Stalin, Atheism And Communism

It has been often claimed that atheism leads to death of millions of people. Some argue that we need only look at the rule of Stalin or Mao or Pol Pot to see what happens when religion is removed from society. However, this is missing the point. They killed people because they were paranoid dictators. They lack of religious beliefs is irrelevant. In fact most of the victims died because their economic policies led to famines and mass starvations. This is an indictment of Communism, not atheism.

It is estimated that Stalin is responsible for the deaths of 43 million people and the Soviet Union as a whole for 63 million. If you break down these numbers, you see 8 million died in famines. This is because the policy of collectivisation was a complete failure. It would have failed just as much had Stalin gone to Mass every Sunday. It was a problem of economics not religion.

39 million died in camps. However, concentration camps are a feature of all dictatorships, not atheist ones in particular. There were camps run by the Tsar (who was religious) before Communism. Lenin and Mao’s opponents were just as brutal as they were in the Russian and Chinese Civil Wars.  The Catholic dictatorships in Spain and Latin America also had brutal camps. 12 million were killed as part of the purges and deportations. Again this is because Stalin was a paranoid dictator, not his religious beliefs.

It is hard to see how a belief in a higher power would have changed things. After all, the history of Russia is filled with examples of religious people conducting brutal massacres. Stalin never killed anyone in the name of atheism, he justified all his actions in the name of communism.

It is true that Stalin killed and oppressed religion. But he oppressed almost everything. He banned trade unions; does that make him a fascist? He killed religious people, atheists, communists, capitalists, trade unionists, socialists, liberals, conservatives, democrats, monarchists . . . the list goes on and on. He killed members of every ethnic and religious group. Religion cannot claim to be Stalin’s only victim.

There is a fundamental confusion of correlation and causality. Dawkins ridiculed the religious claim by noting that both Hitler and Stalin had moustaches, do moustaches lead to genocide? The rule of Franco and Mussolini show that there is no contradiction between religion and dictatorship, that Church can support brutality when it suits its own purposes. Sam Harris has argued that Communism in fact could be described as a religion. It has a holy book, a saviour, moral stories, salvation by faith and a rigid dogma. All non believers are condemned to Hell, the only difference is that it is a Hell on Earth.

Stalin and Pol Pot’s regimes lead to the deaths of millions of people, not because they were atheist, but because they were paranoid dictators. They are an indictment of Communism not Atheism.

18 thoughts on “Stalin, Atheism And Communism”

  1. Would the same title “paranoid dictators” also be applied to religious folks who commit atrocities?

    1. To a lot of them probably yes. Mussolini and Franco would fall into this category. However there are some who commit atrocities because they believe their religion tells them to do so, such as the Inquisition, suicide bombers and 9/11

    2. This is complete non-sense. If you’re an atheist why do you have such blind faith in these false statistics, that are really just down-right slanders. During the mid 1980’s no one would have questioned your estimation of Stalin’s government or Mao’s rule. But today, you would get laughed all the way out of any campus or serious academic circles. Now that the Cold-War is over and the fact that there was a capitalist counter-revolution in all of the countries of the Warsaw Pact that dissolved the Soviet Union, serious academic studies in search of objectivity coupled 25 years worth of declassified materials by the former USSR, US/NATO, and other Western and Eastern European states tell us that the millions of deaths attributed to Lenin, Stalin, or Mao are completely dishonest figures greatly exaggerated by rightist ideologues as a Cold-War weapon to create negative public opinion among uneducated audiences.

      Today serious historians agree that the number of people imprisoned and sentenced to capital punishment during Stalin’s entire period as General Secretary of the CPSU (1922-1953) is estimated to be less than 2 million people combined! That’s much less than the number of people imprisoned in California alone, Texas alone, and Louisiana alone today.

      Just 1 state out of 50 has more people locked up than under Stalin’s entire rule! Obama has far worse crimes under his belt than Stalin could ever dream of. But I bet you can’t wrap your head around that now. But if you begin researching seriously, you will be shocked. Because if Stalin and Mao seem like monsters to you, wait till you get a load of G. W. Bush, and B. H. Obama?

