When conservatives help Communists commit atrocities
Leftist criminals and their slippery apologists are vile. But sometimes we too have a walk-on accomplice role in their infamy
My piece describing George Monbiot’s existential pain in trying to persuade Noam Chomsky of the error of his ways on the subject of Leftist atrocities made all the obvious and (let’s face it) easy points.
There is really nothing in human history to compare with Communist mass violence other than Nazi mass violence, and they of course were closely related in an intellectual/ideological sense – both were machine-age collectivist ideologies aimed at creating the All-Powerful State at the expense of the Individual and feeding off each other’s extremism. The famous Black Book of Communism tries to pull together all the numbers of people killed directly or indirectly by communist regimes, and not implausibly gets the total to not far short of 100 million people.
The Wikipedia Black Bookpage helpfully lists assorted apologists for communism, including, of course, Mr Chomsky:
Critics have argued that capitalist countries could be held responsible for a similar number of deaths … Chomsky therefore argues that, "suppos[ing] we now apply the methodology of the Black Book and its reviewers" to India, "the democratic capitalist 'experiment' has caused more deaths than in the entire history of... Communism everywhere since 1917: over 100 million deaths by 1979, and tens of millions more since, in India alone.”
He’s such a tease! First, huge numbers of deaths are in fact the natural state of affairs in the absence of advances such as ‘medical resources’ brought about by human cleverness, almost all created in free enterprise countries. And for much of the past 50 years India was not in any serious sense ‘capitalist’ but rather had a largely closed socialistic economy and sucked up to the Soviet Union:
Everyone in the 1970s and through the 1980s knew of the tight grip around New Delhi’s policy-making circles of top bureaucrats, academics, journalists etc who were blatantly and incorrigibly pro-Soviet, some being active communists or fellow-travellers … hundreds of public sector bureaucrats, military personnel, journalists, technology professors, writers, artists, dancers et alwho were treated most hospitably by the Soviet state – getting freebies flying to Soviet cities, being greeted by singing Young Pioneers, touring L’Hermitage with Intourist, receiving dollar honoraria and splendid gifts, sitting in on “technical training”, even receiving bogus Soviet doctoral degrees to allow themselves to be called “Dr” etc.
In short, compared to Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot and the other less notorious communist lunatics, ‘right-wing’ or ‘Western’ atrocity-mongers such as General Pinochet, Franco and the Greek Colonels are pitiful amateurs.
But what of the small number of cases when we in the West aided and abetted Communist atrocities? How to account for them now?
One of the most startling examples happened as World War Two ended, when under the Yalta agreement various Allied commanders returned to the USSR – and almost inevitable persecution if not death – many different categories of Soviet prisoners and especially Cossacks. Up to five million people were sent back, and some 20 percent either were executed or sent to long-term imprisonment in labour camps.
Those appalling transfers were (more or less) accepted by the Allies as something needing to be done to appease Stalin. But what of the way in 1945 the British sent back thousands of Yugoslavs to be massacred by Tito’s forces? Why did they do it? There was no doubt at the time as to what was happening. Wretched Yugoslavs including women and children had to be forced on to the trains as they struggled frantically to avoid their doom.
Nikolai Tolstoy has laboured long and hard in the British and Soviet archives to uncover the precise sequence of military orders and the accompanying lies, machinations and manoeuvres of the key British officers – not least future Prime Minister Harold Macmillan - who led these shameful transfers. Even now it is hard to be sure precisely what made them do what they did. Some sort of twisted ideological loyalty to Tito? Blackmail?
There is no basis for the argument that they ‘made a mistake’ in the ‘chaotic fog of war’: Nikolai Tolstoy has produced a mass of evidence showing that it was clear what was happening, and that many British soldiers there were revolted by what was being done. Grenadier Guards Captain Nigel Nicholson (later a Conservative MP) who was part of the operation described it as “one of the most disgraceful operationsBritish soldiers have ever been ordered to undertake”. The British archives have a Foreign and Commonwealth Office memo written in August 1945 by J.M. Addis:
"The handing over of Slovenes, etc., by the 8th Army in Austria to teach those forces was a ghastly mistake...For about a week at the end of May these unfortunate men were passed across the frontier by British troops to be butchered by Tito's Army...There is no doubt that this was an extensive and indiscriminate slaughter."
This was one of the British Army's darkest moments. Yet even now when asked about this episode FCO Minister David Lidington expresses only a bland "sense of regret at the loss of life that occurred." That language is appropriate to a severe car accident, not the systematic annihilation of thousands of fellow Europeans that British power helped bring about.
Dead history? Not so dead yet. Some of the Yugoslavs who somehow escaped this disaster are still alive. And mass graves of Tito’s victims are still being uncovered in EU member Slovenia. Worse, far worse, the ideological and family descendants of Tito’s communists in Slovenia still slyly try to puff up communist iconography (to the extent of sneaking it on to Euro coins) and sneer at those who want more to be done to uncover those graves and do some modest honour to the victims and their families.
If you are interested in these issues, buy a copy of a pamphlet, Close Designs and Crooked Purposes, put out by the Centre for Research into Post-Communist Economies who keep alive the flame of historical truth. It contains the transcript of a fascinating meeting they hosted last year at which Nikolai Tolstoy talked frankly about these matters and his ensuing epic battles in the English courts.
The Chomskys of this world plan to pull off the Really Perfect Crime. That is not a murder where no-one knows who did it, as in a detective story. Instead it is to commit a truly atrocious deed and then arrange things so that we all know exactly who did it but prefer to look away from the victims, to offer the criminal a smart EU lunch in Brussels, and chatter brightly about 'moving on'.
Leftist criminals and their slippery apologists are vile. But sometimes we too have a walk-on accomplice role in their infamy.
Charles Crawford is a Contributing Editor to The Commentator. A former British Ambassador in Sarajevo, Belgrade and Warsaw, he is now a private consultant and writer: www.charlescrawford.biz. He tweets @charlescrawford
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