Thursday, May 11, 2006

Communism and Moral Ambiguity

Most people react with vile disdain when they see a Nazi flag, and rightly so. Nazism has killed 20 million people, an estimated 6 million Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals and physically deformed people intentionally in prison camps. However, how many people share the same disdain for Communism? Even though it has killed almost ten times as many people as Nazism did, it still it is looked on by most people in a favorable light, taught by history professors with an ‘unbiased account’, considered ‘good in theory’ (is Nazism ‘good in theory’?) and as of yet just incorrectly implemented.

Communism has killed 170 million people this century, according to Political Scientist, Nobel Peace Prize runner up and author of the most cited historical book, R.J Rummel. By 1950 alone that number was in the dozens of millions, many millions in China and may millions in the Soviet Union; so it was right to be very weary of it and any communist political officer of influence.

From R.J Rummels site -
For perspective on Mao's most bloody rule, all wars 1900-1987 cost in combat dead 34,021,000 -- including WWI and II, Vietnam, Korea, and the Mexican and Russian Revolutions. Mao alone murdered over twice as many as were killed in combat in all these wars. Think about that. One man. Only one man did that much killing. If anything should cause us to avoid anyone having such power at any cost, here it is.

Rational people in this nation were more than justified in attempting to route out communists from government positions. Cables and messages released after the fall of the Soviet Union, revealed that most of the people McCarthy accused of being communist spies actually were, including Alger Hiss. Communism is no laughing matter, as it's death toll attests. The tendency today is to A) completely downplay it's historical atrocities B) ridicule the individuals concern with it at the height of the Cold War (i.e. derogatory comments about "The Red Scare" "McArthyism" and the "Domino Theory" ) C) and laugh at how the Soviet Union fell without a single shot being fired. (never mind the millions of battle dead in China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Korea, South America, etc)

In that regard I highly recommend checking out R.J. Rummels site, Power Kills, which documents murders committed by governments, left and right. Governments have killed more than 4 times the number of people that have been killed in wars this century, and the overwhelming majority of those murders were committed by communist governments.

I am a great admirer of Ayn Rand, and when she was asked what her political position was, she stated "Anti-Communist" but then recanted, refusing to define herself with a negative. She did however testify as a friendly witness for the House Un-American Activities Committee, which though not affiliated with McCarthy directly, was an effort in the same theme.

But I cant re-iterate this part of the story as well as Kelley Ross from

"Another of Rand's sins against the Left and still of current interest was her willingness to testify as a "friendly witness" in the 1947 hearings of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) on Communist infiltration of Hollywood. Rand's only complaint was that they didn't let her testify enough. She was the only person at the hearings who had actually lived under Communism, indeed been a witness to the entire Russian Revolution and Civil War, and she wanted to explain how anti-capitalist messages were included in many mainstream Hollywood movies. It may not be remembered much now that Rand got her real start in America working in Hollywood, living for many years in the San Fernando Valley. This is still of current interest because, after many years of hard feelings, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in 1999 finally gave an Oscar to Elia Kazan, director of such classics as On the Waterfront (1954) -- which itself was about a man fighting with his conscience over whether to expose his gangster (i.e. Communist) friends. Kazan, after leaving the Communist Party, was willing to "name names" to HUAC in 1952.

While Communism failed and fell in the real world, in the make-believe world of Hollywood Communist propaganda succeeded quite nicely, and many people still believe that the HUAC investigations were "witch hunts" for non-existent enemies or well-meaning idealists. Well meaning idealists there were, but they were not the targets of the Committee. Instead, they became the "useful idiot" liberals, in Lenin's words, who whitewashed all the real Communists and their activities. The useful idiots are still at it, though since the 60's many of them, as anti-anti-Communists, have been all but indistinguishable from their Communist friends in Vietnam, Cuba, and Nicaragua. As it turned out, the easiest way to find the Communists in Hollywood was just to subpoena all the suspects. Almost everyone who then refused to testify or took the Fifth Amendment, it happened, actually were Party members (acting on Party orders) or fellow travelers, as we know now from many sources, including the Soviet archives that also reveal the Soviet funding and direction of the Communist Party USA and its activities in Hollywood. These were not idealists but willing agents of tyranny, murder, and crimes against humanity. Rand would have no more patience now with leftists whining about "McCarthyism" than she did in 1947 with the lying and dissimulating agents of the living mass murderer Josef Stalin."