      The Ukranian famine that supposedly killed millions under Stalin’s rule has been debunked as a myth. Falsified using pictures taken in the United States during the great depression of starving poor Americans along with pictures of Tsarist Russia during WWI and the Ukraine immediately after the revolution during the Russian Civil War, dishonest, unethical opportunists like Robert Conquest consciously compiled these photo’s together with false claims and stories to pin an invented crime on Stalin.

      The Ukraine, has also been used to demonize Stalin by blaming him for a massacre, that was carried out under the Nazi occupation in the city Katyn, popularly known as the Katyn Massacre. Just before this recent conflict in the Ukraine broke out months ago, there were still museums exhibiting photo’s of the victims of Stalin’s miss-rule, starving to death because of communisms economic shambles. But the hilarious thing was that half of those pictures were not at all from the Ukraine, but from the US during the Great Depression. Some of those pictures a really famous and emblematic of the 1930’s depression!

      The Katyn Massacre story was also falsified only after WWII. Were a mass grave in Katyn of victims of Nazi crimes was uncovered, but purposely made to look by the USSR’s former “allies” as a crime of communism ordered by Stalin.

      Robert Conquest, in his works attributed every death in the USSR under Stalin’s watch as his personal crime and doing. Every Russian who died in WWII fighting Naziism, every one who passed away was personally killed by Stalin and his policies.

      On the contrary, during Stalin’s rule, as autocratic as it might have objectively been, unemployment was eliminated, education and health care were guaranteed to each Soviet Citizen, and the country was raised from backwards unindustrialized farmland, into a modern industrial Nuclear super power.

      I just 2 great books on the Stalin period, that’s why so much of this stuff is still fresh in my mind. When I was reading these books, I was also attracted to reading articles on-line echoing this. Just recently also, the governments of France, Great Britain, and Russian Federation declassified correspondence between Moscow, London, and Paris that clearly prove that Stalin had offered France and England an alliance to prevent a Nazi Aggression and a commitment of a considerable amount of Soviet troops to be mobilized under their command to stave off or prevent a Nazi attack. France sold out to the Nazi’s, and Churchill turned his back on Stalin, banking craftily on rumors that Hitler would attack the Soviet Union first in order to secure the fuel under the Caspian oil basin to later have enough resources to invade the British Isles. Churchill believed that by then Hitler and Stalin would have worn themselves out, killing 2 birds with 1 stone. But Stalin, when left alone to face Hitler’s coming onslaught, signed a deal with Germany to delay and buy time to build up it’s war industry. That was the famous Molotov-Riventropp treaty, known in the West as the Hitler-Stalin Pact.

      Right after the treaty was signed Hitler turned around and bombed London. Bad call Churchill!

      Before Britain declassified these documents, it was widely argued that Stalin was a cynic who sought a “pact” with Hitler at London’s expense, to split Czechoslovakia and Poland among each other. Today, that old propaganda lie has been swept into the trash bin of history along with other Cold War myths.

      There is so much more. Please, go youtube and googling on this if your interested in facts and objectivity.

      I have a great documentary on Mao that proves all of those exaggerations wrong too. You might find it on Youtube. It’s a comedy, it’s made by US professors, and it’s not at all communist or Maoist. It’s pretty rough on Mao personally as the movie is like a comedy Roast on Mao’s life, habits, and contradictions but it is fairly objective on debunking Cold War Myths and lies commonly parroted in the West to demonize the Chinese Revolution and minimize its achievements and gains while magnifying, exaggerating made up lies. The video is called, “The Passion of Mao”. I guess it came out during the time Mel Gibson remade The Passion of Christ and it received all that media fanfare. Hence the title.

  2. Its all to do with the motive behind the actions. If a crime is committed in the belief that a god(s) will be appeased, its a fault with the religious belief of the criminal. If it is done regardless of the religious belief, it is a fault of the political mindset, rather than the religious belief or lack of it.

