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Is Communist Speech Free Speech?

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05/12/2017

Last month, former Vermont governor Howard Dean announced that "hate speech is not protected by the first amendment." Specifically, Dean was opposing a proposed speaking engagement for columnist Ann Coulter, whose ideas are apparently so offensive to Dean, that even the most fundamental freedoms cannot be allowed to endure. 

Dean no doubt thought he was striking a great blow against the fascists who would deprive us of our fundamental rights. However, if Dean wants to attack speech that is actually connected to mass murder and the destruction of human society, he might want to look somewhere other than Coulter's enthusiasm for a border wall. 

Indeed, if Howard Dean is so concerned about hate, he's likely find a lot more of it among communists than among people like Coulter, despite her faults. 

A Truly Deadly Ideology 

Recently we commemorated another Victims of Communism Day, which is sometimes euphemistically referred to as May Day. This time, there were riots in Paris as “protesters” committed all sorts of vandalism, assault, and mayhem. In addition to the standard Che shirts and the like, there were actually people holding banners with Stalin’s face on it!

In Berkeley, and really across the United States and Europe, we’ve seen various Antifa communists commit all sorts of violence against anyone they deem to be a fascist. And as far as I can tell, Antifa defines a fascist as anyone who isn’t a communist. They’ve pepper sprayed women and hit men with bike locks. These folks certainly aren’t run-of-the-mill left liberals. Indeed, as Antifa has so helpfully told us, “Liberals get the bullet too.”

This shouldn’t be particularly surprising. Going back through the twentieth century communists generally fall into two categories; 1) Mass-murdering, totalitarian dictators when in power and 2) terrorists when not-in power.

“People have completely forgotten that in 1972 we had over nineteen hundred domestic bombings in the United States,” noted retired FBI agent Mark Noel. Most of these bombings were committed by terrorist groups such as the Weather Underground. Which is just one in a long list of communist terrorist organizations including FARC, M-19, the Symbionese Liberation Army, the PKK and, let’s be honest, Antifa. In fact, a 2001 Department of Energy study found that,

From an international perspective, of the 13,858 people who died between 1988 and 1998 in attacks committed by the 10 most active terrorist groups in the world, 74 percent were killed by leftist organizations.

Still, that amounts to only about 1000 deaths per year, which is nothing compared to what happens when communists actually take charge of the reins of government. When communists finally do come to power, you get Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Lenin, Castro, Kim Jong-Il, Kim Il-Sung, Ceausescu and Tito.

You get the Holodomorthe Killing Fieldsthe Great Purgethe Great Leap Forwardthe Cultural Revolution, the NKVD, the Stasi and the KGB.

In short, you get 100,000,000 dead people.

That figure comes from The Black Book of Communism and has been disputed.1 Although some, such as R.J. Rummel, put the figure substantially higher. He comes up with 150 million! To put that in perspective, fascist governments, along with every other type of government in the 20th century combined, as bad as they were, killed far fewer than the communists did even though far less than 50 percent of the world’s population lived under communist tyranny in the 20th century.

Indeed, prior to 1917, there were no communist governments. And after 1991, there were effectively only two; Cuba, which is bad and North Korea, which is essentially an open-air gulag holding 25 million de facto slaves

Thus, we have to ask the hard questions: Can we allow communists and communist sympathizer’s free reign to spread their dangerous ideas? Can we give them a platform to preach their blood-soaked pinko nonsense? Is commie speech free speech?

When asking yourself this question, it’s probably worth remembering that during the Great Leap Forward, Mao’s troops forced dissidents to bury their own children alive. Can we really risk allowing apologists for such things the right to speak because of some 18th-century notions regarding free speech? If the politically incorrect utterings of a columnist are to be declared verboten, then surely speech in favor of modern history's most murderous ideology might be suspect as well. 

Modern day communists may say “real communism has never been tried” and that their version of communism will be all peace and friendship. But just because something has failed every single time it has been tried does not mean it has not been tried. When you have a 0.000 batting average, it’s time to retire. 

If Howard Dean is looking to condemn something that has perpetuated hate to an unmatched level throughout much of the last century, the answer should be plain as day. 

Andrew Syrios is a partner in the real estate investment firm Stewardship Properties. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Business Administration and a Minor in History. He also blogs at AndrewSyrios.com.

  • 1. Nicolas Werth and Jean-Louis Margolin estimate total deaths at between 65 and 93 million. :http://www.lemonde.fr/archives/article/1997/11/14/communisme-retour-a-l-histoire_3810094_1819218.html

Andrew Syrios is a partner in the real estate investment firm Stewardship Properties. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Business Administration and a Minor in History.

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
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