Why are Marxists and Soviet apologists regarded as harmless jokers?

2 October 2013

5:52 PM

2 October 2013

5:52 PM

I rather like Ed Miliband, and for what it’s worth I don’t think he has inherited much, if any, of his father’s rancid political views. Nevertheless the fact that Ed Miliband has often referred to his father’s thought makes Miliband Snr fair game in a way that other politicians’ parents might not be. But in the row over the Daily Mail / Ralph Miliband affair two things remain to be pointed out.

The first relates to war service. Contra Emily Maitlis (among others) on last night’s Newsnight, it is perfectly possible to fight for a country in a world war and still hold values (then or subsequently) inimical to the country you fought for. After all, Sir Oswald Mosley fought for Britain, and was injured, in the First World War. But I strongly doubt whether, were Max Mosley currently running a political party and regularly citing his father as inspiration, that fact would wholly silence the fascist leaders’ critics.

Secondly (and speaking of Mosley) there is something very interesting in the constant dredging up (by Alastair Campbell last night, the Guardian etc ad nauseum) of the matter of the Daily Mail and the Blackshirts in the 1930s. Whenever a certain type of person lambasts the Daily Mail they always reach for the example of that temporary (and subsequently retracted) opinion expressed by the current Mail proprietor’s great-grandfather eighty years ago. Just yesterday the Guardian wheeled out a bunch of old socialists, including Tariq Ali, to repeat the claim.


I always find this discussion fascinating. Because as we were reminded last year when the lifelong communist and Miliband family friend Eric Hobsbawm died, when it comes to considering the two great totalitarianisms of the twentieth century the scales of opprobrium remain radically unbalanced.

There is no better demonstration of this than the disparity between continuous references to that article in the Mail in the 1930s and the utterly unremembered fact that far more recently the Guardian employed as an editor — and continues to employ as a contributor — someone who was alleged to be a paid agent of the KGB.

Richard Gott was a senior editor of the Guardian when, in December 1994 the Spectator published a piece by Alasdair Palmer centred on the information of Soviet dissident Oleg Gordievsky. The piece alleged that the senior Guardian journalist was an ‘agent of influence’ of the Soviet security service. Gott denied the allegation.

The Guardian’s then editor-in-chief, Peter Preston, tried to ignore the affair. But Gott resigned and the resignation was accepted by Preston, who continued to complain that the Spectator story was in fact the work of MI5 and/or MI6. Anyhow, Gott said:  ‘I took red gold, even if it was only in the form of expenses for myself and my partner. That, in the circumstances, was culpable stupidity, though at the time it seemed more like an enjoyable joke.’ Gott has certainly had the last laugh because his career has not suffered much. He has continued to contribute to the Guardian where he can often be found lambasting the Western democracies. He also enjoys an uninterrupted career in academia and is currently ensconced as an honorary fellow at the University of London.

It is undeniable that the crimes of Marxism outweighed those of fascism. Together these evil twin totalitarianisms created more human misery than any others in history. Yet how to explain the fact that while vast popular opprobrium rightly attaches to the remnants of one, the other side in that foul conflict continue to be indulged as heroes, harmless old jokers or parents whose views must not be critiqued.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • Elise Reich

    Oswald Mosley was an honest man. Also, Communism and Democracy have a far worse record than Fascism. How many world empires did Mussolini have? Zero?

  • regbs

    Subversion by this lot is as old as history. Karl Marx’s system is a hatred for the same West that gave him and millions of his ethnicity sanctuary. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn documented this ethnicity’s brutality well in “Two Hundred Years Together” — curiously not published in the world’s most published language.

    The ADL, Southern Poverty Law Center, and all other such bigoted advocacy groups push for limitless 3rd world immigration into the West and pimp the diversity lie, which, of course, does not apply to selling-UK-and-US-military-secrets-to-China and running over American college students-with-bulldozers israel.

  • global city

    Martin Samuel has just described the children in that picture twittered by Alan Sugar as ‘of Asian extraction’…where’s the opprobrium?

  • D.a. Hoffman

    hello Spectator, I think this is a good companion piece to this article – – In the end ideology doesn’t really matter, it’s murderers that are dangerous to society, and there were a quite a few in power in the 20th C.

  • mrsjosephinehydehartley

    Has anybody noticed “apologist” is just an “nthro” short of an anthropologist.

  • Indianchap

    You are conflating Marx with Stalin. This is like assuming everything ever done by those claiming to be Christan is the fault of the man from Nazareth. Give us a break, will ya?

    Because Christians did some real bad stuff, I can tell you. The wiping out of the populations of the Americas, the Jewish Holocaust which would not have been thinkable without 2000 years of ferocious and daily preaching against Jews in Christian churches.

    • global city

      Nah, if they did their crimes in the name of Jesus, then it is the fault of the texts. Stalin did most of what he did in the name of building a socialist utopia as the path to liberty.

  • Ben

    ‘…the crimes of Marxism…’ – can you please refrain from using this kind of inaccurate language? Call it the crimes of Communism or the crimes of Stalinism/Leninism/Maoism/whatever. Because to attribute the Soviet Union to Marx is somewhat akin to attributing the Third Reich to Nietzsche – i.e. a gross misrepresentation of the facts.

    A lot of what Marx said went directly against what the Soviets did, they merely used some of his ideas and took Marxism as their ideological mantra, but it was not anything like Marxism. This is not to say Marx was right – he wasn’t. But he has been done an extreme injustice as a thinker and philosopher be people doing things he never ascribed to but carrying them out in his name.

    Douglas Murray you should refrain from talking so certainly about someone you have evidently never read (Marx).

    • global city

      Marx set up a mindfuck framework and Stalin was one of the main victims and promoters. It was the main reason that images of Marx used to appear so prominently at all those May Day parades and those silly portraits with Lenin that used to hang in all the schools and public buildings…!

      What you are saying is basically the same lame excuse trotted out by ‘moderate’ Imams when islamist terrorists commit their latest atrocity in the name of Allah that ‘they are not Muslims’.

      What Stalin did was a strain of Marxism he used to build toward the shining path…..etc.

      I read lots of Marx, amongst others, throughout my late teens and early 20s’, without not once coming to any other opinion than he was quite a bitter gobshite!

      • Ben

        ‘What you are saying is basically the same lame excuse trotted out by ‘moderate’ Imams when islamist terrorists commit their latest atrocity in the name of Allah that ‘they are not Muslims’.

        No, it certainly isn’t. The Koran contains the explicit justification for islamic terrorism and other barbarities. You could not find in Marx a single quote that justifies what was carried out in his name. As i already said: the comparison with accusing Nietzsche of creating Hitler and National Socialism is far more apt, and that accusation is just as lacking in accuracy or perspective. In fact, Marx had already denounced ‘Marxism’ in his own lifetime, writing ‘All i know is that i am not a Marxist.’ And the ‘Marxist’ movement would only grow more extreme and dogmatic after he died.

        If you had read Marx you would know this; you would also know that Marx did not purport what he did as some kind of utopian ideal: he thought that the progression to socialism was inevitably what would happen to societies after industrialisation. How you can square this with a bunch of dogmatists seizing power and brutally forcing their doctrines upon the population is beyond me.

        I recommend you read Joseph Schumpeter’s ‘Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy’ and educate yourself on the matter. And i remind you that Schumpeter was an ardent capitalist, so he was hardly blighted by a dogmatic allegiance to Marx.

        • global city

          Come on man. Cause and effect and all that.

          By the way, I’ve read ‘CS&D’, I had a lot of time on my hands over the years!

  • Indianchap

    What Ed Miliband was too conformist and cautious to mention
    is that one main reason why Ralph Miliband was bitterly critical of the
    Britain that he found in the 1930s and 1940s was that this was a
    fiercely anti-Semitic society, to an extent that shocks today.

    Even someone regarded as a champion of leftism like George Orwell indulged
    in brutal anti-Semitic jibes – look at the poisonous portraits of Jews
    in “Down and Out in Paris and London” . He spots a Jew gorging on bacon
    just as he got back to England after famished weeks in Paris – this
    without even being sure the man was a Jew! He suggests Jewish refugees
    from Hitler are more likely to admire the Nazis than the British – a
    an appallingly sadistic claim to make at the time with the Holocaust in
    progress. After the Holocaust became known Orwell tried to cover his
    tracks with a few lacklustre pieces decrying anti-Semitism, but that
    was pure cunning camouflage.

    I admire a lot in Orwell, but he was an anti-Semite.

    No wonder Ralph Miliband disliked so much in Britain in that racist
    time. Jews and Blacks were treated as third-class by definition.

    This is what George Orwell actually says in his own words about Jews during the Hitler war:

    “…thoughtful people [in Britain] say Jews use this country as a
    temporary asylum but show no loyalty to it. Objectively this is true,
    and the tactlessness
    of some of the refugees is almost incredible. (For example, a remark by a
    German Jewess overheard during the Battle of France: “These English
    police are not nearly so smart as our SS men”. “

    Note the astoundingly perverse sadism of ascribing pro-SS sentiments to Jews.

