The Red Plague



R. J. Rummel, Professor Emeritus at the Univerisity of Hawaii, writes about the size of the sheer numbers of the victims of communism during the 20th century. He is the author of Death by Government, and his website provides the evidence in detail for what he writes here.


The bubonic plague that in 1347-1353 depopulated Europe has horrified historians and surely all those who have read about it. Death. Death everywhere.
Cities and towns devastated. Whole families of several generations gone. About 25,000,000 people perished.

Yet, we have had a different kind of plague in the last century, one over four times more deadly, and historians shy away from writing about it. Indeed, most contemporaries did not even know it was occurring, for the media and politicians that were not affected by it, tended to ignore it. It was a Red Plague. A plague of democide.

As the concept of murder defines individual killing in domestic society, democide is murder by government, and includes genocide, massacres, politicide, atrocities, assassinations, extrajudicial executions, and so on. And it is focusing on this democide, rather than the genocide that is one of its components, which uncovers the true dimensions of the Red Plague that inflicted humanity, even in the life of many readers.

For about eight years, I sifted through thousands of sources trying to determine the extent of democide in this century. Because of that effort (see my Death By Government and Statistics of Democide), I am able to give some conservative figures on what is an unrivaled communist hecatomb, a Red Plague, and to compare this to overall world totals.

Table 1 below lists all communist governments that have committed any form of democide and gives their estimated low, mid-estimate (what I call the prudent estimate), and estimated high. It also shows the total for communist guerrillas, including quasi-governments, as of the Mao soviets in China prior to the communist victory in 1949.

Of course, even though systematically determined and calculated, all these figures are only rough approximations. Even were we to have total access to all communist archives we still would not be able to calculate precisely how many the communists murdered. Consider that even in spite of the archival statistics and detailed reports of survivors, the best experts still disagree by over 40 percent on the total number of Jews killed by the Nazis. We cannot expect near this accuracy for the victims of communism. We can, however, get a probable order of magnitude and a relative approximation of these deaths within a most likely range. And that is what the figures in Table 1 are meant to be. Their apparent precision is only due to the total for most communist governments being the summation of dozens of subtotals (as of forced labor deaths each year) and calculations (as in extrapolating scholarly estimates of executions or massacres).

As you can see, the total mid-estimate is about 110,286,000, an incredible total. It is around 65 percent of all democide over the same period, and is about three times greater than all the international and domestic war deaths, including the two world wars, Vietnam, Korea, and the Iran-Iraq War, to mention the bloodiest. This is the Red Plague driven by ideological fervor. The Black Plague, carried by fleas from rats and not by ideology, killed a quarter of the number the communists murdered.

There is much to dwell on in the table, if your stomach is up to it, and I will only note the most incredible estimates. The Soviet Union appears the greatest megamurderer of all time, apparently killing near 61,000,000 people. Stalin himself is responsible for almost 43,000,000 of these (I know you’ve read the toll as 20,000,000, but it was only for the 1930s and has been mistaken applied to Stalin’s full and bloody reign 1928-1953). Most of the Soviet deaths, perhaps around 39,000,000 are due to lethal forced labor in gulag and transit thereto.

Communist China up to 1987, but mainly from 1949 through the Cultural Revolution, which alone may have seen over 1,000,000 murdered, is the second worst megamurderer (I excluded the great famine of 1959 to about 1961 as nondemocidal – it alone cost about 27,000,000 lives). Then there are the lesser megamurderers, such as North Korea and Tito's Yugoslavia.

Obviously, the population that is available to kill will make a big difference in the total democide, and thus the annual percentage rate of democide is revealing. By far, the most deadly of all communist countries and, indeed, in this century by far, has been Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. Pol Pot and his henchmen likely killed some 2,000,000 Cambodians from April 1975 through December 1978 out of a population of around 7,000,000. This is an annual rate of over 8 percent of the population murdered, or odds of an average Cambodian surviving Pol Pot's rule of slightly over 2 to 1.

How can we understand all this killing by communists? It is the marriage of an absolutist ideology with the absolute power. Communists believed that they knew the truth, absolutely. They believed that they knew through Marxism what would bring about the greatest human welfare and happiness. And they believed that power, the dictatorship of the proletariat, must be used to tear down the old feudal or capitalist order and rebuild society and culture to realize this utopia. Nothing must stand in the way of its achievement. Government--the Communist Party--was thus above any law. All institutions, cultural norms, traditions, and sentiments were expendable. And the people were as though lumber and bricks, to be used in building the new world.

