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Anti-Communist Memorial Forbids Memory

The government of Canada, which apparently sees itself as humanitarian, is supporting the construction of a public memorial to commemorate the "innocent victims" of communism.  Former minister of immigration (now minister of multiculturalism), Jason Kenney, is a staunch supporter of this memorial; despite the fact that he is an inveterate racist, notable as an immigration minister for being anti-immigrant, he is now a crusader against injustice––just as long as that injustice is called "communism" and has nothing to do with the people whose lives he helped destroy during his tenure as minister of immigration and citizenship.  There are, of course, a number of criticisms that can be levelled at the construction of this anti-communist memorial, most of which have already been made and that Kenney and his reactionary friends in the Conservative government are quite happy to ignore.

ruling class apparatchiks solemnly mocking communism 

The first and most obvious criticism is the fact that Canada is building a memorial to the victims of other regimes when the very existence of the Canadian state is premised on a history of genocide and expropriation.  Indeed, the largest genocide in modern history is the extermination of the peoples of the western hemisphere––as well as the connected genocide of imported African slaves––of which Canada played a part and only exists as Canada because it played this part.  The crocodile tears of the Kenneys and Harpers when it comes to the supposed atrocities of communism belies the fact that memorials dedicated to Canada's atrocities are far and few between: the colonial state will not build memorials that contradict its right to exist.

Secondly, and connected to the first criticism, is the fact that Canada, which is a proudly capitalist state, is not at all interested in building a monument to honour the victims of capitalism which, in actual fact, vastly outnumber the death toll that even the most academically suspect, cold war ideologue ascribed to actually existing socialism.  Ongoing colonial genocide, slavery, neo-colonialism, forced famines around the world, the Nazi holocaust (fascism being an extreme variant of capitalism, initially supported as such by the other imperialist states), brutal dictatorships and torture states, the supposedly "banal" deaths of starvation and exposure due to the impoverishment necessitated by the market, global sweat shop labour camps, environmental devastation, imperialist interventions… The list goes on, the toll of victims innumerable due to their immanence, and easily eclipses whatever delusional count is provided by today's anti-communist hack historian.

Of course, I am one of those who has little patience with the hackneyed anti-communism capitalist ideology still promotes as "common sense".  In fact, those historians who still promote the narrative of communist atrocities––of the millions upon millions murdered by Stalin and Mao––are generally seen, by the most respected academic authorities of these periods, as the ideologues they are.  This is why someone like J. Arch Getty (who, by the way, is not a communist) would never make the same claims about the gulags and famines that are made by Robert Conquest and the academically discredited historians that Kenney must have read in order to make declarations about the "inhumane conditions… [of] communist regimes."

Indeed, the complete historical illiteracy of the people behind this memorial is evident in its conflation of communism with fascism: the announcement of the memorial coincided with Black Ribbon Day, a reactionary event that is meant to mourn the deaths of those who died under both the Nazis and the Communists (it is all "totalitarianism"!) and that equivocates these deaths by the typical dishonest reading of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact––a non-aggression pact between the Soviets and the Nazis that is taken, despite all the historical scholarship that says otherwise, to be evidence of some Communist-Fascist alliance.  Let us be clear: that pact only existed because the Soviet Union needed time to build up its forces to fight Nazi aggression and it bought them time; it was signed only after the European states refused to unite with the Soviet Union against the growing Nazi threat because they wanted it to wipe out the Soviet Union and hoped that, being an extreme version of capitalism, it would be on friendly terms with them.  Let us also be clear: the Soviet Union and communist partisans were responsible for the majority of the victories, and lives lost, that led to the defeat of Nazi Germany and to suggest otherwise is an insult to the victims of the massacres that devastated Eastern Europe.

In any case, I have complained about this anti-communist discourse of atrocity before.  In my opinion, and the opinion of anyone who bothers to study history critically, communism is only a great evil to capitalism because, rather than being a system that produces millions of "innocent victims", it is a system that has nearly been brought into being by capitalism's victims, the vast majority of the world's humanity, and in doing so has often turned (and necessarily) the tiny class responsible for this larger victimization into victims themselves.  Here we need to recall Mark Twain's famous passage about the French Revolution where he argued that there were two "reigns of terror": the infamous one in which hundreds of aristocrats lost their heads, and the hundreds of years of terror in which the masses were murdered by the reign of this minority class… and the former terror only happened so that those who were the victims of the latter terror could revenge themselves upon their victimizers.

And this anti-communist memorial is an insult to the millions who fought to make the world a better place so that we could learn from their example and continue the struggle.  Despite the failures of their labour, the successes are still with us.  Kenney proclaims that the anti-communist memorial "will serve as a reminder to all Canadians that glorifying Communist symbols insults the memory of these victims [of communism]."  The truth, however, is that this memorial defiles the graves of every partisan who fought against fascism, everyone who died fighting against capitalism, every third world communist revolutionary murdered by imperialist thugs, and our comrades who are even now struggling, in people's wars and insurgencies, to make the world a better place.

And yet Kenney's statement about "glorifying Communist symbols" is telling; it speaks to a possible anxiety that the Canadian ruling class possesses in regards to communism.  Why would Kenney bother to highlight the supposed glorification of communist symbols if it was a non-issue––if communism was indeed a dead ideology, relegated to the historical dustbin by the capitalist "end of history"?  Perhaps this anti-communist memorial is meant to bolster a resurgence of anti-communist ideology so as to deal with the fact that an ideology and the symbols connected to this ideology are becoming popular again.  Thus, the troubling fact of this reactionary memorial signals the ruling class anxiousness about what this memorial is meant to forbid.  Those of us who openly endorse the symbols of this ideology should therefore treat the memorial as an attack on our attempts to reorganize and reassert a viable communist movement––and, as Mao reminds us, it is good to be attacked by the enemy because, if we were not attacked, it means we weren't much of a threat.

So in response to this memorial we should go out of our way to glorify communist symbols and the ideology these symbols represent.  Since this memorial is meant to forbid historical memory by replacing it with a simulacrum of truth, we should not be afraid to boldly remember and implement that which can still make the bourgeoisie tremble.


  1. Well said. The erection of an anti-communist memorial at this point in time is a testament not to the strength of the Canadian bourgeoisie, but rather their fear of their own weakness.

    I have always found it interesting how - despite references to a hundred million deaths "from communism" in reactionary tracts - no one generally tallies the deaths caused as the result of capitalism.

    When I've mentioned this fact, people often look perplexed at the idea that anyone would try to attribute the deaths caused by the two world wars (to use the most obvious example) to "capitalism". But that's exactly why it's so ridiculous that the same people unhesitatingly attribute ANY deaths that occurred under a nominally Communist government to be the direct result of the state ideology.


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