  3. So it’s not the fault of the person?
    In the case of Stalling his actions were done with the aim of protecting Communism, so then is Marxism to blame?

  4. It’s bizarre that religious types would even bring this up as an argument anyway, given that it’s an invitation to look at their religion’s human rights record.

  5. 129,000,000 deaths in 70 years from atheist communists, I’d say Christianity has a better human rights record then that comrade.
    The atheist life is a life without meaning so in its frustration it focuses on religions downfalls without ever considering its own.

    1. Did you even read the post? The people who died were the victims of paranoid dictators, failed economics and famines. If atheism automatically lead to mass death, then why are there no mass deaths in Scandinavian countries (the least religious countries in the world)?

      Why gives you the right to proclaim the “atheist life is without meaning”? What reasons do you have to say this? I would respond in kind but you would probably cry persecution.

      1. No mass deaths in atheist countries? I guess the routine and casual killing of unborn babies doesn’t count as death then.

        1. No abortion is not considered death as the foetus is not technically alive from a legal point of view. Abortion also takes place in religious countries. But abortion is a separate matter

          1. Well if the “foetus is not technically alive from a legal point of view” then not even Hitler did anything wrong because the laws in Germany criminalized homosexuals and Jews…

              1. It is not an absurd argument because you said that “legally”, the fetus is not considered to be alive i.e. Is not considered human i.e. Does not have the basic human right to live. So once such a law exists, or in this case does not exist, than the fetus can be “terminated” (killed) legally without any problems…

  6. Pol Pot was a CIA creation. I don’t think his leadership can be considered as Marxist or Communist at all. Pol Pot came from a privileged family in feudal Cambodia. He studied in French missionary and catholic schools. In France, he was attracted to an offshoot of the French Communist Party (PCF) mainly due to their support for the anti-colonial struggles of the people of Indochina. That offshoot was the Cercle Marxiste a group created by Cambodian Marxists. Pol Pot’s bad grades disqualified him from school in France and he was forced to return to Cambodia. In Cambodia he became the liaison between Cambodians in France and at home. In June 1962 the Cambodian Kingdom was programed to hold parliamentary elections in June. Before the elections took place the King began a wave of repression where they arrested most of the leadership of the far-left and shut down their newspapers and other publications. In July 1962, the underground communist party secretary Tou Samouth was arrested and later killed while in custody, allowing Pol Pot to become the acting leader. At a 1963 party meeting, attended by at most 18 people, Pot was elected secretary of the party’s central committee. That March, Pol Pot went into hiding after his name was published in a list of leftist suspects put together by the police for Norodom Sihanouk. He fled to the Vietnamese border region and made contact with Vietnamese units fighting against South Vietnam.

    In 1964, the party, broke with Marxism and declared that rural peasant farmers were the true working class proletarian and lifeblood of the revolution, the central committee members having grown up in a feudal peasant society.

    In April 1965, Pol Pot went to North Vietnam to gain approval for an uprising in Cambodia against the government. North Vietnam refused to support any uprising due to ongoing negotiation with the Cambodian government. Sihanouk promised to allow the Vietnamese to use Cambodian territory and Cambodian ports in their war against South Vietnam.

    It was not until early 1967 that Pot decided to launch a national uprising, even though North Vietnam refused to assist in any meaningful way. The uprising was launched on January 18, 1968 with a raid on an army base south of Battambang. The Battambang area had already seen two years of great peasant unrest. The attack was driven off by the army, but the Khmer Rouge had captured a number of weapons, which were then used to drive police forces out of Cambodian villages.

    By the summer of 1968, Sar began transitioning from a party leader working with a collective leadership, into the absolutist leader of the Khmer Rouge movement. Where before he had shared communal quarters with other leaders, he now had his own compound with a personal staff and guards. Outsiders were no longer allowed to approach him. Rather, people were summoned into his presence by his staff.