Constructing this utopia was seen as though a war on poverty, exploitation, imperialism, and inequality. And for the greater good, as in a real war, people are killed. And thus, this war for the communist utopia had its necessary enemy casualties, the clergy, bourgeoisie, capitalists, wreckers, counterrevolutionaries, rightists, tyrants, rich, landlords, and noncombatants that unfortunately got caught in the battle. In a war millions may die, but the cause may be well justified, as in the defeat of Hitler and an utterly racist Nazism. And to many communists, the cause of a communist utopia was such as to justify all the deaths.

The irony of this is that communism in practice, even after decades of total control, did not improve the lot of the average person, but usually made their living conditions worse than before the revolution. It is not by chance that the greatest famines have occurred within the Soviet Union (about 5,000,000 dead during 1921-23 and 7,000,000 from 1932-3) and communist China (about 27,000,000 dead from 1959-61, as mentioned). In total almost 55,000,000 people died in various communist famines and associated diseases, a little over 10,000,000 of them from democidal famine. This is as though the total population of Turkey, Iran, or Thailand had been completely wiped out. And understandably, something like 35,000,000 people fled communist countries as refugees. It is as though the countries of Argentina or Columbia had been totally emptied of all their people. This was an unparalleled vote against the utopian pretensions of Marxism.

But communists could not be wrong. After all, their knowledge was scientific, based on historical materialism, an understanding of the dialectical process in nature and human society, and a materialist (and thus realistic) view of nature. Marx has shown empirically where society has been and why, and he and his interpreters proved that it was destined for a communist end. No one could prevent this, but only stand in the way and delay it at the cost of more human misery. Those who disagreed with this worldview and even with some of the proper interpretations of Marx and Lenin were, without a scintilla of doubt, wrong. After all, did not Marx, Lenin, Stalin, or Mao say that. . . . In other words, communism was like a fanatical religion. It had its revealed text and chief interpreters. It had its priests and their ritualistic prose with all the answers. It had a heaven, and the proper behavior to reach it. It had its appeal to faith. And it had its crusade against nonbelievers.

What made this secular religion so utterly lethal was its seizure of all the state's instrument of force and coercion and their immediate use to destroy or control all independent sources of power, such as the church, the professions, private businesses, schools, and, of course, the family. The result is what we see in Table 1. The result was the Red Plague.

Communism has been the greatest social engineering experiment of all time. It failed utterly and in doing so it probably killed the number of men, women, and children, totaled in Table 1, not to mention the near 30,000,000 of its subjects that died in its often aggressive wars and the rebellions it provoked. But there is a larger lesson to be learned from this horrendous sacrifice to one ideology. That is that no one can be trusted with power. The more power the center has to impose the beliefs of an ideological or religious elite or impose the whims of a dictator, the more likely human lives are to be sacrificed. This is but one reason, but perhaps the most important one, for fostering democratic freedom and assuring a democratic peace.


Back to May Day 2005: A Day Of Remembrance Share this

I have a response, but my

I have a response, but my feeling is this forum is not the proper venue.

Regards.

Even without comparing their

Even without comparing their standard of living to ours, an objective observer can trace the increased concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands and the decreasing power and eventually welfare of the majority of the population. Sure, things were great if you were a Carnegie or a JP Morgan, but if you are a farmer of worker forced to buy everything from the company store, your lot is decreasing, even as GDP increases.

What's your source for this? According to Historical Statistics of the United States (a supplement to the Statistical Abstract), average annual real wages increased 50% between 1870 and 1900. Nominal wages were flat during this period due to constraints on the money supply, but the CPI fell by a third, increasing purchasing power.

I see no evidence to support your claims of general decreases in the standard of living. You seem to be taking the rich getting richer as logically equivalent to the poor getting poorer. The world doesn't work that way. If you want us to accept that the poor were getting poorer, you'll have to document it.

Let’s also remember that the GDP increases during the gilded age was at a relatively paltry 3% or so.

I have 4.3% for the average growth rate for 1870-1913 (ibid., their endpoints, not mine). But even a 3% sustained growth rate is hardly paltry. The sort of 10% growth rates we hear about in Asia are the result of mixing 19th-century economies with late-20th-century technology and huge influxes of foreign capital. You can't get that in advanced economies.

These numbers can't really tell us much about the relative benefits of different economic policies. There are a lot of confounding factors, such as population growth, work week reductions, technological innovations, wars, etc. But they do cast quite a bit of doubt on your as-yet-undocumented claims about the plight of the working class during the late 19th century.