    • OraEtLabora

      Orwell’s words are taken from his letter to the Partisan Review of July–August 1943, reproduced online here: It can also be found in Orwell and Politics, edited by Peter Davison (Penguin Modern Classics, 2001)

      The excerpt that you divorced from its context is taken from a long section about anti-Semitism that Orwell descrbes as a ‘problem’ and condemns it. Why did you substitute ‘Jews’ where he wrote ‘Jewish refugees’? Is it because the term ‘Jewish refugees’ better suggests the author’s sympathy for them rather than the more distant ‘Jews’?

      Do you dispute his point that it was objectively true that most were using Britain as a temporary asylum, and their primary loyalty was not necessarily to Britain? This was true of all of the Europeans who came to our shores in those years, including the free Norwegians, French, Czech, Polish, etc. Take the Polish: as long as Britain lasts, we should honour those Poles who fought so gallantly (famously in the Battle of Britain but also elsewhere—the first Allied flag up at Monte Cassino was Polish ); however, we need not delude ourselves that it was for Blighty they were so bravely fighting. They were fighting for their own country, and this is explicitly expressed on the monument to the Polish 1st Armoured Division in Warsaw, which displays the words of their commander, General Stanisław Maczek: ‘The Polish soldier fights for the freedom of all nations but dies only for Poland.’ (And all credit to them for that: if Britain had fallen, many Britons would have gone to all corners of the Empire and the US to continue the fight; but even wearing U.S. uniform, their first loyalty would have been to Britain.)

      Do you have any evidence that George Orwell made up the remark overheard during the Battle of France? And why would he do so, given that the entire section is sympathetic to the plight of the Jews and condemnatory of the increasing anti-Semitism that he sees. In the paragraph concluding this section, while acknowledging that ‘there is probably less antisemitism in England now than there was thirty years ago’ and that ‘it does not take violent forms’, he nonetheless warns: ‘The milder form of anti-semitism prevailing here can be just as cruel in an indirect way, because it causes people to avert their eyes from the whole refugee problem and remain uninterested in the fate of the surviving Jews of Europe.’

      • Indianchap

        I have a copy of Orwell’s 1940-43 Collected Essays and Journalism published by Penguin to hand and find this emission from Orwell in his diary:

        “The other night examined the crowds sheltering [from bombing] in Chancery Lane, Oxford Circus and Baker Street stations. Not all Jews, but I think, a higher proportion of Jews than one would normally see in a crowd of this size. What is bad about Jews is that they are not only conspicuous but go out of their way to make themselves so. A fearful Jewish woman, a regular comic-paper cartoon of a Jewess (sic!), fought her way off the train at Oxford Circus, landing blows on everyone who stood in her way. It took me back to the old days on the Paris Metro

        Note that sentence in particular: “What is bad about
        Jews is that they are not only conspicuous but go out of their way to make themselves so.”


        “Surprised to find that D, who is distinctly Left in his views, is inclined to share the current feeling against Jews. He says that Jews in business circles are turning pro-Hitler, or preparing to do so. This sounds almost incredible, but according to D. they will always admire anyone who kicks them. What I do feel is that any Jew, i.e., European Jew, would prefer Hitler’s kind of social system to ours, if it were not that he happens to persecute them….They make use of England as a sanctuary, but they cannot help feeling the profoundest contempt for it. You can see it in their eyes, even when they don’t say it outright.” ”

        I knew Orwell was an anti-Semite but even I am taken aback now when I re-read his vile comments and realise how savagely and perversely he was one, with a generalising sadism worthy of Hitler. The incredible claim by Orwell that all Jewish refugees from Nazism feel the profoundest contempt for Britain seems even more twisted and spiteful than Hitler’s claim that Jews profited from German defeat in World War One.

        And these appallingly callous comments were written in a time when Jews were being systematically exterminated!

        • OraEtLabora

          Indianchap: ‘and find this emission from Orwell in his diary
          ‘emission’? I hope not of the nocturnal kind?

          Indianchap: ‘I knew Orwell was an anti-Semite but even I am taken aback now when I re-read his vile comments and realise how savagely and perversely he was one, with a generalising sadism worthy of Hitler.
          You’re comparing Orwell to Hitler?
          How many Jews did Orwell kill?
          How many Jews did Orwell advocate killing?
          When did Orwell ever advocate depriving Jews of their property, voting or any other rights?

          Indianchap: ‘And these appallingly callous comments were written in a time when Jews were being systematically exterminated!
          And who was exterminating them? Not Orwell.
          And who was publically speaking and writing on their behalf? Why, Orwell!

          Just another perpetually outraged liberal, getting the vapours over mere words whilst ignoring the far, far worse deeds of others.

          Before criticising others with gross distortions and exaggerations, I suggest first ensuring your own house is in order.
          Past sins:

          Current sins:

          • Ibsen

            Orwell himself once noted that when people run out of decent arguments to defend the indefensible they will often resort to indecent ones.

            Yours is a case in point.

            Indianchap showed on the basis of irrefutable citations that Orwell was definitely and even amazingly anti-Semitic in his opinions.

            You, cornered, reply that he did not actually kill any Jews….

            Well, Hitler also had not killed any Jews until he acquired a following. Anti-Semitic opinions like Orwell’s led many people to support Hitler and enable his crimes.

            Opinions matter, and that is why we bother to criticise them. If I vilified the Palestinians you would not excuse it on the grounds that I had not killed any Palestinian. You would be right.

            No, it is game, set and match to Indianchap. We need to be aware much more of Orwell the anti-Semite.

            • OraEtLabora

              Ibsen: ‘Indianchap showed on the basis of irrefutable citations
              Which he misquoted on at least one occasion (and he has yet to explain why he substituted words). He also, like all dishonest liberals, quoted out of context, taking a long section written by Orwell warning against anti-Semitism and accused him, quite extraordinarily, of the very thing that Orwell was writing in condemnation of.

              Ibsen: ‘You, cornered

              Ibsen: ‘reply that he did not actually kill any Jews….
              It was a quick effort at demonstrating the lunacy of Indianchap’s—and now your—suggestion that a man who had neither committed nor advocated any violence whatsoever against Jewish people, and indeed was writing publicly in their defence could in any conceivable way (outside of the fevered imaginations of the lunatic left) be compared to the architect of the Holocaust.

              Ibsen: ‘Well, Hitler also had not killed any Jews until he acquired a following.
              But he was killing them at the time that Orwell was publicly condemning anti-Semitism. Can you really be so ideologically blinkered as to not see the difference?

              Ibsen: ‘If I vilified the Palestinians you would not excuse it on the grounds that I had not killed any Palestinian.
              Palestine not currently existing as a nation, I would initially be confused as to whom you were referring—Arab residents of the disputed territories? Jordanians? Israelis? Bedouin? Secondly, I would distinguish between someone advocating violence and someone actually committing violence. While disagreeing with anyone opposing Israel’s right to exist, in words spoken or written, as long as they do not pick up weapons to commit acts of terrorism then they have committed no crime and deserve no criminal sanction under British law.

              Ibsen: ‘No, it is game, set and match to Indianchap.
              As long as you’re appointing yourself umpire of the Spectator comments section, why not declare yourself king of the world while you’re at it? See how impressed we all are.

              • Ibsen

                Orwell’s anti-Semitic comments were by no means only in private: one has only to look at a book like “Down and Out in Paruis and London” to see that. He was well aware of the dangerous consequences this track record of anti-Semitism had for his reputation on the Left and so he made the specious excuse that such taunts if made BEFORE Hitler did not count. But it was pointed out to this self-serving man that anti-Semitism before Hitler enabled Hitler to get into power in the first place.

                What remains astounding is Orwell’s callousness. He knew the Jews were being wiped out in Europe when he made such comments as that they were pro Hitler rather than pro British. To those who don’t give a damn about anti-Semitism this sort of thing does not matter. It counts, if one cares. I would not, if I were a Jew, like to trust myself to Orwell in anything that mattered.

                He had merits: but he was an anti-Semite. It often happens with accomplished people that they have great faults. These should be recognised. He himself was ruthless with the faults of others.

                • OraEtLabora

                  I direct you to my addendum to my reply above (which for some reason posted under ‘Guest’ ); as can be seen, as Indianchap has done, the only way to make any kind of case of real anti-Semitism against Orwell is to take quotations out of context, substitute words and miss out entire sentences. It is notable that out of Orwell’s entire oeuvre, private and public, that so few examples lending themselves to allegations of anti-Semitism can be found.

