Cambodia Part 1

Brad De Long delong at econ.Berkeley.EDU
Tue Jan 4 23:16:31 PST 2000

>Cambodia 1975-88 What Happened?
> Interpretations of what happened in Cambodia during the years
>1975-9 vary greatly. The Democratic Kampuchea (DK) or Khmer Rouge regime
>which took power on April 17, 1975 after,in some place, 25 years of
>grueling and often violent struggle has been taken by conservatives to
>embody all of the evils associated with Marxism-Leninism and socialism.
>DK represented Marxism and socialism in its purest form and in its
>purest form these doctrines lead to what happened in Cambodia:
>starvation, tyranny and genocide. DK was a literal example of George
>Orwell's anti-communist fable "Animal Farm".

No. You are being silly. "Democratic Kampuchea" was much worse than anything Orwell could imagine when he wrote _Animal Farm_.

Go back and read _Animal Farm_. In _Animal Farm_ the lies and the violence are all *functional*: they are ways that the party--excuse me, the pigs--cement and maintain their rule, divert attention away from their own corruption and incompetence, and so forth.

In "Democratic Kampuchea," in Stalin's Russia, in Mao's China, in North Korea, there was little that was functional about the death and the terror. Does anyone think that the Soviet famine of the early 1930s or the Great Terror itself made the Party more secure? Does anyone think that the CCP benefitted from the starvation deaths of perhaps 30, perhaps 90 million people in the aftermath of the Great Leap Forward?

In my view Orwell in _Animal Farm_ did not grasp the deepest horror--although he did start to grasp it in _1984_. The deepest horror is not that eggs were broken in the process of making an omelette. It is not even that eggs were broken and that no omelette appeared. It is that eggs were broken--people killed by the millions--and those doing the breaking had no intention of ever trying to make an omelette.

Brad DeLong

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