The Roots of Evil

Back to George's Views

The pathogenesis of the totalitarian plague that ravaged the world in the 20th century has yet to be honestly studied and appraised by the largely "progressive" western intelligentsia. The reason why that is not happening is that to do so the intelligentsia would have to perform the very uncomfortable - indeed painful -  task of dissecting its own intellectual tissue, digging under its own skin, so to speak.

The fact is that western intellectual socialist thought is the grand-father, father, and sibling accomplice of every horrific deed perpetrated by the totalitarians of the 20th century in the interests of, and for the greater good of, the Socialist State. The perfecting of assembly-line-like mass execution procedures and a slave labor - cum - extermination camp system for the disposal of undesirable elements of the population in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany in the 1920s and 1930s proceeded without hardly any notice by the general public in the west, thanks to the filter of misinformation and rationalization through which the influential socialistically-minded intelligentsia fed to the public a completely distorted account of what was happening in central and eastern Europe and the vast Eurasian land mass of Russia. They did so because they sincerely believed that selective extermination of "useless" classes of humans was quite justified by the objective - the building of the ideal socialist society.

In "Basic Communism" Clarence B. Carson quotes the American journalist, Eugene Lyons, who said, "American liberals fashioned a wonderland of the imagination and called it, amazingly enough, Soviet Russia".  Lyons names some of the  well-known, influential writers who lied about what was going on in Soviet Russia: Stuart Chase, John Dewey, George S. Counts, Edmund Wilson, and Walter Duranty.

European writers were just as guilty. The British writer, Harold Laski, declared, "Never in history has man attained the same level of perfection as in the Soviet regime." Identical praise of the evil empire came from the Fabians, notably Sidney and Beatrice Webb and George Bernard Shaw. The depth of intellectual depravity these people could sink to and still command great public respect is illustrated by what Sidney Webb had to say in a booklet titled "The Truth About Soviet Russia" (1942):

'Is Stalin a dictator? No. He is the duly elected representative of one of the Moscow constituencies to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.', and 'Is the USSR a political democracy? It is clear that, tested by the Constitution of the Soviet Union ... the USSR is the most inclusive and equalized democracy in the world.'

There is probably no one who has devoted more effort than George Watson to tracing the historical sources of totalitarian ideas in socialist intellectual thought going back to Marx and the revolution of 1848. Watson has published his findings, first in "The Idea of Liberalism" (1985) and now in "The Lost Literature of Socialism" (1998). Watson states, in both publications, that

' ... the long socialist tradition of genocide ... was almost a century old when Hitler began his programme of racial mass-murder in 1941-2. ... In the European century that began in the 1840s, as I have shown, everyone who advocated genocide called himself a socialist, and no conservative, liberal, anarchist or independent ever did anything of the kind. Lenin and Stalin had been exterminating people for years when Hitler began.'

Hitler was also arguably a socialist: in his own words, and according to those who knew him. Hitler's socialism was only a variant of the genre. Hitler's close confidant in the 1930s, Hermann Rauschning, published conversations with Hitler in "Hitler Speaks" (1939). The following are some remarks by Hitler on communism:

"I have learnt a great deal from Marxism, as I do not hesitate to admit," Hitler went on. "I don't mean their tiresome social doctrine or the materialist conception of history, or their absurd 'marginal utility' theories and so on. But I have learnt from their methods. The difference between them and myself is that I have really put into practice what these peddlers and pen-pushers have timidly begun. The whole of National Socialism is based on it. Look at the workers' sports clubs, the industrial cells, the mass demonstrations, the propaganda leaflets written specially for the comprehension of masses; all these new methods of political struggle are essentially Marxist in origin. All that I had to do was take over these methods and adapt them to our purpose. I had only to develop logically what Social Democracy repeatedly failed in because of its attempt to realise its evolution within the framework of democracy. National Socialism is what Marxism might have been if it could have broken its absurd and artificial ties with a democratic order. ... there is more that binds us to Bolshevism than separates us from it. There is, above all, genuine, revolutionary feeling, which is alive everywhere in Russia except where there are Jewish Marxists. I have always made allowance for this circumstance, and given orders that former Communists are to be admitted to the party at once. The petit bourgeois Social-Democrat and the trade-union boss will never make a National Socialist, but the Communist always will."

