05
Jun
09

Communism Defined

“Communism”.

The word will probably conjure to mind apocalyptic visions of Orwellian police states and brutal suppression of dissidents. Sadly, this was indeed true of the Soviet Union and- to this day- China and North Korea. However, before one judges Communism according to the actions of these countries, let us examine whether or not these countries met what the founding fathers of Communism defined their system as.

Both of these allegedly Communist countries have been known for being dictatorships, yet Marx defines a Communist country as a “dictatorship of the proletariat” (i.e. pure democratic rule). Both of these allegedly Communist countries have had clear social classes, with both the extremely rich and extremely poor. Marx, however, sets down in his Manifesto that a Communist society will be one devoid of any class other than the proletariat (working class). Both of these allegedly Communist countries have had individuals with large amounts of private property, particularly in China, where privatization is rampant. Marx, on the other hand, describes a Communist society as having abolished private property.

And the list goes on, ranging from political issues to economic subjects to questions of personal freedoms and responsibilities, and in almost every aspect, Marx’s description of Communism and the reality of so-called “Communist” countries are diametrically opposed. In short, these countries have merely masqueraded under the facade of Communism, while in reality functioning as semi-socialist dictatorships. For that reason, one could no more blame Communism for the atrocities committed by the Soviet and Maoist regimes than one could blame Christianity for the horrors of the Crusades or Spanish Inquisition. Despite its depiction, Communism was not the USSR. Communism is not contemporary China or Cuba or North Korea.

So what is Communism then?

Marx, in his Communist Manifesto, defines Communism as a society where (1) private property is abolished in favor of public property, (2) the class system is abolished and a single, democratic class system is created instead, and (3) each individual works according to his or her talents for the greater good of the community in exchange for the community taking care of the individual’s needs. No reference to totalitarianism, work-camps, or nuclear weapons, imperialist expansion, or brutal oppression or any of the things commonly associated with Communism is included.

Nevertheless, Communism is still widely feared. For some- those who have experienced the so-called “Communism” of the USSR, China, North Korea, and Cuba- it is quite understandable why they would look down on Communism and its advocates (though as understandable as it is, it still isn’t right).

For others, ignorance is the source of their fear, being unaware of the difference between the Soviets/Maoists/Etc. and Communists. Once again, without knowledge of the difference, their fear is understandable (though not right).

However, there are those who are fully aware of what Communism truly is and yet still fear it. But how can someone who is fully aware that Communism advocates democracy, equality, and the abolition of class and property be afraid? It can only be that these people have something to lose. The dictator loses his power, the wealthy and elite lose their position and luxury.

These people have every right to be afraid of Communism.

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9 Responses to “Communism Defined”


  1. June 25, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    “It can only be that these people have something to lose. The dictator loses his power, the wealthy and elite lose their position and luxury.

    These people have every right to be afraid of Communism.”

    You left out lazy bums who don’t want to work. They would be afraid of communism too, since it requires everyone to be in the working class.

    “Marx, in his Communist Manifesto, defines Communism as a society where (1) private property is abolished in favor of public property, (2) the class system is abolished and a single, democratic class system is created instead, and (3) each individual works according to his or her talents for the greater good of the community in exchange for the community taking care of the individual’s needs.”

    Speaking of lazy bums, how would we get them to go along with (3)? I am reminded of slavery, which turned out to be unprofitable except in the case of a few high-profit crops (tobacco, sugar, later cotton) because the slaves had no incentive to do more than the bare minimum work. The only reason they did even that much work was because the slave driver expended considerable effort pushing them. Wouldn’t (3) create much the same situation, minus only the slave driver?

  2. 2 trotskyite
    June 25, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    In response to your first point (and it’s a good point), yes, the lazy and indolent do have a right to be afraid of Communism, however, I think the actual number of those is greatly exaggerated.

    In response to your second point, I’d disagree. People, when doing what they’re talented at, enjoy what they’re doing and work harder than they would doing something for pay. To each according to his abilities and all that…

  3. June 25, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    A lot of jobs are drudgery. I spent many years as a QC inspector, and I was genuinely talented at it– my eyes spot details very quickly– but I was bored silly. I was thrilled to get out of that work and I hope I never have to go back. There are some people who really like quality control and love doing it, but there are not enough of those people to go around. Under communism, who does the crummy jobs?

  4. 4 trotskyite
    June 25, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    Those, along with unskilled, manual labor, are dealt out evenly. A person might work as an artist four days a week and spend one day sweeping the streets.

  5. June 25, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    And who organizes that?

  6. 6 trotskyite
    June 25, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    The people’s democratically elected local government.

  7. June 25, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    How could the winners of a popularity contest possibly know how many QC inspectors we need? Right now I can’t even get my boss in Kabul to let me have a field engineer. Am I going to need an act of congress to hire somebody?

  8. 8 trotskyite
    June 25, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    The emphasis is “local”. If a school is being built, the people of the town/city/school zone are obligated to contribute to the construction and it’s the duty of the elected officials to ensure that everyone’s pulling their weight. I’m not familiar with what a QC inspector is, but I’m fairly confident that others more acquainted with the details would be able to advise the government as to how many to hire (or better yet, the people could elect an administration comprised of individuals who DO know how many workers are needed for how many jobs). What Communism is going for here isn’t governments that rule and direct the people but governments that serve and protect the people.

    As for your situation, I can’t say for certain. I’d guess (in a Communist situation) that the decision would be up to your boss, and if you can convince him that there’s a need for a field engineer, he’d advertise the position and any field engineer who wanted the job would apply. No need to get congress involved.

  9. June 26, 2009 at 2:47 am

    I came across this article yesterday and I think you might find it interesting: http://www.sonoma.edu/users/e/eyler/426/coase1.pdf . It deals with the question of why companies exist, when everything everything could be done on the open market through the price mechanism. The transactions within a company, obviously, must save marketing costs. But then, if transactions within a company are so efficient, then why isn’t everything produced by just one big company?

    For reasons similar to the ones put forward in that article, I think having a local government organize all the labor would be intolerably inefficient.


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