Is there a moral difference between Nazis and Communists?

Is there a moral difference between Nazis and Communists?

From Telegraph blogs

Outside my local supermarket on Friday there was a man running a petition against the closure of the local hospital’s A&E department. Volunteering my signature, I noticed in his other hand a newspaper with a hammer and sickle on the front. I was a bit taken aback.

“Are you a Communist?” I asked, unaware these people still existed.

“Yes, but this has nothing to do with any political party”.

Oh good, I said, and signed, vaguely worried that years later I’d be at an American airport with my family where one of their famously friendly immigration guards will take me aside with evidence I’m a Commie.

The newspaper was called The Proletarian, which apparently makes him a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist). That’s not to be confused with the Communist Party of Great Britain (Provincial Central Committee), which seems to be less in favour of Stalin. For whatever reason the Communist Party of Great Britain (ML) don’t seem very keen on the Communist Party of Great Britain (Provincial Central Committee). As their website reports: “Read the CPGB-ML’s reply to the slanderous ‘report’ of the Communist Party of Britain aimed at excluding the CPGB-ML from the International Conference of Communist and Workers’ Parties.”

Now it really would be too obvious to mention Monty Python here, so instead all I’ll say is that the Gordon Brown spoof in Private Eye really gets the language spot on; because to read their website is to see what it’s like to belong to a cult, fighting desperately against reality. The headline sums it up:

“The German Nazis committed the Katyn massacre: why are we being lied to?”

Of course; why would people accuse Stalin of a mass murder? The same goes for the Iranians, who the modern Stalinists seem to support as “anti-imperialists”, even though the Tehran regime must hold the current world record for murdering Communists. How strange that in Britain the far-Left supports the theocratic bigots of Tehran while the far-Right now backs the gay-friendly Jewish state.

The CPGB-ML man outside the supermarket seemed pleasant enough and when I told him that I was a Tory, he said it wasn’t my fault. Laughter all round – but that’s not to take away from the fact that he advocates a regime that directly murdered 900,000 people (including the Poles of Katyn), and killed at least another 20 million more through man-made famines, deportations and brutality. Why is it considered beyond the pale for a political leader to have expressed admiration for Hitler but not for Stalin? Why do we consider one group of people evil and the others merely slightly deluded eccentrics, even when, as in the case of Melita Norwood, they betray their country?

Admittedly the Nazis are still the gold standard of evil, and even Stalin’s worst excesses pale next to the insanity of the Holocaust, but he certainly came close. It’s like comparing Fred West to Peter Sutcliffe. Sure, Sutcliffe never built any actual torture dungeons, and he was a competent lorry driver, so give the guy a break.

In Camden Market a few weeks ago I was reminded of the contradiction by a stall of T-shirts aimed at teenagers trying to make a political statement. These have hardly changed since I was a teen, although they no longer sell the classic “Adolf Hitler European Tour” range. One had a Swastika with a red line through it; beside it was another T-shirt with a Hammer and Sickle. I’d consider both symbols to be evil, and yet society still holds a double standard; I can’t imagine the people of north London tolerating someone from a group calling itself the National Socialist Party parading outside Budgens with a newspaper brandishing a swastika on the front, even if he was trying to save the local hospital.

The justification given for this contradiction is that the activity of far-Right politicians increases the number of hate crimes, although I’d love to see any evidence. (Nick Griffin’s oratorical powers are apparently so great that it actually broke the space-time continuum, with his appearance on Question Time leading to the murder of a gay man in Liverpool a month before, according to Peter Hain.)

But if that’s the case, then doesn’t the class hatred and resentment espoused by Communists and socialists alike lead to hate crimes against middle-class people, such as the countless incidents of student-bashing by townies? When I was a teenager we were chased by “Trevs” for being “indie kids”, a precursor to the chav v emo conflict – were they inspired by socialist rhetoric against the middle class (which is what “indie kid” effectively meant) or were they just violent idiots?

The man outside the supermarket was perfectly pleasant, but were his friends ever to get a sniff of power who’s to say I wouldn’t be taken away to a forced labour camp or even murdered?  That That I’d be killed for my class rather than race, the victim of one idiotic ideology rather than another, would not be of much comfort.

Comments so far

  1. Added Reality says

    Is interesting to imagine how the Nazis would be regarded by popular culture had Europe developed into a collection of soft national socialist regimes that nonetheless abjure violence. ‘Having good intentions’ might have been enough to whitewash their crimes too.

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