Besides the ideas for sports clubs and industrial cells that the Nazis adopted from those communist 'peddlers and pen-pushers', they also used mass extermination techniques first perfected by the communists. Marshal P. G. Grigorenko reports in his Memoirs (1982) that while talking to a survivor of the Gulag, their conversation had touched upon the Nazi use of gas wagons to exterminate people. The survivor asked Grigorenko if he was aware that the Cheka had invented the gas wagon for use on the so-called kulaks, and then went on to describe how he had witnessed the use of this procedure.

George Bernard Shaw describes the Nazi government (see below) as National Socialist Fascist. The truth is that western socialist intellectuals of the last century conceived of what can only be called evil methodologies for building of a "perfect" society; methodologies that informed and inspired the leaders of all shades of totalitarianism, from red to black to brown.

One such intellectual was Havelock Ellis (1859-1939), who is now best remembered for his work in sexology. But he has a more unsavory side to his past as a noted promoter of eugenics, sterilization of the 'unfit', and racial purity. In 1937 he defended Hitler's racial law, saying: "if properly administered, it has no relation to 'Aryan' aspirations". Ellis had much common ground with the socialists of his day. George Watson has this to say about it in "The Lost Literature of Socialism":

' ... Ellis's "Task of Social Hygiene" ... unites Marx's early vision of inevitable class conflict with eugenic theory and the coming triumph of the white races. Sidney and Beatrice Webb echoed the point in the same year in the New Statesman. ... So the socialist intelligentsia of the western world entered the first world war publicly committed to racial purity and white domination, and no less committed to violence.'

Havelock Ellis writes in "Task of Social Hygiene" (1912), in Chapter XII - Individualism and Socialism, pg. 402:

'So it is that the question of breed, the production of fine individuals, the elevation of the ideal of quality in human production over that of mere quantity, begins to be seen, not merely as a noble ideal in itself, but as the only method by which Socialism can be enabled to continue on its present path.'

Ellis wrote this, but it could as well have been written by a member of the National Socialist German Workers' Party advocating the purification of the 'Aryan' race. Ellis sees 'quality in human production' as a 'noble ideal' and necessary for socialism to 'continue on its present path'. And continue it certainly did.

More from Ellis:

'Through the slow growth of knowledge concerning hereditary conditions, by voluntary self-restraint, by the final disappearance of the lingering prejudice against the control of procreation, by sterilization in special cases, by methods of pressure which need not amount to actual compulsion, it will be possible to attain an increasingly firm grip on the evil elements of heredity. Not until such measures as these, under the controlling influence of a sense of personal responsibility extending to every member of the community, have long been put into practice, can we hope to see man on the earth risen to his full stature, healthy in body, noble in spirit, beautiful in both alike, moving spaciously and harmoniously among his fellows in the great world of Nature'...

In the same chapter Ellis quotes from a pamphlet on "Socialism and Eugenics" by a Dr. Eden Paul:

"Whereas both Socialism and Eugenics are concerned solely with the application of the knowledge gained by experience to the amelioration of the human lot, it seems preferable to dispense with religious terminology, and regard the two doctrines as complementary parts of the great modern movement known by the name of Humanism."

Here we see what F.A. Hayek calls 'the fatal conceit' of socialism in deeming itself the agent for 'amelioration of the human lot'. Here we also see the absolutely evil perversion of the meaning of language: socialism and eugenics are claimed to be components of humanism.

Another notable whose ideological proclivities are not talked about is H.G. Wells. Remembered today only as a famous writer of science fiction, he was a member of the Fabian society which led the socialist political movement in the first part of the 20th century. The Fabians included the famous - or infamous, depending on where one stands on the issue -  Sidney and Beatrice Webb and George Bernard Shaw. In 1902, H.G. Wells published a work titled: "Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress Upon Human Life and Thought". The last chapter in this book is named "The Faith of the New Republic". It is clear that this faith is not Christianity, nor perhaps any other transcendentalist faith. Wells speaks of a new class of humans which he calls "the dominant men of the new time". He writes:

'They will find in themselves - it must be remembered I am speaking of a class that has naturally segregated, and not of men as a whole - a desire, a passion almost, to create and organize, to put in order, to get the maximum result from certain possibilities. They will be artists in reality, with a passion for simplicity and directness and an impatience of confusion and inefficiency. The determining frame of their ethics ... will be the elaboration of that future world state to which all things are pointing. ... It is manifest that a reconstructed ethical system ... will give very different values from those given by the existing system ... the ethical system of these men of the New Republic, the ethical system which will dominate the world state, will be shaped primarily to favour the procreation of what is fine and efficient and beautiful in humanity - beautiful and strong bodies, clear and powerful minds, and a growing body of knowledge - and to check the procreation of base and servile types, of fear-driven and cowardly souls, of all that is mean and ugly and bestial in the souls, bodies, or habits of men. To do the latter is to do the former; the two things are inseparable.'