You can read Rand's HUAC testimony here -

Given the massive amount of murders committed by Communist nations, their typical political tendency to undermine intellectually non-communist nations (the first phase of their typical plan, the last of which is typically targeted executions of intellectuals in opposition to them) and the fact that most of these people actually were communist spies, it is incredibly disingenuous to deride McCarthy and HUAC in the manner that is so common today.

Perhaps in my assessment of communism is an instance where my thinking is much more black and white than is typically espoused today, with communism viewed with much more forgiveness and diminished moral condemnation. I can certainly understand what might drive individuals to communism, especially in the ratty shit-holes and murderously oppressive right wing nationalist nations that spawned communism in many cases, even if it was with a lot of Soviet help; however in every case those far left governments killed many more then even the worst of the far right governments. While I certainly understand and empathizes with the struggles an individual must face in a situation like that, I have absolutely no tolerance for those who simply want to make slaves out of every free man on earth.

In one sad case often cited as part of the “Red Scare” Physicists and head of the Manhattan Project Robert J Oppenheimer was accused of being a communist spy and some former members of his team testified against him, such as Edward Teller. Oppenheimer was a very sad victim in this and I am a great admirer of him and in fact Teller as well, but his accusation and subsequent loss of security clearance shocked the scientific community. Yet there was indeed a spy at the Manhattan Project in the form of Klaus Fuchs, who handed over the plans for an atomic bomb to Henry Gold, who then handed them to the Rosenberg's. Many people claim that the information provided by Fuchs was vital in the Soviet's achievement of a nuclear bomb (although some claim it was of little use)

I suspect from discussions of communism I have had that to many people black and what thinking equates with absolutist assessments of things, like my consideration of communism as evil or wrong, while others might search through all of it for some good. But it is fallacious to assert that in all things or people there is some good, because it simultaneously asserts that in all people there must be some bad, and consequently that no matter how hard one tries to be good they could never attain that, and no matter how evil someone or something is, like Stalin, Mao, Hitler, or communism, it has some good in it. I have no doubt that Stalin was probably nice to his dog, and that a few peasants were helped out by communism, but the overwhelming majority of horrific pain and suffering that communism caused could never even remotely be blemished by whatever miniscule good that came from it.

Many people strive to find value in divergent ideas and try to examine them from every possible angle, perspective, and scale, but to any value system based on the life of an individual, communism can have *no value* whatsoever. Communism is the absolute logical extension of anti-life, anti-human, anti-mind, anti-individual, and anti-progress. My love of books and ideas would have gotten me immediately purged, hung, smashed, or sent off to a gulag in very nearly every single communist nation.

[Tan Samay's] pupils hanged him. A noose was passed around his neck; then the rope was passed over the branch of a tree. Half a dozen children between eight and ten years old held the loose end of the rope, pulling it sharply three or four times, dropping it in between. All the while they were shouting, "Unfit teacher! Unfit teacher!" until Tan Samay was dead. The worst was that the children took obvious pleasure in killing.
----A Khmer Rouge execution – From R.J. Rummel’s “Power Kills” site

Simply having books *at all* was a death sentence to most people in Cambodia and in China. My love of ideas, and of self expression, would have gotten me, and probably my family, rapidly killed in these countries, if this is not a living objective embodiment of evil where *thinking* is a crime punishable by death *then what is?*

In the case of communism, gray or non-linear thinking seems to be a desire to avoid making moral judgments. When we consider again Nazism, there is no question about it’s moral stature. Can the same people that say they can find some good in communism legitimately say that can find no good in Nazism? Having read a great book on Hitler’s rise to power I can understand how individuals in pre-Nazi Germany could have felt oppressed and overburdened by the allies of WWI, and how these people who just wanted to have a decent life for themselves could end up promulgating on of the most murderous regimes in history. I also understand how with only minor changes our modern professors ‘non partisan’ lectures on the cold war they would read just like modern neo-nazi propaganda blaming the push of Germany into war on a hyper vigilant anti-German Europe and the Jews. It’s all context, and from the perspective of the German people leading up to 1935 it was not their fault! But they could not have done that without deliberately avoiding passing moral judgments on their own system, without deliberately dehumanizing their victims or opponents, or avoiding at all possible costs making moral assessments. There is no possible way a German citizen could have honestly morally defended Nazi policies so the only way for this rise to power to occur was to abdicate moral absolutism to vagueness, moral relativism, and evasion. The same is absolutely true of communism, which abdicates life, mind, and self to the collective and the state.