Our economy really took off after WWII and with the institution of all those social programs that unleashed the consumption powers of the middle classes.

Long-term economic growth comes from savings, not consumption. To increase productivity, you need more capital. To increase capital, you need more savings. You could make a plausible (but possibly incorrect) argument that public schools and college subsidies increased human capital and promoted growth that way, but increased consumption is always a result, and never a cause, of economic growth. (Incidentally, this is why the rich getting richer can actually be a good thing--they save and invest most of their income rather than consuming it.)

And what I mean by an ideology is a narrow set of self-consistant rules that become insulated from realities.

Okay, fine. So your claim is merely unsupported, not blatantly fallacious.

Communism was a damaging ideology not because of the initial assumptions of the communists...

Communism is damaging because its prescriptions fly in the face of sound economics. Randall McElroy had a post on economic arguments against communism on the Mayday series. It's far from complete, but it's a start.

I find its prima facie rejection of government action...

Have you ever actually read anything by a libertarian economist? It's not prima facie. I reject government action because I understand how economies work and what the consequences will be, not because I think it's icky.

Interesting, although that

Interesting, although that passage seems to indicate Smith might have opposed anti-collusion laws, but not necessarily anti-monopoly laws.

You'll never get proofs in social science, or anything else that involves the workings of trillions of neurons. But all things considered, I'd rather have our current anti-trust enforcement than a complete lack thereof. I'd rather have anti-trust overreach once in a while than a Microsoft in every industry.

You've missed the point.

You've missed the point. Markets fail in the neoclassical sense when monopolies run rampant, but to get from that premise to the conclusion you want to reach--there should be antitrust laws--you need another step in the argument. You need a proof showing that a government will implement antitrust laws in such a manner as to effectively and reliably improve economic efficiency.

I know of no such proof.

Milton Friedman interpreted this passage from the Wealth of Nations to imply Adam Smith would have opposed antitrust.

"§ "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty and justice." (vol. I, bk. I, ch. 10.)"

Of course, even if Smith would not, Friedman certainly does.

Unlikely, but not

Unlikely, but not impossible. For example, we need anti-trust laws. Even Adam Smith argued that markets don't work when monopolies run rampant.

People further along the

People further along the libertarian direction tend to think there are fewer market failures (and less of a need for government action) than most people assume.

Maybe, but my experience is few anarchists make such arguments. Rather we argue that though there are myriad market failures, there are also myriad government failures that make it unlikely that the political marketplace will produce a result that aids private sector efficiency.

Stephan, calling

Stephan, calling libertarianism an ideology is no more a value judgment than calling a Camry a car. A Camry may be more dependable than, say a Ford Escort, but it's still a car.

However, I find it more useful to think of libertarianism and communism (or rather, statism) as opposite directions on a continuum. The people in our society furthest along the libertarian direction (who Battlepanda seems to be worried about) are not usually called libertarians, but anarchists. Most free market economists accept that market failures are possible and do exist, and that some level of government is necessary. People further along the libertarian direction tend to think there are fewer market failures (and less of a need for government action) than most people assume.

Personally, I find the prima

Personally, I find the prima facie dismissal of possible privatization of public sector activities as "batshit insane" to be either: 1. inconsistent, or 2. batshit insane.

Battlepanda: "I find its

Battlepanda:

"I find its [Libertarianism's] prima facie rejection of government action limiting and ultimately either inconsistant ("I want the government out of my life…except to build my roads…and to defend my borders") or batshit insane ("I don’t see why a privatized police force or firefighting service would not be a good idea.")"

Yes - a privatised firefighting service would be almost as ridiculuous as a privatised lifeboat service.

www.rnli.org.uk

Juliusb

Are historians really "shy"

Are historians really "shy" about writing about it? That's never been my impression. Of course maybe my Russian history professors were just obsessed with the Soviet terror, gulag, etc.

And the Black Plague was a greater disaster as far as demography goes (in light of the far smaller overall population at the time).

Also, a lot of people like to argue that religion-inspired (or genocide in the classical age*) genocide has never been as bloodthirsty as that committed by Communists, yet it is also true that in general Communists had a lot more people to kill.

*Keep in mind that the Romans slaughtered some 600k-700k Jews in the 2nd century C.E.

