13
Jan
12

Arguments for Communism

A while ago, I wrote a post listing brief counterarguments to the claims usually used to “disprove” Communism. To this day, it’s been one of the most read pieces I’ve written, so I thought it might be time to expand it a bit. Written below are the most common arguments people use against Communism, and my responses to them.

 

Communism Has Been “Tried and Failed”:

The problem with this commonly used argument is that more or less everything has been tried and failed. Take democracy for example. Can I argue that democracy is a futile endeavor because it failed not once but multiple times it was tried?

"I propose we write really depressing plays!"

If I recall, democracy didn’t work for the Athenians.

"I propose we totally rip off of the Greeks!"

And the republic didn’t exactly wind up being a lasting facet of Roman society.

Even in America, democratic government needed to be reworked- but despite the many failed attempts at democracy, the idea that anyone today would want anything other than a democracy is laughable. Let’s keep this in perspective before claiming that Communism was tried once and should now be abandoned for all time.

 

Communism is “Great on Paper”:

I’m particularly irked by this argument because most everything is “great on paper”! Now there’s no real response to the whole “Communism is great on paper but doesn’t work in application” because of how broad it is. Really, it’s more of a prefix to an argument (such as the ones below), and any response is going to have to be more specific. Still, if you really do need an immediate response, simply point out that egalitarian, classless societies that shared work and held common property have existed since the beginning of time.

Remember us?

Communism Conflicts with Human Nature:

I’ve found this line of reasoning especially prevalent among religious groups, and while you could debate whether or not humans are basically good or bad till the end of time, there is an argument you can use in defense of Communism even if humans are inherently evil (which, for the record, I myself believe).

 

Now the argument tends to go “If humans were also basically good, Communism would work. But humans are basically bad- that’s why Capitalism works. Capitalism takes humanity’s evil nature into account.”

 

See, this argument is just ridiculous- first, if humans were basically good, we wouldn’t even be having to bring up Communism to begin with. Second, Capitalism doesn’t so much “take humanity’s evil nature into account” at it does reward it. Greed, deception, selfishness, reckless individualism, decadence, and the like- these are all things that Capitalism not only makes excuses for, but encourages! If we’re going to base our economics on the concept that greed is acceptable, should we then base our legal system on the concept that perjury, harassment, and murder are acceptable?

There's actually a big market for furniture made from human skin...

Just because humans are naturally bad doesn’t mean we should base our entire society around the hopes that they’ll act badly.

 

Communism Is Against Religion:

Let’s face facts- Marx was an atheist, as were many prominent Communists. However, to assume that Communism and religion are opposed would be wrong- indeed, if you take a look at what Marx wrote about religion, you’ll find his issues weren’t so much with faith, as the use of religion by the powerful for control, and the use of religion by the powerless as an excuse for not taking action. In reality, even Communists who would describe themselves as “anti-theist” almost universally hold to the belief that what you believe (or don’t believe) is your own business. On the other end of the spectrum, you will in fact find Christian Communism, liberation theology, and social justice movements arguing that it is not Communism but Capitalism that is antithetical to the basic principals of religion.

Totally what Jesus had in mind...

Communism is Against Democracy:

My response to this accusation is two pronged- first, we need to point out that not all Communist leaders seized power, most prominent among Marxists democratically elected to power was Chilean president Salvador Allende, who lost his life in a CIA-backed military coup. Second, while there were dictators who claimed to be Communist, these men were Marxists in about the same way that the propagators of the Spanish Inquisition were Christian. Take a look at the writings of Marx or Engels or Luxembourg and you’ll see the demands for power to be put in the hands of the people, not the party chairman or head of the military. Communism believes in democracy- it is with Capitalism that democracy doesn’t mesh so well. Democracy is meant to be a system in which all have equal power. However, in a system where money is power, any inequality in wealth is going to mean an inequality in influence over government. The wealthy man can hire lobbyists, give campaign contributions, fund advertising, hire people to smear his opponents, and so on (and let’s not forget the straight-up bribe). Is that equality? Let’s take a look at what democracy looks like in the US.