    The relationship between the massive carpet bombing of Cambodia by the United States and the growth of the Khmer Rouge, in terms of recruitment and popular support, has been a matter of interest to historians. Some historians have cited the U.S. intervention and bombing campaign (spanning 1965–1973) as a significant factor leading to increased support of the Khmer Rouge among the Cambodian peasantry.

    The Khamer Rouge began as communist only in name. I am convinced they did this to elicit support from China and Vietnam. In 1975 the Khamer Rouge took power and named Cambodia Democratic Kampuchea. King Sinahouk was instrumental in Pol Pot’s rise to power, as he demonstrated support for Pol Pot’s party (CPK) and was the one who gave them the name Khamer Rouge. Khamer Rouge can roughly be translated as the Red Kingdom. While in power the Khamer Rouge intended to create a strictly agrarian society. 6 years after taking power, Pol Pot openly renounced communism. In the meantime, they opposed all industry and modern technology. They killed every industrial proletarian that existed in Kampuchea. The people from the cities were sent to toil the land in the countryside.


    They began killing all ethnic Vietnamese and Chinese people in Kampuchea.

    On April 18, 1978, Pol Pot ordered a pre-emptive invasion of Vietnam. His Cambodian forces crossed the border and looted nearby villages, mostly in the border town of Ba Chúc. Of the 3,157 civilians who had lived in Ba Chúc, only two survived the massacre. These Cambodian forces were repelled by the Vietnamese.

    After the Vietnamese communists defeated the US and routed them out from Indochina, they intervened in Cambodia kicked out the Pol Pot regime and his phony Khamer Rouge, and helped the Cambodians establish a Socialist society with a legitimate Marxist government. In response, the U.S. sponsored the creation and the military operations of a Cambodian government-in-exile known as the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea led by the Khmer Rouge.

    Eastern and central Cambodia were firmly under the control of Vietnam and its Cambodian allies by 1980, while the western part of the country continued to be a battlefield throughout the 1980s and millions of landmines were sown across the countryside. The Khmer Rouge, still led by Pol Pot, was the main group in the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea which received extensive military aid from Britain, and United States intelligence through the Thai military. Britain and the United States in particular gave aid to the coalition that included the Khamers.

    In 1981, the Khmer Rouge officially renounced Communism! One year before I was even born. (They haven’t even claimed to be communists for longer than I’ve been alive, yet you still call them atheist communists who committed crimes in the name of Marxism. SMH. Shame! Either you want to fool people or you were just plain ignorant yet very assertive as if you knew what you were talking about. Makes me wonder…)


    The US/NATO, Great Britain and most of Western Europe continued supporting the ousted Khamer Rouge and helped them hold on to their seat at the United Nations until the early 1990’s. Margaret Thatcher personally made statements in the press supporting the Khamer Rouge.The only country in Western Europe that voted against the Khamer Rouge in the UN was Sweden after mass Swedish protests against their government supporting those criminals.

    Although Pol Pot “relinquished” the Khmer Rouge leadership to Khieu Samphan in 1985, he continued to be the driving force behind the Khmer Rouge insurgency, giving speeches to his followers. Despite the international community’s near-universal condemnation of the Khmer Rouge’s brutal rule, US born journalist from Boston, Nate Thayer who worked for the mercenary wannabe CIA rag, Soldier of Fortune got a job with the Associated Press in 1989. He reported that a considerable number of Cambodians in Khmer Rouge-controlled areas seemed genuinely to support Pol Pot.

    Since 1999 Hofstra University’s Department of Journalism and Mass Media Studies in the School of Communication has awarded the Nate Thayer Scholarship to a qualified student with the best foreign story idea. Winners are selected on the basis of scholastic achievement or potential as well as economic need.

    According to Vaudine England of the BBC, “Many of the region’s greatest names in reporting made their mark in the pages of the Review, from the legendary Richard Hughes of Korean War fame, to Nate Thayer, the journalist who found Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot.”

