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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Offending Communists is OK

Yesterday's National Post ran this story about the National Capital Commission's recent decision demanding the word "communism" be removed from a proposed "Tribute to Liberty" monument as this might offend communists.

This led me to write the following letter to the editor which appears in today's paper:

Dear Sir/Madam:

So, the NCC is worried a proposed memorial to the victims of totalitarian communism (Is there any other kind?) might offend communists.

I guess it has not occurred to the NCC that communism itself is offensive.

Recall that communists enslaved nearly half the world, denied basic democratic rights to whole nations and murdered untold millions in cold blood.

That's precisely why we need a memorial. It's important to remind ourselves why our freedoms are worth defending.

And if that offends any crackpot communists still lurking about, we should just consider that a bonus.

Posted by Gerry Nicholls on September 17, 2009 | Permalink


By all means include the word "Communist". Memorials work best when they are blunt, like the various war memorials.

What else should be included: I nominate the terms "Fascist", "Racist", as well as "Toronto" and "Trudeau" to be placed on the memorial to liberty.

Someone will no doubt suggest "Capitalist" and "Environment" on it but they should be ignored.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-09-17 8:46:46 AM

George Orwell probably would have rejected this idea on the grounds of it being too preposterous.

Posted by: GeronL | 2009-09-17 8:58:40 AM

I have to disagree with you on this one Gerry. As much of an anti-communist as I am, I am somewhat opposed to the government enshrining ideology in any way within the auspices of a supposedly liberal and pluralistic society.

Certainly, political liberty is a Canadian value, and in that sense, a memorial for "totalitarianism" would be more appropriate, if you ask me.

Whether we like it or not, there were/are democratic communists. Many of them fought alongside the liberals and loyalists against the Bolsheviks in Russia. Many democratic communists, were in fact, imprisoned. And many actually fled totalitarian communist states.

So there is, whether we like it or not, an intellectual dishonesty in casting communism and totalitarianism in the same light.

It's much the same way that religious people often equate atheism with communism. Like it's part of some, larger, meta-ideology that contains everything they disagree with.

So my objection has nothing to do with the fear of offending communists (I strive to do that on a daily basis), but rather, simple intellectual honesty.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2009-09-17 9:10:56 AM

I am sorry but communism is an ideal not a act by any government. The Soviet Republic was not an ideal communism any more that George Bush's capitalism was an ideal democracy. There is nothing inherently wrong with communism or being a communist. Karl Mark was an idealist. Offend whom you wish but don't assume your ideal government is any better.


Posted by: Nicholas Roach | 2009-09-17 9:41:24 AM

The letter perfectly explains the problem with including the word "communism" in the name. The letter writer wrote, "...totalitarian communism(Is there any other kind?)...." That s/he assumes that there can be no other kind is exactly what the problem is. Of course people can be communists without being totalitarians. In fact, many people who describe themselves as communists in Canada today would reject the idea that these totalitarian governments were really communist at all, no matter what they called themselves. (Kinda like how lots of people who call themselves "conservatives" reject the idea that the Conservative Party is really conservative.)

But think of it this way: If they wanted to put up something that was a "Memorial to the Victims of Pedophile Catholics" I can imagine that Catholics would be a bit miffed about it, even though there have been more than a few pedophile Catholic Priests and the title of the monument does not really say that all Catholics are pedophiles.

Besides, isn't a more general monument to the victims of all totalitarians better than one that just memorializes the victims of communist totalitarians anyway? Why should the victims of non-communist totalitarians get short shrift?

Posted by: Fact Check | 2009-09-17 9:57:44 AM

I feel really strange being on the same side of an issue as Fact Check. Mark this date in your calendar.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2009-09-17 10:09:17 AM

Now now Mike! Play nice! You agree with me on a lot of things. For instance, probably the issue I have discussed most here is my opposition to Section 13 of the CHRA (and the equivalent sections in provincial HRAs). And God help you if you don't agree with me that Shane Matthews is a jackass....

Posted by: Fact Check | 2009-09-17 10:44:19 AM

You have to remember totalitarian communism only played lip service to communism. Karl Marx's idea of communism, now matter how nice it sounds in theory, is ludicrous because it goes against human nature; when push comes to shove, no matter what people preach, they will always look after themselves rather than someone else. Marx realized this and said that communism must be policed. He also said that there must be total capitalism, no government intervention in economies, before communism could be in place.

Communism means that everyone is equal, but if you have to police it, everyone is not equal, so Marx himself admitted, though he may not have realised it, that communism is absurd.

