Holocausts of Communism Test Now in Spanish
By Bryan Caplan
A hard-working volunteer has translated my long-standing Holocausts of Communism Test into Spanish. While the Spanish-speaking world was not the worst victim of Communism, it was a victim: Not just Cuba, but also Spain (during its Civil War), Nicaragua, El Salvador, Peru, Chile, and others were plagued by the barbarism of these economically illiterate totalitarian fanatics.
I wrote the Test 11 years ago. A lot of historical work has come along in the meantime, so there are a few numbers in need of revision. I’ve wondered a little bit about my responsibility to update my webbed work in response to new information. My basic view is that a webpage is like a book: At the time you write it, it should be true to the best of your knowledge; but there’s no moral obligation to publish periodic revisions.
Still, I’d like to share the largest change I’d accept: Anne Applebaum’s Gulag: A History shows fairly convincingly that the prison population of the Gulag never came close to the 10 million figure earlier historians often claimed, and usually had much lower than 10-30% annual death rates.
It’s great that historians can finally get their hands on key primary documents. At the same time, though, the opening of the archives has made historians even more prone to their misguided view that “If you can’t document it, it didn’t happen.” This is especially problematic when there is ample evidence that good documents weren’t being kept. Many of the horrors of Communism were so chaotically executed (e.g. dekulakization) that the best we can do is guesstimate their extent. That’s far from perfect, but a lot more accurate than rounding down to zero.