Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Moral Equivalence of Fools

I'm not a communist. I've never been a communist. I don't think communism could ever work. But there's a conservative talking point that pops up from time to time on the New Zealand blogosphere which bugs me no end. And it runs like this:

Nazis killed many millions. We all agree that Nazis have no place in our public discourse. Communists have also killed many millions, yet the left still provides them with a legitimised voice in its discourse. This is wrong.

At the time of the anti-Iraq War protests the argument ran like:

You're marching alongside communists; would you march alongside Nazis.

So, just to get this off my chest:

Nazism and Communism are not moral equivalents.

Communism was horrible in practice but its ideals of equality and freedom are not morally repugnant. The entire ethos of Nazism, on the other hand, is.

It is true that attempts to put communism into practice lead to grotesque human rights violations. To me it seems probable that communism cold never be set in place without such violations (this is one of the many reasons I am not a communist) but, and this is the important point, most communists clearly don't think that this has to be the case*. They don't want a world where people's human rights are repressed.

Nazi's do - it is inherent in their vision of utopia.

And that's why attempts to draw moral equivalence between communism and Nazism aren't just wrong - they're silly.

*To be clear there were, and very occasionally still are, some some ruthless and repugnant communists but that doesn't have anything to do with the utopia they are selling. They're just nasty people. A lot like quite a few conservatives around this part of the world. Yet, no one's saying that conservatives should be marginalised.

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