Douglas Levene takes a look back at what happened in Cambodia under Communist leader Pol Pot. He makes the point that although some would like to label it “genocide”, it simply doesn’t fit the definition. Cambodia is 95% Khmer and what happened was “Khmer on Khmer” violence. It wasn’t genocide:
Rather, what happened in Cambodia is what happened in the French Revolution, and in Stalin’s purges and mass collectivization campaigns, and in Mao’s Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, only on a proportionately larger scale. It was mass murder in the name of equality. It wasn’t “genocide”; it was Communist utopianism carried to its logical extreme. The Khmer Rouge, who called themselves Maoists, believed that the most important social and political value was equality and that in order to create their new, classless society in which everyone was equal, it was necessary to exterminate anyone who might be smarter, or better educated, or wealthier, or more talented than anyone else. Thus, they killed the educated, the bourgeoisie, the middle classes, and the rich; movie stars, pop singers, authors, urban residents, and workers for the former government; and anyone who protested — as well as the families of all the above. Towards the end, they also killed cadres who were thought to be a political threat. Whatever their crimes were, the Khmer Rouge do not seem to have been motivated by racial, ethnic, or religious hatred.
The standard leftist cause these days is “equality”. We’re seeing it play out right here in this country today with the demonization of the rich, corporations and other capitalists entities. And while it is easy to attempt to wave away what happened in Cambodia as an extremist example carried out by a splinter Communist group, in fact Stalin’s and Mao’s purges were driven by much the same goal. All were striving for a “communist utopia” and they murdered extensively in its name. Certainly there were other reasons, such as Stalin’s paranoia, but the murder regime had already been established and was functioning when those victims were added to the collective total.
Given that, Levene wonders why the world insists then on claiming “genocide” as the reason for Cambodia’s Killing Fields:
However, I suspect that the most important reason for the usage worldwide is that many people in the international media, international agencies, and international NGOs (not to mention academia) are reluctant to face up to the crimes committed by Communism in the name of equality. To do so might call into question the weight attached by them to equality as the most important social value and undermine the multicultural faith that evil is predominantly the product of inequality, racism, ethnic hatred, or religious fanaticism. That cannot be permitted, so such crimes must be either ignored or mislabeled. And, of course, the remaining Communist regimes in the world are only too happy to cooperate in characterizing the killing fields as the products of irrational paranoia on the part of Pol Pot and his gang rather than the perfectly rational result of the quest for perfect equality.
While there certainly are examples of “evil” driven by “racism, ethnic hatred or religious fanaticism”, few match the scale of the evil perpetrated by Communist regimes. Marx called for it in his “Communist Manifesto”:
‘The violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie lays the foundation for the sway of the proletariat.’
And they simply carried out his instructions:
‘What the bourgeoisie, therefore, produces, above all, is its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.’
Cambodia unfortunately saw a communist group take Marx at his word:
‘The theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.’ … ‘When, therefore, capital is converted into common property, into the property of all members of society, personal property is not thereby transformed into social property. It is only the social character of the property that is changed. It loses its class character.’
The Khmer Rouge attempted to impose these dicta in the quickest and most basic of ways – through murder of all those who represented the hated “bourgeoisie” in an attempt to make society “equal”. As Leven says, they carried out the “perfectly rational” pursuit of Marx’s utopia. A violent overthrow of the existing culture, the murder of those who weren’t politically and ideologically pure or were members of the bourgeoisie class and the abolition of private property in favor of common property in order to equalize society. And, of course, it yielded the horror that became Kampuchea, with its killing fields, mass graves and torture rooms.
While certainly not on the obvious scale of the Khmer Rouge, the left continues the same sort of pursuit here. Equality has become its ideological banner, and it constantly touts it as its cultural goal in the West. Stealth Marxism – not really so stealthy to those who have bothered to look.
Ironically, it is as much a religion to those who believe in it as any featuring a deity. It requires an abiding faith that at its base the Marxist principles are sound and will someday be “properly” implemented despite the numerous examples of the horror and death it has consistently brought. As much as they deride the faith of Christians and their belief in “heaven”, Marxists and Maoists and all the assorted different communists still pursue their “heaven” on earth and as a result continue to fill the mass graves its pursuit requires.
Cambodia was not genocide. Cambodia was just the timeline of Communism (and all the other Marxist “isms”) in other countries speeded up for the convenience of the self-declared proletariat.
All in the name of “equality”.