Anti-communism is opposition to communism. Organized anti-communism developed in reaction to the rise of communism, especially after the October Revolution brought the Bolsheviks to power in Russia in 1917.
Most anti-communists reject the concept of historical materialism, which is a central idea in Marxism. Anti-communists reject the Marxist belief that capitalism will be followed by socialism and communism, just as feudalism was followed by capitalism. Anti-communists question the validity of the Marxist claim that the socialist state will "wither away" when it becomes unnecessary in a true communist society.
Many critics see a key error in communist economic theory, which predicts that in capitalist societies, the bourgeoisie will accumulate ever-increasing capital and wealth, while the lower classes become more dependent on the ruling class for survival, selling their labor power for the most minimal of salaries. Anti-communists point to the overall rise in the average standard of living in the industrialized West and claim that both the rich and poor have steadily gotten richer. Anti-communists argue that former Third World countries that have successfully escaped poverty in recent decades have done so because of capitalism, most notably the Asian Tigers, India and China. Anti-communists cite numerous examples of Third World Communist regimes that failed to achieve development and economic growth, and in many cases led their peoples into even worse misery, for example the Mengistu regime in Ethiopia.
Opponents argue that Communist parties (sometimes combined with left socialist parties as workers' parties) which have come to power have tended to be rigidly intolerant of political opposition. These opponents claim that most Communist countries have shown no signs of advancing from Marx's socialist stage of economy to an ideal communist stage. Rather, Communist governments have been accused of creating a new ruling class (called by Russians the Nomenklatura), with powers and privileges far greater than those previously enjoyed by the upper classes in the pre-revolutionary regimes.
Anti-communists argue that the repression in the early years of the Bolshevik regime, while not as extreme as that during Stalin's reign, was still severe by any reasonable standards, citing the examples such as Felix Dzerzhinsky's secret police, which eliminated numerous political opponents by extrajudicial executions, and the brutal crushing of the Kronstadt rebellion and Tambov rebellion. According to them, Trotsky could hardly claim any moral high ground, having been one of the top-ranking Bolshevik leaders during these events. Trotsky was later to claim that the Kronstadt rebels were early harbingers of the bureaucratisation which he associated with Stalinism. Some anti-communists refer to both communism and fascism as totalitarianism, seeing similarity between the actions of communist and fascist governments. Robert Conquest, a former Stalinist and British Intelligence officer argued that Communism was responsible for tens of millions of deaths during the 20th century.
The view of human nature usually expounded by anti-communist Objectivists is that while an egalitarian society could be looked at as ideal, it is virtually impossible to achieve. They state that it is human nature to be motivated by personal incentive, and point out that while several communist leaders have claimed to be working for the common good, many or all of them have been corrupt and totalitarian.
Sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson said "Karl Marx was right, socialism works, it is just that he had the wrong species", meaning that while ants and other social insects appear to live in communist-like societies, they only do so because they are forced to because they lack reproductive independence. Worker ants are sterile, and individual ants cannot reproduce without a queen, so ants are forced to live in centralised societies. Humans possess reproductive independence, so they can give birth to offspring without the need of a "queen". According to Wilson, humans enjoy their maximum level of Darwinian fitness only when they look after themselves and their families, while finding innovative ways to use the societies they live in for their own benefit.
Although many anarchists describe themselves as communists - spelled with a lower case c, all anarchists criticize authoritarian Communism. They argue that Marxist concepts such as dictatorship of the proletariat and state ownership of the means of production are anathema to anarchism. Some anarchists criticize communism from an individualist or anarcho-capitalist point of view.
Anarchist Mikhail Bakunin debated with Karl Marx in the First International, arguing that the Marxist state is another form of oppression. He loathed the idea of a vanguard party ruling the masses from above. Anarchists initially participated in, and rejoiced over, the 1917 revolution as an example of workers taking power for themselves. However, after the October revolution, it became evident that the Bolsheviks and the anarchists had very different ideas. Anarchist Emma Goldman, deported from the United States to Russia in 1919, was initially enthusiastic about the revolution, but was left sorely disappointed, and began to write her book My Disillusionment in Russia. Anarchist Peter Kropotkin, proffered trenchant criticism of the emergent Bolshevik bureaucracy in letters to Vladimir Lenin, noting in 1920: "[a party dictatorship] is positively harmful for the building of a new socialist system. What is needed is local construction by local forces ... Russia has already become a Soviet Republic only in name."
