Since the split of the Communist parties from the socialist Second International to form the Communist Third International, social democrats have been critical of Communism for its anti-democratic nature. Examples of left-wing critics of Communist states and parties are such as Friedrich Ebert,
Boris Souveraine, Bayard Rustin, Irving Howe and Max Shachtman. The American Federation of Labor has always been strongly anti-communist. The more leftist Congress of Industrial Organizations purged its Communists in 1947 and has been staunchly anti-communist ever since. In Britain, the Labour Party strenuously resisted Communist efforts to infiltrate its ranks and take control of locals in the 1930s. The Labour Party became anti-communist and Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee was a staunch supporter of NATO.
Although most anarchists describe themselves as communists, most anarchists criticize authoritarian Communist parties and states. Many argue that Marxist concepts such as dictatorship of the proletariat and state ownership of the means of production are anathema to anarchism. Some anarchists criticize communism from an individualist point of view.
Anarchists initially participated in and rejoiced over the 1917 February Revolution as an example of workers taking power for themselves. However, after the October Revolution it became evident that the Bolsheviks and the anarchists had very different ideas. Anarchist Emma Goldman, deported from the United States to Russia in 1919, was initially enthusiastic about the revolution, but was left sorely disappointed and began to write her book My Disillusionment in Russia. Anarchist Peter Kropotkin proffered trenchant criticism of the emergent Bolshevik bureaucracy in letters to Vladimir Lenin, noting in 1920 that "[a party dictatorship] is positively harmful for the building of a new socialist system. What is needed is local construction by local forces. [...] Russia has already become a Soviet Republic only in name". Many anarchists fought against Russian, Spanish and Greek Communists—many were killed by them, such as Lev Chernyi, Camillo Berneri and Konstantinos Speras.
In The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels outline some provisional short-term measures that could be steps towards communism. They note: "These measures will, of course, be different in different countries. Nevertheless, in most advanced countries, [these measures] will be pretty generally applicable". Ludwig von Mises described this as a "10-point plan" for the redistribution of land and production and argues that the initial and ongoing forms of redistribution constitute direct coercion. Neither Marx's 10-point plan nor the rest of the manifesto say anything about who has the right to carry out the plan. Milton Friedman argued that the absence of voluntary economic activity makes it too easy for repressive political leaders to grant themselves coercive powers. Friedman's view was also shared by Friedrich Hayek and John Maynard Keynes, both of whom believed that capitalism is vital for freedom to survive and thrive.
Objectivists who follow Ayn Rand are strongly anti-communist. They argue that wealth (or any other human value) is the creation of individual minds, that human nature requires motivation by personal incentive and therefore that only political and economic freedom are consistent with human prosperity. They believe this is demonstrated by the comparative prosperity of free market and socialist economies. Rand writes that Communist leaders typically claim to work for the common good, but many or all of them have been corrupt and totalitarian.
Milovan Djilas was a former Yugoslav Communist official who became a prominent dissident and critic of Communism. Leszek Kołakowski was a Polish Communist who became a famous anti-communist. He was best known for his critical analyses of Marxist thought, especially his acclaimed three-volume history, Main Currents of Marxism, which is "considered by some to be one of the most important books on political theory of the 20th century". The God That Failed is a 1949 book which collects together six essays with the testimonies of a number of famous former Communists who were writers and journalists. The common theme of the essays is the authors' disillusionment with and abandonment of Communism. The promotional byline to the book is "Six famous men tell how they changed their minds about Communism". Four more notable anti-communists were Whittaker Chambers, a former spy for the Soviet Union who testified against his fellow spies before the House Un-American Activities Committee; Dr. Bella Dodd; and Anatoliy Golitsyn and Oleg Kalugin—both former KGB and the latter a general.
Other anti-communists who were once Marxists include the writers Max Eastman, John Dos Passos, James Burnham, Morrie Ryskind, Frank Meyer, Will Herberg, Sidney Hook, Louis Fischer, André Gide, Arthur Koestler, Ignazio Silone, Stephen Spender, Peter Hitchens, Zita Seabra, Tajar Zavalani and Richard Wright. Anti-communists who were once socialists, liberals or social democrats include John Chamberlain, Friedrich Hayek, Raymond Moley, Norman Podhoretz and Irving Kristol.
Fascism and far-right politics
World War II propaganda poster in German-occupied Norway
Fascism is often considered to be a reaction to communist and socialist uprisings in Europe. Italian Fascism, founded and led by Benito Mussolini, took power after years of leftist unrest led many conservatives to fear that a communist revolution was inevitable. Historians Ian Kershaw and Joachim Fest argue that in the early 1920s the Nazis were only one of many nationalist and fascist political parties contending for the leadership of Germany's anti-communist movement. The Nazis only came to dominance during the Great Depression, when they organized street battles against German Communist formations. When Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, his propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels set up the "Anti-Komintern". It published massive amounts of anti-Bolshevik propaganda, with the goal of demonizing Bolshevism and the Soviet Union before a worldwide audience. In Europe, numerous far-right activists including some conservative intellectuals, capitalists and industrialists were vocal opponents of Communism. During the late 1930s and the 1940s, several other anti-communist regimes and groups supported fascism: the Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las JONS in Spain; the Vichy regime and the Legion of French Volunteers against Bolshevism (Wehrmacht Infantry Regiment 638) in France; and in South America movements such as Brazilian Integralism.
