Sat, 01 Apr 2000

Red threat remains

The opinion of Kusnanto Anggoro in PKI: Opening a new chapter, without closing the book in the March 30 edition of The Jakarta Post is well-meaning but extremely confused and poorly informed.

"The potential for a communist rebirth remains remote" Kusnanto says. I beg to disagree: the problem with communism is that, unlike Nazism, it sounds good. Nazism was evil without disguise. It announced clearly its purposes and means: the supremacy of the Aryan race, the domination of Europe under a German empire, the destruction of the Jews, the use of force to achieve its aims.

Communism wants happiness for "Man on Earth" through material comfort, freedom from superstition (read religion) and the changing of people into a new being -- the virtuous, brave, generous, selfless and hard-working Communist Man, the Leading Light of the Proletariat, the Party Member. This is music to the ears of the young and generous, the naive, the well-meaning, the secular do-gooders, the nice atheists of all persuasions, the leftist intellectuals. As to those who refused to become these little communist angels, it is evident that they fully deserved what came to them.

In terms of consequences, Nazism's track record against that of communism is, contrary to what Kustanto says, mere child's play: The Nazis murdered six million Jews, and caused, directly or indirectly, the estimated 20 million dead of World War II. This rates nothing against communist achievements in the area of mass murder: the revolt of the Kulaks, the starvation in the Ukraine in the late 1920s caused by the forced collectivization of the farms, the Stalinian purges, the systematic murder of the Russian officer cadre on the eve of World War II and as its consequence the huge losses the Russian army suffered under incompetent officers, the Korean war and the starvation of North Korea in the nineties, the Gulag, the Great Leap forward and the death by starvation of an estimated 50 million Chinese as a result, the Cultural Revolution and its mass murders, the Cambodian genocide, and a few other things I have forgotten Child's play indeed. Indonesia needs a "rational, not Orwellian, anticommunism", Kusnanto goes on to say.

Well, the Orwell he read is not the same as mine: Animal Farm and 1984 are perfectly rational works that describe factually and with great accuracy how the communist system derails, not because Stalin or Kim-Il-sung are freaks of nature, but because Stalin and Kim are the obligatory outcome of the implementation of the Communist Way. The leading pig of Animal Farm, the one who is "more equal than others", starts with the best intentions. He is nevertheless bound to end up a mass murderer.

More than ever, we need George Orwell to fuel our visceral anticommunism: The communist dream is still alive, and the worst part is that it is alive in the minds and hearts of perfectly decent people.