Resolution 1481/2006 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), issued on January 25, 2006 during its winter session, "strongly condemns crimes of totalitarian communist regimes".
The European Parliament has proposed making 23 August a Europe-wide day of remembrance for 20th-century Nazi and communist crimes.
Many ex-communists have turned into anti-communists. Mikhail Gorbachev turned from a communist into a social democrat. Leszek Kołakowski was a Polish communist who became a famous anti-communist. He was best known for his critical analyses of Marxist thought, especially his acclaimed three-volume history, Main Currents of Marxism, which is "considered by some to be one of the most important books on political theory of the 20th century." The God That Failed is a 1949 book which collects together six essays with the testimonies of a number of famous ex-Communists, who were writers and journalists. The common theme of the essays is the authors' disillusionment with and abandonment of Communism. The promotional byline to the book is "Six famous men tell how they changed their minds about Communism." Another notable anti-communist was Whittaker Chambers, a former Soviet Union spy who testified against his fellow spies before the House Un-American Activities Committee.
In April 1999, over ten thousand Falun Gong practitioners gathered at Communist Party of China headquarters, Zhongnanhai, in a silent protest following an incident in Tianjin. Two months later the Chinese government banned the practice through a crackdown and began a large propaganda campaign. Since 1999, Falun Gong practitioners in China have been reportedly subject to torture, illegal imprisonment, beatings, forced labor, organ harvesting, and psychiatric abuses. Falun Gong has responded with their own media campaign, and have emerged as a notable voice of dissent against the Communist Party of China, by founding organizations such as the Epoch Times, NTDTV and the Shen Yun Performing Arts to publicize their cause.
Many historians view fascism as a reaction against to communist and socialist uprisings in Europe. They consider fascism to be a movement that both tried to appeal to the working class and divert them from Marxism, and also appealed to capitalists as a bulwark against Bolshevism. Italian fascism, founded and led by Benito Mussolini took power with the blessing of Italy's king after years of leftist unrest led many conservatives to fear that a communist revolution was inevitable. Throughout Europe, numerous aristocrats and conservative intellectuals, as well as capitalists and industrialists, lent their support to fascist movements. In Germany, numerous far right nationalist groups arose, particularly out of the post-war Freikorps, which were used to crush both the Spartacist uprising and the Munich Soviet.
Initially, the Soviet Union supported the idea of a coalition with the western powers against Nazi Germany, as well as popular fronts in various countries against domestic fascism. This policy was largely unsuccessful, due to the distrust shown by the western powers (especially Britain) towards the Soviet Union. The Soviets changed their policy and negotiated a non-aggression pact with Germany, known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939. Stalin did not expect the Germans to attack until 1942, so he was taken by surprise when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, with Operation Barbarossa. Fascism and communism then reverted to their relationship as enemies.
Thích Huyền Quang was a prominient Vietnamese Buddhist monk and anti-communist dissident. In 1977, Huyền Quang wrote a letter to Prime Minister Phạm Văn Đồng detailing counts of oppression by the Communist regime. For this, he and five other senior monks were arrested and detained. In 1982, Huyền Quang was arrested and subsequently put into permanent house arrest for opposition to government policy after publicly denouncing the establishment of the state-controlled Vietnam Buddhist Church. Thích Quảng Độ is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and anti-communist dissident. In January 2008, the Europe-based magazine A Different View chose Ven. Thích Quảng Độ as one of the 15 Champions of World Democracy.
The Catholic Church has a history of anti-communism. The most recent Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "The Catholic Church has rejected the totalitarian and atheistic ideologies associated in modem times with 'communism' or 'socialism.' … Regulating the economy solely by centralized planning perverts the basis of social bonds … [Still,] reasonable regulation of the marketplace and economic initiatives, in keeping with a just hierarchy of values and a view to the common good, is to be commended."
