by Rod D. Martin
April 18, 2005

It has been three decades since one of Jane Fonda and John Kerry’s favorite “enlightened peasant movements”, the Khmer Rouge, swept to power in Cambodia and, in just under four years, murdered a third of its population (a feat memorialized in the Oscar-winning The Killing Fields). So grim was this hellish “worker’s paradise” that the heirs of Ho Chi Mihn, accomplished butchers themselves, felt the need to end Pol Pot’s reign, invading and removing him in 1978.

The American left — Peter Collier, David Horowitz and Philip Short aside — never acknowledged what happened or what it meant. Their silence is deafening; their unreconstructed sympathy for the murderers is even more so. Indeed, when they speak of Cambodia at all it is to decry Richard Nixon’s 1970 attempt to shut of the flow of Communist arms and reinforcements down the Ho Chi Mihn Trail.

We cannot afford their forgetfulness. All the world must remember Cambodia’s object lesson in the applied philosophy of International Socialism, not an aberration (as the left protests when occasionally forced to notice) but rather just the most obviously extreme example of a long tradition running back through the fall of Saigon, Mao’s Cultural Revolution and Great Leap Forward, the Soviet “Gulag Archipelago”, Stalin’s terror famine in Ukraine, and even the Paris Commune. The only difference between these and Hitler’s National Socialist holocaust is that Hitler killed about a tenth as many people (albeit not for lack of will), a point documented all too conclusively by the sobered (and more honest) French leftists who wrote The Black Book of Communism a few years ago.

It is in the interests of that vital remembrance that Andrew Sandlin pens this brief yet excellent memorial. Everyone should take the time to read it, to remember, and to contemplate Hayek’s warning about the dangers of the seemingly benevolent road to serfdom.