In response to Paul T Horgan: History lessons censor the horrors of the Bolshevik Holocaust, Peter Evans wrote:
An excellent and urgently necessary article, Mr Horgan.
At the age of 16, I became a Trot after being taken under the benevolent wing of an older sixth former who was a committed member of what was then known as the International Marxist Group. I remained blissfully ignorant of the Communist mass slaughters and the barbaric political repressions this benighted fundamentalist religion presided over until I read The Gulag Archipelago in my early twenties.
I’d already become sceptical about Marxism by then, but those beautifully written, haunting volumes by Solzhenitsyn profoundly shook me (he writes about horror with luminous prose which neither glamorises nor diminishes it). Needless to say, my Trotskyist instructors told me nothing about the monstrous crimes committed in the name of the Marxist Utopia. When they did mention Soviet repression, they blamed it all on the monster Stalin, neglecting to mention that Lenin and Trotsky had been signing death warrants like celebs signing autograph books long before Uncle Joe became dictator. I have been averse to totalitarian systems of thought and coercive identity politics (which are always totalitarian in their effect) ever since.
Arthur Koestler’s novel Darkness at Noon was available long before Solzhenitsyn, of course, as was Orwell’s 1984. But neither was required reading for working-class adolescent pseudo-Marxists like me back in the day. And it would appear that these texts still aren’t required reading, even though I would have expected any serious educational establishment (as opposed to the grim-faced 1970s Trots who ‘educated’ me outside formal schooling) to ensure that they’re obligatory.
In 1984, Orwell describes the current scenario better than I could hope to:
‘ . . . if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed – if all records told the same tale – then the lie passed into history and became truth. “Who controls the past,” ran the Party slogan, “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. “Reality control”, they called it: in Newspeak, doublethink.
. . .
‘Everything faded into mist. The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became truth.’