by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
[W]herever you turn in the world today, it seems that the virus of Communism — in every Marxist, socialist strain — remains alive and well. Conditions for its spreading range from moderate to good.
In June, Russians were asked in an opinion poll to name “the top ten outstanding people of all time and all nations.” Perhaps it is unsurprising that the joint second most commonly given name was Pushkin. Even less surprising that Russia’s national poet should have shared this position with the country’s current strongman, Vladimir Putin. What is more startling for any outsider is that the person whom the largest number of Russians declared the “most outstanding” person in world history was Joseph Stalin. It is true that the man responsible for the deaths (around 20 million, by most moderate estimates) of more people than any other in Russian history has slipped slightly. This year he was at 38 percent, down from 42 percent in a 2012 survey. Yet still he leads the polls. Were the greatest mass murderer in Russian history able to return from his grave today, he could resume power without even needing to fix the ballot.
Of course, if Adolf Hitler remained the most popular figure in modern Germany, the world would be worried. But with the Communists it was always different. An admirer of General Franco who opposed Primo de Rivera is somehow not the same as a Trotskyist who opposed Leninism (a type that remains a staple of the media and academic worlds). Perhaps the 20th century’s greatest remaining mystery is how, between the twin totalitarian nightmares, it remains acceptable to have spent a portion of your life envying, emulating, or celebrating the global cataclysm that commenced in 1917.