Wells glorifies a 'class that has naturally segregated', who will have the 'passion ... to get the maximum result from certain possibilities', like 'artists in reality', and whose ethical system 'will give very different values'. This later became the self-portrait of the Communist Commissar as well as the Nazi Gauleiter who both thought that they were the men of Well's New Republic, each toiling zealously to create a world state according to his paradigm of perfection.

Wells writes on:

'In the new vision death is no inexplicable horror, no pointless terminal terror to the miseries of life, it is the end of all pain of life, the end of the bitterness of failure, the merciful obliteration of the weak and silly and pointless things. The new ethics will hold life to be a privilege and a responsibility, ... and the alternative in right conduct between living fully, beautifully, and efficiently will be to die. For a multitude of contemptible and silly creatures, fear-driven and helpless and useless, unhappy or hatefully happy in the midst of squalid dishonour, feeble, ugly, inefficient, born of unrestrained lusts, and increasing and multiplying through sheer incontinence and stupidity, the men of the New Republic will have little pity and less benevolence.

The men of the New Republic will not be squeamish, either, in facing or inflicting death, because they will have a fuller sense of the possibilities of life than we possess. They will have an ideal that will make killing worth while;'

The Commissar and the Gauleiter certainly had the 'ideal' that made 'killing worth while' to them. And they killed millions, each according to their particular understanding of who constituted the 'multitude of contemptible and silly creatures'.

Wells goes on:

'All such killing will be done with an opiate, for death is too grave a thing to be made painful or dreadful ... People who cannot live happily and freely in the world without spoiling the lives of others are better out of it. That is a current sentiment even to-day, but the men of the New Republic will have the courage of their opinions.'

Alas, here Well's reveals a tinge of human compassion that his 'men of the New Republic' did not have. For swift dispatch they used the bullet and lethal gas. However, executions with various 'opiates' were carried out in the name of medical 'research'.

Wells continues:

'The pre-eminent value of sexual questions in morality lies in the fact that the lives which will constitute the future are involved. If they are not involved, if we can dissociate this relationship from this issue, then sexual questions become of no more importance than the morality of one's deportment at chess, or the general morality of outdoor games.

... the men of the New Republic ... will rout out and illuminate urban rookeries and all places where the base can drift to multiply; they will contrive a land legislation that will keep the black, or yellow, or mean-white squatter on the move; ... so that childbearing shall cease to be a hopeful speculation for the unemployed poor; ... This thing, this euthanasia of the weak and sensual, is possible. On the principles that will probably animate the predominant classes of the new time, it will be permissible, and I have little or no doubt that in the future it will be planned and achieved.'

It is clear that Wells thought that humans should be bred as dispassionately as domestic livestock, and sexual activity (presumably of whatever kind one chooses to practice) should be regarded as a casual activity outside any moral judgement. He also sanctioned a program for dealing with racial and ethnic undesirables which was later carried out by the Nazi regime.

In 1933, Bernard Shaw introduced his play "On the Rocks" with a preface that rationalized not only the execution of individual criminals, but also state-sponsored extermination of undesirable categories of people. Shaw did this by applying the constructivistic rationalist's logic of the Fabian socialist, i.e. that the end justifies the means. He wrote: 'In this play a reference is made ... to the political necessity for killing people: ... every Government is obliged to practice it on a scale varying from execution of a single murderer to the slaughter of millions of quite innocent persons.'

The moral relativism of today's leftist was also a handy tool for the Fabian. We know that 'every Government' is not obliged to 'slaughter millions of quite innocent persons', but by equating, glibly, the execution of murderers with mass extermination, the leftist thinks he can make the latter action by a government morally justifiable.

Shaw goes on:

'The political necessity for killing [a man] is precisely like that for killing the cobra or the tiger: he is so ferocious or unscrupulous that if his neighbors do not kill him he will kill or ruin his neighbors; so that there is nothing for it but to disable him once for all by making an end of him ... The extermination of whole races and classes has been not only advocated but actually attempted. The extirpation of the Jew as such figured for a few mad moments in the program of the Nazi party in Germany. The extermination of the peasant is in active progress in Russia, where the extermination of the class of ladies and gentlemen of so-called independent means has already been accomplished; and an attempt to exterminate the old Conservative professional class and the kulak or prosperous farmer class has been checked only by the discovery that they cannot as yet be done without.'

