Year Zero

Peter Wilson
American Thinker

The Khmer Rouge declared revolutionary Year Zero thirty-five years ago today, on April 17, 1975, the day Communist guerrillas in black pajamas and truck-tire sandals marched victoriously through the streets of Phnom Penh. An indication of the regime’s brutality came within 24 hours, when the Khmer Rouge ordered the two million residents of Phnom Penh, including hospital patients, to evacuate the city.

Their reign of three years and eight months left Cambodia devastated, with the better part of an entire generation — approximately 1.7 million Cambodians out of a population of 7.9 million — annihilated by bullet, axe, shovel blow to the back of the head, plastic bag suffocation, unspeakable torture, or by starvation caused by ruinous economic policies.

The Pol Pot clique set out to create history’s most pure form of Communism in a single bound, striving to surpass even Mao’s disastrous Great Leap Forward. Their success was Cambodia’s failure. Despite the legacy of another horror-filled Marxist experiment, the lessons of the Khmer Rouge remain shrouded in equivocation and myth.

Myth #1: Despite the example of the Khmer Rouge, Marxism remains a valid political philosophy.

Marxist sympathizers like columnist James Carroll still argue in polite society that “Marxism has yet to be really tried.” It’s just that by strange happenstance, Communist governments have always been subverted by corrupt, brutal men.

Corruption and brutality, however, are not incidental to Communism; they are part of its essence.

In order to redistribute wealth, the State must assign power to fallible humans. Our democracy has checks and balances that constrain (we hope) those who hold power. The Khmer Rouge leaders wielded absolute power, which corrupted absolutely, with predictable tragic consequences.

Every time it has been tried, Marxism leads to the charnel house, turning subject countries into giant concentration camps, each a “vast Belsen,” as Robert Conquest described Stalin’s Soviet Union. Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin, Lenin, Ho Chi Minh, Castro, Che Guevara, Abimael Guzman, Mengistu, and Kim Jong-il are among history’s most accomplished butchers. To argue that the Communist ideology that motivated them is incidental to their crimes devalues the deaths of the hundred million murdered by Communism in the 20th century.

The article continues at the American Thinker.

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