Not exactly faith-inspiring is it?

Planned Economies Aren’t Efficient:

It’s not a common argument, but every once in a while you’ll run into someone with a penchant for economics who’ll take this line of argument. They state “Hey, there’s no way a planned economy will work unless you’re always over producing ______ or trying to catch up to the demand for ______. It’s inefficient.”

 

Now you can probably argue exactly how a planned economy could work- and that’s a debate for another time. The easiest response to this argument is to point out that Capitalism isn’t exactly efficient either. When someone can take natural resources, use them to create a product, and finding that the market for novelty sumo tables doesn’t actually exist, be stuck with a warehouse full of the stuff, you can’t exactly assert Capitalism doesn’t have just as much potential to be wasteful.

All this and more garbage available from SkyMall!

Society Won’t Function Without the Free Market:

Another argument sometimes used by the economically minded is that the only way for society to function is through the natural process of supply and demand. Now my response to this is to use my own conditions- unless you attend a college set in an extremely rural area, I’m geussing you won’t be able to use the exact same points, but hopefully you’ll be able to use the basic logic behind them.

 

Now as I said, I attend a college surrounded by miles of forest and not much else. There is a massive demand for theaters, restaurants, shops, grocery markets, and other diversions, yet nothing happens. See, what the acolytes of the infallible system of supply and demand don’t realize is that supply and demand is like fate- it only works in retrospect. Yes, demand is met (or else, it moves elsewhere), but how long and how much do you have to demand for a product or service before it shows up? There’s no standard, no pattern, no system. Things were either meant to be or not meant to be- all in all, the whole “supply and demand will answer everything” stance taken by some really can’t be held.

Communism is Against My “Right” to Private Property:

You ever see ads for buying a star, or property on the moon? You laugh at it- maybe you’ll think it’s a nice sentiment- but at the end of the day you don’t take it seriously. After all, the moon and stars can’t be bought because they’re not anyone’s to sell. It all makes about as much sense as buying a cubic foot of air from a man named Steve. Steve can’t actually give you a cubic foot of air, can’t prevent you from moving through said cubic foot of air, and has no way of owning a cubic foot of air to begin with.

Yet we view land (and private property, made from resources from land) as a sacred right. Why? Land is just land- land didn’t belong to anyone until some neanderthal took up a club and declared that all dirt between points A, B, C, and D were his and his alone. Yet today if I were to attempt to do the same thing and claim that all within an invisible border belongs to me and no one else, I would be called a thief. That’s the origin of this so-called “right”, someone in the distant past just took it, and because of this, you can “buy” a plot of land, never use it for anything, and yet have every right to keep anyone from living there. That’s just not rational- the world belongs to everyone, and you can only “own” property in as much as you can be the one currently using it.

Communism Is Against Prosperity:

Come one- you don’t have to be a Communist to recognize that we can’t live in decadence and luxury. Communism isn’t against prosperity, but it is against mindless excess. Private jets, whaleskin leather seats for you SUV (look it up), imported caviar with every meal- there’s no way that we can live like this- the planet is having a hard enough time keeping up with current rates of consumption as it is. Further, let’s not imagine for a moment that fast cars and big houses are what make a life worth living. Freedom, dignity, peace, equality- I’d take that over a gold plated BMW any day.

If You’re a Communist, Why Aren’t You Poor?

The inbred cousin of the question of “Why can’t I be stinking rich?” is the question “Why aren’t you desperately poor?”.  Now I’ve touched on this question before, but it comes up a bit and I’ll try to address it here as well. We might not believe in decadence, but we don’t want people to be poor either- that’s not what Communism is about. Equality in wealth will mean the end of millionaires and billionaires, but for countless people across the planet, the standard of living will dramatically increase. We aren’t poor because we’re not supposed to be poor- no one is!

