Belated May Day acknowledgment
However, with May Day having come and gone, let us not forget the death toll of the other major totalitarian belief system of the last century, Communism. A round-up of articles on the victims of Communist and Stalinism was posted on Catallarchy on May Day (which I unfortunately only just noticed last night). Although a few of the articles are hit-or-miss as far as quality goes, most are quite good. Of particular interest to me was this article by Rudolph J Rummel, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Hawaii and a finalist for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996, who has made his life's work the study of what he terms "democide," which he defines as "the murder of any person or people by a government, including genocide, politicide, and mass murder." He has concluded that approximately 170 million people were victims of democide during the 20th century. He even classifies the regimes who did these murders into what he terms "mega-murderers" (regimes that killed more than 1,000,000 people) and "deka-mega-murderers" (regimes that killed more than 10,000,000 people, which include the Soviet Union, Communist China, the Nazi regime, and the nationalist Chinese regime between 1926-1945). His main theme is that power kills, and from that follows one of his other themes, namely that democracies, although not immune from violence, tend to be far less likely to be capable of such large scale murder because they have checks on the government power that is necessary for such murder to become possible. Although this view has been criticized as idealistic and overly dismissive of other potential explanations for the observations presented, Professor Rummel marshals a great deal of evidence to support his thesis, and he has his defenders.
Unfortunately, not unexpectedly, certain white supremacist neo-Nazi white supremacists have tried to use Professor Rummel's attack on Communist democide in a "they were worse" justification (one typical--and disgusting--comment regarding Rummel's estimate of Stalin's democide: "43 million? Why, it puts their [the Nazis'] paltry, imaginary 6 million [Jews] to shame"). They seem to think that the simple observation that Communists killed more people over their much longer history somehow excuses the mass murder by their favorite fascist regime, the Nazis. Lest any neo-Nazis think that by his emphasis on the sheer scale of Communist killing during the 20th century Professor Rummel is somehow deemphasizing Nazi atrocities or implying that the Nazis were not as bad, such is not the case, as is shown in another of his writings:
Moreover, even though the Nazis hardly matched the democide of the Soviets and Communist Chinese as shown in Table 1.3, they proportionally killed more. Figure 1.2 illustrates this. The annual odds of being killed by the Nazis during their occupation were almost two-and-a-half times that of Soviet citizens being slain by their government since 1917; over nine times that for Chinese living in Communist China after 1949. In competition for who can murder proportionally the most human beings, the Japanese militarists come closest. The annual odds of being killed by the Japanese during their occupation of China, Korea, Indonesia, Burma, Indochina, and elsewhere in Asia was one in 101. Given the years and population available to this gang of megamurderers, the Nazis have been the most lethal murderers; and Japanese militarists next deadliest.In other words, the Nazis killed a considerably larger proportion per year of the people who were unfortunate enough to fall under their dominion than did the Soviet regime. Bottom line: Both were totalitarian regimes that killed large numbers of their own subjects.
I highly recommend that you check out Professor Rummel's website (which I've used as a resource for years) and blog (which I only just discovered last night) and peruse the statistics on his website, many of which were taken from his books, Power Kills and Death by Government. It should be mandatory reading (as well as a great resource for statistics on government-sanctioned murder) for anyone who opposes totalitarianism, whether it originates from the left or the right.