Most exiled Russian aristocrats as well as exiled Russian liberals were actively anti-communist in the 1920s and 1930s.
In Britain, anti-communism was widespread among the British foreign policy elite in the 1930s with its strong upperclass connections. The upper-class Cliveden set was strongly anti-communist in Britain.
Thích Huyền Quang was a prominent Vietnamese Buddhist monk and anti-communist dissident. In 1977, Quang wrote a letter to Prime Minister Phạm Văn Đồng detailing accounts of oppression by the Communist regime. For this, he and five other senior monks were arrested and detained. In 1982, Quang was arrested and subsequently placed under permanent house arrest for opposition to government policy after publicly denouncing the establishment of the state-controlled Vietnam Buddhist Church. Thích Quảng Độ is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and an anti-communist dissident. In January 2008, the Europe-based magazine
A Different View chose Thích Quảng Độ as one of the 15 Champions of World Democracy.
The Catholic Church has a history of anti-communism. The most recent Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "The Catholic Church has rejected the totalitarian and atheistic ideologies associated in modern times with 'communism'. [...] Regulating the economy solely by centralized planning perverts the basis of social bonds [...] [Still,] reasonable regulation of the marketplace and economic initiatives, in keeping with a just hierarchy of values and a view to the common good, is to be commended".
Pope John Paul II was a harsh critic of Communism as was Pope Pius IX, who issued a Papal encyclical, entitled Quanta cura, in which he called "Communism and Socialism" the most fatal error.
From 1945 onward, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) leadership accepted the assistance of an anti-communist Roman Catholic movement, led by B. A. Santamaria to oppose alleged communist subversion of
Australian trade unions, of which Catholics were an important traditional support base. Bert Cremean, Deputy Leader of State Parliamentary Labor Party and Santamaria, met with ALP's political and industrial leaders to discuss the movements assisting their opposition to what they alleged was Communist subversion of Australian trade unionism. To oppose Communist infiltration of unions Industrial Groups were formed. The groups were active from 1945 to 1954, with the knowledge and support of the ALP leadership, until after Labor's loss of the 1954 election, when federal leader H. V. Evatt in the context of his response to the Petrov affair blamed "subversive" activities of the "Groupers" for the defeat. After bitter public dispute, many Groupers (including most members of the New South Wales and Victorian state executives and most Victorian Labor branches) were expelled from the ALP and formed the historical Democratic Labor Party (DLP). In an attempt to force the ALP reform and remove alleged Communist influence, with a view to then rejoining the "purged" ALP, the DLP preferenced (see Australian electoral system) the Liberal Party of Australia (LPA), enabling them to remain in power for over two decades. The strategy was unsuccessful and after the Whitlam Government during the 1970s the majority of the DLP decided to wind up the party in 1978, although a small Federal and State party continued based in Victoria (see Democratic Labour Party) with state parties reformed in New South Wales and Queensland in 2008.
After the Soviet occupation of Hungary during the final stages of the Second World War, many clerics were arrested. The case of the Archbishop József Mindszenty of Esztergom, head of the Catholic Church in Hungary, was the most known. He was accused of treason to the Communist ideas and was sent to trials and tortured during several years between 1949 and 1956. During the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 against Communism, Mindszenty was set free and after the failure of the movement he was forced to move to the United States' embassy on Budapest, where he lived until 1971 when the Vatican and the Communist government of Hungary pacted his way out to Austria. In the following years, Mindszenty travelled all over the world visiting the Hungarian colonies in Canada, United States, Germany, Austria, South Africa and Venezuela. He led a high critical campaign against the Communist regime denouncing the atrocities committed by them against him and the Hungarian people. The Communist government accused him and demanded that the Vatican remove him the title of Archbishop of Esztergom and forbid him to make public speeches against Communism. The Vatican eventually annulled the excommunication imposed on his political opponents and stripped him of his titles. The Pope, who declared the Archdiocese of Esztergom officially vacated, refused to fill the seat while Mindszenty was still alive.
Falun Gong practitioners are against the Communist Party of China's persecution of Falun Gong. In April 1999, over ten thousand Falun Gong practitioners gathered at the Communist party headquarters (Zhongnanhai) in a silent protest following an incident in Tianjin. Two months later, the Communist party banned the practice, initiated a security crackdown and began a propaganda campaign against it. Since 1999, Falun Gong practitioners in China have been subject to torture, arbitrary imprisonment, beatings, forced labor, organ harvesting and psychiatric abuses. Falun Gong responded with their own media campaign and have emerged as a notable voice of dissent against the Communist party by founding organizations such as the Epoch Times, New Tang Dynasty Television and others that criticize the Communist party.
In 2006, allegations emerged that a large number of Falun Gong practitioners had been killed to supply China's organ transplant industry. The Kilgour-Matas report found that "the source of 41,500 transplants for the six year period 2000 to 2005 is unexplained" and concluded that "there has been and continues today to be large scale organ seizures from unwilling Falun Gong practitioners". Ethan Gutmann estimated that 65,000 Falun Gong practitioners were killed for their organs from 2000 to 2008.
In 2009, courts in Spain and Argentina indicted senior Chinese officials for genocide and crimes against humanity for their role in orchestrating the suppression of Falun Gong.