“A spectre is haunting Europe — the specter of communism.” This is the preamble to Karl Marx’s “The Communist Manifesto,” a document responsible for inspiring some of the worst dictators in human history.
Men like Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Pol Pot all used the words penned by Marx to justify acts of horrific violence. And Wikipedia doesn’t want you to know about communism’s legacy of death and ruin.
Visitors to the “Mass killings under communist regimes” Wikipedia entry were greeted with a disclaimer that the page “is being considered for deletion” for a myriad of reasons including neutrality issues and factual inaccuracies.
While the disclaimer at the top regarding deletion has been removed, the debate over the page’s future continues. The secondary disclaimer claiming the page has multiple issues remains.
The internal debate surrounding the proposal showed that at least one Wikipedia editor, a 25-year-old Italian named Davide King, had been editing the article to downplay the wide-scale destruction wrought by evil communist regimes. King edited the article to insert communist apologia including one that targeted the preeminent communism education group, Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.
The victims of communism narrative, as popularized by and named after the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, has become accepted scholarship as part of the double genocide theory in Eastern Europe and among anti-communists in general. However, it is rejected by most Western European and other scholars. Some scholars say it’s politically motivated, oversimplified and trivializes the Holocaust for equating communism with it, positing a communist or red Holocaust.
Some Wiki editors cited bias and took umbrage with the idea of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation’s inclusion in the article as a source. One editor suggested removing all references to the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation entirely.
“While the [Black Book of Communism] discussion is underway … I propose that all references to the Victims of Communism [Memorial Foundation] to be stripped in the meantime,” wrote Wiki editor Dark-World25.
They also took aim at both the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation’s blog as well as The Heritage Foundation. Wiki editor C.J. Griffin added,
“I’m okay with the [Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation] being mentioned in this article so long as an [explanatory footnote] is included to inform readers the Foundation is controversial, has strong links to the neoliberal think tank The Heritage Foundation, and its blog has published provocative and disputed material (like blaming COVID deaths on communism, and the [Chinese Communist Party] in particular.”
Lee Edwards, a distinguished fellow in conservative thought at The Heritage Foundation’s B. Kenneth Simon Center for American Studies, views the attempt to downplay the death and destruction wrought by communist regimes as incredibly dangerous. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)
“All of the great leaders, whether it was Lenin, or Stalin, or Mao, or Pol Pot, all of them were ideologues who were driven by a particular philosophy, and that philosophy had to do with Karl Marx,” Edwards told The Daily Signal, “So, therefore for Wikipedia to say that ideology does not matter when you’re talking about communism is absurd.”
Edwards continued, “You cannot have a tyrant like Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, without Karl Marx, without The Communist Manifesto, without the ideology.”
But there’s another angle to this story just as damaging to Wikipedia editors who wave away the ruin caused by communist dictators as unrelated to the philosophy of communism.
Big Tech has become increasingly confident in its ability to censor discourse they find distasteful. Wikipedia, as one of the largest sources of information on the web, wields enormous power on what people do and do not have access to.
Dustin Carmack, research fellow in technology policy at The Heritage Foundation, said that’s a problem.
“If you look at how Google functions, it often shows Wikipedia as one of the first things in a search,” explains Carmack in an interview with The Daily Signal, “Generally the data shows that most people will never make it past the first Google page. So this gets into how algorithms and how different search engines choose what content that people are seeing.”
Wikipedia’s efforts to delete the article represent a dangerous combination of censorship and communist apologia. And given the fact that the specter of communism still represents a global threat, Wikipedia’s willingness to sanitize the evil philosophy represents a dire threat.
To their credit, it appears that Wikipedia has hit the brakes on deleting the article. But that doesn’t mean we should become complacent.
“There have been many victims of communism. They cannot be forgotten,” warns Edwards. “These voices of the victims are calling out to us through the decades … Communist China continues to be a threat to the safety, prosperity, and freedom of the rest of the world.”
Wikipedia’s actions do a disservice to those victims of Marx’s failed philosophy. It is up to us to guard their memories so that the atrocities of communism stay buried in the past where they belong.
Originally published at The Daily Signal.
Douglas Blair is a contributor to The Daily Signal and a graduate of Heritage's Young Leaders Program.