As someone who can supports ideas anywhere from center-left liberalism to outright anarcho-communism and despises the right, I still find some arguments made by the left, and some behaviors common on the left (at least online) very annoying.
“deaths of capitalism”
One of these arguments is when people respond to claims of “communism killed millions!”, usually referring to people imprisoned or shot by authoritarian socialist leaders like Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong, by claiming every death from malnutrition, lack of healthcare, or other failure as a “death caused by capitalism”.
On one hand, this is an understandable argument – indeed, the inherent issues of a capitalist system are responsible for these – and there are also people on the right who similarly over-exaggerate communism-caused deaths, down to including Nazi soldiers killed by the Soviet Army in WW2 – but just like real law has a distinction between murder, manslaughter, self-defense and neglect, maybe similarly treating someone dying from hunger in the U.S. is not the same as people being executed by the state, or starved during the Holodomor while Stalin’s government rejected foreign aid and had a well-known distaste towards Ukrainians as an ethnicity (though if I had to guess, I’d say that the Great Famine in Ireland would be a suitable capitalist counterpart, as it was both exacerbated by greed and the English despising the Irish?)
And, even if you accept the most charitable interpretations that, say, the Holodomor was not intentionally caused or worsened, this still leaves a problem, in that if your preferred socioeconomic system ever gains power, it would only be fair if it also gets judged by the same criteria. When your favorite ideology overthrows capitalism and takes control over a region, it will probably have to spend a decade rebuilding all of local industry in order to suit its needs. Trade networks, especially with countries like China and India and probably also with neighboring nations, will be severed, and your region will need to quickly figure out how to start locally producing all the things for which it previously relied on foreign imports. During that time, people will at best live in poorer conditions than before, and at worst some will end up starving. Hospitals will end up lacking critically needed supplies until these can be produced once again. And, from the perspective of others, if this causes people to die, this would not be much different from other “communist” (or “capitalist”, really) deaths.
“they took away my slaves”
A common joke I’ve seen on left-wing social media, including among people who otherwise seem like they side with anarchism over authoritarian socialism, fits into the pattern of “I hate the evil (Russian/Chinese/Cuban) communists because they took my (parents/grandparents') (mansion/slaves/industrial monopoly).”
This joke, sadly, has an element of truth to it – I did actually see a few tweets from people who legitimately were outraged that a socialist revolution would have issue with someone owning a huge mansion, or having slaves, or controlling a large part of a nation’s industry. But using these examples to dismiss the
For example, the “dekulakization” process in the Soviet Union has led to 4 million people being arrested by the state:
I still consider the number of the “dekulakized” to be at 4 million people, which were divided into three groups who got the following sanctions: the 1st group was arrested and tried in court, the 2nd was evicted and sent to an exile settlement, the 3rd was evicted without being sent to an exile settlement.
According to the same V. Zemskov, 600 thousand of these people died during their exile between 1930 and 1933.
In addition to that, the standards for who was determined to be a “kulak” were very different across regions of the Soviet Union. These “local overreaches” (“перегибы на местах”), which were sometimes used to force peasants to join collective farms, were later criticized by Stalin himself. Even after the practice was officially stopped, individual regions continued to arrest and exile people.
Regarding that, I feel like combining all victims of forced confiscation under the stereotype is a rather harmful idea, especially when it’s done by people who otherwise recognize the USSR in general and Stalin’s rule specifically as an authoritarian state that betrayed the ideals of socialism.
I personally think that, if the end goal is indeed to abolish the notion of private property, it would, in fact, be necessary to deprive some people of their possessions. But this must be done in a smart and consistent manner, where the people who lose their belongings because of it are truly those who deserve it.