After a week of controversy over Labour leader Ed Miliband’s Marxist father, we need to focus on the core issue: the historical reality of communist oppression [See update at the bottom of the piece]
Why isn’t the Black Book of Communism on the curriculum of every school in Europe? Because it isn’t exhaustive enough? Because its authors lack credibility? Because there is still more to be understood and researched on the matter?
At more than 850 pages of carefully sifted evidence by a group of top-level scholars from a variety of countries and disciplines, the Black Book is as solid a piece of scholarship as any other you’ll find being taught in our schools.
Is it definitive? How could it be? Communist regimes went to great lengths to conceal their crimes, and one of the most oppressive of all, North Korea, still exists to this day. What the book does is use the best available evidence to give a sense of the scale of what we are dealing with.
In introducing the Black Book, lead author Stephane Courtois, Director of Research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris, offers the following rough breakdown of the numbers of people that communism killed:
USSR — 20 million
China — 65 million
Vietnam — 1 million
North Korea — 2 million
Cambodia — 2 million
Eastern Europe — 1 million
Latin America — 150,000
Africa — 1.7 million
Afghanistan — 1.5 million
Communist movements, parties not in power — 10,000
In total, this is not far short of 100 million deaths at the hands of a single ideology. Nothing like this has ever happened before. (As an aside, my personal view is that the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews was the greatest single crime of the modern era, while communism was the greatest criminal system.)