If you try to investigate the histories of China and Russia, you will inevitably run into “The Bloody History of Communism” videos, which trot out body counts of human victims under Stalin and Mao. By far, most of the victims listed died in famines; in Ukraine in 1931-1932 and in China in 1958-1962.
The numbers of victims will probably never be accurately known, so propagandists make wild claims of perhaps hundreds of millions. The moral reasoning seems to be that the height of the stack of corpses equals the depth of the evil.
I have never seen a video “The Bloody History of Capitalism” whose body count would probably surpass that of Communism over the past 500 years or so; but then I do not think body count necessarily equals evilness. Do you?
Is a government responsible, at the very least, to keep its citizens alive? And if that applies to Stalin and Mao, does it also apply to capitalist governments?
If yes, then they failed in their responsibility to keep their citizens alive. If no, then they were not responsible, because keeping citizens alive is not the government’s job.
So, yes or no? Is it the job of a government to keep its citizens alive? In my opinion, it is the very basic responsibility of governments to at least keep its citizens alive. What do you think?
Here is just one incident in the Bloody History of Capitalism, and it is fairly recent. In 1845 an airborne disease infected potato crops in Europe, causing them to rot in the ground. In Ireland, where farmers were landless, without political voice and living mainly on potatoes, the results were devastating.
Initially, the Tory government imported grain to keep prices down and set up public works projects. By the following year, 750,000 Irish were engaged in these public works.
Then a Whig government came into power. Classic Freemarket fundamentalists, they believed in small government and no help for the struggling. Like American Libertarians, they claimed that help for the struggling was the job of private charities. The private charities in Ireland were quickly overwhelmed. In one workhouse, 30 sick children were found crammed into just three beds. In Skibbereen, 9,000 were thrown into one mass grave, which was better than those who died on the roadside and were eaten by dogs.
An Irish Protestant clergyman, Richard Townsend, did his utmost to raise awareness of the unfolding tragedy. He was told by the Treasury Secretary in London, “God has sent the famine to teach the Irish a lesson. This calamity must not be too much mitigated. The real evil is the people’s selfish, perverse and turbulent character.” This attitude that the poor are to morally responsible for their hardships and need to learn a lesson is alive and well and still heard almost daily in America.
But the Irish in 1845-1849 were neither alive nor well. One million perished from starvation and the famine diseases: typhoid fever and cholera. Reverend Townsend himself died of typhus, contracted while helping the sick. Another million and a half emigrated; already weakened by starvation, 5,000 died on ships during 1847 before they even reached their destinations.
An entire class was wiped out; war on the poor through malign neglect. And that, I insist, is evil.