Soviet Flag
Soviet Hammer and Sickle flag

As of today, Communism as a political goal and system is predicted to have killed over 94 million men, women and children. If we include deaths under National Socialism, this rises to 105 million civilians. Mao’s “People’s Revolution” is predicted to have caused the deaths of 65 million people alone. These are only estimates based on available evidence. With a continent as large as Asia, and countries as spread out as the Communist bloc, the numbers can never truly be gauged. It is an undeniable fact that socialist states, striving for Communism, caused these deaths, yet we still see a large proportion of our society advocating for Socialism and even full blown Communism.

US Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, seems to gain ground by the day, the Economic Freedom Fighters continue to fight economic freedom, students disregard individual liberty and embrace the hammer and sickle. But why? Why embrace an ideology that has proven time and time again that it only leads to oppression and death? The answer is simply: ignorance. Many are unfortunately ignorant that the ideologies of Marx all logically lead to mass murder.

This is the case for two reasons. Philosophically, Marxism denies private property and individualism, a “problem” that can only be remedied by elimination. Practically, Socialism can only be enforced through coercion, as it violates the fundamental drive of human beings.

Marxism, Socialism and Communism

All the varied strands of Marxism and its related ideologies can be grouped under one term: Collectivism. While Collectivism branches off into other theories, such as Racialism and Tribalism, Marxism and its descendants are, fundamentally, theories of how society should be run, focusing specifically on the economy as the structure of society.

Most people tend to use Socialism and Communism interchangeably, but this is inaccurate. To simplify Marx’s theory of history, Socialism is simply the stepping stone to Communism. In his theory, revolution will lead to a Dictatorship of the Proletariat (the state) that will be used to eliminate the last vestiges of Capitalism, giving way to Communism, where there is no state, no Capitalism and no problems. Communism has never been achieved, but not for lack of trying.

From the end of the First World War, countless movements have sprung up around the world to fight for this supposed utopia. Some did take root, such as the Bolsheviks in Russia and Mao in China. Some, like the fated Rand Rebellion, did not.

Communism is defined by a singular goal, said succinctly by Marx himself:

“In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.” – Communist Manifesto

Socialism exists only as a stepping stone to Communism. It doesn’t matter if it fails to ever reach that stage (as that would be an inherent failure in the theory itself), what matters is that both have the primary goal of abolishing private property, and all that it entails.

Individuals: The Private Property

Everyone wants. We want amenities. We want luxuries. We want success. Socialism doesn’t allow want. It promises utopia while taking away our own personal means to succeed. This article is not about the inability to achieve one’s own personal aspirations under Socialism, however, but how Socialism causes the deaths of those under it.

Socialism, through the force of arms, can and did take everything from people. It took freedom, land, goods, property, labour and their lives. Many see the last as an unfortunate but unintended result of the system, but this is inaccurate. For the complete abolition of private property, the custodian must be eliminated.

Joseph Stalin commented that:

“Death is the solution to all problems. No man – no problem.”

This may not have only been a symptom of his twisted personal ideals, but the logical ideal of Communism and Socialism. The most private of all properties, the most inalienable, is man. The individual is the only being capable of a semblance of free will; the only being within our society capable of owning. The individual owns itself and if Communists want to fulfil their mandate of eliminating all private property, it has to expropriate the individual from itself. This can only be done in two ways: Slavery or Death.

While slavery can mask our sovereignty, it isn’t enough. We still hold agency and that is unacceptable to the Communist who wants an end to property, metaphysical and otherwise.

There are more practical reasons for this use of death in this ideology; leading on…

Fear Incentive

We work for three reasons: fear, desire and necessity. Low level societies rely purely on necessity. The hunter-gatherer works to feed himself and his family. The subsistence farmer grows crops to survive. Civilisation is more than that. It is progress, and progress requires more. Capitalism harnesses human desire to achieve marvels. Socialism does not allow a fulfilment of desire for most of its underlings, and requires fear.

Every individual has a myriad of fears, but one trumps all – our own deaths. Vladamir Lenin knew how this worked when he proposed using terror to secure Russia for the Bolsheviks:

“One man with a gun can control 100 without one.”

Killing was the way that the Soviets enforced Socialism. Workers became slaves, either in state-owned factories or in the gulags. If they did not work, they were killed. To prove the severity of their threat, Soviet leaders made many examples, causing the deaths of an estimated 950,000 to 1.2 million people for political reasons between 1936 to 1938. This does not include purges throughout Soviet history, or the deaths caused by forced Collectivisation of agriculture.

Mao, a worse mass murderer than Stalin and Lenin, made his views on Communism clear:

Communism is not love. Communism is a hammer which we use to crush the enemy.

As has been identified, private property and its defenders were this enemy, and Mao was willing to end the lives of over 65 million people to do it.

The simple reason for all this seemingly wanton murder was simply to replace the incentives inherent in Capitalism: to make them work. No longer could people want. They could quiver with fear. They could grow sick and die with paranoia. But as long as they worked, that was fine.

