The New York Analysis of Policy and Government continues its examination of the growing popularity of socialism in America, despite a century of failure.
While oppressive regimes aren’t restricted to those that proclaim themselves to be socialists, the ability of a regime presiding over a centrally-controlled economy to avoid the checks and balances that deter tyrannical acts is clearly enhanced. It can, by design or intentional negligence,, deny food, medical care, or other necessities to those not considered friendly. The History Place describes Stalin’s use of this tactic against Ukraine.
“Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union, set in motion events designed to cause a famine in the Ukraine to destroy the people there seeking independence from his rule. As a result, an estimated 7,000,000 persons perished in this farming area, known as the breadbasket of Europe, with the people deprived of the food they had grown with their own hands…Stalin also imposed the Soviet system of land management known as collectivization. This resulted in the seizure of all privately owned farmlands and livestock, in a country where 80 percent of the people were traditional village farmers. Among those farmers, were a class of people called Kulaks by the Communists. They were formerly wealthy farmers that had owned 24 or more acres, or had employed farm workers. Stalin believed any future insurrection would be led by the Kulaks, thus he proclaimed a policy aimed at ‘liquidating the Kulaks as a class.’…Declared ‘enemies of the people,’ the Kulaks were left homeless and without a single possession as everything was taken from them, even their pots and pans. It was also forbidden by law for anyone to aid dispossessed Kulak families. Some researchers estimate that ten million persons were thrown out of their homes, put on railroad box cars and deported to ‘special settlements’ in the wilderness of Siberia during this era, with up to a third of them perishing amid the frigid living conditions. Men and older boys, along with childless women and unmarried girls, also became slave-workers in Soviet-run mines and big industrial projects. Back in the Ukraine, once-proud village farmers were by now reduced to the level of rural factory workers on large collective farms. Anyone refusing to participate in the compulsory collectivization system was simply denounced as a Kulak and deported.”
The Russian example is not unique. Vaclav Smil, writing for the National Institute of Health explains:
“…between the spring of 1959 and the end of 1961 some 30 million Chinese starved to death and about the same number of births were lost or postponed. The famine had overwhelmingly ideological causes, rating alongside the two world wars as a prime example of what Richard Rhodes labelled public manmade death, perhaps the most overlooked cause of 20th century mortality…The origins of the famine can be traced to Mao Zedong’s decision, supported by the leadership of China’s communist party, to launch the Great Leap Forward. This mass mobilisation of the country’s huge population was to achieve in just a few years economic advances that took other nations many decades to accomplish. Mao, beholden to Stalinist ideology that stressed the key role of heavy industry, made steel production the centrepiece of this deluded effort. Instead of working in the fields, tens of millions of peasants were ordered to mine local deposits of iron ore and limestone, to cut trees for charcoal, to build simple clay furnaces, and to smelt metal. This frenzied enterprise did not produce steel but mostly lumps of brittle cast iron unfit for even simple tools. Peasants were forced to abandon all private food production, and newly formed agricultural communes planted less land to grain, which at that time was the source of more than 80% of China’s food energy.
“At the same time, fabricated reports of record grain harvests were issued to demonstrate the superiority of communal farming. These gross exaggerations were then used to justify the expropriation of higher shares of grain for cities and the establishment of wasteful communal mess halls serving free meals. As an essentially social catastrophe, the famine showed clear marks of omission, commission, and provision. These three attributes recur in all modern manmade famines…Taking away all means of private food production (in some places even cooking utensils), forcing peasants into mismanaged communes, and continuing food exports were the worst acts of commission. Preferential supply of food to cities and to the ruling elite was the deliberate act of selective provision…The true extent of the famine was not revealed to the world until the publication of single year age distributions from the country’s first highly reliable population census in 1982. These data made it possible to estimate the total number of excess deaths between 1959 and 1961, and the first calculations by American demographers put the toll at between 16.5 and 23 million. More detailed later studies came up with 23 to 30 million excess deaths, and unpublished Chinese materials hint at totals closer to 40 million.”
The Report Concludes Tomorrow