University Courses, T-Shirts, and Vodka: Drop ‘Romantic Notions’ of Communism, Says Victims of Communism Advocate

By Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen
Andrew is a reporter based in Toronto.
July 6, 2021 Updated: July 7, 2021

Canadians should be cautious about embracing “romantic notions” of Marxism or communism, a political ideology and system responsible for the deaths of millions of people since the early 20th century, says the chair of a charity working to establish a Canadian memorial to commemorate the victims of communism.

“Some of the individuals, especially within the academia, have this romantic notion of a just society, and they don’t realize that communism kills, and there’s nothing just about communism,” Ludwik Klimkowski, chair of Tribute to Liberty (TTL), told The Epoch Times.

“The communist regimes who were inspired by Karl Marx were responsible, are still responsible, for killing more than 100 million people.”

One example he gives is a past course offered by the University of British Columbia’s Department of Anthropology on Marx’s writings and practices; the course description says Marxist theory is “returning to consideration.”

“Marx, Patterson reminds us, was interested in more than simply what is today the narrow field of economics. Marx’s interests included the whole of humanity from early origins to contemporary systems of belief and the need to create a more humane and just social order,” the description states, referring to Thomas Patterson, author of the book “Karl Marx, Anthropologist.”

Klimkowski, who was born in Poland, says offering a specific course on Marxism “and by extension embracing it, is just beyond misguided.”

He also notes that references to leading communist figures can be seen appearing from time to time on everyday products. He gave the example of a brand of vodka called Stalinskaya Silver Vodka, whose name resembles that of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

The product, made in Romania, began being sold in Ontario in May. Following complaints from groups like Ukrainian Canada and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario discontinued its sale in June.

Another example is T-shirts with the image of Che Guevara, a Marxist revolutionary central to the Cuban Revolution in the 1950s.

Klimkowski attributes this to a “misguided perception of coolness,” especially among younger Canadians who may not understand the history of such figures.

For most Central Americans, [Che Guevara] is no different than the image of Hitler and the concentration camps in Europe during the Second World War,” he said.

Similarly, “the idea of a study of Karl Marx theory in a university of any kind, in my mind equals a study of Adolf Hitler and his way of introducing mass murder. … This type of proposition clearly victimizes a lot of Canadian citizens, and it should [never be] permitted.”

Epoch Times Photo
Ludwik Klimkowski, chair of Tribute to Liberty. (Handout)

‘Communism Continues to Inflict Suffering’

The TTL website has a page that summarizes the dark history of communism by presenting its crimes and death tolls. It shows China having the largest death toll at 65 million deaths, followed by 20 million deaths in the former USSR.

“Communism was responsible for suffering during the 20th century, and communism continues to inflict suffering and pain on many citizens of this globe,” Klimkowski said.

Despite this, tributes to communism are still held in Canada. Klimkowski said there’s an event held at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa every year to celebrate the Soviet version of Victory Day—May 9—when Nazi Germany was defeated in 1945.

Participants display flags and commemorative items related to the Soviet Red Army that occupied Eastern Europe long after World War II, he said.

“This behaviour is so fringe that the majority of Canadians … just simply shake their heads and wonder why would anyone still like to rehash the dead body of communism.”

Klimkowski added that many critics of Marx’s theory may think that with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, communism became a thing of the past, but in fact many people “still suffer under communist regimes in certain countries around the globe.”

He said roughly 9 million Canadians can trace their ancestry to countries affected by communism, such as China, Vietnam, Korea, and Cuba.

“In this country, many of us came from different walks of life. But one thing that unites us, among the many, is that we are free, and we can express ourselves freely, and we reject any system, any way of governance, that imposes restrictions,” Klimkowski said.

He said the victims and survivors of communism should follow the footsteps of victims of the Holocaust and be more vocal, providing more testimonials so that people—particularly the younger generations—can humanize the experience and understand the atrocious history of communist regimes.

“Don’t talk about the romantic utopia,” he said. “We need to talk about the millions upon millions who came to Canada as a result of this oppressive ideology.”

Epoch Times Photo
Arc of Memory, the winning design for the monument to victims of communism being built in Ottawa. (Courtesy of Paul Raff)

Memorial to Celebrate ‘Victory Over Communism’

Tribute to Liberty’s primary task is to complete the building of a memorial in the National Capital Region to commemorate victims of communism. Construction began in 2019 but has faced delays due to the pandemic. It is slated to be completed in 2021.

“The main focus of ours is to finish the construction of this beautiful, beautiful memorial in Ottawa,” Klimkowski said.

“Then, for the next anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre or fall of Saigon, or Solidarity movement commemorations of the labour movement in Poland, we’ll have one unifying place in Ottawa [where] we can celebrate our victory over communism and remember those who are no longer with us.”

Klimkowski said in a previous interview that the memorial is an important show of respect to the millions of Canadians who can trace their roots to countries that suffered under various oppressive communist regimes, and will also serve to educate future generations.

Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen
Andrew is a reporter based in Toronto.