In cases where it is a life and death issue, one *must* pass moral judgment, moral indifference or agnosticism rewards immorality, just as absolute pacifism actually rewards violent and oppressive regimes by easily succumbing to their initiations of force. It is depraved indifference.

It’s always good to be vigilantly skeptical of any kind of dichotomous us vs. them thinking. The vast majority of it is baseless and arbitrary. But just because right and wrong / good and evil / and us vs. them has been hijacked by every ethnicity, nationality, special interest group, and collectivist ideal, does not mean that the concepts of right and wrong and us vs. them are invalid. There are certain fundamentals of human standards by which every culture and individual action must be judged against, and that is the respect of life and individuality. Non judgment is the height of moral relativism and means anything goes, whether it is simply a disingenuous white lie or an attempted genocide.

Yes, most forms of partisanship are worthless and arbitrary, but that does not mean that holding oneself and others to certain moral ideals and ethical basics is wrong Many African cultures mutilate young women’s genitalia is this right or wrong? Many Islamic cultures stone adulterers to death, is this right or wrong? Many traditionalist Chinese cultures used to bind young women’s feet was this right or wrong? Many western Christian nations still mutilate male genitalia at birth is this right or wrong?

Witness the indifference today to the brutal oppression of Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, and North Korea. Witness the callous disregard for genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda and today in Darfur. Witness the left, our alleged defenders of human rights, and their complete and utter indifference in most cases, or worst, opposition to, the removal of one of the most brutal dictators of our time who slaughtered gay men and women and their families, executed dissidents, and held the world hostage. Witness that same callous disregard for the deaths and flagrant violation of every human right that permeates the dictatorships and theocracies in the Arab sea of tyranny in the middle east, and that same indifference to the tens of millions of deaths from Malaria the modern environmentalism movement has spawned by banning DDT. These are the fruits of moral relativism.

There are only two ways to completely end partisanship; to abolish all ideals, ethics, and moral codes which generate an us for them attitude (the liberal multi-culturalist moral relativist approach) or to abolish one side of the us vs. them conflict. In all these scenarios, the smallest minority are the defenders of the fundamental rights of sentient beings, the advocates of objective reality, those who base ethics on life. To deny any concept of moral foundation is to side indirectly and implicitly with the most brutal and murderous side of the us vs. them conflict. One may ask “when does this partisanship stop, when everyone embraces one ideology?” Yes, it stops when they all embrace fundamental rights, when all the other ideologies stop murdering and enslaving people who disagree with them. When they all accept, as a component and a foundation of their ideology, a respect for individualism, for life, and for freedom. Either that or it stops when one accepts any murder, oppression, slavery or assault as just someone else’s culture and equally valid. Where do you stand?

We are never hesitant in defending our right to self, individuality, and life, but are seemingly always dismissive of everyone else’s to such an extent that we are hesitant to morally condemn the most anti-self, anti-individuality, and anti-life ideology ever existed on this planet. I have no doubt that nearly every single one of those 170 million people loved their lives as much as I do mine, and you do yours, where is our compassion for them? Our vigilant defense of our own self and individuality is nothing less than an extremely dogmatic ideological stand, and in this we are the essence of black and white. We must presume axiomatically that everyone deserves that same amount of respect and thus rightly and justly morally condemn those ideologies which murder, enslave, and imprison people for nothing more than living, breathing, and thinking.

I can understand people’s hesitance to make any absolute moral declarations, but just because vile anti-individualist brain washing cults hi jack absolutism morality with their own morally arbitrary pronouncements doesn’t mean that a moral foundation in objective reality, life, and individuality is wrong, or that morally condemning those ideologies opposed to those things is wrong.

I am Pro-free private life, pro-individualism, pro-science, pro-reason, pro-free speech, pro-liberal democracy, pro-free economic life, pro-capitalist, pro-west, etc and I apply these values directly too all people and accept the logical consequences of my deepest values, wholly and willingly.
On Different kinds of Freedom

In a conversation with an Anarchist I was told the following:

“Just because someone is taking the free will of others, doesn't mean, in my opinion, that I have the right to take their free will (life).”