A May Day followup By way of

A May Day followup
By way of Elf Sternberg, who it seems, is not happy about his religious holiday being hijacked by murderous Communists, comes three posts by Catallarchy:

...a series of articles to remember those who have died at the hands of communists and co...

I'd just like to add a

I'd just like to add a correction to the comments about the "Gilded Age". The Gilded Age was not even close to laissez-faire. The Gilded Age was dominated by pro-business laws, laissez-faire is business neutral.

I would not readily call the

I would not readily call the concept of unfettered free markets (libertarianism). An ideology. Unlike the rest of the half-baked gobledeygook (did I spell that right) that can be found out there. Free markets and the libertarian idea are consistently correct, and even more strikingly, overall, libertariansim is consistent and logical in its arguments.Furthermore I'd like to point out that the free-market concept of liberty is the only clearly defined one I know of. Ask any 4 marxists or various leftists to explain to you what they mean when they think of "liberation", or freedom. Placing free-markets in the ideology hole along with all those other belief structures is a way of saying that the'yre all pretty much of equal merit. This is not true. Reality being what it is, some concepts are false and some are true. claiming them of equal validity is foolish nonsense.

Battlepanda, I'm more

Battlepanda,
I'm more concerned with the distinction between "leftists" and "all leftists" I don't think of all leftists as communists.

You should visit Berkeley, my town. There are plenty of bona fide communists here. Some have served on the city council.

Brandon, Even without

Brandon,
Even without comparing their standard of living to ours, an objective observer can trace the increased concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands and the decreasing power and eventually welfare of the majority of the population. Sure, things were great if you were a Carnegie or a JP Morgan, but if you are a farmer of worker forced to buy everything from the company store, your lot is decreasing, even as GDP increases. Let's also remember that the GDP increases during the gilded age was at a relatively paltry 3% or so. Our economy really took off after WWII, and with the institution of all those social programs that unleashed the consumption powers of the middle classes.

And what I mean by an ideology is a narrow set of self-consistant rules that become insulated from realities. Communism was a damaging ideology not because of the initial assumptions of the communists, but their inability to change and adapt when many of those assumptions are proven false. Strict Libertarianism is just as ideological, but in the other direction as communism. I find its prima facie rejection of government action limiting and ultimately either inconsistant ("I want the government out of my life...except to build my roads...and to defend my borders") or batshit insane ("I don't see why a privatized police force or firefighting service would not be a good idea.")

And Daniel,
The distinction you draw between liberals and leftists is duly noted. I suppose there are still some bona fide communists around, but since I don't know any I kind of took the term "leftist" to me anyone on the left.

Celebrate May Day

Celebrate May Day (Belatedly)
Via Volokh, we learn that Catallarchy celebrated May Day by remembering the over 110 million people killed by communist governments in the twentieth century.

I find it amusing that you

I find it amusing that you distorted the birth of May Day.

Communists celebrated the event, at the time, here in the US.

Hallmark took it over, when federalism wanted currency.

I don't question your basis, but this is a wasted holiday.

As for an example, the

As for an example, the gilded age is certainly not my idea of a picnic.

To say that the fact that we're better off today than we were over a century ago is evidence that a "completely unfettered market" is a bad thing is a fallacy of monumental proportions.

The natural tendency is for the human condition to improve over time as capital accumulates and technology improves. But socialism frequently slows, stops, or reverses the flow of progress. Even those who escape the democide often end up worse off than they were under the old systems, which is fairly astounding when you consider the fact that socialism generally takes hold in countries where things were pretty bad to begin with.

Do you have any evidence that this was the case in the so-called "Gilded Age?" Did standards of living fall or stagnate during this time, or did they rise?

...It does not follow that all ideologies produce negative results, does it?

No. In fact, it's self-evidently false. There is some optimal set of policies, and there must be some ideology which will lead one to endorse those policies. Adherence to that ideology, whether blind or informed, will not produce negative results. Of course, one needs economics and other social sciences to know which ideology that is, but believing the right thing for the wrong reasons does not make it wrong.

Communists, fascists, theocrats...what they have in common is that they believe that they "know the truth, absolutely," and that they should have have the power to enforce it, absolutely. That's what makes them dangerous. Without power, they're harmless.

(Market) Liberals differ fundamentally from them, and from all other political ideologies, in that we don't want power. All we want is to keep power out of their hands, and out of yours, because we know that none who would seek power have the wisdom to use it. You cannot compare liberalism and communism without addressing this fundamental difference.