We’re not big fans of either extreme…

Big Government Doesn’t Work:

We couldn’t agree more. Communists don’t believe in big government, we believe in collectives,  communes, and communities working on a local level to address problems and issues unique to them. If they choose to band together for whatever reason, they may of course do so, but at the end of the day, we do not believe in the state. Even Lenin, a Communist who was about as “big government” as Marxists get, called for the abolition of the state. Communism is about power to the people, not the politician.

Communism  Has Killed Millions:

Here’s the big one.

Now if you’ll take a look at the texts of Communism, nowhere will you find anyone say “By the way, you should totally purge entire sections of your population”, yet nevertheless, it cannot be denied that millions are dead at the hands of “Communists”.

That’s “Communists” in quotation marks- you see, mass murder reflects on the ideals of Communism in about the same way that (as I’ve said above) the Spanish Inquisition reflects the ideals of Christianity. Let’s face it, people will use any justification for their actions. The men who killed in the name of Communism only used Communism as a facade for their own agendas. After all…

The Tuskegee Spyhilis experiments did nothing to treat African American farmers the researchers knew were infected, and did so  in the name of science, but exactly how is (secretly) giving someone a disease reflective of the goals of science?

And the reign of terror- was this the product of enlightenment and reason?

And is this democracy?

People kill people- that’s the sad truth. Communism has nothing to do with it.

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17 Responses to “Arguments for Communism”


  1. 1 CWest
    January 13, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    I’ve just become a head at my college’s political club and this post has really helped me out. People have a really misunderstood view on different ideologies and my big push is to educate them about all the options. Sadly, Communism has been my least researched so far, but this post really helps out and puts it simply. Since it seems there is an influx of conservatives joining; I know I will hear all those points come up. Not even just conservatives, most people have no real idea about Communism.

  2. 2 Morgan
    November 30, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Just a couple questions I hope you can answer:
    1. Where is the incentive to invent and improve in communism, aren’t there more incentives in capitalism? And if there where incentives to improve in communism wouldn’t the worker class revolt when new equipment, jobs, and technology evolved and take the worker’s jobs away, therefore making a cycle of no improvement
    2. If communism is not against religion then why is/was communism combined with materialism (WAR is PEACE) to dismantle religious beliefs, such as in the French and Russian revolutions, where religion was all but destroyed in those areas
    3. If communists don’t believe in big government then how is it different that which anarchists believe, and I don’t seem to recall any capitalist dictators or democratic communistic states either.

    • 3 trotskyite
      December 1, 2012 at 3:54 am

      I. There’s the incentive is to improve one’s own existence and the existence of others (by making life more comfortable, safe, easy, etc.), the incentive to do something or invent something so you’ll be famous or remembered or recognized as the best in your field, and of course, the incentive to do what you love doing (painting, fishing, writing- you name it).
      II. I’d point out that past “Communist” states were no more “Marxist” and the Spanish Inquisition was “Christian”. I’d further point out that there are plenty of Christian/Muslim/Jewish/Etc. Communists out there- there always have been and always will be. Communism isn’t opposed to religion- it’s opposed to Capitalism’s use of religion to enslave others.
      III. Revolutionary France was Democratic, as was Communist Chile. Modern day Nicaragua is democratically moving towards socialism. Hitler was a capitalist and a dictator, as was Batista, Noriega, the Shah, Mussolini, Franco, Marcos, Leopold of Belgium and so on.

    • December 5, 2012 at 1:17 am

      The particular talking points and strawmen in play here suggests someone influenced by John Birch and his followers. “War is peace” is Ingsoc, not materialism. The French revolution was republican, not communist. There’s a tendency in the American far right to conflate everything they don’t like into some monolith that is at once dialectical, materialist, collectivist, “big government”, ad nauseam.

      The reason you don’t hear about capitalist dictators is because there’s always a tacit assumption that they’re dictators in spite of the fact that the economies of their dictatorships are capitalist. You never here about democratic communistic states simply because they simply aren’t allowed to exist.

      People who believe in the power of incentive should be called behaviorists, not capitalists.