                  Ibsen: ‘He knew the Jews were being wiped out in Europe when he made such comments as that they were pro Hitler rather than pro British.
                  A good example of deliberately misreading what someone wrote. I am ever surprised why liberals and lefties indulge in this tactic online, when anyone can so easily scroll back to read what someone actually wrote; it suggests not only your routine dishonesty but considerable foolishness as well.

                  Orwell wrote that he felt that any ‘European Jew, would prefer Hitler’s kind of social system to ours, if it were not that he happens to persecute them’; i.e. not favouring Hitler but the socialist side of national-socialism; such as ‘that the state be charged first with providing the opportunity for a livelihood and way of life for the citizens … All citizens must have equal rights and obligations … The activity of individuals is not to counteract the interests of the universality, but must have its result within the framework of the whole for the benefit of all. … Abolition of unearned (work and labour) incomes. Breaking of rent-slavery. … the total confiscation of all war profits … nationalization of all (previous) associated industries (trusts) … a division of profits of all heavy industries … expansion on a large scale of old age welfare … the free expropriation of land for the purposes of public utility … national education program, to enable every capable and industrious German to obtain higher education …’.

                  Additionally, these are private thoughts communicated to his diary, as opposed to his public condemnations of anti-Semitism.

                • Ibsen

                  I had no idea there was quite so much that was favourable to be said for Hitler. But then, I am no neo-Nazi and go by the evidence of the destroyed freedoms in Germany and the smoke from the mass crematoria.

                  I think the frightened and hapless Jews who escaped to Britain by the skin of theitr teeth had much the same idea about Hitler.

                  Orwell did not: he thought they were Hitler sympathisers.

                  It is like telling someone almost beaten to shreds by an criminal that, really, he would have loved the criminal but for the assault…..

                  It takes all sorts to make a world, and such perverse hate mongers must also exist.

                  Orwell’s anti-Semitic comments were by no means only in private: one has only to look at a book like “Down and Out in Paris and London” to see that.

                  You would agree with me if the matter did not concern Jews.

                • OraEtLabora

                  Ibsen, you are not addressing the point I made above: that the only way to make any case of anti-Semitism against Orwell is to quote him out of context, and dishonestly substitute words and miss out entire sentences; and also descending to histrionics with deranged comparisons between someone who publicly condemned anti-Semitism and the architect of the Holocaust.

                  Ibsen: ‘Orwell did not: he thought they were Hitler sympathisers.
                  No, he did not. That is a lie. And a rather stupid lie as well, as anyone can simply scroll up to see what Orwell actually wrote; to repeat once again for the ideologically blind, he wrote that he thought they would ‘prefer Hitler’s kind of social system’. Do you see those key words? Not Hitler but his ‘kind of social system’, which is to say, the socialist part of national-socialism (also quoted and linked to above). Do you have difficulties with English comprehension? Is English not your native language?

                  But again, this is just a standard leftist tactic: feigned outrage.

      • Guest

        Why, Indianchap, are you so excited about two of Orwell’s sentences that you feel the need to interpose ‘sic!’? ‘A fearful Jewish woman, a regular comic-paper cartoon of a Jewess’—some people dress as stereotypes, what is the problem? As a Scot, I would not be offended if he had written ‘A fearful Scotsman, a regular comic-paper cartoon of a Jock’—some people are walking caricatures. Live with it. Of course, not being a liberal, I do not spend my life searching for things to be ‘outraged’ by.

        I note that your ellipsis conveniently misses out this sentence: ‘Ditto with almost any Central European, e.g. the refugees.’ That rather diffuses the allegation of anti-Semitism into a more general and (for better or worse) traditional British mistrust of all foreigners. He ends the paragraph with, ‘The fact is that the insular outlook and the continental outlook are completely incompatible.’ You might reasonably accuse Orwell of being a ‘Little Englander’ but you are reaching, if not outright lying, by accusing him of any notable anti-Semitism.

        But people may arrive at their own interpretation; apart from George Orwell—Collected Essays 1940–1943, the entry can be found in The Orwell Diaries (Penguin Modern Classics, p.285–6) and also online:

    • FrankS

      Was Orwell more or less anti Semitic than was general in England at the time? Thew trouble with people from the past is that they rarely conform to the ideal mindset of 2013.

      • Ibsen

        Judging by what I have read of the writers of the period, Orwell was only one anti-Semite among many. But what distinguishes him is the especial and amazing sadism of his anti-Semitism: his writing off the hapless Jews who escaped extermination by Hitler of harbouring sympathy for him……! Not even T S Eliot as far as I know suggested anything quite so perverse.

        Orwell, for all his virtues as a writer, was an exceptionally hard-hearted man, at least where Jews were concerned.

        • Ibsen

          The other point is that precisely because anti-Semitism was so endemic at the time in Britain it is the height of hypocrisy to wax indignant over Ralph Miliband’s critical remarks about Britain.

          • global city

            It is funny however that Ralphy never mentioned it in his ‘critique’ of the ingerlush!

  • Stanislav Romanov

    KGB recover in 1917-1963 age’s in Soviet Union Poland and East Germany to murder 60 000 000 people.Horrible crime genocide.Condemn Hitler a system soviets crime forget.

    • Indianchap

      Since the Soviet archives became available, reputed and in fact anti-Soviet historians like Timothy Snyder have concluded Stalin’s crimes were on a horrific scale but grossly overstated in terms of numbers. The concentration camp victims and executed often included Communists and were about 2-3 million. Timothy Snyder has written about this in the New York Review of Books. Stalin- horrific, unforgivable

      • Stanislav Romanov

        Russia top secret.I have rank marshal NKVD and KGB.To be father KGB an under name Pavlovitsch or Kugler .Create they codes and structure.Even become 2x chairman The event as child the age Chrustshow next Jeltshyn,Putin to be only my duty of.After Krutskov become boss.Give all recover crime registr spy &&&.I have sentence to death as child-4x carry but life next jail’s.My father colonel baron Kugler this invention machine Enigma.Today my issue hide Russia and Poland an offender crime on my as child.To be grandson Nicolai II Tshar of Russia .My mother Anastasia two one’s killing Polish’s 1954 year as witness crime on pilot’s RAF and US Force former prisoner wars III Reich kill by the army polishs in forest Iglice-Labun 1954 year together with my father.

      • global city

        They were not imprisoned BECAUSE they were Communists, merely that they will have been victim of Stalin’s paranoia or sadism.

        The points about Marxism still stand.

        No matter how much Marxists wriggle to try and free their stupid religion out from under the weight of so many Communist regimes, they just can’t. Contiguous in action and thought. You could not have had the latter without the foundational former.

  • Roy

    Still the old bogies of Communism keep creeping out. Barack Obama and his team in America, ‘the home of the free’. The Labour Party in Britain. And the sneaking suspicion the Tories aren’t completely immune, since the surety their partners in government are lost to the cause. What are we to believe? Who are we to trust when old established party leaders go bear hugging round the UN, a communist run organization if ever there was one. The whole world is seemingly impregnated with Marxist propaganda. Yet we don’t make a stand and support the free democratic governments of the world, rather we let them down. Mrs. Thatcher, a mere woman stood up against the communist scoundrels and told them straight. Since those days, leaders have lost their spine and lost their ability to defend the truth. This is the shame of it all.

  • Iain Paton

    The reason is actually pretty boring. Marxism as a theory is employed in the study of history and economics… not the only theory or viewpoint, but an enduring one. This shouldn’t be confused with 20th century totalitarian communism. Miliband Senior was perfectly entitled to his views and shouldn’t be exhumed in publlc to answer for them, which is somewhat distasteful and reminiscent of Senator McCarthy.

  • darwins beard

    The best highlight for this whitewashing and warped sense of history is that at every CND protest, union strike over the type of tea bags in the office, tuition fee moan or anti war get together there will always be one bearded, woolmix expert guardian reader or acne ravaged “edgy” rollie smoking politics student proudly sporting a hammer and sickle and meets none of the derision they deserve unlike someone sporting a swastika would rightly get.

  • MikeF

    Fascism only begins to equal communism as an instrument of mass murder if you regard Nazism as fascism. But arguably Nazism had far more in common with Communism than it did with fascism. Both Nazism and communism shared a belief that they represented an absolute, scientifically demonstrable determinant of how human societies should evolve – in the first case the supposed biologically-determined racial superiority of Aryans over non-Aryans and in the second the formation of social classes through economic activity. Fascism, in contrast, was a cult of authoritarian nationalist violence with no pretence to universal validity. Looked at that way it is no suprise that the four main murderous regimes of the 20th Century – Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China and Pol Pot’s Cambodia – were all ‘socialisms’ of one sort or another. The major ‘fascist’ regime – Mussolini’s Italy – is just not in the same league when it comes to killing people.