Shaw practices another favorite subterfuge of the left by turning the victim into the attacker who will 'kill or ruin his neighbors' if his neighbors do not kill him. There is absolutely no factual basis for this argument. It is an outright lie. However, it is not so to Shaw. He goes on matter-of-factly and with barely concealed glee to cite current extermination programs in progress. It is curious that Shaw was apparently induced to believe that the Nazi program for exterminating the Jews only 'figured for a few mad moments'.

Shaw continues:

'The extermination of what the exterminators call inferior races is as old as history. ... we white men ... regard all differently colored folk as inferior species. ... what we are confronted with now is a growing perception that if we desire a certain type of civilization and culture we must exterminate the sort of people who do not fit into it. ... no Nazi has stultified his party to the extent of saying that the new National Socialist Fascist State in Germany has no use for mathematician-physicists. The proposition is that ... Jews (Einstein's race) are unfit to enjoy the privilege of living in a modern society founded on definite principles of social welfare as distinguished from the old promiscuous aggregations crudely policed by chiefs who had no notion of social criticism and no time to invent it.'

How much clearer could Shaw be in justifying the Nazi genocide than saying that 'Jews (Einstein's race) are unfit to enjoy the privilege of living in a modern society'? And what does it say for the soul of a man like Shaw who thinks that such acts of extermination are the norm for a civilized society.

The devil's own rationalizer goes on:

'The notion that persons should be safe from extermination as long as they do not commit willful murder, or levy war against the Crown, or kidnap, or throw vitriol, is not only to limit social responsibility unnecessarily, and to privilege the large range of intolerable misconduct that lies outside them, but to divert attention from the essential justification for extermination, which is always incorrigible social incompatibility and nothing else.

The only country which has yet awakened to this extension of social responsibility is Russia. ... For example, when the Russian railways were communized, some of the local stationmasters interpreted the change as meaning that they might now be as lazy and careless as they pleased ... The unfortunate Commissar who was Minister of Transport found himself obliged to put a pistol in his pocket and with his own hand shoot stationmasters who had thrown his telegrams into the dustbin instead of attending to them, so that he might the more impressively ask the rest of the staff whether they yet grasped the fact that orders are meant to be executed.

Now being Minister of Transport, or Minister of any other public service, is a whole time job: it cannot be permanently combined with that of amateur executioner, carrying with it the reputation in all the capitalist papers of the west of being a ferocious and cold-blooded murderer. And no conceivable extension of the criminal code nor of the service disciplines, with their list of specific offences and specific penalties, could have provided for instant exemplary exterminations of this kind, any more than for the growing urgency of how to dispose of people who would not or could not fit themselves into the new order of things by conforming to its new morality. ... the most elaborate code ... would still have left unspecified a hundred ways in which wreckers of Communism could have sidetracked it. ... That is why the Russians were forced to set up an Inquisition or Star Chamber, called at first the Cheka and now the Gay Pay Oo (Ogpu), to go into these questions and "liquidate" persons who could not answer them satisfactorily. The security against the abuse of this power of life and death was that the Cheka had no interest in liquidating anybody who could be made publicly useful,…'.

So then, it is very simple: 'the essential justification for extermination ... is always incorrigible social incompatibility'. This extermination program is simply an 'extension of social responsibility'. Doesn't Shaw make us feel sympathy for the 'unfortunate Commissar' who is obliged to shoot employees for disregarding his orders? How twisted is Shaw's rationalization that the abuse of the power of life and death by the Cheka was constrained by pragmatic utility! Shaw forgot to mention that the Cheka made people 'publicly useful' by enslaving them and working them to death in the Gulag.

Shaw continues:

'Such a novelty is extremely terrifying to us, who are still working on a system of limited liability in morals. Our "free" British citizens can ... enter upon a series of quite legitimate but not the less nefarious operations. For example, making a corner in wheat or copper ... forcing up prices so as to make enormous private fortunes for themselves, or making mischief between nations through the Press to stimulate the private trade in armaments. ... It may be quite impossible to convict a forestaller or regrator under a criminal code of having taken a single illegal step, but quite easy to convince any reasonable body of judges that he is what the people call "a wrong one". In Russia such a conviction would lead to his disappearance and the receipt by his family of a letter to say that they need not wait up for him, as he would not return home any more.

