Images of malnourished people confined to forced-labor camps are commonly associated with nazism, not with the regime from which they learned that technique: the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Ukraine is a country that suffered from both Nazi and Communist occupation. Decades later, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine has ratified a law that equates both ideologies and prohibits the promotion of their symbols.
According to The Black Book of Communism, without counting the fallen soldiers, internationalist socialism or communism implemented by the Soviet Union killed twice as many people as Nationalist Socialism, better known as nazism.
In a ruling published on its website, the Ukrainian court said that “the communist regime, like the Nazi regime, inflicted irreparable damage to human rights because of its existence. It had total control over society and engaged in politically motivated persecution and repression. The regime violated its international obligations and its constitution and laws.”
The court added that the “communist and nazi regimes” used similar methods to “implement repressive state policies.”
Ukranian lawmakers passed this legislation in May 2015. However, the uproar it caused in Moscow, as well as internal protests, delayed its ratification.
— La Jiri Libre 🇨🇺🌻🤓 (@JirilibreLa) July 28, 2016
A picture is worth a thousand words. That’s why Cuban artist and activist Annelys PMC illustrated that being offended by the swastika and not by the hammer and sickle is an indicator of the systematic indoctrination that idealizes socialism in one of its forms, the internationalist, and demonizes the other, the nationalist. Therefore, today, the victims of communism remind us that we must condemn both forms of collectivism.
What about freedom of expression?
The prohibition of ideas and symbols is controversial when we seek to uphold freedom of expression. However, Ukranian legislators believe that it is necessary to consolidate communism with nazism since the former also fostered political systems of extermination, hunger, and repression.
Thanks to the law, Ukraine started removing all communist monuments unrelated to the second world war and changed the names of public places that had Soviet names. The country has demolished and destroyed dozens of plaques, monuments, and statues, such as those of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin.
After the law was passed in April 2015, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused Ukraine of using “totalitarian methods” to liquidate parties and organizations and attack “freedom of the press, opinion, and conscience” because parties that promoted socialism in any of its forms remained outside the political arena.
Legislators passed the law amid political tension with Russia, a year after Moscow annexed the Crimean peninsula and helped start a war in eastern Ukraine. The war has killed more than 13,000 people and displaced more than one million.
Crimea was one of the most affected areas during the communist government of the USSR. It experienced two great famines, the first, known as “The Hunger” of 1921-22, followed the Russian Civil War. Although the Bolshevik government declared that the famine was due to drought and economic upheaval due to the Civil War, the leading cause was the forced confiscation of cereals and food in the countryside, which left no reserves for the rural population. About 5 million people died of hunger in that period, 60000 of them Crimean Tatars.
Communism replaced private property with collectivism and starved millions to death.
The second Crimean famine began in 1931. It was the direct result of Soviet policies of collectivism and industrialization. Known as the “Great Famine” of 1932-33 or the Ukrainian Holodomor, the famine hit Ukraine particularly hard. It claimed the lives of between six and seven million people.
Crimea was one of the first places to feel the devastating effects of collectivization. The Soviet Union implemented the first five-year economic plan in 1928. One of the objectives of the plan was to transform agriculture from individually owned plots into a system of collective farms.
Between 1930 and 1933, the Soviet government deported almost one million farm households. It labeled them ‘affluent’ (and therefore enemies of the people) and confiscated their properties. The authorities extended political control over the remaining poor population by forcing them into collectivism.
All resistance was met with public hangings, firing squads and/or a train trip to Siberia, where they died on the way or in forced labor camps. Those remaining in Ukraine died of hunger. They were forced to harvest the land but were forbidden to eat what had been harvested.
By definition, socialism demands the means of production in the hands of the state. So it was not a flaw in the implementation of the system, but an inherent element of the theory.
The Soviet Union achieved “redistribution of wealth” promised by socialism by taking food from Ukrainian farmers and distributing it among the more than 15 nations that the Soviet Union had conglomerated.
The mainstream media has been complicit in concealing the atrocities of communism.
The film industry has devoted enormous efforts to exposing the crimes of nationalist socialism (nazism). Meanwhile, the mass media has been complicit in concealing the abuses of internationalist socialism (communism), which ended more lives and still enjoys immunity not only on the screen but in the streets and even in parliaments.
The New York Times journalist Walter Duranty not only silenced the forced hunger and murder of millions of Ukrainians but also won the most coveted prize in his profession, the Pulitzer, for his supposed coverage in the Soviet Union, where he covered up totalitarianism.
And the phenomenon doesn’t seem to have improved. On the anniversary of the moon landing, The New York Times published an article praising the USSR as an example of the fight against racism and for gender equality because of the diversity of its astronauts.
What it does not say is that the forced hunger induced by Soviet socialism exterminated entire populations, as it targeted specific ethnic groups, as happened with the Ukrainians.
Now the Ukrainians are denouncing communism, not only publicly, but also legally. The supposed defenders of diversity praise the “equality” in the Soviet Union. On the other hand, they overlook the fact that socialism demands isolating the other, and when that is not possible, it exterminates them.