  • Fergus Pickering

    There was an old Marxist called Lenin
    Who did several million men in.
    It’s a lot to have done in,
    But where he did one in
    That Grand Marxist Stalin did ten in

    Robert Conquest

  • bluengold

    I just read and would recommend “Iron Curtain – the crushing of Eastern Europe” by Anne Applebaum. Only a complete idiot would fail to see the similarities of Hitlerism and Stalinism. Perhaps a vacation to North Korea would be a healthy reminder of the joys of such a system.

  • The_greyhound

    There are two reasons why apologists for Stalin and Mao get an easy ride.

    First Marxism, unlike Nazism, is a going concern, and there are plenty of Marxists, crypto- as well as avowed, who will excuse, cover up, and make light of fellow travellers and apologists for the criminal records of fellow Marxists. There are doubtless numerous examples in Miliband’s family circle. And fashionable halfwits go along for the ride. Anyone remember the over-promoted and undistinguished TV academic Mary Beard in her Mao badge?

    The other issue is the lack of a visual record. We all know what Belsen and Auschwitz looked like. We have the photographs and newsreel to remind us. There’s no comparable photographic record of the “achievements” of Stalin or Mao. Only in Cambodia do we have a visible monument of genocide. So if the right had any sense they would concentrate on making sure the next generation understands what the heaps of corpses left by Marxists look like.

    • David Ainsworth

      Much like the heaps of corpses left by the West, I’d guess. But obviously far worse. We only kill people for their own good, unlike the blooddrinking Bolsheviks.

      • The_greyhound

        An infantile and dishonest comparison.

        Marxist regimes embraced mass murder as an instrument of policy. Genocide was not merely incidental to the policy goal – the increase of terror, destruction of potential opponents, and sheer murderous mayhem were desirable for their own sake. And Eric Hobsbawm, family friend of the Milibands, was there to excuse it all.

        So whatever the west may or may not have done, their is no comparison with the greatest genocides in history, those conducted by Stalin and Mao.

        • David Ainsworth

          And of course the Great Irish Famine was the fault of the Irish. Not a genocide at all.

          And the Slave Trade was just business in the “great age of empires.”

          “whatever the west may or may not have done” – what did they not do?

          • OraEtLabora

            Unless you are seriously contending that Phytophthora infestans (potato blight) was engineered by the British government, then explain how an act of nature can merit your suggestion of genocide. And while the Irish famine is a marvellous stick with which to beat Britain, Ireland was not the only place so inflicted, and was not even the first (that falling to Belgium): it spread to Scotland ( ) and much of Western Europe ( ), but other countries do not define their existence by it.

            • Ripple

              And — whatever the injustices done to the Irish, and they are not minor, they do not ipso facto condemn our constitution and our very way of life. Which is more than can be said for Communist Russia, Cambodia, China, Cuba, North Vietnam, North Korea, and all the other thuggish worshippers of the Dire God of Equality.

            • tolpuddle1

              The Irish Famine was caused by the doctrinaire free market policies of Lord John Russell’s Whig government.

              • Wessex Man

                oh dear.

              • OraEtLabora

                Detective John Munch: You cannot insult an ethnic group worse than the truth.
                Detective Kay Howard: Lay off the Irish.
                Munch: The Irish. A million people died in the potato famine. Ireland is an island. An island by definition is surrounded by fish. A million people died because they didn’t like fish.
                Homicide: Life on the Street, Season 1, Episode 1, ‘Gone for Goode’

                • tolpuddle1

                  Bears in Alaska can pick fish out of running water; people cannot. Have you yourself ever even tried ?

                  Starving people with no knowledge of fishing cannot catch fish, let alone eat them. Very few of these people lived near the sea and (apart from a few tiny, local fishing boats) there was no fishing industry. And if there had been, it wouldn’t have sold its catch to a bunch of penniless, starving “losers.”

                  Your assumed name, OraEtLabora, Pray and Work, suggests that you are one more right-wing “Christian” (sorry about the contradiction in terms!) one who always blames the victim and is ever eager to pass merciless judgement upon the poor and to blame them for their misfortunes. As for the weak, you noisily brand them as lazy or feckless “losers”, undeserving of help.

                  Let’s hope you yourself never encounter weakness or misfortune (though in time you will). Let’s hope profoundly, also, that when you meet the Almighty, He won’t give you a dose of your own medicine.

                • OraEtLabora

                  Take it up with the scriptwriter of that episode of Homicide; I just thought it a quick and funny reply. You have a problem with the joke? Write to Hollywood for a T.S. slip. There are essays, theses and entire books written about the complexity, not just of the Irish Famine, but of Anglo–Irish history in general; and it is infinitely more complicated than allowed by your attitude of blaming everything on Britain and/or the rich.

                  tollpuddle1: ‘ As for the weak, you noisily brand them as lazy or feckless “losers”, undeserving of help.
                  Find me one quote where I have written that; failing that, I will be obliged to assume that you are a liar.

                • tolpuddle1

                  I was gunning, not at a person, but at an attitude – prevalent in USA and dispersed over her, like a poisonous cloud, via films etc – of blaming the poor and unfortunate for their problems rather than lifting a finger to help them. This is part of the turbo-capitalist worldview, in which the Rich are lauded to the skies, regarded as demi-gods and their words (e.g. those of Trump and Sugar) listened to like
                  Divine utterances, whilst the Poor are ignored, carped at, humiliated (e.g. in USA camps for the homeless that resemble prison-camps rather than sites of charity) or condemned – worst of all, the poor are given brutally patronising (but impracticable) advice.

                  All this invites Nemesis upon the West – and will in time assure it.

                  If my remarks don’t apply to you personally, my apologies – though since you find a quip about the Irish Famine (1 million+ deaths) amusing, you may have been corrupted by the fashionable gallows-humour (at others’ expense) popular among the pampered populations of today’s West.

                  With regard to the Irish Famine, it WAS of course the fault of Britain and (in a pre-democratic age) of the rich in Britain. The bitter anti-British feeling carried to America by the Irish emigrants, came close to defeating Britain in each World War.

                • OraEtLabora

                  Thank you for your considered reply.

                  Regarding gallows humour; I believe you have it backward, as it tends to be those at the sharp end who use it the most, as a coping mechanism ( ). Being outraged by gallows or black humour tends to be the prerogative of those furthest from danger and life’s horrors; and likely often feigned to malign an opponent, e.g. observe the endless ‘outrage’ that liberals display when soldiers’ black humour leaks out (whilst ignoring soldiers’ kindnesses: )

                  As noted, the potato blight was not isolated to Ireland but affected Scotland, and most of Western Europe, from Sweden to Spain; but only certain Irish seem to define their existence by it.

                  tp1: ‘it WAS of course the fault of Britain and (in a pre-democratic age) of the rich in Britain
                  Phytophthora infestans was not manufactured by HMG. It made its first European appearance in Belgium, but was actually first recorded in 1843 in the north-eastern US.

                  No appearance of Phytophthora infestans, no famine.

                  Legislation for relief of the poor goes back as far as the 14th Century ( , ). However, the evolving poor relief legislation was not designed to deal with the catastrophe caused by Phytophthora infestans. Public relief was implemented but was inadequate and its delivery poorly administered.
                  The Irish famine relief effort was constrained less by poverty than by ideology and public opinion. Too much was expected of the Irish themselves, including Irish landlords. … Too much time was lost on public works as the main vehicle of relief. By the time food was reaching the starving through the soup kitchens, they were already vulnerable to infectious diseases, against which the medical science of the day was virtually helpless. … Most important, public spending on relief went nowhere near the cost of plugging the gap left by the failure of the potato.
                  Ó Gráda, Cormac. Black ’47 and Beyond: The Great Irish Famine in history, economy, and memory. Princeton, 2000. 82–3

                  It was a tragedy, but did not derive from any malicious intention of the British government (in stark contrast to the Holodomor, the deliberate famine engineered by Stalin: , , ).

                • OraEtLabora

                  Regarding the issue of fishing, again, not a simple issue:
                  The Society of Friends was asked by the Government to help the Claddagh fishermen, but their representative, William Todhunter, found them exasperating. They are, he wrote, “next to incorrigible … They will only go out at certain days and times and if other boats go out the crews would be beaten and the nets destroyed”. Some days before he arrived the Claddagh men went out and caught a large catch of fine herrings; they then refused to go out again for several nights, nor would they allow anyone else to go out. … Their carelessness was maddening. It was “really awful”, he wrote, “to observe the waste of their property from want of attention and care … one sixth the number of boats properly equipped and manned would take a greater amount of fish … Nothing could be more vexatious than to see many boats ruined merely from the circumstances of allowing the large stones to drop from the quays and the boats to rest on them as the tide ebbed.”
                  When the potato failed, fishermen all over Ireland pawned or sold their gear to buy meal. At the Claddagh on January 9, 1847, “all the boats were drawn up to the quay wall, stripped to the bare poles, not a sign of tackle or sail remaining … not a fish was to be had in the town, nor a boat at sea”. On Achill James Hack Tuke wrote that the waters could not be fished because nets and tackle had been pawned or sold, “to buy a little meal” …

                  Woodham-Smith, Cecil. The Great Hunger: Ireland 1845–1849. Penguin, 1991. 291.