  3. December 4, 2012 at 7:10 am

    Reblogged this on RADICAL PROGRESS and commented:
    I’m preparing for my presentation, “Jesus Made Me a Communist” this coming Saturday. I’ve been reading up on Communist philosophy, and this piece below is a great short defense of Communism against classical objections.

  4. 6 EvilChristianCapitalist
    January 27, 2013 at 3:28 am

    Under Communism Has Killed Millions, you write: “That’s “Communists” in quotation marks- you see, mass murder reflects on the ideals of Communism in about the same way that (as I’ve said above) the Spanish Inquisition reflects the ideals of Christianity.” This is simply not true! Karl Marx TELLS his followers to kill! How can you deny this?

    Marx states in the Manifesto of the Communist Party:

    You must, therefore, confess that by “individual” you mean no other person than the bourgeois, than the middle-class owner of property. This person must indeed, be swept out of the way, and made impossible. (Published by Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1973 edition, page 66)

    Now … some have tried to argue that Marx did not intend that this statement should be taken literally, but you’re the first I’ve read who denies that he even said it. And no one can deny that Marxist practitioners have always killed, just as Marx instructed! Stalin, Mao Tse-tung, and Pol Pot for instance have taken this affirmation literally and have proceeded to kill the “middle-class owners of property” once they have acquired power. Communist leaders maintain power by killing!

    • 7 Randy
      February 12, 2013 at 7:18 pm

      Obviously I don’t know what Marx intended for certain, but I think he probably meant moved away from a position of power when he says ‘swept out of the way’ and that the system must be changed so that no one can become a bourgeois, i.e. replacing capitalism with socialism and then communism, when he says ‘made impossible’

    • 8 Vafthruthnir
      February 23, 2013 at 2:47 pm

      You suppose the terms “swept away” and “made impossible” to be synonymous with “kill”, and I can’t help but wonder if that’s because you have some predilection for the idea of communists as violent fear-mongers. The terms could just as easily be interpreted as “abolished”, by which interpretation Marx would seem to be advocating ideology shifts rather than class genocide.

  5. 9 Bryan
    June 18, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    Communism hasn’t killed millions?

    – The Great Leap Forward, 18 to 32.5 million dead
    – Soviet gulags, over 1 million dead
    – Khmer Rouge (Pol Pot), 1.4 to 2.2 million dead
    – North Korean “reeducation” camps, ~1 million dead and counting

    And that’s just four examples off the top of my head.

    To try to argue that the Spanish Inquisition and the Tuskegee Experiment are comparable atrocities is asinine.

    Source: Wikipedia.org

    • 10 trotskyite
      June 19, 2013 at 2:47 am

      I’d refer you to my point that those travesties aren’t anymore Communist than the Spanish Inquisition or Crusades were Christian. Despotic tyrannies where everything is controlled by corrupt government officials isn’t what our goal is. “No one killed more Communists than Stalin”, as the saying goes.

      Anyways, if you’re looking for some bloodier Capitalist orchestrated killings, I could bring up the Opium Wars, King Leopold of Belguim’s “Rape of the Congo”, the recent Iraq war, and so on.

  6. 11 Chad
    June 24, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    I can see your point on the arguments except for the land ownership. Wanting to own land is natural. Animals claim land all the time through marking their territory and attack those who intrude on it. There is also little incentive to keep the property you’re living on nice if you know you could be removed from it by the commune at any moment.

    • 12 trotskyite
      June 25, 2013 at 12:27 am

      A better picture of what I mean would be animals who, like you say, mark territory. But that’s not “ownership” in the Capitalist sense. You can have as much land as you need to live off of, but you don’t get to pass it off to your kin just because they’re related to you. Likewise, you can’t tell someone not to walk through a certain stretch of woods (unless they’re actively doing damage to it).