"It is as non-sensical to

"It is as non-sensical to tar all leftists and liberals with the brush of communism as it is to tar all right-wingers and conservatives with the brush of fascism."

Battlepanda,
Saying that leftists have defended communism is quite obviously different from saying that all leftists and liberals are communist. I didn't use the word "all". I didn't even use the word "liberals".

Brandon, _No. In fact,

Brandon,

_No. In fact, it’s self-evidently false. There is some optimal set of policies, and there must be some ideology which will lead one to endorse those policies. Adherence to that ideology, whether blind or informed, will not produce negative results. Of course, one needs economics and other social sciences to know which ideology that is, but believing the right thing for the wrong reasons does not make it wrong._

I'm not sure that the second part of this paragraph follows from the first part. I agree that there is some optimal set of policies out there. But I don't see any _a priori_ reason for thinking that that set of policies will follow from some particular sort of rigorous, internally consistent ideology. Is there any real reason for thinking that "what works" might involve having some policies that are inconsistent with others? It is at least possible that the optimal set of policies will involve saying "freedom in this context is good; freedom in some other context is bad." I don't know whether this will turn out to be true, but unless you're already blindly following an ideology, you'd have to admit that it's possible, particularly when the rest of your argument has to do with consequences.

I suppose that one might argue that pragmatism (or maybe even consequentialism, which is--horror--what you're basically appealing to here) is an ideology, in which case I concede your point. But I don't think that either of these things is really what most people have in mind when they talk about blind ideology.

The real danger comes not from those, like you, who look to evidence for justification for policies. The danger comes when policies have to be internally consistent above all else even when doing so doesn't make any sense (see, e.g., social conservatives on stem cell research).

I withdraw that. Thinking

I withdraw that.

Thinking about it, I agree with Battle.

There are plenty of

There are plenty of ideologies which have not yet produced catastrophes on the scale of communism. That does not mean that we cannot learn the more general lesson that blind ideology is a dangerous thing, no matter what the ideology is.

Only if we feel comfortable generalizing from that subset; it is true that many ideologies produce negative results... but it does not follow that all ideologies produce negative results, does it?

Brandon, There are plenty of

Brandon,
There are plenty of ideologies which have not yet produced catastrophes on the scale of communism. That does not mean that we cannot learn the more general lesson that blind ideology is a dangerous thing, no matter what the ideology is.

As for an example, the gilded age is certainly not my idea of a picnic. I'm not saying that it is comparable to the misery wrecked by communism by any stretch of the imagination, but nevertheless, those who wish for completely unfettered market and survival of the economically fittest should beware of what they wish for.

Whether it is religious

Whether it is religious fundamentalism, communism, facism, or unqualified and rampant free-marketism, bad thing happen when people allow ideology to overcome their humanity.

Maybe you can tell us, then: What was the greatest disaster ever born out of "unqualified and rampant free-marketism?"

Daniel Sanchez, It is as

Daniel Sanchez,
It is as non-sensical to tar all leftists and liberals with the brush of communism as it is to tar all right-wingers and conservatives with the brush of fascism. I believe the writer of this post put his finger accurately on the enemy of sensible folks everywhere when he said that "How can we understand all this killing by communists? It is the marriage of an absolutist ideology with the absolute power. Communists believed that they knew the truth, absolutely."

Whether it is religious fundamentalism, communism, facism, or unqualified and rampant free-marketism, bad thing happen when people allow ideology to overcome their humanity. Maybe that is the deepest lesson we can take from the terrible tragedy that was authoritarian communism.

I like how Indonesia is on

I like how Indonesia is on the list. Those 2000 deaths by communism are so harsh compared to the 750,000 that happened as a direct result of America's interference in the country. (And about an equal number died in the aftermath, hell they're still killing people there with the aid of American money.) You can't attack one side without comparing it to the other.

BTW, not to ask a difficult question, but how many people were living under Communism at the time? A Per Capita figure would be a lot better comparison.

Thank you for this! So many

Thank you for this!

So many times leftists have argued, "Communism works; it just hasn't been done right yet."

With your numbers in tow, it will now be so much easier for me to say, "How many more millions have to die before you realize it doesn't work?"

Juliusb- how DARE you try

Juliusb- how DARE you try to refute BattlePanda with facts? She knows she's right, facts have no application here.
-russ

Given that Battlepanda's

Given that Battlepanda's main argument in this thread has been for flexible pragmatism over strict ideological consistency, it seems a bit odd to accuse her of eschewing facts for the sake of self-righteousness.