Here Shaw reveals the hatred of a typical leftist for the 'nefarious operations' of the free market. His 'reasonable body of judges' he would no doubt draw from socialists consumed by envy of "a wrong one" who has made a fortune in the market. Shaw applauds Soviet Russia where such people simply disappear, not to return home any more.

Shaw goes on to explain that

'... the two institutions, the Ogpu and the ordinary police administering the criminal code, work side by side, with the odd result that the surest way to escape the Ogpu is to commit an ordinary crime and take refuge in the arms of the police and the magistrate, who cannot exterminate you because capital punishment has been abolished in Russia (liquidation by the Ogpu is not punishment: it is only "weeding the garden"); ... extermination ... will become a humane science instead of the miserable mixture of piracy, cruelty, vengeance, race conceit, and superstition it now is. Fortunately, the more frankly and realistically it is faced the more it detaches itself from the associations with crude slaughter which now makes it terrible.'

It is truly sickening to behold Shaw's logic as he proudly differentiates between abolishment of capital punishment in progressive Russia and extermination - "weeding the garden" - by Ogpu, and then expresses his squeamishness with the manner of extermination - 'crude slaughter'. Perhaps when he wrote this Shaw was already cognizant of the experimentation under way to make extermination a 'humane science'.

Shaw continues:

'In Russia the Soviet Government began by a Charlemagnesque attempt to exterminate the bourgeoisie by classing them as intelligentsia, restricting their rations, and putting their children at the foot of the overcrowded education list. They also proscribed the kulak, the able, hardheaded, hardfisted farmer who was richer than his neighbors and liked to see them poorer than himself. Him they rudely took by the shoulders and threw destitute into the lane. There were plausible reasons for this beginning of selection in population; for the moral outlook of the bourgeoisie and the kulaks was dangerously antisocial.

... the planners of the Soviet State have no time to bother about moribund questions; for they are confronted with the new and overwhelming necessity for exterminating the peasants, who still exist in formidable numbers. The notion that a civilized State can be made out of any sort of human material is one of our old Radical delusions. As to building Communism with such trash as the Capitalist system produces it is out of the question.

Left to themselves the moujiks would have reproduced Capitalist civilization at its American worst in ten years. Thus the most urgent task before the victorious Communist Government was the extermination of the moujik; and yet the moujik, being still the goose that laid the golden eggs, could not be exterminated summarily without incidentally exterminating the whole Russian nation. ... You can exterminate any human class not only by summary violence but by bringing up its children to be different. In the case of the Russian peasantry the father lives in a lousy kennel, ... it becomes evident to his children that the very highly regulated people in the nearest collectivist farm, where thousands of acres are cultivated by dozens of tractors, and nobody can put his foot on one of the acres or his hand on one of the tractors and say "This is my own to do what I like with," are better fed and housed, nicer, and much more leisured, and consequently free, than he ever is.'

Shaw shows his debased morality when he argues that there were 'plausible reasons' for exterminating the bourgeoisie and kulaks, because their 'moral outlook' was 'dangerously antisocial'. One wonders what morality meant to this exalted paragon of western culture!  This is a man who talks about building 'a civilized State', but who insists that 'building Communism with such trash as the Capitalist system produces'  is 'out of the question'. It is cheering to observe that, like the leftists of today, Shaw could not resist, in 1933,  taking a swipe at the main enemy of communism when he says: 'Left to themselves the moujiks would have reproduced Capitalist civilization at its American worst'. Shaw concludes this section with the typical perverse totalitarian reasoning that a person who owns nothing and is himself owned by the State is the freest person of all.

So thought and wrote a large group of the western intellectual elite for close to a hundred years. They were influential in shaping the attitudes of the general public concerning societal problems and how to solve them. They did their best to keep the general public in the west ignorant of what was taking place under the totalitarian regimes. They spun their web of lies while millions perished according to "solutions" they themselves had recommended as necessary in order for socialism to succeed. Are they not accessories to mass murder before, during, and after the fact? George Watson concludes "The Lost Literature of Socialism" with an invitation to historians of literature and ideas to take an interest in socialism, 'if they are bold enough to look at what was once written and honest enough to record what they find in unvisited texts'.

 Top of Page

Back to George's Views

Send comments to George Irbe