Some thoughts on “black book” arguments

Black Book of Communism cover

In my encounters with reactionaries here in the belly of the capitalist beast, I have encountered few “arguments” against Marxism and communism as disingenuous and self-serving as what I call “black book” arguments.  These are those arguments where we are told -in a tone of moral outrage- that “Mao killed such and such number of people!” or “there was rationing after the revolution!” and other such things.  While often downright false, the truth or falsity of the specific historical claims per se is irrelevant, as it is the double standard underlying the arguments which is most dishonest.

Whenever deaths, famines, or other such tragedies occur in a liberal capitalist “democracy,” we blame everything but liberal capitalism.  It was a bad harvest year, or the country was under foreign pressure, or -in good no-true-scotsman fashion- an insurgent ideological cabal betrayed the “true” spirit of liberal capitalism.  Whatever form the excuse takes, it is as a blight on the history of what is otherwise a “good” system.  In the most self-serving displays, we are even told that, yes, these bad events might not have happened under a different framework, but our liberal capitalist ideals are worth the sacrifice.

Yet when it is Marxism and communism that are being discussed, it is always Marxism and/or communism itself that is the cause of the problem.  While unfortunate happenings in liberal capitalist societies require “nuanced” analysis, the merits of communism (or lack thereof) become reduced essentially to a body count.  Why?  It is obvious that the bourgeoisie will spew out whatever serves to discredit communism, all the while maintaining that veneer of “academic neutrality” and being “apolitical” that all the essentially conservative bourgeois academics use in the course of being mere intellectual laborers in the service of capital itself – self-absorbed ascetics furiously crafting particularly intricate components of capitalist society’s superstructure.


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