Communism defined the twentieth century. It is estimated that Joseph Stalin murdered over 1, 500 Soviet writers using the resources, first of the Cheka (Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolutions and Sabotage) and later that of the GPU (State Political Administration), which was formed in 1922. These figures are based on recently declassified KGB archives that are readily accessible for dissemination by inquiring minds and free thinkers. But this is only a very rough estimate, for communist regimes customarily vanish the reality of the world-at-large for its citizens, as readily as they disappear their most vocal dissidents.
Purges in the Soviet Union were conceived because of the fear that Stalin's tyrannous regime had of writers and thinkers. Remember, the Cheka was designed to identify and punish those rational/critical entities who - in good conscience - could not embrace the official, Communist Party version of human reality. This left ample opportunities for the intricate mechanism of state terror to execute writers, thinkers and artists.
We must also keep in mind that given their Marxist theoretical underpinning, the logical outcome of Communist societies must create sweeping suspicion that affects all members of those societies. This is best known as Communist double-morality.
But if Communist regimes systematically imprison, torture and execute autonomous-minded intellectuals, why is it that so many Western intellectuals enthusiastically support these regimes?
That question is the great skeleton in the closest that twentieth-century ideological intellectuals have yet to face. Ironically, the very inability to come to terms with crimes against humanity in Communist regimes is not only a glaring example of bad will, but also the very embodiment of Marxist false consciousness. This is also a clear case of blatant intellectual dishonesty.
Regrettably, in the twentieth century, the history of ideas took a detour through radical ideology. This established the poisoned and savage preconditions, whereby what matters most to the work of many intellectuals is not a sincere commitment to truth-seeking, but rather allegiance to murderous ideology.
Beginning in the twentieth-century, political expedience and theatrical hyperbole in Marxism has shamelessly demonstrated the importance of execution as a way to safeguard the legitimacy of Communist regimes. This rationalization on the part of Communists is a necessary step in attaining universal suffrage. We are reminded of this by the likes of Jean Paul Sartre among other elite, committed intellectuals.
Those who attempt to block the development of universal suffrage must indeed be made to suffer, for such entities are definitely no friends of humanity. This theoretical dog and pony show continues today. It does so because this murderous, carefully choreographed rhetoric is an essential and thus necessary component of Marxist power grab.
The claim of Stalinism and its many varied offshoots, of course, was and still is that genuine and hence committed intellectuals must devote all their energy to the service of the state. This ought to be, after all, man’s loftiest and definite act of selflessness, we are constantly reminded. Thus, anyone outside of this utopian boundary must be branded a reactionary - an intransigent parasite at best - and thus cannot be working toward the utopian cohesion of the common good.
The twentieth-century was the first time in history when intellect was used as a tool to rationalize systematic and state-institutionalized murder. Many intellectuals still fail to recognize that Marxism is veiled intellectual thievery.
Marxism is a hopelessly contradictory, yet virulent social-political theory that promises people who have nothing that they are entitled to even less. Of course, many people have much to gain by setting up such power structures. The twentieth-century is a testament to this historical fact.
Shamefully, the origin, perfection and upkeep of state-sanctioned terror, continues to be the creation and responsibility of Marxist intellectuals. It is they who first implemented and perfected state-sponsored terror. But let us not be surprised by this. The devil’s work has always been executed by an aberrant use of malignant and pinpoint precision intelligence.
Marx’s thought offers the theoretical framework that has permitted over two hundred million people to die for what Marxists consider to be the greater good. This also proves how easy it is to prostitute and subvert reason to the many causes of barbarity. Those who run Communist regimes have proven to be no more than crafty criminals who lack good will. To fail to understand this historical fact is to be made a fool of the greatest hoax in human history.
Those who - in 2011 - still defend crimes committed by Communist regimes as excusable by alleging ignorance of the true goals of Communism, are now totally discredited given the immense number of declassified documents that we possess today.
From the outset of the Great Socialist October Revolution of 1917, the Bolshevik program for Russia was marked by a stringent hate for ideas, that is, genuine thought, which as such, is always apolitical.
