1. Communism is a theory, therefore it cannot kill anything. People who believe in communism can kill people, but people who believe in anything can kill people. It’s the people themselves, not the theory, and unless you can prove a causal link between the theory and the people, then it’s the fault of the people themselves.
2. People operating under the ideology of capitalism killed hundreds of times more people than those operating under communism. Think of two world wars, dozens of wars over oil in the middle east, genocides and mass murders when the Europeans came to the new worlds of the Americas and Africa. These crimes, going back centuries before communism became a world ideology, far outweigh those committed in the name of communism. So on this point it is capitalism, not communism, that failed.
3. Capitalism also. ruined the economies of far more countries. Think too of Latin America, both the native peoples and the mestizos later, native peoples in North America, Africa, and Asia. Because of global capitalism the people of these areas had their original economic systems, many agrarian and semi-cooperative, shaken up in favour of the agricultural products demanded by the industrial and postindustrial world or cheap labour to produce commodities or the subcomponents of commodities. Furthermore, capitalism wasn’t working out all that well for Eastern Europe when socialism (not really communism anyway, since communism is the end goal of proletarian revolution, politics, and economics) became their chosen alternative. The Russian Empire (which basically became the Soviet Union) was starving and even the people in the richest cities of Moscow and Petrograd were impoverished. The proletariat workers had absolutely no control over their working conditions and were therefore forced to work for pennies, the peasants (the majority of the population) were given pitifully small pieces of land to grow with landlords exploiting a large portion of their planting and still there wasn’t enough to eat. The demands of World War I, truly and imperialist, and therefore capitalist, war were bleeding the country dry and the people were fed up. Socialism would give them control over how their lives were organized economically and politically and so they threw off the yoke of capitalism and monarchy and organized a worker’s state with a collectivist economy. They chose socialism because it was capitalism that had failed. The same is absolutely true today.
4. I agree, though, the socialist experiment of the 20th century failed in a majority of its aims, and it was a catastrophe; to deny this would be blind nastolgia. However we have to understand why it failed in the context of the situation at the time so we can sever that imagined causal link between the theory and the practice. We socialist argue that it was the situation in these countries that led to the rise of some of the worst individuals and thus the most horrific decisions possible, not the ideology itself, therefore because the conditions are more favourable now the ideology can be carried out in its ideal form.
(a) The revolution was during a war: the revolution in the Soviet Union/Russian Empire was conducted during a time of war - specifically World War I - so certain decisions were made in regards to how to pull out from the war and recover from its pains
(b) The economic system needed to be built
(c) The revolution failed in Germany
(d) Attacks from all sides
(e) Reactionary and opportunist elements inside the party led to the rise of Stalin
(f) The International spread the Stalinist model
(g) The US and USSR both prioritized ideology over pragmatic concerns or realistic expectations
As we can see, the problems of the time won’t be our problems now, so we can focus on the ideal system, not one that has to make concessions in order to survive. Plus, we know what happened in the past; we have the power of hindsight. We can avoid these wrongs. So don’t forgive Stalin or his minions, forgive those of us who are building socialism because we care about people over profits, believe in egalitarianism and humanitarianism, and condemn both the errors of the socialist and capitalist past. Socialism can be fixed; capitalism cannot. It’s that simple.