In the face of rising communism, Belgian liberals want to teach history

Belgium’s Communist party is gaining support in the polls despite being ideologically motivated by some of the worst criminals of the 20th century. As a result, the Belgian liberal party is arguing for increased awareness of the crimes of communism in schools. Despite the partisan politics involved in this call for enlightenment, it is duly necessary.

Making Communism Mainstream Again

The Belgian PTB (Worker’s Party) was created in the 1970s and describes itself as “Marxist-Leninist.” That surely doesn’t under-promise the magnitude with which the party is willing to establish forced collectivism. The PTB supported Chinese dictator Mao Zedong, North Korean tyrant Kim Il-Sung, Romanian totalitarian leader Nicolae Ceaușescu, Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War, Hugo Chávez, and Fidel Castro.

The party’s former president, Ludo Martens, who not only directed policy for 20 years but is also believed to be the continuous ideological influence of the Worker’s Party, wrote a book defending the forced collectivism, socialist industrialization, and inner-party purges in the Soviet Union. By any means, it’ll be hard to find a political party in this western European country that despises the concept of freedom as much as this one.

As much as there is the hope that this is a fringe example, the party is rising in the polls. Since the financial crisis of 2007, the PTB has been doubling its electoral support in every election and is now polling at 6%. With the next federal elections coming up in May next year, current trends indicate that the communists are likely to gain even more support in the meantime.

This has all had to do with political strategy: the Belgian communists run in national elections much in the way you’d expect a local politician to run.

Instead of grand statements about geopolitics, the PTB asks for rent control or reducing the costs of bin bags. The focus is very much on what they refer to as the “problems of the little man.” This strategy clearly seems to be working. With Belgium’s complicated and divided political structure, having a fringe party rising in the polls could destabilize the country even more.

As Social Democrats lose support, left-wing voters are radicalizing in an attempt to break up the already fractured multi-party coalition. The aim is clear: the longer mainstream parties need to assemble a coalition (which, in Belgium, has sometimes taken up to one year), the more the upset of the general population will open them up to radical ideas.

Worst of all, however, is that while Belgian voters might disagree on their ideas, nobody is offended by the mere suggestion that forced collectivism is an idea that should even be considered. This is where some mainstream politicians want to jump in.

Teaching the Reality of Communism

On a more local level, the Mouvement Réformateur (Reformist Movement), also known as the “liberal” party (while that term has ambiguous definitions all over the world now, an American audience would probably identify most of their positions to be in line with U.S. Democrat policy), is attempting to teach the horrendous acts committed under communism.

In a motion for a resolution presented in a local parliament, the liberals intend to counter the idea that only right-wing extremism must be fought when the left-wing one is also, according to them, a threat to fundamental freedoms.

“Around the world, the regimes that have implemented communism have led to the deaths of tens of millions of people. The victims of the communist regimes have established themselves through particularly atrocious means: firing squads, hanging, drowning, caning, gassing, poisoning, starvation, deportation, forced labor camps, etc.,” says the motion introduced by these MPs.

And yes, it is, in fact, very worrying that communism remains generally accepted as a serious political opinion, while the gruel of fascism is thankfully recognized. Universities are ridden with far-left messages, celebrations of Che Guevara, or relativism regarding the crimes committed under communism. Belgium’s largest French-speaking university, the Université Libre de Bruxelles (Free University of Brussels), lists Joseph Stalin and Chiang Kai-shek as doctor honoris causa (a renowned honorary title).

In this sense, the initiative of actually teaching communism more thoroughly than pointing out who won which war is a good one, even if it will have far-left student groups up in arms. Unfortunately, the Mouvement réformateur is undermining its own intentions by only bringing up this topic as the Communist Party is surging in the polls. It doesn’t necessitate a political analyst to know: it’s too late.

Many students have been influenced by the relativism about communism through their professors and the mere fact that a hammer and sickle were considered socially acceptable accepted to the point that they have already left university and are now working to make the “revolution” happen. The current evolution of the polls are the new voters enthusiastically opposing free markets and the concept of property rights.


This article was first published by the Foundation for Economic Education.

Pictures are Creative Commons.

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About Bill Wirtz

My name is Bill, I'm from Luxembourg and I write about the virtues of a free society. I favour individual and economic freedom and I believe in the capabilities people can develop when they have to take their own responsibilities.

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