Consider the case of John Reed, a radical American from Oregon best known for his book about the Bolshevik takeover of Russia titled, Ten Days that Shook the World. Reed was a wealthy and obstreperous Greenwich Village wealthy malcontent. Mr. Reed detested American democracy. In 1919 he founded the American Communist Movement. For his loyalty to Communism, Reed was eventually rewarded by being buried in the Kremlin Wall. A similar honor was extended to the infamous member of the “Cambridge cell,” British spy, Kim Philby.
In 1913 Reed wrote for a radical magazine, Masses, which was at the time edited by Max Eastman. About his preference for literature and literary criticism, Reed had the following vision: “To set up new ones in their places bound by no creed or theory of social reform, we will express them all, providing they be radical.”
The egregious trouble with this provision is that it has nothing to do with literature as such and everything to do with radical ideology. William Barrett, who has painted an in-depth and telling picture of the hypocritical, double standard of twentieth century ideologue intellectuals, explains the problem as such: “If his thinking deliberately operates outside the paths of our common life, he complains that he has been alienated.” Intellectuals began to exert unprecedented influence on all aspects of human affairs in the twentieth century.
Barrett, a longtime Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University, writes this from a first-hand account as former editor of Partisan Review. His is an intimate portrayal of the post WWII ideological mindset of some of the leading New York intellectuals, many whom he knew well: Delmore Schwartz, Mary McCarthy, Edmund Wilson, Lionel Trilling and Philip Rahv.
Barrett points out that his indictment of Marxist ideology rests on the ground that the perceived legitimacy of Communism depended on the support of Western intellectuals. This is consistent with the self conscious stock that Communism places on perception at the expense of reality. Barrett explains that ideologue intellectuals substitute the life of individuals with unrecognizable and vulgar abstractions: “As soon as you have replaced this concrete plurality by the abstraction of The People, you have homogenized it into the Mass – a plastic and passive dough to be kneaded at will by the will of the dictator. You have taken the first step toward Gulag.”
The utility of intellectuals to Communist regimes is valued as being engineers of man’s soul. In Communist countries, these social engineers of the soul are fabricated, much as the central-government apparatchiks created steel beams or fashioned the need for internal enemies of the state. The intelligentsia in such countries is burdened with the monumental task of creating the "new Soviet man."
Committed intellectuals are invaluable to Communist regimes. These are societies that are forged through force and violence, thus they must rely on perception to establish their hegemony and legitimacy in the eyes of the international community. Especially true of Communist countries, is the establishment of state-terror as its major weapon of mass control. And, to disguise this terror from its citizens and abroad, a grandiose mechanism of lies, the re-writing of history, and brainwashing must quickly be enacted.
There can be no place for sincerity and spontaneity in Communist societies. This is why the use of rhetoric and dialectical materialism on the part of committed intellectuals is indispensable to the survival of such regimes.
In Communist regimes, political prisoners are those who oppose the Communist Party. It is that simple. People are signaled out as political prisoners not for delinquent activities, but precisely because in Communist countries no aspect of human life can be allowed to remain un-political. Again, spontaneity is a major offense in Communist societies.
The horrors brought about by the total politicization of life in Communist regimes escapes the imagination of the vast majority of people in democratic societies to this day.
However, we must face the shilling and timely fact that this is an aspect of radical ideology that was first introduced to open societies on a massive scale, beginning in the 1960s: Political Correctness. Having gathered tremendous strength in the last four decades, today this politicization of all aspects of life in open societies is the foremost threat to liberty in Western democracies.
With its sinister re-education component and aggressive censorship for political opponents, political correctness has converted the liberties enjoyed in open societies into the spiteful double-morality practiced in Communist societies. Of course, such coercion, rather than forging community only creates a legacy of distrust and debilitating cynicism.
Books by Dr. González
Dr. Pedro Blas González is a Professor of Philosophy at Barry University, Miami, Florida and is finishing a book on Ortega's The Revolt of the Masses. Professor González's professional interests include the relationship that exists between subjectivity, self-knowledge, personal autonomy and philosophy; ancient Greek philosophy; the thought of Schopenhauer, Albert Camus, Louis Lavelle, Karl Jaspers and the relationship between form and philosophical vocation. He blogs at Castle to Castle.