Pope John Paul II was a harsh critic of communism, and other popes shared this view as well, for example Pope Pius IX issued a Papal encyclical, entitled Quanta Cura, in which he called "Communism and Socialism" the most fatal error. During the Spanish Civil War, the Catholic Church opposed the left-leaning Republican forces due to their ties to communism and atrocities against Catholicism in Spain, and in many churches and schools prayers were made for the victory of Franco and the Nationalists.
From 1945 onward Australian Labor Party leadership accepted the assistance of an anti-Communist Roman Catholic movement, led by B.A. Santamaria to oppose communist subversion of Australian Trade Unions (Catholics being an important traditional support base). To oppose communist infiltration of unions Industrial Groups were formed to regain control of them. The groups were active from 1945 to 1954, with the knowledge support of ALP leadership until after Labor's loss of the 1954 election, when federal leader Dr H.V. Evatt, in the context of his response to the Petrov affair, blamed “subversive” activities of the "Groupers", for the defeat. After bitter public dispute many Groupers (including most members of the NSW and Victorian state executives and most Victorian Labor branches) were expelled from the ALP and formed the Democratic Labor Party (historical). In an attempt to force the ALP reform and remove communist influence, with a view to then rejoining the “purged” ALP, the DLP preferenced (see Australian electoral system) the Liberal Party of Australia, enabling them remain in power for over two decades. Their negative strategy failed, and after the Whitlam Labor Government during the 1970s it, the majority of the DLP decided to wind up the party in 1978, although a small Federal and State party continued based in Victoria (see Democratic Labor Party) with state parties reformed in NSW and Qld in 2008.
After the taming of Central Asian Muslim Khanates by the Soviet Union, Soviet-style Communists did not have any largescale interaction with Muslim populations until the Saur Revolution in Afghanistan, 1978. Before this, traditional Muslim clerics railed against Communist influences in Muslim societies, but any action beyond the sermons was rare. After the declaration in Kabul of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, a Civil War began that spiralled into the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union. This event elevated the ideology of Islamism, which was rooted in Afghanistan's anti-Communist struggle, into a regional influence throughout South West Asia.
Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was a Soviet and Russian novelist, dramatist, and historian. Through his writings he made the world aware of the Gulag, the Soviet Union's forced labor camp system — particularly The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, his two best-known works. For these efforts Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970, and exiled from the Soviet Union in 1974.
Herta Müller is a Romanian-born German novelist, poet and essayist noted for her works depicting the harsh conditions of life in Communist Romania under the repressive Nicolae Ceauşescu regime, the history of the Germans in the Banat (and more broadly, Transylvania), and the persecution of Romanian ethnic Germans by Stalinist Soviet occupying forces in Romania and the Soviet-imposed communist regime of Romania. Müller has been an internationally-known author since the early 1990s, and her works have been translated into more than 20 languages. She has received over 20 awards, including the 1994 Kleist Prize, the 1995 Aristeion Prize, the 1998 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the 2009 Franz Werfel Human Rights Award. On 8 October 2009 it was announced that she had been awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature.
The Love-Girl and the Innocent (also translated The Tenderfoot and the Tart) is a play in four acts by Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. It is set over the course of about one week in 1945 in a Stalin-era Soviet prison camp. As in many of Solzhenitsyn's works, the author paints a vivid and honest picture of the suffering prisoners and their incompetent but powerful wardens. Most of the prisoners depicted in the play are serving 10 year sentences for violations of Soviet Penal Code Article 58. In this play, the author first explores the analogy of the camp system to a separate nation within the Soviet Union, an analogy which would dominate his later work, most clearly in The Gulag Archipelago.
Samizdat was a key form of dissident activity across the Soviet-bloc; individuals reproduced censored publications by hand and passed the documents from reader to reader, thus building a foundation for the successful resistance of the 1980s. This grassroots practice to evade officially imposed censorship was fraught with danger as harsh punishments were meted out to people caught possessing or copying censored materials. Vladimir Bukovsky defined it as follows: "I myself create it, edit it, censor it, publish it, distribute it, and get imprisoned for it."
