to be taught that communist and totalitarian governments are evil.” Furthermore, the Republican Party is pushing the “Crucial Communism Teaching Act” which would require “high schools to teach students about the history of communism”.
Additionally, the launch of the University of Austin in late 2021 is another great development in the right direction. The people on the new university’s board are all individuals that are deeply concerned about the influence of the “woke”, or Identity Marxism, on American education. As one of the co-founders of the UATX, historian Niall Ferguson, wrote in a Bloomberg op-ed:
“I’m helping to start a new college because higher ed is broken. Institutions dedicated to the search for truth have ossified into havens for liberal intolerance and administrative overreach.” The New Criterion called the initiative “a bold and indeed a risky undertaking, but one that we wholeheartedly support.”
In the UK, similar developments seem underway. Recently, the “government has ordered schools in England not to use resources from organisations which have expressed a desire to end capitalism”, explained The Guardian. The article went on describing that the Department of Education included in its guidelines of restricted materials content which “[…] “publicly stated desire to abolish or overthrow democracy, capitalism, or to end free and fair elections”; opposition to freedom of speech; the use of racist, including antisemitic, language; the endorsement of illegal activity; and a failure to condemn illegal activities done in support of their cause.”
Furthermore, think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the Danube Institute, are doing great work to remedy the shortfalls of the education system on the ills of socialism. However, only time will tell how potent is the push back against the Left-leaning teaching establishment.
The important lesson for the purpose of this essay, which seeks to answer why Westerners, especially the young, are fond of socialism (and communism in particular) is that the political views of many in the academia who guide and shape the youth of Western societies are themselves fans of this manmade cult. However, a lack of accurate understanding of socialism, especially communism through proper education, is only one side of the answer. The other part, which is linked to what we have been discussing so far, is propaganda.
Propaganda: Socialism Wrapped in Cheerful Messages
Nicolae’s observations are not confined to the education sector. Outside the university campuses, the perception of communists and national socialists remains distorted.
In an article for The Guardian entitled “Why are we obsessed with the Nazis?”, the author stated: “The Nazis still have a strong hold on us – in daily news stories, in bookshops and cinemas, even on the streets of Europe. […] Hardly a day goes by without a television programme or a newspaper article about them. Movies featuring them continue to pour out of the studios, from Tarantino’s Inglorious Bastards to Polanski’s The Pianist. The Nazis’ crimes continue to haunt us.”
However, further down in the article, the author wrote a paragraph that is symbolic of the twisted perception of Westerns about the murderous regimes of the Nazis and the communists: “Hitler’s murderous policies, like Stalin’s, cannot be labelled “barbarous” or “medieval” like so many others. The ideology that underpinned Stalin’s policies of mass extermination died in 1989 with the fall of communism, but the racism that drove Hitler’s lives on in myriad forms that continue to trouble the world today.”
This is a false statement: communism did not die out in 1989 (or to be accurate, in 1991, when the USSR did finally fall). As the Washington DC-based research institute, The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, states on its home page: “The Berlin Wall fell in 1989, but communism didn’t. One hundred years after the Bolshevik Revolution, one-fifth of the world’s population still lives under single-party communist regimes in China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam.”
What the author wrote for The Guardian was not an isolated opinion piece: it is a dominant attitude in Western Europe. As Lili Zemplényi wrote as recent as October 2021 for The Hungarian Conservative:
“The staggering ignorance of Western Europe to the recent history of the post-Communist world has struck many in the region. Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, former President of the Republic of Latvia, is the most prominent example of the pioneering work of reminding the West what their neighbour went through following the war. She was the first among post-Communist leaders to understand that memory politics—just like any other aspects of politics—is a battleground where the consolidation of one’s own narrative has to be pursued. First and foremost, she objected to the predominance of Western narratives in the EU’s social memory – she believed that the perspective of East-Central Europe on history should also be incorporated into national cultural memory. Secondly, she believed that the crimes of Communism should be similarly condemned to the horrors of Nazism. She did not consider the two ideologies to be different from each other – as the terror of Nazism is studied and commemorated all over Europe, the evil of Communism should also be treated the same.”
We have seen that part of what keeps this perception alive – that Hitler was evil and somehow his actions and acolytes are still alive while communism is dead and gone but too bad about its “positive” aspects – is the dominant position of Left-leaning academics. This is only part of what the Cultural Marxists wanted when they argued to infiltrated cultural institutions. Other facets of Western society like the press, especially the corporate media, and the entertainment sector, both shapers and manufacturers of consent on important cultural issues, have been infected by a more or less obvious love for socialism. Their weapon of choice: propaganda.
There are plenty of sources to show how propaganda works in favour of Identity Marxism. However, Mark Dice’s 2020 book, Hollywood Propaganda: How TV, Movies, and Music Shape Our Culture, offers a thorough overview of the current practices of what is arguably one of the biggest factories of cultural tendencies: the movies that come out of Hollywood studios.
The book details how plenty of Hollywood writers, lobbyists and producers focus on advancing Left-leaning views through the films and documentaries they create; touching on a number of issues from gender, sexual orientation, race, climate change and economic disparity: the oppressed versus oppressor perspective is inoculated in people’s minds through the big or small screens.