Communism is an ideal not an viable political theory as it has been proved many times through history. In fact, communist regimes have acted no different than totalitarian regimes (for instance Benito Mussolini's facists and Hitler's Nazi party.) The Nazi's were socialists, as their name means National Socialists.

In Canada we have a government that acts the same way, plays lip service to an ideal but in actuality acts differently, just to get re-elected.

I'm talking about Stephen Harper's lip service to conservatism. For example I give the following evidence:

1.Fixed Election Dates

Stephen Harper passes a law that fixes election dates. Then he calls a snap election when it's to his political advantage. I don't believe that their should be laws against victimless crime. However, the Conservative party is full of law and order types. So Stephen Harper is a criminal because he broke his own law. However, he seems to have George W. Bush's attitude of "I'm the decider." You would never guess he has a minority government the way he acts.

2.Income Trusts

Joe Flaherty promised not to tax income trusts. Then he turned around and taxed them. Income trusts might have needed to be tax, but the conservative government promised not to tax them. This turned out to be a bold face lie.

3. GM Bailout

Stephen Harper always claimed to be a fiscal conservative economist. However, he put $13 billion of taxpayer money to save jobs that might not exist in the future. I may not be an economist but this sounds like a losing venture. The only reason I can see for him doing this is to placate Ontario Auto Unions so he can get his precious majority.

4. Deficit

I remember Stephen Harper claiming that if there was a Liberal-Bloc-NDP coalition, all the spending they would do would put the deficit at $50 billion. The last I heard the deficit was at $56 billion. How can a supposively conservative government run up a debt more than a Liberal-Bloc-NDP coalition spending spree?

5. Length of Deficit Budgets

Flaherty said to expect deficit budgets until 2015. I will give it that the conservatives are trying to use Keynsean theory. In fact, Keynsean theory has put us in the black before with the Jean Chretian government. Keynsean is governments should spend in bad economic times and save in good economic times. Flaherty's proposal of spend, spend, spend, until 2015 even if the economy improves (which it looks like it is doing) is a recipe for financial disaster.

6. Appointed Senators

When Stephen Harper was in opposition he always railed agains appointing of senators. He was always complaining that senators should be elected because appointing senators was cronyism of the worst sort. Well, I want to know what changed his attitude about appointing senators, as he gave seven seenate seats to political friends over the summer.

I want to ask you if Stephen Harper, after doing the previous, deserves a majority government. I think not. The Conservative Party needs to be run by a real conservative. I'm talking about a fiscal conservative and a social moderate. Someone who sticks to their principles. As far as I'm concerned, I'm hoping for a perpetual minority until the politicians stop their partisan games and start doing their job of governing the country and the electorate smartens up and look at what the politicians do not what they say, when the voters cast their ballots.

To get back on topic, When are people going to learn that the right not to be offended is not a human right. This Political Correct bullshit along with politicians who will sacrifice their principles to get elected, not political ideas, is what's destroying democracy in Canada.

Posted by: Doug Gilchrist | 2009-09-17 10:48:31 AM

@ Fact Check"And God help you if you don't agree with me that Shane Matthews is a jackass...."

Why, Fact Check, your putting it mildly. Dr. Matthews is not only a jackass, he assersts his own non-sensicle opinions as facts, he argues with fuzzy logic, half the time he sounds like he's spouting Nazi propaganda, and he occasionaly dabbles in lible.

I'm sure your not the only one who noticed. But loosely paraphrasing Voltaire, Shane Matthews may be a useless piece of skin, but I will defend his right to say what he feels, no matter how much like an idiot it makes him sound.

Posted by: Doug Gilchrist | 2009-09-17 11:16:45 AM

For the folks at the NCC and here who cannot stomach calling a spade a spade, I suggest that the countries and leaders responsible for the mass murder of so many millions be named and listed on the plaque.

It is a sad reflection on what we have become when people place a greater importance on not being offensive than on the victims.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-09-17 11:20:14 AM

So the NCC is worried about offending communists in Canada eh?

So who would that be?

For starters, Gilles Duceppe's Bloc MP's and his voting supporters as well as Taliban Jack and the NDP!

That represents a huge swath of offended communists.

Posted by: Joe Molnar | 2009-09-17 11:42:04 AM

Offending anyone is OK, Constitutionally speaking. Whether it's appropriate in a given situation is another matter.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-09-17 11:45:35 AM

We can't call anyone else communist for the same reason we can't post the 10 Commandments in Parliament. "Thou Shalt Not Steal" would creat a hostile environment for those who work there much the same way that infering Communism is a bad thing would alienate our entire entrenched bureacracy. Better to be vague and ambiguous like our legal system.