During the Cold War, Western countries invested heavily in powerful transmitters which enabled broadcasters to be heard in the Eastern Bloc, despite attempts by authorities to jam such signals. In 1947, VOA started broadcasting in Russian with the intent to counter Soviet propaganda directed against American leaders and policies. These included Radio Free Europe (RFE)), RIAS (Berlin) the Voice of America (VOA), Deutsche Welle, Radio France International and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The Soviet Union responded by attempting aggressive, electronic jamming of VOA (and some other Western) broadcasts om 1949. The BBC World Service similarly broadcast language-specific programming to countries behind the Iron Curtain.
In the People's Republic of China, people have to bypass the Chinese Internet censorship and other forms of censorship.
In 1945, Mit'hat Frashëri compiled a political platform proposing the formation of a coalition government including, members of nationalist Legaliteti, Balli Kombëtar, and other anti-communist movements in addition to the winning communist group. Stemming was the unsuccessful Western-backed campaign of toppling the communist government through the infiltration of dissidents into the country that was made possible from the unification of the four anti-communist groups Legaliteti, Balli Kombëtar, Independents' Block, and the Kosovars' Group and the creation of an anti-communist committee in 1949.
In 1946, an armed uprising took place in Postribë whereby more than a dozen participants were killed and others imprisoned. In 1973, a number of prisoners at Spac concentration camp staged a rebellion where the non-communist flag was raised. In 1984, a similar rebellion took place at the prison of Qafë Bar.
Albania has enacted the Law on Communist Genocide with the purpose of expediting the prosecution of the violations of the basic human rights and freedoms by the former communist governments of the Socialist People's Republic of Albania. The law has also been referred to in English as the "Genocide Law" and the "Law on Communist Genocide".
The Singing Revolution is a commonly used name for events between 1987 and 1990 that led to the restoration of the independence of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The term was coined by an Estonian activist and artist, Heinz Valk, in an article published a week after the June 10-11 1988 spontaneous mass night-singing demonstrations at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds.
Uprising in Plzeň was an anti-communist revolt by Czechoslovakian workers in 1953.
The Velvet Revolution or Gentle Revolution was a non-violent revolution in Czechoslovakia that saw the overthrow of the Communist government. It is seen as one of the most important of the Revolutions of 1989.
On November 17, 1989, a Friday, riot police suppressed a peaceful student demonstration in Prague. That event sparked a series of popular demonstrations from November 19 to late December. By November 20 the number of peaceful protesters assembled in Prague had swollen from 200,000 the previous day to an estimated half-million. A two-hour general strike, involving all citizens of Czechoslovakia, was held on November 27. In June 1990 Czechoslovakia held its first democratic elections since 1946.
Hong Kong has had numerous anti-communist protests. Some are even opposed to the end of the HKSAR on July 1st 2047, the day on which Hong Kong is scheduled to be fully assimilated into communist China.
Memorials for the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 are held every year in Hong Kong. Tens of thousands people have attended the candlelight vigil.
The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 was a spontaneous nationwide anti-communist revolt in the People's Republic of Hungary, lasting from 23 October until 10 November 1956. The revolt began as a student demonstration which attracted thousands as it marched through central Budapest to the Parliament building. A student delegation entering the radio building in an attempt to broadcast its demands was detained. When the delegation's release was demanded by the demonstrators outside, they were fired upon by the State Security Police (ÁVH) from within the building. The news spread quickly and disorder and violence erupted throughout the capital. The revolt spread quickly across Hungary, and the government fell. After announcing a willingness to negotiate a withdrawal of Soviet forces, the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union changed its mind and moved to crush the revolution.
The Chinese democracy movement is a loosely organized anti-communist movement in the People's Republic of China. The movement began during Beijing Spring in 1978 and played an important role in the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. In the 1990s, the movement underwent a decline both within China and overseas, and is currently fragmented and not considered by most analysts to be a serious threat to power to the Communist Party's rule.
