Criticism of communist party rule

The actions by governments of communist states have been subject to criticism across the political spectrum.[1] According to the critics, the rule by communist parties leads to totalitarianism, political repression, restrictions of human rights, poor economic performance and cultural and artistic censorship.[1][2] Communist party rule has been especially criticized by anti-communists and right-wing critics, but also by other socialists such as anarchists, communists, democratic socialists, libertarian socialists and Marxists. Ruling communist parties have also been challenged by domestic dissent.[3]

Several authors noted gaps between official policies of equality and economic justice and the reality of the emergence of a new class in communist countries which thrived at the expense of the remaining population. In Central and Eastern Europe, the works of dissidents Václav Havel and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn gained international prominence, as did the works of disillusioned ex-communists such as Milovan Đilas, who condemned the new class or nomenklatura system that had emerged under communist party rule.[4][5][6] Major criticism also comes from the anti-Stalinist left and other socialists.[7][8][9][10] Its socio-economic nature has been much debated, varyingly being labelled a form of bureaucratic collectivism, state capitalism, state socialism, or a totally unique mode of production.[11][12][13][14]

Communist party rule has been criticized as authoritarian or totalitarian for suppressing and killing political dissidents and social classes (so-called "enemies of the people"), religious persecution, ethnic cleansing, forced collectivization and use of forced labor in concentration camps. Communist party rule has also been accused of genocidal acts in Cambodia, China, Poland and Ukraine, although there is no consensus among scholars and this depends on the definition of genocide used.[15] Western criticism of communist rule has also been grounded in criticism of socialism by economists such as Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, who argued that the state ownership and planned economy characteristic of Soviet-style communist rule were responsible for economic stagnation and shortage economies, providing few incentives for individuals to improve productivity and engage in entrepreneurship.[16][17][18][19][20] Anti-Stalinist left and other left-wing critics see it as an example of state capitalism[21][22] and have referred to it as a "red fascism" contrary to left-wing politics.[23][24][25] Other leftists, including Marxist–Leninists, criticize it for its repressive state actions while recognizing certain advancements such as egalitarian achievements and modernization under such states.[26][27] Counter-criticism is diverse, including the view it presents a biased or exaggerated anti-communist narrative. Some academics propose a more nuanced analysis of communist party rule.[28][29]

Excess deaths under communist party rule have been discussed as part of a critical analysis of communist party rule. According to Klas-Göran Karlsson, discussion of the number of victims of communist party rule has been "extremely extensive and ideologically biased."[30] Any attempt to estimate a total number of killings under communist party rule depends greatly on definitions,[31] ranging from a low of 10–20 millions to as high as 110 millions.[32] The criticism of some of the estimates are mostly focused on three aspects, namely that (i) the estimates are based on sparse and incomplete data when significant errors are inevitable; (ii) the figures are skewed to higher possible values; and (iii) those dying at war and victims of civil wars, Holodomor and other famines under communist party rule should not be counted.[33][34][35][36][37][38]