              • Fergus Pickering

                No it was not.It was caused by the potato blight. You know nothing and you want to know nothing.

                • tolpuddle1

                  Your vast ignorance shines through, Mr Pickering !

                  Sir Robert Peel held the famine in check by distributing maize to the hungry; these distributions ceased when he fell from power.

                  Much of Ireland was unaffected by the potato blight. In Eastern Ireland, there were huge grain surpluses; on solid free enterprise grounds, these were sold (at a good price) to Britain and elsewhere abroad, instead of being given to the poor and starving elsewhere in Ireland.

                  It’s called Capitalism. Popular in Britain and popular also in a very gloomy section of the next world.

          • Dogzzz

            And as the politically correct infested guilt is slipping and allowing various truths of the slave trade to be honestly communicated, it is now apparent that actually, trading in slaves (of all races) was prevelent throughout Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Whole black tribes were enslaved by other black tribes and then sold overseas to slave traders engaged in what was considered a noble trade at the time, until Western values changed and British and Americans sought to end slavery. Slavery was not a white supremacy over black inferiority issue at the time either. There where more white slaves in North America than black. Many of those where Irish. If you are looking at the value of a human as a slave, then the black slave was much more valuable than the white and was considered superior. The Black slave cost $20 dollars whereas a white slave cost just $6.

            Slavery is still encouraged to this day in some Islamic sects and there are still rules for slavery in force within a particular version of Islam in some Asian countries.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Oh don’t be silly. The famine wasn’t caused by the British Government. You might study the career of Sir Robert Peel, while you are about it.

    • GarethSoye

      If Marxism was somehow done away with tomorrow the biggest problem we would have is what to do with the thousands of academics who are left roaming the streets seeking for some other nonsense to witter on about.

    • C. Gee

      Take a peek at North Korea.

  • mightymark

    “But I strongly doubt whether, were Max Mosley currently running a political party and regularly citing his father as inspiration, that fact would wholly silence the fascist leaders’ critics.”

    I suppose it would depend on which of his chameleon father’s many “politics” he was referring to – Tory, Labour or Fasicst!

  • David Lindsay

    We never fought a war against the Soviet Union. On the contrary, there are still streets in Britain named after Stalin.

    That raises the very serious question of why we ever involved ourselves in the dispute between Hitler and Stalin for control of Eastern Europe, which ended with Churchill’s handing over to Stalin of that great tract of territory and of its inhabitants; they have not forgotten Churchill there, just as he has not been forgotten in the old mining areas of Britain.

    But we did. Whereas Hitler was our enemy, Stalin was our ally. Those are just the facts. Make of them what you will.

    • Wessex Man

      You obnoxious piece of work, you know as do the majority of the people on this site that the UK was worn out and ruined by the war and that the evil empires, USSR and USA decided over Chruchill’s head how to divide up the world!

      • David Lindsay

        That is not how they remember in the places that he handed over to Stalin.

    • tolpuddle1

      We had no choice.

      • David Lindsay

        We could have stayed out.

  • Hellosnackbar

    A school teacher of mine once announced that communism and Catholicism were of very similar nature; except of course the atheist aspect.
    Totalitarian dogma and lack of free speech is a tendency amongst even modern leftists!
    It’s all excused to maintain what the dogmatists refer to as solidarity.

    • David Ainsworth

      Yes, but at least lefties know when they are engaging in doublethink! The poor old Daily Mail reading Tories actually believe the crap that they spout!

      • C. Gee

        That is a perfect example of superior leftist moral nihilism, disguised in cynicism, wrapped in facetiousness. A gooey nugatory nugget.

      • Dogzzz

        So you admit the left are liars and they know that they are liars, but at least they lie in a noble cause? Whereas the Daily Mail readers are somehow, innocently mistaken?

        That makes the Daily Mail readers more ethical than the lefties who need to resort to lies to make their case, does it not?

        Thank you for admitting that the left are lying scum, and the right are morally superior.

  • David Ainsworth

    And speaking of the French, their colonial war in Algeria cost a lot of lives, although estimates do vary by large amounts. I take it that the Algerians, being Muslims, and/or often lefties at that time, are to blame for all the deaths?

    • Wessex Man

      I wouldn’t be surprised to see you start a fight in an empty room, someone shut the door please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Amagg

      Given that we have started down this road, I wonder whether the Berbers really appreciated the Arab conquest when it occurred. No, of course not, the Algerians are not to blame for all the deaths, though some of the FLN’s tactics were brutal. And remember that France did pull out (despite the attempt to assassinate De Gaulle over the decision) and that since then the country has been a mess. The FLN has proven as venal as anything else and the country underwent a civil war in the early Nineties for which, in fact, those Muslims you refer to, are in fact responsible.

  • David Ainsworth

    Do the communists of Vietnam get the blame for all the deaths in the Wars in Indochina? Do the French and the US get off with no blame?

    • Dean Jackson

      Don’t forget the Chinese. Over 50% of NVA regiments were composed entirely of Chinese troops during the American ground war in Vietnam. Those PLA were attired in NVA uniforms. Now you know why the war was lost, but it doesn’t answer why both American political parties cooperated with Moscow/Beijing’s plan to weaken the United States in the eyes of the world.
      The answer to that question is Western political parties were co-opted by Moscow & allies long before the fraudulent collapse of the USSR in 1991, which is why the West refused to verify that collapse, and why the West will also fail to verify the upcoming fraudulent collapse of the Chinese Communist government.

      • David Ainsworth

        What’s an “upcoming fraudulent collapse”?

        • Dean Jackson

          “Since at least the early 1970s, the Communist party of China has been poised to create a spectacular but controlled “democratization” at any appropriate time. The party had by then spent two decades consolidating its power, building a network of informants and agents that permeate every aspect of Chinese life, both in the cities and in the countryside. Government control is now so complete that it will not be seriously disturbed by free speech and democratic elections; power can now be exerted through the all-pervasive but largely invisible infrastructure of control. A transition to an apparently new system, using dialectical tactics, is now starting to occur.” — Playing the China Card (The New American, Jan. 1, 1991).

  • David Ainsworth

    Any statisticians with detailed guesses at the numbers of dead killed by British Imperialism? Or was it all the other sides’ fault for resisting? Our Evil legacy.

    • Ranty O’Shea

      Any statisticians with detailed guesses at the numbers of lives saved and extended by the introduction of modern medicine to undeveloped countries as a result of British Imperialism?

      For example, quarantine theory.

      • David Ainsworth

        Any statisticians with detailed guesses at the numbers of lives saved
        and extended by the introduction of communism to China?

        What is their population now? How much has it increased? How’s their economy doing? Doubtless all despite communism.

        • OraEtLabora

          David Ainsworth: ‘Any statisticians with detailed guesses at the numbers of lives saved and extended by the introduction of communism to China?
          ‘Although the estimates are quite speculative, it is clear that there were between 6 million and 10 million deaths as a direct result of the Communist actions, including hundreds of thousands of Tibetans. In addition, tens of millions of “counterrevolutionaries” passed long periods of their lives inside the prison systems, with perhaps 20 million dying there. To that total should be added the staggering number of deaths during the ill-named Great Leap Forward—estimates range from 20 million to 43 million dead for the years 1959–1961—all victims of a famine caused by the misguided projects of a single man, Mao Zedong, and his criminal obstinacy in refusing to admit his mistake and to allow measures to be taken to rectify the disastrous effects.’

          Margolin, Jean-Louis. ‘China: A Long March into Night.’ The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression. Stéphanie Courtois, et al. Harvard, 2004. Chapter 21, p.463–4.

          ‘There are no official estimates of the total number of people killed in all of China during the “cleanse the class ranks” movement, but information extracted from more than 1,500 county gazetteers published after the Cultural Revolution has been used in one very authoritative sociological analysis of the movement in rural China. This study estimates that around 36 million people were persecuted. “This is a staggering number,” the study acknowledges, “but it is arrived at through fairly conservative assumptions about the completeness and accuracy of the sources … our best estimate for the numbers killed is between 750,000 and 1.5 million, with roughly equal numbers permanently injured.” The toll in the cities, where close to 18 percent of the population of China lived at the time, has not yet been reported. But once the numbers are in, it, too, will undoubtedly be staggering.’

          MacFarquhar, Roderick & Schoenhals, Michael. Mao’s Last Revolution. Harvard, 2008. Chapter 15, p. 261–2; citing Walder, Andrew G. and Su, Yang. ‘Cultural Revolution in the Countryside’, p.95–6 . The China Quarterly. Vol.173. March 2003.