As a document of Chinese origin, it is unusual in calling for greater freedom of expression and for free elections. It was published on 10 December 2008, the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and its name is a reference to Charter 77, issued by dissidents in Czechoslovakia.
The Polish 1970 protests (Polish: Grudzień 1970) were anti-Comintern protests that occurred in northern Poland in December 1970. The protests were sparked by a sudden increase of prices of food and other everyday items. As a result of the riots, brutally put down by the Polish People's Army and the Citizen's Militia, at least 42 people were killed and more than 1,000 wounded.
Solidarity was an anti-communist trade union in a Warsaw Pact country. In the 1980s it constituted a broad anti-communist movement. The government attempted to destroy the union during the period of martial law in the early 1980s and several years of repression, but in the end it had to start negotiating with the union. The Round Table Talks between the government and the Solidarity-led opposition led to semi-free elections in 1989. By the end of August a Solidarity-led coalition government was formed and in December 1990 Wałęsa was elected President of Poland. Since then it has become a more traditional trade union.
The 1959 Tibetan uprising or 1959 Tibetan Rebellion began on 10 March 1959, when an anti-communist revolt erupted in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, which had been under the reign of the Communist Party of China since the Invasion of Tibet in 1950. The Tibetan independence movement is a movement to establish historical Tibet, comprising the three traditional provinces of Amdo, Kham, and Ü-Tsang as an independent state.
The Romanian anti-communist resistance movement lasted between 1948 and the early 1960s. Armed resistance was the first and most structured form of resistance against the communist regime. It wasn’t until the overthrow of Nicolae Ceauşescu in late 1989 that details about what was called “anti-communist armed resistance” were made public. It was only then that the public learnt about the numerous small groups of "haiducs" who had taken refuge in the Carpathian Mountains, where some resisted for ten years against the troops of the Securitate. The last “haiduc” was killed in the mountains of Banat in 1962. The Romanian resistance was one of the longest lasting armed movement in the former Soviet bloc.
The Romanian Revolution of 1989 was a week-long series of increasingly violent riots and fighting in late December 1989 that overthrew the Government of Nicolae Ceauşescu. After a trial, Ceauşescu and his wife Elena were executed. Romania was the only Eastern Bloc country to overthrow its government violently or to execute its leaders.
Following World War II and the rise of the Soviet Union, many of the objections to Communism took on an added urgency because of the stated Communist view that their ideology was universal. The fear of many anti-Communists within the United States was that Communism would triumph throughout the entire world and eventually be a direct threat to the government of the United States. This view led to the domino theory in which a communist takeover in any nation could not be tolerated because it would lead to a chain reaction which would result in a triumph of world communism. There were fears that powerful nations like the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China were using their power to forcibly assimilate other countries into communist rule. The Soviet Union's expansion into Central Europe after World War II was seen as evidence of this. These actions prompted many politicians to adopt a kind of pragmatic anti-Communism, opposing the ideology as a way of limiting the expansion of the Soviet Empire. The US policy of halting further communist expansion came to be known as containment.
Anti-communism flared up strongly with the shooting down on Sept. 1, 1983 by the Soviet Union of Korean Air Lines Flight 007, carrying 269 occupants, just west of the Sakhalin island. Included among the passengers was Georgia congressman Larry McDonald, the only sitting congressman killed by the Soviet Union. The intensity of U.S. and world outrage at the shootdown enabled NATO to deploy Pershing and cruise missiles in West Germany, six minutes flight from Moscow, and deploying elsewhere as well, greatly exasperating the Cold War and causing Soviets to divert resources to counter NATO's move.
The United States government usually argued its anti-communism by citing the human rights record of Communist states, most notably the Soviet Union during the Stalin era, Maoist China, the short-lived Khmer Rouge government in Cambodia led by Pol Pot, and North Korea, because those states ended up killing millions of their own people and continued to suppress civil liberties of the surviving population.
