November 7 as Victims of Communism Day—2022
NOTE: The following post is largely adapted from last year’s November 7 post on the same subject.
Since 2007, I have advocated designating May 1 as an international Victims of Communism Day. The May 1 date was not my original idea. But I have probably devoted more time and effort to it than any other commentator. In my view, May 1 is the best possible date for this purpose because it is the day that communists themselves used to celebrate their ideology, and because it is associated with communism as a global phenomenon, not with any particular communist regime, such as that of the USSR. However, I have also long recognized that it might make sense to adapt another date for Victims of Communism Day, if it turns out that some other date can attract a broader consensus behind it. The best should not be the enemy of the good.
As detailed in my May 1 post from 2019, November 7 is probably the best such alternative, and in recent years it has begun to attract considerable support. Unlike May 1, this choice is unlikely to be contested by trade unionists and other devotees of the pre-Communist May 1 holiday. While I remain unpersuaded by their objections on substantive grounds, pragmatic considerations suggest that an alternative date is worth considering, if it can sidestep objections and thereby attract broader support.
The November 7 option is not without its own downsides. From an American standpoint, one obvious one is that it will sometimes fall close to election day, as is the case this year. On such occasions, a November 7 Victims of Communism Day might not attract as much attention as it deserves, because many will—understandably—be focused on electoral politics instead. Nonetheless, November 7 remains the best alternative to May 1.
For that reason, I am—once again—doing a Victims of Communism Day post on November 7, in addition to the one I do on May 1. If November 7 continues to attract more support, I may eventually switch to that date exclusively. But, for the time being, I reserve the options of returning to an exclusive focus on May 1, doing annual posts on both days, or switching to some third option should there be another date that attracts a broader consensus than either May 1 or November 7.
In addition to its growing popularity, November 7 is a worthy alternative because it is the anniversary of the day that the very first communist regime was established in Russia. All subsequent communist regimes were at least in large part inspired by it, and based many of their institutions and policies on the Soviet model.
The Soviet Union did not have the highest death toll of any communist regime. That dubious distinction belongs to the People’s Republic of China. North Korea has probably surpassed the USSR in the sheer extent of totalitarian control over everyday life. Pol Pot’s Cambodia may have surpassed it in terms of the degree of sadistic cruelty and torture practiced by the regime, though this is admittedly very difficult to measure. But all of these tyrannies—and more—were at least to a large extent variations on the Soviet original.
Having explained why November 7 is worthy of consideration as an a
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