          Further statistics here:

          • David Ainsworth

            Of course, doubtless all the communists’s fault and we can always trust Western statisticians to be objective, not propagandists, although as you show the figures vary greatly and are estimates, aren’t they? And how much has the population of China increased since 1960? About 600 milion increase? And were there not great famines before the communist period, and indeed other great slaughters? And were not the Japanese involved in slaughter in China? And indeed, were the Chinese Nationalists not involved in the Chinese Civil War? But of course all the deaths are the fault of the Communists and specifically Ralph Miliband.

            • OraEtLabora

              David Ainsworth: ‘Of course, doubtless all the communists’s fault
              They were the ones in charge, the ones who gave the orders, the ones who carried out the orders, so, yes.

              David Ainsworth: ‘although as you show the figures vary greatly and are estimates, aren’t they?
              So, accept the lower estimate of 6 million dead Chinese as a direct result of communist actions—6 million dead Chinese is a success story in your eyes, is it? But there’s also the lower estimate of 20 million dead resulting from Mao’s famine—so your definition of a successful communist state is 26 million unnecessary deaths?

              David Ainsworth: ‘And how much has the population of China increased since 1960?
              And how much has the Jewish population increased since the Holocaust?

              David Ainsworth: ‘And were there not great famines before the communist period, and indeed other great slaughters?
              So your argument is essentially if A slaughters B then, hey, let the entire alphabet slaughter each other—it’s all good! The classic Tu Quoque fallacy.

      • David Ainsworth

        Any statisticians with detailed guesses at the numbers of lives saved
        and extended by the introduction of the slave trade to undeveloped
        countries as a result of Western Imperialism (not forgetting Islamic Imperialism)?

        For example, look at the massive growing population of Africa, and look at the large and often prosperous Afro-American population in the US.

      • David Ainsworth

        Is Quarantine Theory this?

        “Zong, a British slave ship infamous for the 1781 massacre of 132 sick and dying slaves who were thrown overboard in an attempt to guarantee that the ship’s owners could collect on their cargo insurance.”

        Strong stuff this insurance.

        And I just noticed this:-
        “The owners of the Zong made a claim to their insurers for the loss of the slaves. When the insurers refused to pay, the resulting court cases held that in some circumstances the deliberate killing of slaves was legal, and that insurers could be required to pay for the slaves’ deaths.”

        So not just slaving capitalists, but also insurers and the British legal system. And the ship was from a Liverpool company. Root and branch, ain’t it?

        • Ranty O’Shea

          David. You appear to be coming to this topic for the first time. I hope you enjoy the coming few hours of discovery. However, there’s no need to cut and paste every well-documented atrocity committed during the Age of Empires. My point is simply that the legacy of empire is not as straightforward as your original asinine statement suggested.

          Now off you go and Google the Amritsar massacre (incidentally, the act of one man – not an empire – roundly condemned by the British establishment).

          • David Ainsworth

            I think that Dyer was working for the British, wasn’t he? Not a private company.

            However of course socalism is monolithic and easy to sum up and dismiss.

            I suppose that you think that the casualties of the Allied Intervention in the Soviet Union can all be blamed on communism?

            And the death of millions in the wartime Bengal Famine was nothing to with Britain?

        • Druth

          Nobody on this blog believes that slavery was anything other than iniquitous. What we are asking you, and from which you constantly deflect with irrelevant arguments, is to recognise that communism was also evil and should similarly be consigned to the dust bin of history.

  • D.a. Hoffman

    that is such a sophistic argument. Basically you are saying: Stalin = Marxist, Ralph = Marxist. -> Ralph agrees with Stalin. // It is possible to have several opinions within an ideology, take Christianity for example, are you going to tell us that moderate Christians automatically agree with what the inquisition did? The main difference between Stalin’s idea of Marxism and Ralph’s is surely the fact that Ralph did not advocate putting political opponents in prison. – Plus you forget another aspect of history. Stalin’s Russia was on the allies side from 1941 and it’s only in 1947 that relations between ‘the west’ and the ‘east’ deteriorated into the Cold War. And anyway, the Labour party’s Marxist roots because before Marx and left-wing there was no political party aiming at representing the interests of workers and employees.

    • Weaver

      It seems Ralph certainly did not believe in a “Parliamentary road to socialism”. That implies acceptance of some degree of extra-constitutional violence, if it brought in the new era. He was typically vague about how much violence he would accept as morally legitimate in such a noble cause….

      Given his complete silence over the gross injury Communist States did to their own people, why should anyone believe that he would oppose simlar violence (including the imprisionment of opponents) if Communists ran the UK? I suggest we can’t seriously believe he would support freedom of speech for his opponents in the UK if he didn’t support it in Russia, Vietnam etc.

      Imprision his opponents? Hmmm. Maybe he wouldn’t give the order himself; his Guardianista type tend to squirm and look away when there’s uncomfortable blood-letting. Not for them the pistol pressed against the beating temple; cowards even to their own ideals. “Sad but necessary, in these turbulent times” they mutter, sotto voce, “best not to criticise lest it give comfort to reactionary elements, can’t make a dialectical omelette without breaking a few eggs…” .

      You know he’d turn a blind eye when the Special State Police came to your door. Entrusting the likes of him to defend your freedom would be most unwise.

      • D.a. Hoffman

        “The simple fact of the matter is that capitalist democracy, for all its
        crippling limitations, has been immeasurably less oppressive and a lot
        more democratic than any communist regime, whatever the latter’s
        achievements in economic, social and other fields.” – this is a quote from his book published in 1977. I’m sure that I’ll find other similar quotes in his work and I’m 100% sure that he was critical of oppression against people,

        • Weaver

          That quote is interesting, but not quite convincing. He doesn’t actually condemn the oppression, for example. See my concerns above about “regretful violence…”

          I’ll retract if you can show me he consistently attacked Eastern Bloc countries for their repression of human rights and violence to political dissidents. Specific examples would be appreciated.

          If not, I stand by the critique.

          • D.a. Hoffman

            He was ultimately a good British citizen, who could not identify with any political party. The fact that he kept on writing about the subject matter and thinking about it shows me that he was interested in debate. You will find that dangerous people at one point stop talking/writing and do dangerous things. Ralph showed that as long as you talk to each other, there is democracy. As a professor keeping the debate alive and encouraging political thought, he did a good job.

            • Weaver

              Thank you for the reply, your earlier point was interesting and prompted me to do some more reading.

              I don’t want to be confrontational, but you don’t seem to answer the challenge. Where is his moral outrage at the millions dead by Commumism? Where is his moral condemnation of repression? To put it bluntly, it is weak to non-existent.

              I’ve spent a bit of time reading about Ralph now, including some typically turgid Marxist theorising. I’ll hold to the critique above. He almost completely ignores the horrors of commumism. Tens of millions dead were mere “oppression”. Stalinism / The Eastern bloc make “mistakes”, but are broadly progressive or at least represent something desirable in human affairs….regretful but necessary or at least understandable…the left may be foolish can do no real wrong…..It’s appalling. Not since Kaiser Wilhelm had a single entry on “Belgium” in his memoirs have I seen such wilful blindness. His views were vile and constitute a gross moral failure, which he doesn’t apologise for even after 1968, let alone 1989 (“Its all a mistake – they weren’t real communists!”)

              I’ll reserve judgement on what makes a good citizen. Is it enough to keep the law and pay your taxes? Ralph Miliband liked to debate when he’s a tenured academic in a cushy social democracy? Sure. Would he extend the same courtesy to you if he wielded absolute power? Unsure. Very, very unsure.

              • D.a. Hoffman

                thank you it was enlightening to exchange opinions with you. Let’s agree that we need to think further about all these themes. 20th C History has been a series of traumas for the people in different countries. For example a very tragic figure was Alexander Dubcek. I’m old enough to remember Brejnev who wasn’t a pleasant man, but Gorbatchev. realised that human rights and cooperation with other countries was beneficial. – thank you .

                • Wessex Man

                  caught out and then thanking Weaver for an enlightening exchange, never mind the millons of dead in Russia, Eastern Europe, the Far East and China, “Brejnev wasn’t a pleasant man.” I’m sure that’s a source of tremedous comfort to any family of the dead who died for a cause embraced by Ralph Miliband and judging by your comments you!

              • David Ainsworth

                Where is your “moral outrage” at the millions killed by British Imperialism?


                “Every empire, however, tells itself and the world that it is unlike all
                other empires, that its mission is not to plunder and control but to
                educate and liberate.” (Edward Said)

                • The_greyhound

                  It’s difficult to feel moral outrage at events which never happened, invented for effect by dishonest people who want to make an entirely spurious comparison between the United Kingdom and Stalin’s Russia.

                  if you don’t know anything about history, you shouldn’t simply make it up in order to justify your preposterous untruths.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  Oh well if Edward Said said it then it must be true.