Anti-communism became significantly muted after the fall of the Soviet Union and Eastern bloc communist regimes in Eastern and Central Europe between 1989 and 1991, and the fear of a worldwide Communist takeover is no longer a serious concern. Remnants of anti-communism remain, however, in United States foreign policy toward Cuba, mainland China, and North Korea under Kim Il-sung and after his death, his eccentric son, Kim Jong-il. In the case of Cuba, the United States continues to maintain economic sanctions against the island in a policy which is sharply criticized outside of the United States, but which has substantial support in the US, particularly from the Cuban-American constituency, including many of the Cuban exiles living in Florida who oppose any such normalization with the Cuban government. Much of the right wing of American politics also opposes trade normalization with Cuba while the Communist Party of Cuba retains its influence.
Due to expanding American trade interests with the People's Republic of China, much of the United States foreign policy establishment does not regard "Communist China" as communist in any meaningful sense. Nevertheless, there is some hostility toward the People's Republic of China, particularly among conservative Congressional Republicans which can be regarded as remnants of anti-communism. For example, national security issues were raised during Chinese state-owned CNOOC Ltd.'s takeover bid for Unocal, an American energy firm. North Korea remains staunchly Stalinist and economically isolationist, and tensions between the country and the US have heightened as the result of reports that it is stockpiling nuclear weapons and the assertion that it is generally willing to sell its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology to any group willing to pay a high enough price.
In the 2000s, there have been inquiries in human rights and other problems in communist countries, notably the People's Republic of China. The response to perceived problems has been limited.
In Vietnam, anti-communist movements, including those from pro-democracy and pro-human rights groups, had largely been limited before the advent of the Internet. This, despite a large number of anti-communist protests from the Vietnamese diaspora during the period, was on the one hand due to brutal clampdowns on dissidents (imprisonments and secret executions had been more frequent before Doi Moi) and on the other hand due to the communists' ruthless abuse of their political sway in implementing intrusive and misleading foreign and domestic policies which even go so far as to include conspicuous examinations of personal mails (especially those sent from overseas), and a heavy censorship of the "reactionary western media", which often amounts to withholding and even retorting factual information "in favor of the motherland". In recent years (particularly since the first few years of the 21st century), there have been many Vietnamese bloggers who, with the aid of the World Wide Web, have disseminated what the Communist party styles "dangerous and depraved" information concerning Ho Chi Minh's biographies written by people capable of exhibiting more objectivity over the subject (among these are his own relations, compatriots, and Chinese scholars), and the Vietnamese Government's relations with Red China, the most controversial of which are deals struck between the two communist countries' leaders, such as the furtive sales of Friendship Gate and two eastern groups of islands to China by the Vietnamese Communist government. These have sparked intense nationalism and led to much outrage felt even on the part of many ex-communist Vietnamese themselves. The culmination of the sentiments can be seen in many recent protests held in both former North Vietnam's capital Hanoi and former South Vietnam's capital Saigon.
Frequent arrests of some democracy advocates by the government have also led to activism among many Vietnamese who demand an instant release of all "political criminals" as well as an end to all "jungle trials" of all these people. Recently, there have also been protests against the government blocking access to free networking and blogging services such as Facebook, Wordpress, as well as calls for a unified effort in boycotting "governmentally friendly" blogging services like the so-called "Yahoo! Việt Nam 360plus".
In the Soviet Union, anti-communists were "enemies of the people".
Some communists allege that hundreds of millions of deaths have been caused by capitalism, blaming capitalists for the mass poverty of the third world, world hunger caused by imperialism, and the hundreds of wars over capitalist conflicts, some conflicts only about being able to claim hegemony over the local resources and labor.
Some communists reject the notion that the Soviet Union was a communist country. To them "communist country" is a misnomer because they believe that communism can only exist on a worldwide scale after the means of production are in full control of the workers of the world. According to Stalin in a letter to Pokoyev in 1954, the Soviet Union hadn't achieved socialism yet. As further evidence that the Soviet Union wasn't communist, communists cite that the Soviet Union was a nation-state and that communism cannot exist in a nation-state form. Furthermore, due to material conditions, outside influences, and internal problems the Soviet Union degenerated into a deformed workers state, the proletariat was not in power. Lastly, communists say that communism is a post-class society and that the Soviet Union clearly had classes, with elite at the top and workers at the bottom. The power did not rest with the workers.
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