How the film industry creates narratives with political undertones and ideological alliances has been documented by the Skoll Center for Social Impact Entertainment, which was founded in 2014. One of its agenda’s goals is to “explore […] Hollywood’s ongoing efforts to improve diversity and inclusion”, which simply means ensuring that organisations, public and private, have an equal number of people of lighter and darker skin colour, one of the divide and conquer tools of Identity Marxism (Woke-ism).
In a recent article for Bari Weiss’s Common Sense newsletter, Peter Kief and Peter Savodnik reported that “the “explosion of woke,” as one longtime producer put it, didn’t come out of nowhere. […] in September 2020, the Academy launched its Representation and Inclusion Standards Entry platform (or RAISE). For a movie to qualify for Best Picture, producers not only had to register detailed personal information about everyone involved in the making of that movie, but the movie had to meet two of the Academy’s four diversity standards—touching on everything from on-screen representation to creative leadership. (An Academy spokesperson said “only select staff” would have access to data collected on the platform.)
The Academy explained that movies failing to meet these standards would not be barred from qualifying for Best Picture until 2024. […] Meanwhile, CBS mandated that writers’ rooms be at least 40 percent black, indigenous and people of color (or BIPOC) for the 2021-2022 broadcast season and 50 percent for the 2022-2023 season. ABC Entertainment issued a detailed series of “inclusion standards.” (“I guarantee you every studio has something like that,” a longtime writer and director said.)”
The article is an in-depth assessment of how Identity Marxism has infiltrated not just the workings of Hollywood studios but what also is presented on the screen. This, needless to say, is destroying the little bit of meritocracy that made Hollywood a success and turns the American cinema into a propaganda machine almost entirely.
However, Hollywood has been a propaganda machine for a long time – the studios even helped Hitler at one point. Moreover, during World War II, the studios produced movies for the United States government: “That narrative continued with Hollywood’s approach to later conflicts, including the Vietnam War. A case in point, another famous — or infamous — John Wayne movie, The Green Berets.” As recent as 2018, a similar analysis has been reported by RT: “The Pentagon helps Hollywood to make money and, in turn, Hollywood churns out effective propaganda for the brutal American war machine.” Bear in mind that RT, which stands for Russian Television, is a Russian state-controlled anti-American network and therefore, its articles on America and the West more broadly are not friendly. However, the fact that Hollywood film studios are not just places to create art for the sake of art stands without a doubt.
We have already seen in the first section of this essay that singers like Madonna and Jay-Z have also promoted a Left-wing agenda, including critical race theory. But the entertainment industry is not alone in its Left-leaning crusade. Massive corporate media outlets, like CNN, Washington Post, the LA Times and the New York Times, have become notorious for supporting Left-wing political agendas, even radical ones like the NYT’s 1619 Project.
This has been thoroughly documented by Matt Taibbi, Glen Greenwald, Bari Weiss and others. The large media corporations’ left-leaning bias is amplified by technology companies like Google, which develop algorithms that prioritise the stories from these outlets. In 2019, the Daily Mail reported:
“Google’s bias towards left-wing media outlets has been laid bare by an algorithm which detected that it favors sites including CNN and The New York Times over others.
According to data compiled by researchers from Northwestern University, the search engine promoted those sites over others repeatedly in November 2017.
Of the 6,302 articles that appeared in Google’s ‘top stories’ page that month after a term was searched, more than 10 percent were by CNN.”
From topics such as immigration policy, civil rights, the role of the family and gender and sexual orientation to artistic creation, religion and individual freedom, these outlets consistently promote Left-wing views on these matters, shaping the perception of people, especially the ones who are young and not well read or inexperienced, about the world around.
This process is in line with what the Cultural Marxists have wanted: to infiltrate key cultural institutions of the West and tear them down. It is also part of a process that Yuri Bezmenov, an ex-KGB informant, has detailed in the 1990s.
The cultural storm created by the entertainment industry and the corporate mass media, helped by technology companies (and other cross-national institutions, like the United Nations and the World Economic Forum) is influencing how the young Westerns view socialism: its national version remains hated but the international form continues to be viewed with awe. For example, in the UK the New Internationalist, a magazine which embraces internationalist (i.e. socialism with international characteristics) has been in publication since 1973. It now has over 150,000 readers and an additional 250,000 people are reached via different libraries. There is no magazine that promotes national socialism, thankfully – but international socialism remains on the shelves.
Here therefore lies the culminant reason of the factors discussed above as why Hitler is hated while Stalin remains an ambivalent memory in the minds of Westerners. Given that the Left-leaning academia, entertainers and most corporate press are promoting values linked to socialism in its internationalist form, despite the import of race-based politics that come from a far-Right perspective, the notion of socialism itself and communism in particular remain unscathed while national socialism, simply because of the word “national” is viewed with hatred – even if the regimes have manifested similarly in politics, economics and societal costs. This is the result of propaganda and a lack of education.
Elon Musk called Woke-ism a “threat to modern civilization”. He is correct, although the statement can be applied to socialism in general and not just to Identity Marxism (or indeed, any strain of Marxism). However, despite this reality, plenty of Westerners, especially many young people, continue to have a positive view of socialism, especially international communism while abhorring national socialism.
My hope is that neither international socialism nor national socialism will see any further progress in destroying the minds of young people and of those who are going through difficult times. The cure: capitalism and libertarianism – freedom and responsibility.
You can read a summary of the report below.
About The Author
For beauty. For the individual. For freedom.