Communal Forgetting

Throughout my school years we didn’t spend much time talking about the Russian Revolution and its atrocities and I’d bet that most of my peers wouldn’t know of any genocides except for perhaps the Holocaust. Though I grew up in Denmark, this is not strictly a Danish problem. According to a report by The New Culture Forum similar tendencies are seen in the UK. In a survey they found that less than ⅓ of 16-24 year-olds have studied the Russian Revolution at any point in school. Furthermore, they found that of secondary school children aged 11-18 81% weren’t able to mention a genocide other than the Holocaust.

What’s more, in their report they presented a list of 22 historical figures to respondents and asked them to indicate whether they associated that name with crimes against humanity or not. It turns out that a significant proportion associated George W. Bush (39%) and Tony Blair (34%) with crimes against humanity, far more than did Communist mass murders like Pol Pot (19%).

In a different survey the respondents were presented with a different list of another 15 historical figures and were asked to indicate whether they would consider them to be a dictator or not. Surprisingly, more people thought of Ronald Reagan (9%) as a dictator than Nicolae Ceaușescu (8%).

The list of surprising findings goes on. In a third survey designed to test respondents attitudes to various ideologies, socialism is viewed as the most positive ideology while only receiving the second worst negative score. Unfortunately, it seems the brand socialism has not been contaminated by the crimes and atrocities of Communism - rather the opposite.

By now, we’ve established that lack of education is the problem. Therefore, getting out on the platforms where young people spend their time to educate them on Communism and its consequences might help turn the tide. Good friends of the Adam Smith Institute have created a project, Museum of Communist Terror, with the aim of keeping the knowledge and understanding of the deaths, terror and economic failure of Communist regimes alive. They plan on doing this through social media and talks for schools and universities among other things that ultimately will lead up to a museum in London.

Part of their strategy is also to educate people through small videos with experts and victims of Communism. I highly recommend that you spend 2 minutes watching their most recent video on the Holodomor and perhaps share it with your friends.