“The use of force to stop oppression is the same thing as the use of force to oppress. It is the will taking of another person's will through sheer force.”

Freedom is not the ‘right to do anything one wants’ which is what his statement suggests. If you find anyone who holds this as their conception of freedom I would suggest you stay the hell away, as they are indicating that they have absolutely no moral or ethical code what so ever. This conception of freedom suggests that any infringements of any actions of anyone for any reason is a violation of freedom. But it is a ‘violation’ of freedom if you prevent someone from killing you? You are, after all, stifling his free will. This mentalities suggest self defense is in fact an oppression of your attacker. Similarly, is it a violation of ‘freedom’ to stop someone from killing another person? When rational men, the founding fathers, and your everyday person speak of Freedom they are not speaking of it in this esoteric existentialist absolutist sense (ie the ultimate ability to do whatever you want to whomever you want) this is not “freedom” in the philosophical sense, but freedom in only the metaphysical sense. Any society based on such a thing would be nothing more than murderous anarchy, where whomever has the power can kill whomever he wants, that is his free will, after all, to choose to do so and it is wrong for you to choose to take his free will away, lest you would be oppressing him, according to this anarchist. Such a worldview is murderously incompetent and dangerous.

Clearly our use of the word freedom has a moral and ethical connotation to it, while this persons is purely a physical description of impediments on actions, *any* actions, even if it is to kill another human. That is not ‘freedom’, and no man is ‘free’ to kill another for whatever whim happens to strike his fancy. Philosophical freedom begins where your ‘freedom from restrictions of actions’ in one person begins to interfere with another. That is, when my freedom of will and action (a desire to stay alive) contradicts your freedom of will and action (to kill me) then this is where the ethical distinction of freedom is required. This is were politics, which ideally relates to the interaction of men, comes into play. Consider the difference between being bound by chains and being bound by the law of gravity, and that this anarchists idea draws no freedom draws no distinction between the two. This is an inherent problem with the English language, which uses the word ‘free’ to mean many different things. Consider the line idiotic line “they call this a free country then why does it cost so much to live” (from some dumb popular song) and then consider a similar statement which mixes the definitions of freedom in the exact same manner as that song “Sure I want black people to be free, everyone should get one!” Free from cost Is NOT the same thing as Free from political oppression. Greek language, for instance, uses a completely different word for ethical and political freedom, freedom of movement and actions, and freedom as in without expense, as does Vietnamese. Unfortunately English muddles the words and definitions up, and consequently causes some philosophical confusion among angst filled anarchists.

Political and ethical and objectivist freedom is the restriction of the initiation of force on others. Self defense is proper and just, and one should be militant about defending their selves and their freedoms, and self defense is a restriction on the initiation of force. In this way you also can not force freedom on people (as commentators on the Iraq War love to assert) you can only prevent others from restricting the freedoms of other people with force. This is the proper function of the military and police.

The fact that some anarchists might draw no distinction between these two conceptions of freedom is no doubt the source of their disagreement with minarchist libertarianism and Objectivism. It is also, with no doubt in my mind, a dangerous and disgusting philosophical position which simultaneously justifies mass murder for any reason anywhere anytime, justifies complete inaction in the face of any injustice perpetrated upon other beings in the world, and objects to the concept of protecting rights.
Life, Death, Obligation and Obfuscation

I am a strong advocate of productive value affirming behavior. I frequently have discussions with Objectivists and Extropians holding them accountable to their own professed highest value, that of their own life. Most professed life loving secularists are content to sit idly by while they age, wither, and eventually die. They deride cryogenic preservation, life extension technologies, and often justify their attitudes with appeals to wildly dystopian futures sprung right from the caves of revelations.

Often, *death* itself, is cited as a source of value, e.g. Death gives life meaning, death is the end to a beginning, death is the closing of the story, death lets us have our chance and clear the way for later life, death is an escape from suffering and living, etc. Death is none of these things, it is the cessation of all existence, it is the end of all values. Dying is not selfish as it is the complete destruction of the self.

