Most of the public think that modern conservatism and liberalism have nothing to do with the regimes of Stalin and Mao. This is simply not true. There may not be mass death in the United States and Europe by brutal governments but, philosophically there are many disturbing parallels. This can most obviously be seen in the modern left by many of the modern liberals portraying communist dictators as revolutionary heroes. This can be seen by the popularity of Ché and Hugo Chavez within the modern left. If any of these people do things that are morally repulsive, the modern liberal gives them a pass and says that such behavior is “unfortunate but the ends justify the means and who are we to judge anyway.” No matter how many people are brutally killed by communists, the left never sees the ideology of collectivism and egalitarianism at fault. It was simply that the wrong people were running things. Many believe that if Trotsky took over rather than Stalin, Soviet Russia would have been some kind of paradise (this includes the founders of the neo-conservative movement and the National Review who were all former Trotskyists to include Irving Kristol, Bill Kristol’s father.) The ideology is never questioned because it is considered a moral axiom that all people should be equal. This idea of equality goes against the reality that each human is different. It is also against human nature. So what does the modern leftist question? Certainly not the moral righteousness of his cause! No, certainly not. Egalitarianism is beyond reproach. Reality must therefore conform to their ideas. Thus, it is reality that must be at fault. If you think that this is an exaggeration, ask a leftist (or a neocon) whether the universe is understandable by the human mind and concrete or whether everything is relative and we truly cannot understand anything. They will tell you that the universe is relative and 1+1 may equal something else besides two; that we simply can’t know anything for sure. This is obviously a contradiction because this simple statement, that the universe is relative, is concrete, implying that knowledge is possible. So what happens at this point? Does the modern egalitarian reject his philosophy because of the obvious flaw? No, of course not. His reasoning is not wrong. Reason itself is wrong and it must be modified to fit his moral axiom. In this way, every egalitarian at some level knows that his ideas go against reason itself. So there is a new oppressor on the scene. It is not just the capitalist class oppressing mankind but, reality and reason itself are oppressors as well. To such a degree, reason and reality are rejected for a “new kind of reason” where two contradictions could now exist. So the old ideas of the shaman and the mystic are revived in the new garb of secular Marxism. The idea was that our reality was just a shadow for some kind of super reality that was unknowable like Plato’s famous short story about the cave. Aristotle rejected this and said that the universe was knowable while Plato and his followers claimed that the universe was beyond the grasp of human beings. To Plato and his followers, science was the study of appearances while to Aristotle and his followers science was the study or reality and truth.
Ever since the Greeks, all philosophies have either been Aristotelian in nature or Platonic in nature. When looking at history, the times in which Aristotle had dominated a culture were ages of tremendous progress in all fields. Cultures that believed in an Aristotelian universe accomplished great things in physics, human rights, political science, economics and every other aspect of human knowledge. The renaissance and the enlightenment were ages when Aristotle and reason were the dominant philosophies. During all this, Plato and his ideas were always in the background waiting for their opportunity to return. The old Platonic philosophy of self doubt and an unknowable reality began to rise again in the middle of the 19th century and eventually completely took over by the early 20th century. Plato and his philosophy that reality does not exist except in some other reality began to dominate. Reason was rejected. There was no such thing as truth any more. The Nazis believed in racial truth, the communists believed in proletariat truth as opposed to the bourgeoisie truth. One thing was certain for all these groups, reason was to be rejected as well as any idea of singular truth. When Platonic philosophy rules, it results in mass death and humanity’s loss of confidence in itself.
The “Black Book of Communism” describes the crimes that the communists committed in the 20th century. The crimes were just as evil as Hitler but, it was done on a scale much larger than the Nazi sociopath could have even dreamed. I have not read the whole book but, what I have read is sickening and disturbing to the extreme. Americans today may think that such things can never happen here, but this is the same thing that every other culture said before they were led to the concentration camps and the ovens. I don’t think it will happen here either. But, it’s not because I’m complacent like most people. It’s because America has enough old classical liberal traditions deeply embedded into it’s culture. These have not been uprooted by the intellectuals yet and as such, will keep these occurrences from ever happening. If the intellectuals ever do succeed and uproot the last vestiges of the classical liberal tradition, these evils will certainly happen here. Not because collectivism and egalitarianism sometimes accidentally result in mass genocide but, because it is fundamentally necessary to the philosophy. Egalitarianism itself implies the dehumanization and mass death of human beings.
Here is a brief article on mises.org about the “Black Book of Communism” and its similarities to the modern liberal and conservative movements.