The Collectivists’ Lotus Effect

Collectivists seem to present a selective memory when it comes to remembering Communism's victims.

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The lotus effect is an apt simile for the ability of Communism’s supporters to blithely hide the ideology’s horrific death toll (Twitter).

I first saw the intriguing lotus effect in a lotus flower lily pad in Laos while on a trip throughout Southeast Asia. Scientists refer to the lotus effect as the self-cleaning properties that are the result of ultra-hydrophobicity where dirt particles are picked up by water droplets due to the nanoscopic architecture of the lotus leaf. I have no idea, but the reader can see this fascinating “nothing sticks” effect in short YouTube videos.

A few days earlier, we had visited one of infamous killing fields that constituted an integral part of Pol Pot’s fanatical communist ideology that resulted in the genocide of close to 25% of the Cambodian population in barely three years. Emotionally, the serenity of the lotus effect contrasted with the earlier somber experience of the killing fields, and I wondered why the atrocities committed by communist regimes simply do not seem to “stick” in the minds of supporters. Collectivists seem to have developed their own lotus effect that self-cleanses the murderous history of their ideology.

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The Black Book of Communism (Harvard University Press, 1997) offers a conservative estimate of one hundred million innocent individuals murdered by Marxist socialists in the 20th century. To this, we can add the approximate twenty million victims of Hitler’s National Socialists. The landscape is always the same, whether it depicts the China of Chairman Mao, Kim Il Sung’s Korea, Vietnam under Uncle Ho, Cuba under the Castros, Ethiopia under Mengistu, Angola under Neto, Afghanistan under Najibullah, and others.

But the horrific images of this murderous collectivist landscape are painted over with dismissive brushstrokes of exculpation where the blame resides not with collectivism, but with those opposing it. Nothing sticks. Why isn’t collectivism judged by its outcomes?

Capitalism, on the other hand, has no lotus effect and it’s judged by collectivist intellectuals because of its imperfections. When confronted with the economic catastrophes and murderous history of collectivism, collectivists move to silence their critics. Consider the findings of the 2017 “Free Speech under Attack” report of The Economist’s Intelligence Unit.

The report develops a Media Freedom Index for 167 countries covered by the organization’s Democracy Index. The Media Freedom Index is measured on a scale of 0 to 10 as follows: 9 -10 fully free media; 7 – 8 partly free media; 5 – 6 largely unfree media; 0 – 4 unfree media. The higher the score, the higher the country’s freedom for print, broadcast, and social media.

According to the rankings, only 30 countries, out of the 167 covered, are classified as having a “fully free” media – 18% of the total, representing 11% of the world’s population. At the other end of the rankings, 47 countries – 28.1 % of the total representing 35.9 % of the world’s population – are classified as having an “unfree” media.

Not surprisingly, the highest ranked countries are all democracies, and with a score of zero we find the likes of China, Cuba, North Korea, and other repressive regimes. The quality of life in any country may be assessed, in large extent, by the citizenry’s ability to express itself. “Freedom of expression is what allows us to become autonomous individuals who are able to engage with ideas and decide what we believe in” (Democracy Index 2017).

Freedom of speech, access to information and a free media, are what is necessary for good governance – not a self-cleaning lotus effect. These are the freedoms that enable citizens to question and criticize their government. It is by exchanging ideas and argumentation that a society ascertains its social values. Free speech is our most important freedom – it sustains all others. But collectivists reject freedom of speech in order to avoid being judged by the outcomes of implementing collectivist ideologies.

In the killing fields of Cambodia, there lie between 2 and 3 million victims; not only Cambodians but also ethnic Vietnamese, ethnic Thai, ethnic Chinese, ethnic Cham, Cambodian Christians, and Buddhist monks who were targeted by the Khmer Rouge for their “pre-revolutionary lifestyles and crimes.” These crimes usually included being educated, or some type of free-market activity.

Only a handful of Khmer Rouge officials were prosecuted for these crimes. Collectivists seem to have mastered the lotus effect. Nothing sticks.

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