Call it Communism and call it evil, because it is.

Posted by: The original JC | 2009-09-17 12:41:26 PM

One more thing concerning the argument that communism is not always totalitarian. Just how exactly is communism implemented without a totalitarian regime? Does anyone actually believe that those who worked hard and saved in order to accumulate wealth, property or goods willingly give this up for the redistribution of wealth? How do you ensure that there is no dissent without having a police state? In order to implement communism, you need a police state with a totalitarian regime.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-09-17 9:07:43 PM

One person, one vote, one time. Down the road the term "democratic communist" is an oxymoron.

Posted by: DML | 2009-09-17 9:51:50 PM

Non-totalitarian communism: Show me the proof! We are not 'democratic communists'. The goal of communism is to eliminate class. (and as such, ambition) You can't simply remove a fundamental part of human nature.

Though it seems I'm repeating Alain here a bit...

Posted by: K Stricker | 2009-09-18 5:05:18 PM

Mike Brock, you need to be ashamed of yourself... I know you know this but communism can only be implemented at the barrel of a gun. Hence Nichols' reference to "totalitarianism"... It's entirely accurate...

Posted by: Richard Evans | 2009-09-18 5:38:19 PM

I know you know this but communism can only be implemented at the barrel of a gun.
Posted by: Richard Evans | 2009-09-18 5:38:19 PM

And sometimes "capitalism" is too, as in the case of Chile where the legally elected communist president, Salvador Allende, was ousted in a right wing coup.

Posted by: The Stig | 2009-09-18 6:06:08 PM

Toronto's capitalist elite uses force to keep the poor and especially non-whites in line. Toronto's cops are notorious for their bigotry even in that racist city.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-09-18 6:40:28 PM

@Zebulon Pike "Toronto's capitalist elite uses force to keep the poor and especially non-whites in line. Toronto's cops are notorious for their bigotry even in that racist city.

What's your big hatred for Toronto. I've lived in Toronto for three years before moving out west. Yes, Toronto is a racist city. But every where I've been in Alberta is also racist. You make it sound like Toronto is the heart of all racism yet you make it sound like it doesn't exist anywhere else, especially where you live.

Posted by: Doug Gilchrist | 2009-09-18 8:16:15 PM

Sure lots of places have racism, but only Toronto has legally authorized it in the form of the Afri-centric school. Toronto brought Apartheid and Jim Crow back from the dead. Toronto is an international embarrassment. I say that either the school be closed and Ontario's schools change their ways, or their borders be closed until they do. No land, sea or air travel be allowed until black kids can go to school alongside white kids.

It appears that no one in Ontario knows anything about history. What they need is a civil rights movement. If Alabama can learn from its mistakes, Ontario can too - but I'm not optimistic about that.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-09-18 8:39:13 PM

Sure lots of places have racism, but only Toronto has legally authorized it in the form of the Afri-centric school.
Posted by: Zebulon Punk | 2009-09-18 8:39:13 PM

As usual Da Punk is full of shit. It was the negroes in Toronto that wanted a blacks only school. It's the negroes that want apartheid. Now that they have their own school ebonics is part of the curriculum, at least they should pass that course.

Posted by: The Stig | 2009-09-18 9:13:41 PM

Canadian Communists should just be happy that they're allowed to exist. I'm pretty sure the Nazi Party of Canada would not be able to appear on a ballot. If this memorial offends them, GOOD. Perhaps it will open their eyes to the hundreds of millions of deaths at the hands of their misguided ideology, not to mention the ethnic cleansing, denial of basic rights and freedoms, etc. (How many times does it have to fail for them to realize it doesn't work?) And how do we go about getting all these idiots on the National Capital Commission removed? Shouldn't we have intelligent people making these decisions?

Posted by: V | 2009-09-18 11:09:14 PM

"Democratic communism" is an oxymoron, and communism, like other totalitarian movements such as national socialism, is the absolute most brutal and inhumane political system ever invented.

Hence it is perfectly appropriate to "offend" communists, as much and as often as possible.

Posted by: Johan i Kanada | 2009-09-19 2:12:29 AM

Why is it when I offend the largest communist organization in Canada, the Hutterires, my comments are always deleted?

Posted by: dp | 2009-09-19 7:59:29 AM

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