Figure 2shows the major sources of death for those murdered under communism and comparesthis to world totals for each source for this century. A few of these sourcesrequire someclarification. Deaths through government
means the killing of specific individuals byassassination, extrajudicial executions, torture, beatings, and such.
, on the other hand,means the indiscriminate mass killing of people, as in soldiers machine gunning demonstrators,or entering a village and killing all of its inhabitants. As used here,
is the killing of people because of their ethnicity, race, religion, or language. And democide through
is the killing of people during their forced mass transportation to distant regions and their deathas a direct result, such as through starvation or exposure.
is that which is purposely caused or aggravated by government or which is knowingly ignoredand aid to itsvictims is withheld.As can be seen in the figure, communist forced labor was particularly deadly. It not onlyaccounts for most deaths under communism, but is close to the world total, which also includescolonial forced labor deaths (asin German, Portuguese, and Spanish colonies). Communists alsocommitted genocide, to be sure, but only near half of the world total. Communists are much lessdisposed to massacre then were many other noncommunist governments (such as the Japanesemilitaryduring World War II, or the Nationalist Chinese government from 1928 to 1949). As can be seen from the comparative total for terrorism, communists were much more discriminating intheir killing overall, even to the extent in the Soviet Union, communist China, and Vietnam, atleast, of using a quota system. Top officials would order local officials to kill a certain number of "enemies of the people," "rightists", or "tyrants".How can we understand all this killing by communists? It is the marriage of an absolutistideology with the absolute power. Communists believed that they knew the truth, absolutely.They believed that they knew through Marxism what would bring about the greatest humanwelfare and happiness. And they believed that power, the dictatorship of the proletariat, must beused to tear down the old feudal or capitalist order and rebuild society and culture to realize thisutopia. Nothing must stand in the way of its achievement. Government--the Communist Party--was thus above any law. All institutions, cultural norms, traditions, and sentiments wereexpendable. And the people were as though lumber and bricks, to be used in building the newworld.Constructing this utopia was seen as though a war on poverty, exploitation, imperialism, andinequality. And for the greater good, as in a real war, people are killed. And thus this war for thecommunist utopia had its necessary enemy casualties, the clergy, bourgeoisie, capitalists,wreckers, counterrevolutionaries, rightists, tyrants, rich, landlords,and noncombatants thatunfortunately got caught in the battle. In a war millions may die, but the cause may be well justified, as in the defeat of Hitler and an utterly racist Nazism. And to many communists, thecause of a communist utopia was such as to justify all the deaths. The irony of this is thatcommunism in practice, even after decades of total control, did not improve the lot of theaverage person, but usually made their living conditions worse than before the revolution. It isnot by chance thatthe greatest famines have occurred within the Soviet Union (about 5,000,000dead during 1921-23 and 7,000,000 from 1932-3) and communist China (about 27,000,000 deadfrom 1959-61). In total almost 55,000,000 people died in various communist famines andassociated diseases, a little over 10,000,000 of them from democidal famine. This is as though