I feel like a death toll comparison between capitalism and communism doesn’t make much sense considering how ubiquitous and common the former has been for the past centuries compared to the latter, but I also don’t think it should matter: you can’t justify the massive casualties that occur under one regime by pointing to the even more massive casualties that occur under another. It is my view that flagrant human rights violations aren’t justifiable even if they may result in a supposed net gain in social progress. It’s a mindset that reduces people to numbers, with little regard for the inherent value of individuals. Even though one major publication on the topic may have included dubious findings, the number of people who died because of economic mismanagement or political/genocidal purges by governments professing the ideology of Marxism-Leninism is still bound to be in the ten millions, and that’s not even talking about the intense repression and state surveillance that these governments subjected their people to on a daily basis. I don’t believe capitalism in its current form should be allowed to continue existing, but if the aforementioned atrocities are really the price that must be paid for its downfall, then surely it is too steep, especially since without any democratic control or accountability over the state there is absolutely no guarantee that any gains in social welfare won’t be easily turned back. Absolute power corrupts even the most naïve idealist: many leaders of Marxist-Leninist nations developed cults of personality and committed unabashed personal enrichment, and in China predatory capitalism and wealth hoarding has even been allowed to return because it personally benefits those in power. Income inequality has been on the rise there since the 1980s. Is living in the PRC, where human rights and rule of law have no meaning, where citizens are forcibly evicted on a regular basis with little to no compensation in order for land to be sold to private developers, and where one can be thrown into a concentration camp for being a Muslim, really preferable to living in a modern Western democracy?
Furthermore, I strongly contest the assertion that Marxism-Leninism is the only system effective in stopping fascism, not just in light of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the fact that Moscow-aligned forces in the Spanish Civil War were more concerned with weeding out Trotskyists and anarchists among the Republicans rather than fighting Franco, and the fact that the Stasi colluded with Western neo-Nazis during the Cold War in order to discredit West Germany, but also of the fact that Marxist-Leninist governments invariably instated police states that demanded unquestioning loyalty from its citizens, and in many cases either co-opted or instigated virulent ethno-nationalism that resulted many times in ostracization, campaigns of forced cultural assimilation and even genocidal massacres (Uyghurs in China; Muslims in Mongolia; Muslims, Chinese and Vietnamese in Cambodia; Roma in Romania; Turks in Bulgaria; Jews in Poland; too many ethnic minorities in the Soviet Union to count). Should Joseph Stalin (arguably the one most responsible for developing Marxism-Leninism as a distinct ideology), an initial ally of Hitler who fought horrible wars of conquest, massacred his own population at the first sign of dissent and committed cultural genocide and hate campaigns against numerous minorities (including Jews), really be held up as an inspiration to the cause of antifascism?