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Year Zero: From Khmer Rouge to Khmer Noir

Written by John (the other John).

I was recently reading a book of the horrors of Communism under Pol Pot in Cambodia titled “Cambodia: Year Zero” (by Francois Ponchaud), and it was quite stunning to see the similarities between the Khmer Rouge and modern day Leftists. But before I get into that, the theory of “Year Zero” is that all culture and traditions within a society must be completely destroyed, and a new revolutionary culture must replace it, starting with a blank-slate. All of the history of a nation before Year Zero is erased because it will be purged and replaced from the ground up. (For some more background, this was also attempted by the Jacobins during the French Revolution).

For the sake of ease of reading, I list these in bullet-point format:
  • The good of the people is irrelevant; the aim was/is to prove a theory that worked in the abstract without regard for human factors
  • A revolution finds its strength from the peasants, because they are unable to make any valid analysis on their own, thus manipulating them is easy
  • Individualism is replaced by collectivism
  • The 1st step of political education is to teach the peasants that they are oppressed
  • Use class and racial animosity as tool; a few ideologues have driven an army of peasants to bury their entire past
  • Destroyed statues/monuments
  • Books were burned; unfavourable knowledge destroyed
  • Restructured economy/society/culture/prohibit religion
  • Created new social categories
  • Spy troops (kang chlop) were average people who snitched on others to the authorities; surveillance-State
  • Re-education camps (ex. “critical race theory” today)
  • Purges; crush enemies; family-line must be destroyed to the last survivor
  • Wars are won by destroying the towns and villages (abolish towns & suburbs today)
  • Forgiveness is a sign of weakness; your enemy is unqualified evil, thus one cannot recognize any virtue in them since that is tantamount to being an accomplice; plus, they caused you suffering; lust for revenge
  • Hysteria of purification of others by any means necessary
  • Cannot handle criticism
  • Application of their ideology being pushed to its outer limits is akin to madness
  • Although revolutionary ideas initially excite(d) young students so seek justice and power, ultimately, power remains/ed in the hands of a few
This connection of yesteryear and today is frightening.

All this is very predictable, unfortunately, millions of lives will be lost and a nation will be destroyed before historians make this link that has previously resulted with every nation that has ever experimented with Socialism. But much like every crack cocaine addict who ever existed, all of them thought before they took their first “hit” of crack that “…it won’t happen to me….” Hmmm!

So from the Khmer Rouge to the Khmer Noir, similar killing fields of their adversaries will likely result here as well. But instead of Pol Pot leading the charge, it will instead be a “Pot Ho’” leading the charge.
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