      • 13 NigelBickle
        September 8, 2013 at 3:54 am

        The Great Leap forward deaths are BS in a way. Pakistan, India, Indonesia and all the other big Asian countries had the same death rates as China at the time. And America, a first world nation, had 12/10000 deaths (China had 23/10000 death rates). Mortality rates during the Great Leap was also better than China during feudalism and before Mao.

  7. 14 Anthony
    August 27, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    Hey, thanks for posting this, it really helped me out with all of the criticism I get for being a communist on the Internet.

  8. 15 truthseeker
    October 5, 2013 at 12:00 am

    Humans are territorial, we like to have a space of our own we don’t like strangers tramping around spying on us just because they can. Humans build a connection to the land, a family bond, in your vision land could not be passed to next of kin. This eliminates a sense of belonging and family tradition. I do not see this as a satisfactory improvement. Next, who decides which land you get to live on? Who gets to have the house with the great view or by the lake? The real world cannot be equally divided fairly because the real world has really great places and really plain places. Your idea works best for city dwellers. Again not acceptable. Who decides if you work at the sewage plant for your whole life or at the ice cream shop? What if someone just stops working?? Then what? Do you cut of his toilet paper ration until he goes back to work. Maybe he is the sewage plant guy , the commune has decided he has to work there forever and he cannot bare it. Not acceptable. This does not sound euphoric to me. You looking at the large scale, but at the small scale your ideas are not attractive. How can a nuclear physicist and a street sweeper get the same allowances? Its unfair for some to strive hard, study, sacrifice, be stressed out and get the same allowances as someone who is barley trying. Solve these problems first.

    • 16 trotskyite
      October 5, 2013 at 1:03 am

      It’s been a long time since I wrote on this blog, but to answer your questions, I’d respond as follows:

      I. With regards to who decides to live where, there’s really no answer to it. I acknowledge some views are better than others, but all the lakes, oceanfronts, forests, mountains, and plains in the world, there’s certainly enough to go around.

      II. Land isn’t not being passed down. If you grew up in a house, when your parents die, if you want to keep on living there, that’s your choice. Same for you children and their children and so on. Land “belongs” to whoever uses it- naturally there are going to be people who want to work the same land their forefathers did. If anything Communism helps restore the family-run farm (as opposed to the Capitalist factory-farming techniques).

      III. “Family” is something meant to be chosen, or at least, created through a shared experience. The people who you live with, who you share struggles with, whose experience matches your own- that is what family is. Not DNA, not property, but shared experience.

      IV. As far as who decides who gets to do the nasty work, the simple truth of the matter is that the lousy and menial labor can either be done (1) through machines (as it increasingly is) and/or (2) shared among the community. The first Tuesday of every month is my turn to sweep the streets in my neighborhood- the rest of the time I can do whatever it is that I chose to do.

      V. If someone stops working, then they’re free to do so. If they find a way of generating their own electricity and growing their own food and sanitizing their own water- more power to ’em. Everything is a fair give and take- if they don’t want to contribute to the local community, that’s fine- they just can’t expect the local community to contribute to them.

      VI. There are no “allowances”. The nuclear physicist is going to take a day out of the month to help sweep the streets, and the person who was a street sweeper under capitalism can do something more productive for society and more fulfilling for him or herself.

      VII. It is totally unfair for some of to strive hard, study, sacrifice, and be stressed out. That’s why we want to get rid of Capitalism. All around us are honest, hard-working people who are struggling to survive while the children of millionaires get great educations and healthcare simply for having been born. We’re about equality of beginnings- not of ends. Us Marxists are about equality and responsibility, not welfare (that’d be liberals).

  9. 17 truthseeker
    October 5, 2013 at 3:02 am

    I totally agree the result of capitalism is the shift of all the capital and property to the wealthy. Karl Marx predicted this many years ago. I appreciate your detailed response. I find the sharing and effort towards fairness for all inspiring. I think everyone in some way can see the effort towards societal equality a worthy ambition. It is difficult to find a method to make everyone happy. Eventually poverty and starvation will make changes possible and I hope the new system is geared to make humans happy, peaceful and prosperous.


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