2019s Note: This article and its accompanying sidebars originally appeared in the October 30, 2017, issue of National Review magazine. Editor’s Note: This article and its accompanying sidebars originally appeared in the October 30, 2017, issue of National Review magazine. I grant that the Nazis committed excesses, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something essay on latin american revolution be said for Fascism.
While there certainly are groupuscules of neo-Nazis around, they do not get a polite reception on campuses, let alone tenure. Communism’s legacy of violence and discredit ideas remain a political force 100 years after the Russian revolution. Violent Communist leaders of the past are still embraced on the far left, where their discredited ideas remain in circulation. Watered-down versions of Fascism do not emerge in the manifestos of mainstream political parties in the West.
No student is ever seen sporting a T-shirt with a chic Reinhard Heydrich likeness emblazoned across the front. If the bacillus of Fascism is never dormant, then at least we appear to have retained significant stockpiles of societal antibiotics with which to counter it. It is unlikely that Richard Spencer will address the Conservative Political Action Conference anytime soon. Unlikely that there will be celebratory centennials for Mussolini’s rise to power. Fascism will reach the White House in any coming electoral cycle. Yet 100 years on from the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, can the same be said about the Communist dream? Only the wildest optimist could say so.
For in fact wherever you turn in the world today, it seems that the virus of Communism — in every Marxist, socialist strain — remains alive and well. Conditions for its spreading range from moderate to good. Perhaps it is unsurprising that the joint second most commonly given name was Pushkin. Even less surprising that Russia’s national poet should have shared this position with the country’s current strongman, Vladimir Putin. Russian history has slipped slightly. This year he was at 38 percent, down from 42 percent in a 2012 survey.
Yet still he leads the polls. Were the greatest mass murderer in Russian history able to return from his grave today, he could resume power without even needing to fix the ballot. Of course, if Adolf Hitler remained the most popular figure in modern Germany, the world would be worried. But with the Communists it was always different. Perhaps the 20th century’s greatest remaining mystery is how, between the twin totalitarian nightmares, it remains acceptable to have spent a portion of your life envying, emulating, or celebrating the global cataclysm that commenced in 1917. It is not surprising that Russians have not reckoned with their past. Five years ago, on a visit to Stalin’s birthplace in Gori, Georgia, I paid a visit to the Soviet-era museum that still stands alongside the tiny wooden hut where the dictator was born and that is still preserved, like a relic.