Battlepanda: 1. You made a

Battlepanda:

1. You made a claim about standards of living in the late 19th century, and it's up to you to provide evidence to support it. As it stands now, the evidence against your claim is much stronger than the evidence you've provided to support it--i.e., none whatsoever. I used average wages because that's the best indicator of general standards of living that I had available. Note that these are average wages, not average income. If you don't like it, show me better evidence. "Yeah, but maybe..." is not an argument.

2. I reject your assertion that we should try to minimize inequality. If my life is getting better, it doesn't bother me that my neighbor's life is getting better faster. And even if inequality matters, it's consumption inequality, not income inequality, that matters most.

3. Huh? Because the Keynesians were wrong (for the record, the Austrians pointed this out decades before reality did), we can no longer use economic analysis to guide policy? This is utterly bizarre. If you think you see some flaw in my analysis, you're free to point it out, but you can't just say that I must be wrong because someone with whom I disagree was wrong in the past.

4. The savings rate is low because of high levels of government spending and policies that have pushed the interest rate to below-market levels. Look up ceteris parabis.

5. A free market in health care would be preferable to either the French system or the American system. Also, Americans subsidize pharmaceutical development for the French, and "covered" is not a binary variable.

Daryl, I could be wrong, but

Daryl, I could be wrong, but I think the argument is that communism as an ideology is more likely than libertarianism at least to lead to concentration of power, which as you say, leads to atrocities.

I have to agree with both

I have to agree with both sides of this argument. I agree that libertarianism, as an ideology (and I think it is one) is an ideology that is very unlikely to lead to mass murder.

But on the other side of this argument, the connecting factor of the worst atrocities of the 20th century is not ideology at all, but concentrated power. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Chiang Kai Shek (his anti-Mao government was responsible for 10 million deaths) were all absolute dictators. Their word was law. There was no accountability, no appeal. I think that that is the common thread for mass murder. Actually, to bring in Hobbes (the philosopher, not the stuffed tiger), it may be the fact that these people had to fight for their absolute power that is the clincher.

It seems to me that the conclusion that communism was the culprit is over-explaining. Non-communist dictators are just about as bad (note Hitler and Chiang Kai Shek).

Basically, you only have mass murder if the victims are powerless. That can be because of a dictatorship (the cases I named), or because of racial/ethnic/religious discrimination (the treatment of Jews throughout history, the Armenian genocide, the treatment of natives by colonists in North America and Australia).

I guess the issue is whether you are trying to understand how mass murders can happen, or whether you are trying to find ammunition against political philosophies you dislike. If it's the latter, then forgive me for interrupting.

If we go with your vision of

If we go with your vision of libertarianism (i.e., people are bastards), then there will be no social safety net apart from kinship groups. I think most people will find this unacceptable.

Your claim contradicts the premise.

Dang, guys. Hold the food

Dang, guys. Hold the food fight!

Hus,
Don't give me this "ideas have consequences" high-handedness. The world needs radical ideas to keep getting better. You can say that Marxism when carried to to its logical conclusion caused catastrophe, and I'd absolutely agree with you. But do not slip into condemning Marx personally for having ideas.

As for your assertion that France's healthcare system is falling apart, that is such an old canard I can't believe you're still sprouting it. They live longer, pay less, cover everyone and have a more efficient system than we do. Get over it.
Summary of French Healthcare system by Ezra Klein
Angry Bear's excellent theory on what we spend on healthcare as a nation, and how little it's getting us

Fedwards,
I think people are very damning when it comes to the other side, but easily cut their own failures a lot of slack. Guys who are comfortable taking bad inner-city schools as proof that public education is a dead-end have no problem making excuses for supply-side economics when tax cuts fail to have the predicted stimulative effect. Reagan himself thought that if only his taxcuts were passed through congress sooner, he would have completely avoided the deficits he ran up. You are right to point out this blind spot, but be careful not to overstate your case.

b-psycho,
I hear this from a lot of libertarians. But I also hear from a lot of libertarians that charity and other community-minded efforts will step in to provide a more efficient social safety net if government will only get out of the way. Which is it?

If we go with your vision of libertarianism (i.e., people are bastards), then there will be no social safety net apart from kinship groups. I think most people will find this unacceptable. If you think government is so corrupt and unworkable as a concept that life would be better as an endless series of prisoner's dilemma scenarios, I applaud you for your honesty, because I don't see that notion gaining much support in a democracy.