                • Amagg

                  I wonder where his moral outrage at the Arab and Ottoman conquests was. But I guess those never happened because the “Orient” could never be the aggressor and was always the victim. (Kind of ironic because he accused the Orientalists of portraying the people of the East as lacking agency.) Of course, all Empires abuse their power, but there are differences. Despite Amritsar and everything else, being colonized by the British was a better proposition than being colonized by the Spanish or Portuguese. Compare Hong Kong, the US, Australia, Canada, and Singapore to Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and Chile inter alia, and there is a difference. To insinuate any sort of equivalence between Stalinism and the British Empire is preposterous. The crimes should be admitted but they do not amount to millions. (And please don’t take the Late Victorian Holocausts approach of blaming the Empire for natural occurrences.)

            • Janice Redmayne

              Ralph Miliband condemned Stalin, but do you ever happen to know if he ever condemned the murderous violence and tyranny of Lenin and Trostky in the pre-Stalin era? If I believed in democratic socialism but not mass murder, I think I might make a point of condemning Lenin and Trostky.

            • Fergus Pickering

              Glad you think so. I think he was an asshole.

    • ChrisTavareIsMyIdol

      Your knowledge of history is very shaky indeed. Friendly relations between Stalin and the west virtually ended after Yalta in 1945. It was clear soon afterwards that Stalin had no intention of creating a democratic Poland.

      Indeed there were discussions (and plans drawn up) between the Americans and Churchill on continuing the war and invading Russia in 1945.

      • David Ainsworth

        How democratic was pre-war Poland? Any ideas why a Jewish person would not wish to return there after the war?

        My father (ex-British Army) also said that we should have carried on at the end of the war and fought the Soviet Union. I pointed out that he would probably have died by the time we reached Warsaw, and therefore I would not exist. Selfish of me, I know.

        • andagain

          You know, people like you are the main reason the Left in this country can tarred by association with Mao, Stalin, and the murder of scores of millions.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Stalin was on Hitler’s side originally, or have I got that one wrong? Are you sure Ralph Miliband did not advocate putting opponents in prison?

      • D.a. Hoffman

        pretty sure because otherwise he would have made sure that his ideological opponents did go to prison. A totalitarian does not have time to debate with opponents.

      • D.a. Hoffman

        I also suggest you do some further readings on the subject. The 20th C is full of tactical friendships against a common enemy. Hitler and Stalin had some expansion plans in Europe and formed an alliance to split up Poland. The area around Lviv is rich in natural resources and Galicia had been a coveted prize for a long time. Hitler also banked on the Ukrainian resistance (the 1932 famine is one of Stalin’s biggest crimes yet was hardly reported in the Western media). when he declared war on the USSR in 1941. This was a fatal mistake for the Nazis and their allies because they suffered heavy losses on the Eastern Front, and when the USA entered the war due to a tactical error by the Japanese, then the situation became hopeless for the Axis. Stalin was clever enough not to antagonise Roosevelt, de Gaulle and Churchill during the war and reached some kind of status-quo in 1947. History since that time has been more about alliances, tactics, retaliation, greed rather than pure ideology.- whereas Ralph, he kept on trying to make sense of Marxism as an ideology.

  • chan chan

    After the DM apologises, I look forward to the leftist press’ apologies to Mark and Carol Thatcher for what they wrote about their mother when she died…

  • StoryHugh

    The lines for Marxism are blurred, because Marx himself was a harmless old duffer who wrote about economics and history. You can see why the academic types identify with him. He saw history as a series of revolutions. He put his name to a communist manifesto telling workers of the world to unite. But he personally never killed anyone. Millions of people were murdered in his name, but that is not entirely his fault , and if it is his fault at all, it is an unforeseen consequence of his writing. But yes, Apologists for the Soviet Union and all its Red Terror should hang their heads in shame.

    • Weaver

      I’m a little less charitable to Marx. His writings are full of appeals to violence. Of course he would argue this violence as morally justified in view of the “oppression” it sought to overcome, but he evinces rather too much relish in the thought on too many occasions.

      I’m really not at all convinced that, even if had lived to see the full horror of communism, that he would have renounced it.

    • Ripple

      Irresponsible (as was, arguably, Nietzsche). Not harmless, and certainly not as history, by his playbook, played out.

      • StoryHugh

        Ok, so I probably ought to say that I have lived in Russia, including the final period of the Soviet Union, I speak Russian, and have seen close up that the damage done by the Stalin era still lingers on in the people’s psychology, broken families, and broken society. Nobody is more revolted than I am by Leninism, Bolshevikism, Stalinism. Lenin was a primarily interested in the science of power, and the lever he used was terror, as well as vetting of personal hatreds of whole classes such as the peasants. He was willing to use starvation was a weapon. He despised weakness. and suppressed fellow socialists such as the SRs…. but this did not necessarily flow out of Marx. Marx and his chum Engels saw real social deprivation and injustice, which Engels documented. In his academic way, Marx lived in North London and advocated revolution which he saw as natural justice and an inevitable process. He was not personally a mass murderer anymore than the editor of the Guardian is, even though he might live in North London and indulge in left wing fantasies and paranoias too. Just as soft headed people say, “Lenin was a deep thinker who only wanted equality for the workers”… how wrong they are… it seems unfair to conflate Lenin’s crimes in office with Marx’s thoughts and writings.

        • Ripple

          Thanks for your story.

          No, he was not personally a mass murderer and that is why he has no reputation as one. But people rightly believe that thinkers and founders can take a great deal of credit for a good society — or else have a lot to answer for.

      • Fergus Pickering

        Nietzsche was off his head. Marx had no such excuse.

    • C. Gee

      In his personal life, not a harmless old duffer. A cruel hypocrite. In his writing, pernicious. Marx’s teleological claptrap was the ideological foundation of a new imperial religion, like Islam a blueprint for expansion and control. Mass murder and enslavement – the Gulag – is its logical outcome. North Korea is its realization. All atrocities are justified if history, Marx’s God, demands it. Promulgators and believers in bad ideas share some responsibility for what is done in the name of those ideas.

  • Stephen Milroy

    The sins of the fathers Douglas. The Sins of the Fathers…

  • Daniel Maris

    R Miliband seems to have been one of those characters who like to have his cake and eat it, regurgigate it and put it back in the cake box.

    He managed to distance himself from the consquences of Marx, from the Soviet Union, whilst remaining a committed Marxist – one who even makes declarations before Marx’s grave. He was not a Stalinist, not even Troskyist. Yet he managed to maintain a pose as a critic of reformist parliamentarian socialism (until possibly very late in the day). When he looked abroad he sided wholeheartedly with the Stalinist regime of North Vietnam while indulging in moralising anti-war rhetoric. Whilst attaching himself to the far left he remained a Zionist sympathiser to the end of his days, defending the right of Israel to exist while the far left became committed to wiping Israel from the map.

    • JoeDM

      Your typical 60s & 70s leftwing extremist that could see nothing wrong with the Red Army Faction or Baader Meinhof.

      • Andy

        Or November 17th, who murdered one of my friends. Scum, scum, scum.

    • mightymark

      “Whilst attaching himself to the far left he remained a Zionist sympathiser to the end of his days, defending the right of Israel to exist while the far left became committed to wiping Israel from the map.”

      Well there you are – he can’t have been all bad then! His wife – Ed’s mum – I believe, is virulantly anti Israel, and for Israel’s supporters perhaps a more worrying influence, given that she is still alive, than his Dad – who isn’t.

      On “Parliamentary Socialism” Ralph Miliband’s book of that title actually pours a fair bit of cold water on the idea that Socialism can be achieved via Parliament. Given that both his sons have clearly rejected that I rather think this is better guide to Ed’s position vis a vis his father’s views than anything the Mail have dredged up.

  • Bert3000

    It’s really shocking that the comments on here appear mainly to be from people who think being on Hitler’s side was OK

    • HJ777

      Could you tell me which comments here display any signs that the contributor thinks that being on Hitler’s side was OK?

      I have read them all but still must have missed them somehow.

    • Hexhamgeezer

      You aren’t shocked. Go to bed.

    • Weaver


      People here think both Fascism and Communism are horrible and deserve equal condemnation and that their adherents are morally reprehensible.

      Its a false dichotomy to choose between them.

      • Englander10

        The difference between Fascism and Communism….. Which would you prefer to be run over by … a train or a bus? …….. both terrible along with the new threat of militant Sunni Islam

        • chan chan

          New? Sunni islam bests them both by 1300 years. Now there is a Reich that really has lasted 1000 years.

    • Englander10

      The difference between Fascism and Communism…… Which would you prefer to be run over by … a train or a bus? …….. both terrible along with the new threat of militant Sunni Islam.

      • Dogzzz

        The difference between Fascism and Communism? You pay for the boot that is in your face with both, but with communism, that boot has a national flag on it, with Fascism, it has a corporate logo.

    • andagain

      It’s really shocking that the comments on here appear mainly to be from people who think being on Hitler’s side was OK

      Communists, you mean? As I have already pointed out, they were his allies when he was overrunning europe.

