Wojciech Roszkowski

Prof. Wojciech Roszkowski is a Polish economic historian, specializing in Polish and East Central European history of the 20th Century. Author of many books including "Communist crimes. Legal and historical study". 

Communist Crimes is an attempt to describe and categorize crimes committed by Communist authorities all over the world in the 20th century. The book is based on a plethora of sources, including hearings before the US House of Representatives Select Committee on Communist Aggression in the early 1950s - writes prof. Wojciech Roszkowski

Ideological Roots

It all starts with the mystery of this world and of human existance. Although it may seem a long and not necessary road from the belief that „man makes himself” to mass murder and other horrible crimes, there is definite link between the rebelion of Adam and Eve against the Creator and the danger of people who ultimately tend to believe they may substitute God and impost their own rules on the other people. The Judeo-Christian belief in one God, Creator of the Universe, although it did not prevent people from wars for foods or ideological purity, placed humans as a subject to Universal rules. Dethroning God in modern Times was the first, although not necessary, step to self-deification of man. There are people who still seek an absent God in some universal moral principles and these people should not be bothered here. But in recent times humanity has had a lot of problems with people who advocated their own superiority over these principles. Apart from Nazism, communism was perhaps the worst experience of this kind.

Generally speaking, we face here the difference between people who know they believe and people who believe they know. The latter attitude is a temptation for all scholars, especially those who deal with human psychology and human society. They have frequently fallen victim to the idea that their theory could explain everything. They have frequently followed a road from cognitive criticism to ideology in which progress, justice and human well –being or happiness became ultimate reasons that some enlighten people were able to define and realism no matter what cost this operations might imply. Close to the end of this road was the assumption that the goal justifies the means. At the very end of this road was oppression, enslavement, torture and murder, all covered by lies. The end of this road was reached not only by communist, but communism is in question here.

The ideological ground for communism has been prepared directly or indirectly for most of the modern era. The ideas of progress and revolution militant atheism, and historical determinism were primary components of Marxism and Bolshevism.

In ancient times, people sometimes believed that humanity was moving from the age of gold through the age of silver to bronze and iron. In other words, they were inclined to think that things were going from bad to worse. Medieval people were driven by many guidelines, including tradition, hierarchy, loyality and trust in Providence. They may have noticed improvement or development but they would not think in terms of the word progressing in any particular direction rather than its end and final judgement. Medieval people killed or massacred other people out of greed and thirst of power or out of hostility to other people's beliefs but not for the sake of progress. Killing for the sake of progress was an invention of modern times.

The idea that the world was moving in a certain direction was not aliento many Renaissance writers, such Niccolo Machiavelli or Erasmus of Rotterdam. But one of the first modern thinkers who alluded to the idea that the world progressed was perhaps Jean Bodin. In his Methodus ad facilem historiarum cognititonem (Method for the Easy Comprehension of history, 1566) he suggested the division of universal history into three periods: the first in which sountheastern peoples prevailed, the second in which the Mediterranean peoples were dominant, and the third in which the northen nations became the leaders of the civilization. In his Methodus, Bodin came close to the idea of progress. In his De la vicissitude ou variete des choses en l'univers (On Changeability or Variety of Things in Universe, 1584), another French historian Loys Le Roy sketched humanity's advance from primitive rudeness to ordered society. According to John Bagnell Bury, at the end of 16th century the idea of progress was “in the air”.

At the turn of the 17th century, the British advocate and practitioner of the scientific method Francis Bacon developed the idea of augmentation of knowledge for the sake of utility and amelioration of human life. Bacon divided history into three periods: the eastern antiquity, the Greek and Roman period, and “modern history” up to his times. “That history might in fact be progressive, i.e., an onward and upward ascent – and not, as Aristotle had thought, merely cyclical or, as cultural pessimist from Hesiod to Sprengler have supposed, a descending or retrograde movement, became for Bacon an article of secular faith which he propounded with evangelical force and sense of mission”. Moreover, Bacon's thinking contributed a lot to the idea that happiness on earth was an end to be pursued for its own sake. Just like other “utopias” created at the beginning of the 17th century, Bacon's New Atlantis was the embodiment of the spirit of progress.

Intelectuals of that time were more and more proud of scientific advances. Apart from Britan, where “progressive” thinking was popular at the age of Civil War, the idea of progress took root in France, where 18th century was calle the “Age of Reason”. Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle argued in favor of progress in arts and sciences. The epistemology of John Locke influenced the French Encyclopedists. Voltaire thought science and reason were driving forces of social progress. From Voltaire's idea of the superiority of human reason there was only one step to the theory of Jean- Jacques Rousseau, who thought that human will is the ultimate source of law....


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