I'm quite a newbie to history and politics so a sentence from Huxley surprised me (it might not be surprising for you). In Brave new world revisited (1958) he writes:

It is a pretty safe bet that, twenty years from now, all the worlds over-populated and underdeveloped countries will be under some form of totalitarian rule – probably by the communist party.

I have three questions:

  • How can communism be totalitarian?
  • Is there any simple way to see how communism leads to totalitarian governments?
  • Was Huxley right (are South American countries mostly under totalitarian-communist governments?)?
  • 1
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    – Philipp
    Nov 26 '18 at 11:18

Huxley lays out four terms:

  • over population

  • under development

  • communist party (not communism)

  • totalitarian

We must also add your term:

  • communism

All these terms are politically charged. Their meanings are debated, and the debate has been around advancing current political conflicts.

How can communism be totalitarian?

Communist parties, being in 1958 Stalinist style parties including the Chinese party, were widely believed to be “totalitarian” in Huxley’s society. This meant that people believed the communist party “totalised” all social relationships under party supervision. There are problems with this term, such as “my dictator is merely authoritarian, your dictator is disgustingly totalitarian.” The term is also descriptive rather than theorised. It is a terribly poor match for the way actual party power operated in Stalinist societies, where nomenklatura power was as bottom up as top down.

Communism, being a hypothesised post-scarcity classless society, is not liable to totalisation.

Communism, being the actual societies of the states of Central Europe and East Asia controlled by Stalinist type parties, meets the descriptive term’s meaning adequately—noting again that the term is a poor one.

Is there any simple way to see how communism leads to totalitarian governments?

Some scholars accuse that the project of communism, the project of working class self emancipation, necessarily requires the working class to become a totalising agent: to repress all other classes and to repress itself. This is as speculative as communism itself.

Many scholars claim that historical movements purporting to be communist actually totalised societies. How a minority conspiracy of bourgeois intellectuals are capable of acting as the entire working class is a matter for Leninist apologetics. That communist parties purported to be in favour of communism is undeniable, even if many supporters of working class revolution suggest they were not actually in favour of communism.

It is undeniable that Bolshevik parties destroyed working class and left wing opposition groups. Whether class struggle or party culture caused this is a matter of debate. We don’t know why Bolshevik parties “totalised” societies. The leading arguments are: class struggle was so hard they had to be even harder; that Bolsheviks substitute themselves for the working class at the level of praxis and thus are anti-worker; and, that all communists are evil.

Was Huxley right (are South American countries mostly under totalitarian-communist governments?)?

South American countries aren’t over populated. South American countries aren’t under developed. South American countries aren’t under Stalinist type governments.

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    It would certainly appear that Venezuela is currently experiencing a Stalinist-style Holomodor. Nov 25 '18 at 3:06
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    Tauger (1991) “The 1932 Harvest” Slavic Review fn 53, p89: despite available grain and state attempts to ameliorate, the destroyed logistics network meant failed subsistence mandated famine. In contrast Venezuela is a non subsistence food importer: there the state has failed to even possess sufficient food for distribution. Bad comparison, Stalinists tried to relieve famine in 1932. Of course they’d destroyed the rural petite-bourgeois who were the logistics network that could have made that desire make any sense. Nov 25 '18 at 3:36
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    Why would you suggest that South American countries aren't over-populated? The site you link to over-estimates the Earth's carrying capacity by an order of magnitude or more.
    – jamesqf
    Nov 25 '18 at 4:58
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    @PieterGeerkens Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. The Venezuelan food crisis is a result of a wrong bet on economic development which hits the whole country equally. The holodomor was a man-made famine with the goal to depopulate a specific area.
    – Philipp
    Nov 25 '18 at 11:49
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    @Philipp As cited above, Tauger (1991), you might wish to read the FUTON article and apply Hanlon's razor again. Both Tauger and myself appear to believe that stupidity / incompetence does not excuse preventable famine, yet, that it was not an intentional depopulation strategy. The 1931 & 1933/4 extractions ought to be evidence enough of gross culpable incompetence over deliberate depopulation. We might want to posit a question on history.se over theories of Soviet culpability in the 1932-1933 famine's depopulation effects. Nov 25 '18 at 12:00

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