One of the most promoted books of the 90s was Le Livre noir du communisme, published by the former Maoist Stéphane Courtois in 1997. We will not dwell on the well-known psychology of the convert. The book was kind of Manual of the perfect Latin American idiot but from the first world and with much more media life.
From this book come the endless publications on social networks about “the hundred million deaths of communism”, although its own authors estimated the death toll between 65 and 95 million, listing any event where a communist country was involved and taking the highest figure. in any case.
The Second World War is attributed to Hitler and Stalin, when the latter was primarily responsible for the defeat of the former, and the former was the cause of that tragedy. Moreover, the authors come to the conclusion that Stalin killed more than Hitler, without considering the reasons for each tragedy and attributing part of the 70 million deaths in the Second War to Stalin, being that one started the war and the other the term. The twenty million Russian deaths are attributed to Stalin. Specialists in the Soviet era estimate Stalin’s responsibility at one million deaths, which is a horrendous figure, but far from what is attributed to him and even further than any of the massacres caused by the other victorious superpowers.
In 1945, General LeMay razed several Japanese cities, including Nagoya, Osaka, Yokohama, and Kobe, three months before the atomic bombs. On the night of March 10, he ordered 1,500 tons of explosives dropped on Tokyo from 300 B-29 bombers. 500,000 bombs rained down from 1:30 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. 100,000 men, women and children died in a few hours and a million others were seriously injured. “The women ran with their babies like fiery torches on their backs.”, will remember Nihei, a survivor. “I don’t care about killing Japanese”, said General LeMay, the same one who, less than two decades later, will recommend to President Kennedy to drop some atomic bombs on Havana as a way to solve the problem of the bearded rebels. In the early 1980s, Secretary of State Alexander Haig will tell President Ronald Reagan: “Just give me the order and I’ll turn that island of shit into an empty parking lot.”.
Courtois’s book lists two of the three million total deaths in North Korea and attributes them to communism, without considering that the indiscriminate bombings of General MacArthur and other “defenders of freedom” wiped out 80 percent of the country. Since the year 1950, hundreds of tons of bombs used to be dropped in a single day.
Courtois also counts a million deaths in Vietnam due to the communists, without considering that it was a war of independence against the imperial powers of France and the United States, which left at least two million dead, most of them not in combat. but also under the classic US aerial bombardment (inaugurated in 1927 against Sandino in Nicaragua) and the use of the chemical Agent Orange, which not only wiped out a million innocent people indiscriminately, but its effects on genetic mutations are still felt today. .
He also attributes the barbarism of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia entirely to communism, just because the regime was communist, not to mention that it had been supported by Washington and Western corporations, and that it was communist Vietnam that defeated the United States that put an end to this barbarity, while the West continued to support the genocidal, recognizing them in the UN as a legitimate government until the 1980s. Between 1969 and 1973, more bombs (500,000 tons) fell on Cambodia than those that fell on Germany and Japan during World War II . The same thing happened to North Korea and Laos. Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, children of the anti-colonialist reaction against the West, were later supported by China and the United States while they exterminated a million people. Vietnam ended the Pol Pot massacre after a massacre of 30,000 Vietnamese.
The largest number of the 94 million victims of communism refers to the catastrophic famine in Mao’s China in the 1960s. This 1958-62 famine caused not 60 million, but most likely some 35 million, and was by no means a deliberate racist extermination plan, Nazi-style in Germany or British-style in India. The need for industrialization was repeated in countries like Brazil and Argentina, and their only sin was having arrived late. In the Chinese case, it combined disastrous politics with climate problems. Despite everything, life expectancy in China began to improve rapidly from the 1960s.
During the same period, India began to improve the life expectancy of its population just because it had ceased to be a colony starved and plundered by the British Empire, which between 1880 and 1920 alone was responsible for the deaths of 160 million people. However, the economist and professor at Harvard University Amartya Sen and Jean Drèze, from the London School of Economics, in 1991 had published Hunger and Public Action, where they analyzed with statistical rigor several forgotten cases of world famines caused by capitalist policies, reaching the conclusion that in the same period, in democratic India, one hundred million had died, also for political reasons.
The mainstream press did not echo these studies and the world did not find out. Six years later, she rose to fame Le Livre noir du communisme and others of the same commercial genre for quick sales and easy digestion. The same happened with the analyzes of the intellectual and diplomat Shashi Tharoor and the professors Jason Hickel and Dylan Sullivan on the impact of the imperial policies of capitalism.
If we continue counting, with the same criteria as Courtois, the millions of indigenous people who died in the Americas in the process that made capitalism possible in Europe, the ten million dead that the Belgian king Leopold II left behind in his company called Congo and so many others massacres in Africa, India, Bangladesh, or the Middle East, we would easily pass several hundred million dead in any black book of capitalism.
The renowned economist and professor Utsa Patnaik has calculated that Great Britain stole 45 billion dollars from India between 1765 and 1938 alone and caused, over those centuries, the deaths of not one hundred million but more than one billion people. . The figure reached in her book published by Columbia University Press at first glance seems exaggerated. It is no more than the one reached by Courtois based on the same criteria -only better documented.
* Upcoming book chapter Flies on the web.