    While Vietnam proposed to withdraw from Cambodia in return for a political settlement that would exclude the Khmer Rouge from power, the rebel coalition government, as well as the US, insisted that such a condition was unacceptable. Nevertheless, in 1985 Vietnam declared that it would complete the withdrawal of its forces from Cambodia by 1990 and it did so in 1989, having allowed the government that it had installed there to consolidate its rule and gain sufficient military strength.

    After a decade of inconclusive conflict, the pro-Vietnamese Cambodian government and the rebel coalition signed a treaty in 1991 calling for elections and disarmament. In 1992, however, the Khmer Rouge resumed fighting, boycotted the election and, in the following year, rejected its results. It now fought the new Cambodian coalition government. In July 1994 a “Provisional Government of National Union and National Salvation of Cambodia” was established by Khmer Rouge authorities.

    After factional in-fighting among the Khamer Rouge leadership broke out in 1997 unleashing another storm of violence, Pol Pot was later arrested by Khmer Rouge military Chief Ta Mok on June 19, 1997 and put on trial. He was sentenced to death in absentia by a Phnom Penh court soon afterward. On the night of April 15, 1998, two days before the 23rd anniversary of the Khmer Rouge takeover in Phnom Penh, CIA operated short-wave radio station, the Voice of America, to which Pol Pot was a devout listener, announced that the Khmer Rouge had agreed to turn him over to an international tribunal. According to his wife, he died in his bed later in the night while waiting to be moved to another location. Ta Mok claimed that his death was due to heart failure. Despite government requests to inspect the body, it was cremated a few days later at Anlong Veng in the Khmer Rouge zone, raising suspicions that he committed suicide. Others speculate that he was poisoned.

  7. Though we must consider the possibility that death tolls attributed to communist/atheist leaders are exaggerated by propaganda campaigns of the west, it is impossible for me personally to believe that they were no more brutal than America, or the relation between prison camps under Stalin to the number of prison populations in our states. What about Alexander Solzenhitsyn’s book, “The Gulag Archipelago?” Regardless of death tolls, the brutality and inhumanity of Stalin’s regime is unquestionable. I’ve met decent atheists, and I have admiration for some communists, but I believe the scientific materialism at the heart of these belief systems to be a devaluation of human life, and when that devaluation is coupled with monomaniacal zeal for a cause there is no means which cannot be justified for an end.

  8. This is just historically ignorant. Stalin killed tens if not hundreds of thousands of people because they were Christians as he believed in using violence to promote atheism and repress Christianity in Russia. He also blew up Cathedrals. Mao’s cultural revolution killed untold numbers of priests, imams, Buddhist monks, etc, and destroyed irreplaceable religious heritage because as an atheist he regarded religion as a backward cultural impediment. Christians are still killed today in North Korea just for being Christians because they regard promoting atheism as an integral part of Communism.

    Nobody sensible ever said that all atheists kill people for anti-religious reasons just as not all Christians (or members of any other religion) kill people for religious reasons. But these things simply have occurred in the last hundred years. Denying them is absurd.

  9. I would have to differ here. They not only were religious indifferent, but rather hated and persecuted religious people. It is widely know that Karl Max despised religion and made it clear numerous times that it should be completely eradicated. Let’s not forget his famous quote : “It is the opium of the people.” Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot knew that the only way to be a successful dictatorship is not only through social or economic policies, but also by controlling people’s belief and conscience. This is specially true given that some religions are completely incompatible with socialism and communism and given that some religions teaches the importance of man answer many of the questions we all have, such as what is the meaning of my life ? If you take all of that away, then everything goes, we just need to look at the animal kingdom, they do not care at all about religion and have no issues at all killing each other endless times. Besides if someone is an atheist to begin with, they cannot even truly know “right” from “wrong”, given that there is no source of morality to justify any of their actions. And if once we die nothing happens, then frankly what would it matter what we do while alive, good or bad, it would all be the same at the end.

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