Tuesday, November 7, 2017

When Evil Triumphed

From The Catholic World Report:
One hundred years ago on October 25 (Old Style Calendar), a Marxist political movement led by an intellectual political activist named Vladimir Lenin mounted a successful coup d’état against Russia’s ailing Provisional Government. Most believed the Bolsheviks would themselves be overthrown quickly. Scarcely anyone recognized that it marked the beginning of one of the world’s most diabolical regimes, one which lasted until the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991.

The implications of what came to be known as the October Revolution weren’t really grasped at the time. That’s partly because, as the historian Richard Pipes wrote in his epic The Russian Revolution (1990), “the West considered Russia to lie on the periphery of the civilized world,” one which was “in the midst of a World War of unprecedented destructiveness.” Yet it didn’t take long for Russia’s new Communist masters to show just how far they would go to maintain and extend their rule as they sought to realize the Marxist dream.

The toppling of Russia’s Provisional Government by Lenin and the Bolsheviks turned out to be an exercise in pushing down a house of cards. Contrary to later Communist myths, the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg was never stormed. After token resistance, it was overrun by mobs of looters. Moscow was a different matter. Fierce house-to-house fighting lasted until November 2.

In his account of the Bolshevik coup, Pipes points out that most of the population paid little attention to what was happening. This owed something to Lenin and his colleague, Leon Trotsky, successfully portraying the Bolshevik coup as a takeover by the Soviets of workers and soldiers: organizations which had functioned as a type of parallel government in the months leading up to the coup. That was hardly the first lie propagated by the Bolsheviks. From the beginning, Communism has held, and Marxists have believed, that the ends always justifies the means. By this, they mean they don’t recognize any moral constraints whatsoever when it comes to seizing and using power to realize their goals.

Lenin himself exemplified this. The effects of Lenin’s willingness to lie, sanction mass theft, and authorize the execution of those deemed a threat to the Bolshevik Revolution only differed from Stalin in terms of scale. Like Stalin, Lenin was, to use Pipes’ expression, “A stranger to moral qualms.”

But from where did this essential amorality arise? Lenin himself was no sadist. He wasn’t the type of functionary which you find in all totalitarian systems: those who take pleasure in torturing or killing people or supervising such goings-on. Lenin was, Pipes maintains, simply apathetic about the suffering of others; his unconcern with their pain reflected his Communist beliefs. (Read more.)

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