In conclusion

No system aiming for utopia should or can be achieved with mass slaughter. A goal is only as good as its means. Communism, Socialism, Marxism and all their strands have proven, over the course of a century, that they are ideals based on murder. The other principles of Communism aside, the very fact that it requires murder to achieve and maintain condemns it to the history books as a tool for the death of humankind. We can only hope it stays there.


  • Epicurus

    Seems like a very basic understanding of Marxism and Socialism. Disregards subsequent revisions and adaptations of Socialism which are more advanced than orthodox Marxism. You need to address the point of Socialism furthering liberty through the equal provision of negative liberties, and the enhancement for many of positive liberties, which potentially undermines premises of your argument. You should also address the classical issue of equality vs. liberty, and whether, Socialism, in its purer form, provides a better ratio thereof whereby a great level of equality is achieved and secures significant liberties primarily in its revisions of labour practices; as opposed to Capitalism which secures absolute liberty, but minimal equality, except perhaps the equality of opportunity which necessarily would diminish through generations due to liberal Capitalism’s inherent nature. Lastly, you should address the matter that many Socialists who have developed beyond orthodox Marxism would thoroughly distance themselves from the murdering regimes of the likes of Stalin and Mao both morally and ideologically, even renouncing the regimes as anti-Socialist, and propose alternative methods towards and of Socialism which would not encompass the logical conclusion of mass murder. Nonetheless, really great article! Would love to hear your opinions on the above issues. Thanks!

    • Nicholas Woode-Smith

      Thanks for the reply. Would these ‘new’ strands of Socialism/Marxism account for the problem of incentive within the ideology?

      • Epicurus

        Potentially yes. Consider Bernstein’s revisionism and more pertinently the subsequent strands of developed theories out of that school of thought. And perhaps even democratic socialism as well. Of course, much of this would be somewhat of a qualified incentive. Then naturally, one must also consider the relevance and significance of incentives by its classical understanding, and give thought to the significance of Gramsci’s notions of the global cultural hegemonic perceptions and how that relates to the issue of incentives. Thanks very much! Would also be interested in your fresh and principled perspective on the issues raised in the original post.

  • Altus Pienaar

    “Practically, Socialism can only be enforced through coercion, as it violates the fundamental drive of human beings.” Is this your own personal assumption?…..or are you simply driveling socially accepted rhetoric?
    There are many successful socialist models to be found in worker co-operatives all over the world as well as the kibbutz systems of Israel. These are voluntary societies where members partake in a collective ownership and where profit comes secondary to work ethics and satisfaction.
    You are simply blinded by the idea that the state is the only institution with the means to implement a socialist system. The state can do nothing! it will always fail no matter what because the state is to far removed from its subjects and does not have the necessary understanding or finesse to create a conducive environment for a thriving society.

  • Altus Pienaar

    It is disappointing to see that you have bought all the quasi communist, socialist, Marxist BS of the last century. I believe it would be correct to state that Leninism, Stalinism and Maoism was based on centralism and totalitarianism and had no understanding of the principles of Marx.

    Marx made one grave mistake; he believed for communism to be successful it must be implemented all over the world in a very short time, he believed that a violent revolution to overthrow the capitalist governments and replacing it with another centralist but socialist government will be the platform to true communism. He underestimated the corruptive effects that power has. Once they get to the top they never want to relinquish that power no matter how good their intentions were when they rallied for the revolution. We can even see that in our own government today.
    This is why communism can only truly take hold when it is implemented from a grassroots level and allowed to mature and develop naturally even if it takes another century before its core principles are implemented into the larger portion of civilization.
    The current ANC run government is capitalist in its core even though some remnants of a past communist ideology might still be floating around the halls of the national assembly.

    This government though has adopted a very elaborate co-operative law in 2005 providing for a very sturdy platform for a true “communist” society to develop on a voluntary and unregulated manner. It is ironic that nobody would ever want to call it communist or even socialist but in it’s core principles that is truly what it is.
    Right now the only thing that stand in its way to take of as a business model that will be popularized by a marginalized working class is the establishment of NGO’s that can help in the education of both the legal framework and the management of especially ‘worker’ co-operatives.
    Another big driving force for the establishment of especially “full time” co-operatives, as I like to call them, is the uncertainty of a post carbon future. One way to prepare for this is in the establishment of resilient, sustainable communities build on local economies where both production and distribution has to take place as close together as possible. The co-operative model presents itself as the ideal vessel to implement such collective ownership of land, production and distribution.

  • Altus Pienaar

    Your academic perspectives brings very little insight into the matter I am sorry to say. I guess this is why centralism hardly ever work, it develops political ideals based on what can be found in literature instead of getting down on it’s knees so that it can hear the whisper of peoples needs.

  • Scott Harrison

    “If we include deaths under National Socialism, this rises to 105 million civilians.”

    Why would we include deaths under National Socialism? The Nazis were anti-communist. Are you referring to those killed by the Nazis?