These people who attach a value to death are what I tend to call “religious deathists” and just as many secularists share this view as do professed religionists. But when man’s productive and inventive forces are fully unleashed, death from aging and disease will likely be completely conquered. These religious deathists will still cling to their views and will grow old and die, but their children will be raised in a society which accepts indefinite life spans. The ones who had the integrity, rationality, and proper internal conviction will live to be the first generation enjoying indefinite life spans. It is hard to guess when this will happen, it could be this generation or the next or 10 generations down the line. But we can all help to bring this about faster.

To those objectivists out there, who profess to hold their own life as their highest value, why are you not acting in accordance with your values? You should be acting rationally and productively to fight your worst enemy, which will kill you, your loved ones, and end everything and everyone you care about. Most people balk at this call to arms, as it demands unwavering integrity and complete adherence to your fundamental convictions… evasion is much easier. Escapism is simpler. Blank out to get through the rough times. Objectivists, who profess that all the great advances of humanity sprung forth from the minds of individuals, that profess that a man of rationality with conviction and integrity is a virtually unstoppable creative and inventive force, that profess that one man even if the face of the greatest and most overwhelming odds can accomplish the most monumental feats… are the first to bow down, give up, apologize for their own existence, and excuse themselves from ever needing to do anything productive to fight aging, disease, and death.

Now no one is demanding that we drop everything we are doing and make studying senescence the only thing we live, breathe, and think, but first and foremost we all need to drop the philosophical acceptance of death; all else fallows naturally. Death is not OK, it never is, never has been, and never will be. It is not an escape or a relief, we are not ‘resting’ or in ‘a better place’ this is all hogwash people adopt in order to not have to come to fully face the inevitability of their own demise. But just like a drunkard who convinces himself that it’s just who he is and thus absolves himself of the responsibility of ever trying to change himself, the religious escapist completely absolve themselves of the compulsion and obligation to their own deepest values to ever do anything about death, and it is why this world of 3 billion profoundly intelligent beings can not muster up enough motivation or dedication to defeat even a modicum of the diseases which kill them.

It would be great if all people, everywhere, identified their most fundamental values and started acting in rational accordance with them. If all people everywhere (who were not just merely struggling to survive under whatever murderous brute happens to rule them) turned off the TV, the video games, the fashion and gossip mags and their IPODs, and started studying, learning, and thinking. If all people begin to actualize their potential, to at first believe they are capable of great things, and then realize they in fact were able, with dedication and perseverance to actually achieve many of these great things. But in lieu of that, first and foremost discard your philosophical acceptance of death. It is not OK. Secondly, take a look at any of the numerous charities dedicated to bringing about this world, and think about dedicating even just your idle CPU cycles to the Protein Folding at home project, or even better some time or money to any of the various organizations dedicated to saving your life and the life of everyone you love.

Donating Idle CPU Cycles
full list

Protein folding @ home -

Proteins are biology's workhorses...The process of protein folding, while critical and fundamental to virtually all of biology, in many ways remains a mystery. Moreover, when proteins do not fold correctly there can be serious consequences, including many well known diseases, such as Alzheimer's, Mad Cow (BSE), CJD, ALS, Huntington's, Parkinson's disease, and many Cancers and cancer-related syndromes.

Orbit@Home -
is a project which uses the Orbit Reconstruction, Simulation and Analysis framework to monitor the impact hazard posed by Near-Earth objects

SETI@home -
SETI@home is a scientific experiment that uses Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). You can participate by running a free program that downloads and analyzes radio telescope data

Fight AIDS @ Home -
captures the otherwise wasted cycles of your computer and applies them to model the evolution of drug resistance and to design drugs necessary to fight AIDS

United Devices Cancer Research Project -
The United Devices Cancer Research Project is asking you to volunteer your PC to help process molecular research being conducted by the Department of Chemistry at the University of Oxford in England and the National Foundation for Cancer Research

Charities / Institutions

Lifeboat Foundation

- Future Studies -
Foundation for the Future

Foresight Institute

- Life Extension -
Methuselah Mouse Prize
Immortality Institute

- Intelligence Increase -
Singularity Institute

- Other -
Extropy Institute
TV 2005 Scholarship Fund

- Social Sciences -
Center for Responsible Nanotechnology
Grameen Foundation USA

- Your Rights Online -
Creative Commons
Electronic Frontier Foundation

- Space Migration -
National Space Society
Planetary Society

Mars Society

Saturn V Restoration

Elevator 2010
X-Prize Foundation