Are the 27 million who died

Are the 27 million who died in the Great Partiotic War to drive out the Nazi German led invasion of the USSR included as victims of Communism too in the professors 100+ million statistic ...... without the Red Army victory WW2 could not have been won, not even by Tom Hanks!

Well, gosh, now that he's

Well, gosh, now that he's gone, I kind of miss him. Just goes to show you.

Daniel, Scott's right, go to

Daniel,

Scott's right, go to his blog and read his drunken ravings... :-)

and his pedantic pedestrian pseudo philsophizing...

should be good if you have a laptop to take to the bathroom, or if you need some filler for a grade 10 Social studies paper.

Anyway, this has grown way boring...

can't convert the converted, can't norant the ignorant. :)

Daniel, Skimming over the

Daniel,

Skimming over the gentleman's blog, I conclude there are other people far more worthy of your time.

Daniel, what makes you think

Daniel, what makes you think I deny being a "business is evil", "America sucks" reactionary?

what makes you think anyone, besides those particular Americans who suck and their ignorant world vassals, think that being such is a bad thing?

As for Hus's questions... after reading one or two of his postings, among the 50 he typically uses in an answer, I gave up reading his nonsense.

I did give you some credit, however much my early comments may have given the impression that I didn't.

Now however seeing that you want to egg some one on, I take it back, you aren't any better.

Daniel, I don't have to be a statistics bank... you want the numbers, go to the UN and look for statistics they keep on stuff like that...

and bear in mind, other nations like Sudan, Afghanistan, Italy, Bolivia, etc etc etc don't go around crowing about being the "most humane and effective system out there".

For the life of me I can't

For the life of me I can't understand how someone could possibly look at libertarianism as more dependant on the goodwill of people than any more statist system. Y'know, politicians are human too...

I dunno about anyone else, but I'm not a libertarian because I think humanity is good by nature, that'd be ridiculous. I actually see humanity as being largely petty, short-sighted, and infinitely capable of cruelty for the slightest of things. The real "naive idealism" is expecting a few powerful men among mankind to not use their power to rob the populace blind every chance they get. THAT is where my philosophy comes from, realizing that expecting some people to willingly & truthfully guide the rest is suicide, and that the only way all but the least rational of people move in a direction is if there is direct incentive for them to do so.

For the most part, among man there are only the ones that admit they're scum, and the ones that don't.

You still haven't responded

You still haven't responded to Hus's reasonable request for evidence that the state of affairs in America is as bad as you claim. If you looked at the statistics with an unbiased eye, you'd see that this "cesspool" of a country is one of the most successful experiments in liberty that history has ever seen.

We're still waiting...
starvation numbers? homelessness figures? anything?

Without anything backing up your allegations you only sound like a typical "business is evil"/"America sucks" reactionary.

Dave: “Fed"- I just think

Dave:
“Fed"- I just think you can’t blame all human failings on Capitalism nor expect Marxism to be the cure."

I couldn't agree more, Dave.

Marx never claimed Communism was the cure, just better than the competing alternative.

Every age and circumstances will demand different applications of political systems.

Ideally, anarchy, or from another direction libertarianism, would be what anyone, I suppose, would like to see, but pragmatically speaking can it really exist?

That's always where the debate with utopias ends up and the general consensus is 'no'.

If facts are your forte,

If facts are your forte, here are some numbers from Democratic and/or Capitalist nations and from nations propped up by Capitalist Democracies because of their "friendliness" to democratic principles:

Country   Years   Deaths
========= ===== ==========

Germany   33-45 20,946,000
Japan     36-45  5,964,000
Turkey    09-18  1,883,000
Turkey    19-23    878,000
Poland    45-48  1,585,000
Pakistan  58-87  1,503,000
Mexico    00-20  1,417,000
UK        00-87    816,000
Portugal  26-82    741,000
Indonesia 65-87    729,000

South Africa
Argentina
Chile
Spain
Phillipines
South Vietnam
Central America

etc etc etc

USA... anyone want to count how many deaths can be attributed to American sanctions, economic actions, military invasions and political assassignations?

It's fun to throw stones, but in the end its meaningless unless everything is put on the line

How exactly is Nazi Germany

How exactly is Nazi Germany (national socialists) an example of capitalist or democratic state murder? Ditto for fascist Japan (one can plausibly and effectively argue that Japan has never or, at best, barely been capitalist, even without fascist governments).

The world is not so facilely split as "communist/capitalist" with anyone not bearing the hammer & sickle is a 'capitalist.'

