EDUCATION by Paul KengorNews Weekly
A high school curriculum that teaches the truth about communism
, October 25, 2014
Staff at Grove City College’s Center for Vision & Values (Grove City, Pennsylvania) recently interviewed Dr Paul Kengor on an important resource that he and Dr Lee Edwards have developed to teach high-school students about communism.
Dr Paul Kengor
Vision & Values: Dr Paul Kengor, you recently completed a curriculum that teaches high school students about communism — that is, an accurate portrayal of communism. Tell us about it.
Kengor: The curriculum is titled, “Communism: Its Ideology, Its History, Its Legacy”, and was done for the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, an organisation formally recognised by the U.S. Congress. The foundation memorialises the 100 million dead victims of communism in the 20th century — that’s double the combined deaths of World War I and II, the two deadliest conflicts in the history of humanity.
The foundation is looking to place a physical memorial on the National Mall in Washington, remembering these victims as the 6-10 million Holocaust victims have been remembered.
Notably, this memorial was initiated with bipartisan support. It was championed by Tom Lantos, a very liberal Democrat who understood the evils of communism. Every liberal should understand that communism is a pernicious, inhumane ideology that must be opposed. The original bill that created the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, and thus the memorial itself, received unanimous support in Congress — from Lantos to Nancy Pelosi. President Bill Clinton signed it into law. The foundation provides an annual Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom, named for a Democrat and Republican president.
The motivation for this memorial and the high school curriculum is the utterly profound ignorance of communism and its unrivalled deadly effect virtually everywhere it has been implemented. The 100 million deaths is a conservative estimate, reported in the seminal work by Harvard University Press, The Black Book of Communism. The number is arguably closer to 140 million. And yet, we’re told again and again that communism is really a pretty good idea if you just read Marx and Engel’s The Communist Manifesto. As soon as I hear that, I know the person hasn’t actually read The Communist Manifesto.
Vision & Values: We recommend your article from a few years back, “A Manifesto on the Manifesto” (Center for Vision and Values, April 30, 2010). Tell us how this project came about.
Kengor: I was approached several years ago by Dr Lee Edwards, who spearheads the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, and also happens to be the author of the excellent history of Grove City College, Freedom’s College. Edwards asked me to write a curriculum to teach the truth about communism, its origins, history and impact. I knew I didn’t have the time because of other pressing projects, but I couldn’t say no. I found a way. I proceeded to write tens of thousands of words of content and assembled countless accompanying links and research and reference materials. We brought in Claire Griffin, who has rich expertise with public schools. She adapted the information into a format common to public schools. She did a ton of work. This curriculum would not have happened without her.
Vision & Values: And now, the project is finished and ready for use.
Kengor: Yes, it is. The foundation issued a press release and has posted links on-line, including sample lessons. Take a look. It’s available for public schools, private schools, home schools, individuals, whoever. And it’s badly needed.
Vision & Values: Let’s conclude on that point. Why is this so badly needed?
Kengor: I could go and on with examples. I get an email per week from a frustrated student or parent exasperated at what’s being taught in our high schools and universities on communism. I get invited by college students around the country to give a talk titled, “Why Communism Is Bad”. Can you imagine that? These students need to bring in an outsider to make that case on their campus.
The Holodomor (Ukrainian for “extermination
by hunger”) was an artificial famine, engineered
by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin during 1932-33,
which killed more than 5 million Ukrainians.
There’s an excellent piece that was just published in the liberal Daily Beast (August 25, 2014), calling liberals to account for not being critical of communism and not supporting the Victims of Communism Memorial. The author writes about telling an acquaintance about the memorial. His friend scoffed: “Communism wasn’t responsible for any deaths. Crappy leaders were.” The author asks: “How many times have you heard some formulation of this viewpoint? […] I wish that was the sort of sentiment I only remembered from college dorm-room bull sessions.” Unfortunately, he notes, this is a common sentiment among a broad segment of the intellectual elite, and it’s growing fast among the Millennial Generation.
The writer is exactly right. I hear these things constantly. It’s only getting worse as liberals continue their monolithic stranglehold on education, especially higher education. They’re not teaching the horrors of communism; quite the contrary. Thus the need for this curriculum.
Vision & Values: Dr Kengor, we hope this curriculum makes a positive impact.
Kengor: So do I. Please pass it along. Have it handy. I get no money for this. It’s for the cause. It’s for truth. There are over 100 million people who were killed by this awful ideology, and countless more who suffered in other ways. How can we remember them? We can start by at least learning the truth about what caused their suffering, and not repeating the same mistake.
Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College (Grove City, Pennsylvania). His latest book, 11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative (2014), is available from News Weekly Books. His other books include The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (2012) and Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century (2010). The above article was first published by the Center for Vision & Values and is reprinted here with its permission.
Friedrich Engels: There is no country in Europe which does not have in some corner or other one or several ruined fragments of peoples, the remnant of a former population that was suppressed and held in bondage by the nation which later became the main vehicle of historical development.
Karl Marx (left) and
These relics of a nation mercilessly trampled under foot in the course of history, as Hegel says, these residual fragments of peoples always become fanatical standard-bearers of counter-revolution and remain so until their complete extirpation or loss of their national character, just as their whole existence in general is itself a protest against a great historical revolution.
Such, in Scotland, are the Gaels, the supporters of the Stuarts from 1640 to 1745. Such, in France, are the Bretons, the supporters of the Bourbons from 1792 to 1800. Such, in Spain, are the Basques, the supporters of Don Carlos. Such, in Austria, are the pan-Slavist Southern Slavs, who are nothing but racial trash [Völkerabfall], resulting from an extremely confused thousand years of development.
The next world war will cause not only reactionary classes and dynasties, but also entire reactionary peoples, to disappear from the earth. And that too is progress.
Extract from Karl Marx’s friend and intellectual collaborator Friedrich Engels’ essay, “Der magyarische Kampf” [“The Hungarian Struggle”], published in Die Neue Rheinische Zeitungjournal, No. 194, January 13, 1849.
Karl Marx: The classes and races too weak to master the new conditions of life must give way. They must perish in the revolutionary holocaust.
Extract from a passsge of Karl Marx in his People’s Paper, April 16, 1852, quoted in the Journal of the History of Ideas, 1981.
Environmental degradation was the norm throughout the communist countries of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Sourcing from articles in Time and Business Week, a 1992 Cato Journal paper noted that “children from the Upper Silesia area of Poland have been found to have five times more lead in their blood than children from Western European cities”, while half of the region’s children suffered from pollution-related illnesses.
A similar story was found in the Soviet Union. Writing for the now-defunct (and Ralph Nader-founded) Multinational Monitor in September 1990, James Ridgeway noted widespread pollution of both the air and drinking water: “Half of all industrial waste water in the capital city goes untreated. In Leningrad, nearly half of the children have intestinal disorders caused by drinking contaminated water from what was once Europe’s most pristine supply.”
Further examples of Soviet carelessness and environmental destruction abound: The Guardian notes that nearly 250,000 tons of pesticides and farm chemicals from Soviet times have been “stored in ramshackle warehouses, land-filled or dumped” throughout the former USSR.
Lake Karachay — a dumping ground for Soviet nuclear weapon facilities — was deemed the “most polluted spot on Earth” by the Worldwatch Institute, and a 1994 New York Times article noted that one of Russia’s most prized exports, caviar, had been placed at severe risk from “tens of thousands of tons of heavy metals, chemicals, raw waste and other pollutants” dumped annually into the Caspian Sea, as well as Stalin’s damming of the Volga River.
Extract from Colin Grabow, The Federalist (U.S.), January 13, 2014.