    • Ripple

      Eh? It’s all about Freedom v. Tyranny. You’re on the side of freedom, I trust?

  • Baron

    The one point Miliband Snr never failed to stress – his son seems to have inherited this certainty – is that even though every mutation of the Marx inspired idea so far has failed, in no way does this suggest Marx got it wrong, and there exists a version that works.

    This neatly confirms Einstein’s definition of insanity, and Russell Taylor tells you why better than anyone else.

    • Ripple

      And in the case of Leftism/communism/socialism, it is not a failed but honourable experiment — but on the contrary, a deeply murderous, deeply vicious, despicable and disgusting extinguishing of all that is good in human life.

      Those that do not believe me should review the history of the planet in the 20th century, and read (if you can find the stomach) The Black Book Of Communism. This is the Miliband inheritance. He should reject the false god of Communism with every fibre in his being, but he does not. You decide where the shame lies.

      • tolpuddle1

        How many has Attlee socialism murdered ? Has Ed embraced Communism ?

        • Fergus Pickering

          Well it certainly killed a good few in the winter of 1947 through sheer bloody incompetence.

          • tolpuddle1

            Oh, the Tories would have done better, would they ?

            Admittedly they were Churchill’s Tories – today’s Tories are “free enterprise” gimps and would have done nothing.

    • greggf

      Very true Baron. And by contrast it may be argued that fascism has never failed except by its own excesses.
      There have been moderate fascist regimes that have morphed into democracies (Portugal, Greece, Argentina, South Korea), and Burma aka Myanmar seems likely to be the next one.

      Whereas Marxists and Soviet apologists are regarded as harmless jokers because they are failures……

      • tolpuddle1

        Under Gorbachev, Communism morphed into democracy. Communism wasn’t overthrown.

        • Wessex Man

          So Yeltsin sticking dlowers in the guns of Tanks was all in our minds then?

          • tolpuddle1

            Yeltsin became very brave in 1991 – once it was apparent that the Communist coup was wholly feeble and a failure.

            The coup leaders weren’t prepared to shed blood – if they had been, do you honestly imagine that Boris Y would have been so “heroic” ?

        • greggf

          Well possibly tol, although I’m not sure Gorbachev’s USSR was communist in the old sense (cf: this article) of the “Soviet”.
          It’s debatable but perhaps it was more a statist regime than leftist – the communist party suffered terminal setbacks under Yeltsin.
          Intriguingly what is China now?

          • tolpuddle1

            If only it had been nobody but the Communist Party that suffered terminal setbacks under that drunken and criminal buffoon Boris Yeltsin !

            Almost everyone in Russia, except gangsters and oligarchs, suffered near-terminal setbacks. Russia itself did.

          • Elise Reich

            China is a National Socialist country, which is better than Communism, but a damn sight worse than Fascism or laissez-faire. Compared to Dumbocracy, it’s about a break-even short term, worse long term.

  • Kearney Zzyzwicz

    Because Hitlerism differs from Fascism and Stalinism differs from Marxism DUH!

    Stalinism isn’t considered harmless by anybody; he perverted the Marxist creed. Hitler took Mussolini’s Fascist ideology in a different direction too. Consider yourself taught.

    • Russell Taylor

      Actually, plenty of people supported Stalinism in spite of its atrocities. One of the most wretched aspects of leftism is that its advocates dismiss every failed experiment as proof of a revolution betrayed, rather than the inevitable consequence of Marxist ideology.

    • Weaver


      “No true Scotsman” fallacy.

      When every failed horrible example of countries apparently and vocally attempting to implement Marxism (and there have been dozens) is proclaimed to be “Not really Marxist”, then you are moving the goalposts, as they say. In fact, your theory isn’t even falsifiable!

      Your critics are entitled to ask what evidence would you ever accept that Marxism itself is intrinsically flawed…?

    • ChrisTavareIsMyIdol

      Ah, “pure Marxism has never been tried”. Like “pure” Islam has never been tried? Or “pure” Christianity? Or “pure” anything?

      Fact is old chum Marxism is a fallacy, which is why it has “never been tried”. The least worst real-world system is capitalism with controls. The facts bear that out.

  • Bert3000

    At the least the Soviets were on our side. Whether you like it or not, having supported the nazis and being unapologetic about it is a big deal

    • J Simson

      “Our side” you must be joking. Have you forgotten the cold war?

      Whose side are you on?

      • Englander10

        Certainly not the UK’s

      • Andy

        Best not mention Molotov and Ribbentrop.
        Best not mention the Soviet/Finland war.
        Best not mention the Soviet invasion of Poland.
        Best not mention the Soviet massacre of Polish Officers.
        Best not mention quite a lot really.

    • Hexhamgeezer

      They were not on our side they were on their side. The fact that our aims ran parallel for a few short years did not make them on our side.

    • David McNeilage

      Being the enemy of our enemy did not make them our friend.

    • JohnCK

      It is incredible that there can be such ignorance of readers of the Speccie. What changed Stalin’s mind to join the allies? Duh…. because Hitler was an idiotic strategist and opened up the Eastern Front. Otherwise, Stalin, having invaded Finland would have remained at the very best neutral. Don’t you know anything about how Finland changed from our ‘friend’ invaded by a bestial neighbour to ‘enemy’ rightly occupied by that nice Mr Stalin.

    • ChrisTavareIsMyIdol

      They wanted our help when the Panzers were rolling towards Moscow. And without that help they would have been defeated

      • David Ainsworth

        And without their millions of dead, we should have had millions of dead. If we had fought on. Communists died for you and me.

        • Fergus Pickering

          No they did not die for you and me.

    • andagain

      At the least the Soviets were on our side. Whether you like it or not, having supported the nazis and being unapologetic about it is a big deal

      The Soviets DID support the Nazis, as a matter of fact. It was during the Nazi-Soviet Pact (1938-1941) that the Soviets invaded and occupied the whole of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, most of Poland (by area) and parts of Finland and Romania. They also supplied the Germans with oil, strategic metals etc.

      They also allied with the Germans against Britain and France in the 1920s. And they were enemies of Britain, America and France in the late 1940s, as well as the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

      And if you want to condemn the Mail for sympathy towards Hitler in the 1930s, before the War and the Holocaust, perhaps you ought to condemn the Labour Party for opposing rearmament at that time.

      And perhaps you ought to condemn those left-wingers who supported Stalin and Mao at the time of their greatest massacres.

      • john p reid

        True but the same could be said of America,admiring thhe Nazis38-39 and several key figures would have wanted the US to back the nazis in 41 onwards too,

        We were enemies with the USSR during the Cold War,and the amazing thing is four different people who stood for Labour leader Foot Benn, Livingstone and Abbot said chairman Mao did more good than half the first two saying that Stalin did more good then harm

        • andagain

          the same could be said of America,admiring thhe Nazis38-39

          The US neither aided the Nazis nor invaded any of its neighbours in that period. I’d say that is quite a big difference.

          • john p reid

            Not the government,although Joe Kennedy was a advisor to FDR and supported them ,but there were American business men, who certainly funded the Nazis with stuff

        • Hexhamgeezer

          Desperate lefty faux equivalence.

          ‘andagain’ does a good job of sticking hard facts up your fundament and there is more. They delivered communist bretheren to the gestapo and supplied Soviet facilities on their own soil for R&D out of sight of France and Britain.

          They were brothers in arms for longer than their falling out after June 41.

          Amazing how many apologists still hanker for the golden glow of the Gulag.

        • Fergus Pickering

          Joe Kennedy admired Hitler.

      • chan chan

        You forgot The Daily Mirror encouraging readers to join mosley’s black shirts.

        • David Lindsay

          It was owned by the same family as the Mail. It was not a Labour paper.

        • andagain

          Really? I had not heard of that one. Do you have a reference?

        • Dogzzz

          Sorry, I misread that…

      • David Lindsay

        And they were enemies of Britain in the late 1940s, as well as the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

        Really? Which wars were those, then?

        • andagain

          I will be generous and assume that was intended as a smart remark, and does not demonstrate that you have never heard of the Cold War.

          • Colonel Mustard

            I think you will find that David takes the position that the Cold War never existed in as much as he maintains that Britain was never actually threatened by the Soviet Union.

    • La Fold

      Collusion between not only the USSR but Communists and German National Socialists is a matter of historical fact.
      Ribbentrop – Molotov pact?
      The German Communists saying of Brown then Red?
      The SS and the NKVD racing around the Baltic states doing a bit of good old fashioned ethnic cleansing?
      The SS handed over Emigres, poltiical refugees and Trotskyites in exchange for Jews and other political opponents of the NSDAP?
      The French communist resistance who didnt do much resistance until they got the nod from Moscow after Hitler invaded Russia?
      Im not having a dig, but you should probably read more.