Taking out the two fascist regimes, we come next to interwar Turkey and the Armenian genocide, which was neither supported or abetted by the US government (which turned its back on the world after WWI, remember?), nor was Turkey possessing of many market institutions, capitalist modes of production, etc, but in fact was in the hands of essentially a military dictatorship (Ataturk). So scratch that from your list as well.

How exactly does a country under communist domination (Poland) make it on a list of purported capitalist democide? Scratch that one.

Mexico, shrug, you could argue either way. Mexico is (and was) a kleptocracy and wasn't democratic in the 1900-1920 era, either.

How exactly does the United Kingdom get put on for killing 816,000 of its own people from the turn of the century to 1987? I mean, the colonial slaughters of the English were in India & Africa in the 19th century, why not pick the easy fruit first? I'm baffled as to where and what the UK numbers mean or come from. Sources? Links?

Adding up the rest comes up to less than 5% of the moderate estimate of the murders perpetrated by communist regimes. IN Chile the number is less than 100,000 for Pinochet's crimes, for example. 20 million kulaks or 50,000? Granted a murder is a murder but ceteris paribus I want less murder versus more.

I remain unconvinced by your moral parity argument.

"The world is not so

"The world is not so facilely split as “communist/capitalist” with anyone not bearing the hammer & sickle is a ‘capitalist.’"

at the same time, anyone BEARING the 'hammer & sickle" isn't by necessity "Communist" either...

anymore than Aleksandr Lukashenko assuring the world that Belorus is a liberal democracy...

this has nothing to do with "moral parity", but everything to do with opinion.

It is the opinion of anyone anti-communist, that the Soviet Union, N. Korea, China, etc are examples of what results from implementing Communism.

With the Nazi party being "voted in" by majorities, and being pro-capitalist, with Japan being extremely pro-capitalist and industrialist... it's just as easy for me, being a Marxist, to draw the line and say that is what results when Democratic Capitalism is implemented. That doesn't make my comparison fair or accurate.

Neither is an argument worth taking, as anybody who is an avowed democratic advocate will balk at being compared to Nazi Germany and I balk at being compared to Stalinist KGB, get it through your heads, Communists do not particularly like being compared to Stalinists...

you see no comparisions between the Nazi's and democracy...

I see no comparisons between Stalin's Russia and communism...

as for "moral parity"... dead is dead, man... either dying at the hands of foaming rabid Stalinists or methodical Nazi's...

people can spend lifetimes comparing... heck, just throw in populations for comparisons... Turkey, under Ataturk, killed 2.6% of it's population a year - the USSR, 0.42%... that MUST mean that the USSR was better than Turkey, right?

Germany's totals occured from 33 to 45, Russia's between 1917 and 1987 - with civil war, world war, economic strangulation, Stalin's insanity and rabid anti-semetism, the cover ups after his death...

how many deaths occurred in the US during and after the Revolution? after the Civil War? How many in France?

historians and apologists can go on like that forever.

there is only two issues at play here, the death of millions... which is horrendous beyond imagining... but the comparisons made, especially by tying them to ideologies, is a tad disingenuous...

the second issue is politics... where the only mistake made in your numbers and mine is inferring that the regimes, governments, history and policies that resulted in those deaths in anyway codemn the political theories that those regimes chose to say they represented.

even fascism truly can't be condemned by what happened in Nazi Germany, as Italy and Spain were fascist but didn't commit genocide.

so, don't call me a Stalinist, and I won't call you a Nazi.

Wha?

Wha?

After careful consideration,

After careful consideration, I second Mr. Doss' response.

;-) what wha? it's pretty

;-)

what wha?

it's pretty clear mate...

fedwards, Actually, Franco's

fedwards,

Actually, Franco's Spain killed between 500k-1 million people.

Mussolini's Italy killed numerous Albanians, Libyans, Ethiopians etc. in wars of aggression and conquest.

I have no problem condemning Nazism and Communism.

fedwards, BTW, the Nazis in

fedwards,

BTW, the Nazis in Germany never, ever received a majority of the vote; they always had to depend on allied parties. Why the historically ignorant always latch onto this fallacy I cannot say.

As to Nazism and capitalism, well, Nazism allows for the violation of a cardinal rule of capitalism; respect for private property.

If you can us an example of a "Communist nation" that did not end up in some sort of nightmarish tyranny, I'd be glad to see it.

Why is it disingenuous to link Communinism to the deaths of millions in Communist countries?