There's is an excellent short piece in the Washington Post today called, "Murderous idealism." One of the main things the author, Paul Hollander, notes is how communism was and is perceived in the west. During the Cold War, and even today, communism had many sympathizers and apologists on the left, particularly among intellectuals. Those of us on the right called them "useful idiots" for communist propaganda. In the the late 1980s in graduate school, I myself took a seminar with a professor who was a big admirer of Lenin, and actually an apologist for Stalin. Others were openly sympathetic to Marxist ideals. As Hollander writes,
There is little public awareness of the large-scale atrocities, killings and human rights violations that occurred in communist states, especially compared with awareness of the Holocaust and Nazism (which led to to far fewer deaths)Those who were aware, such as that particular professor I mentioned, chose to minimize communist atrocities or even justify them. With the fall of the Soviet Union, the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, and the opening of previously secret archives, we found that the horrors of communism were every bit as bad as we thought, if not worse. The admirers, sympathizers, and apologists for the Soviet Union should have been thoroughly discredited. But, as Hollander points out,
In the aftermath of the fall of Soviet communism, many Western intellectuals remain convinced that capitalism is the root of all evil. There has been a long tradition of such animosity among Western intellectuals who gave the benefit of doubt or outright sympathy to political systems that denounced the profit motive and proclaimed their commitment to create a more humane and egalitarian society, and unselfish human beingsEven today, people who would be horrified at anything less than total condemnation of Nazism act as if communism really isn't such a bad thing, and sneer at forthright anti-communist sentiments.