What is Communism? (Without the Spin)

wotwu

Baby Boomers: Stop with the BS…

Communism is the most well-known competitor to classical liberalism. As a result, it is no surprise that communism is demonized in classical liberal societies; people don’t want other people trying to drastically change their way of life. We like our lives the way they are. Therefore, like Fascism, there is much hoopla and rabble rousing when Communism gets mentioned at the dinner table. But the rejection is more visceral and raw because Communism is seen as an actual threat, whereas Fascism is seen as a ‘joke’ ideology that no one will legitimately follow.

But all this 1950s crying, pouting, and hurt feelings (sorry baby boomers…) doesn’t help those people who are genuinely in the dark. All of this is to your own detriment. Teenagers rebel to the unknown, the exotic, and the incendiary (in order to find identity and garner attention). So your confused, white, middle class teenagers put on a Che shirt, grow dread locks and become a libertine communist. After watching our teenagers dance so hard on that edge they cut themselves, let’s go over the solution; obliterate it with truth. Then they can rebel as something that doesn’t cost you money; like leaving the house to get a job (you know, become an actual proletariat that they keep yammering on about; it’s a win-win).

So let’s get down to it; what do Communists actually believe? Well, put on your adventure hat because we are going on a wild adventure full of human solidarity, worker comradery, and the smashing of bourgeoisie decadence! Exciting stuff!

capitalism2

Capitalism Will Consume Itself

Communism began as an anti-ideology because the creators were raised as Liberals. Therefore, a refutation of our current way of life was first on the list. Why should we pick an alternative ideology if the current way of social organization is awesome? So enter a communist’s critique of capital; it goes something like this.

  1. Capitalism is exploitative to workers. People who own factories and businesses (the bourgeoisie) reap an unfair share from workers (the proletariat).
  2. Therefore the tendency is to get workers to work more and to pay them less for said work; to increase profits.
    1. This is necessary because it is practically impossible to achieve profit through the purchase/sale of a standard commodity. The “value” added to raw materials is done through labor, not through buying low and selling high.
  3. The laborer is mad that he/she has to work more for equal or less pay. The bourgeoisie continues to see how far they can push the envelope. This results in what communists consider to be a ‘class struggle’ as workers fight back through violence.
  4. This is a feedback loop for capitalism’s own destruction. As capitalism works to starve and overwork our proletariat, the bourgeoisie become wealthier and wealthier. As demands for production increase eventually we reach the tipping point where we can reach a number of final states which lead to capitalism cannibalizing itself (without workers rising up). Such as,
    1. As workers become poorer they take on debt to continue consumption. Essentially becoming wage slaves, they must work more to pay debt they cannot afford. Eventually society will stop lending, mass defaults proceed, and society is screwed.
    2. As demand for production increases, natural resources get consumed with increased fervor to the point where we physically have no more land to exploit/pollute. We kill ourselves in our attempt to consume/reproduce beyond our means (like ants).
    3. As demand for production increases, domestic natural resources deplete rapidly. The bourgeoisie engage in warfare (using the proletariat to fight) with other nations in order to secure resources to continue production and consumption. We nuke ourselves to death, or the entire populace dies from attrition invading some foreign lands (like Russia invading Germany in WW1).
  5. Of course, the more likely scenario is that workers rise against their evil bosses. This occurs through our class struggle. To make it clear, the workers are pissed off of the way things are (they are poorer, they are in debt, their materialistic way of life is meaningless, etc. etc.), they group together and spontaneously decide that Socialism is the way forward. Heads roll, history marches on.

876010-communist_party_poster

Communism is Inevitable

As mentioned in my last post about the history of Communism; a key corner stone of the movement is the idea that ‘history is on our side’. That is, like Feudalism turned into Capitalism, Socialism will spring from Capitalism. Socialism is inevitable because capitalism isn’t logically sustainable due to the class struggle dynamic. As a result, the communist really sees the current state of society as a waiting game for the workers to rise against their masters.

Once the workers take control of the means of production (the proletariat own the factories, businesses, political superstructure), then Socialism begins. The state exists as long as the bourgeoisie remain. Step two of this Socialist society is to reform humans to be less materialistic and return to a more evolved state of compassion and self-motivation (rather than through threat of starvation or violence).

Once we are satisfied that all the old rich capitalists are gone, the State begins to wither away as it no longer has any purpose. Finally, a communist society develops to replace it. This communist society is humanities final political evolution. We all behold in it’s everlasting glory.

smurfs-village-07-700x342Eh, it kind of ends up being like this

What does this communist society look like? Well, Marx is very vague on this point. But it’s easy enough to imagine a commune where we all live without sexism/racism/violence, each person is free to work as they wish (not based on market demands); production is shared and we live happily ever after (that was easy to imagine… right?).

Philosophical “Opinions”: Abolish Property

A communist does not see the world in the way liberals do. Marx was very much anti-“pie in the sky” thinking and all for action. He saw his political work as an intellectual, but realistic portrayal of our political world. As the manifesto puts it

“…the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.”

The reason is clear, private property does not benefit the poor proletariat farmer (who hardly owns private property anyway, maybe a car and a house at most). The greatest beneficiaries of ‘private’ property are those who own the means of production to use this property; who are… you guessed it, the bourgeoisie.

This doesn’t mean communists want to break your windows and steal your treasured N64 or kick you out of your house; the primary focus of the abolition of private property is to establish worker control over land which produces capital (factories, mines, woodland, etc.). The fruits of your labor should be shared between all members of society, not filtered off to those who steal it from workers.

Capitalists who attempt to argue against  communism claim that Communists seek to abolish private property and on the same stroke abolish ‘individuality’ and ‘freedom’. So, I’ll defend the abolition of private property in the style of the Communist Manifesto.

17-private-property

Whose property are you defending?

A Defense of Abolishing Private Property

The proletariat are wage slaves, they only work so they can consume and consume so that they may survive. Each year brings with it a stagnant wage with goods at higher cost. Every year yields more profits toward the rich and greater suffering toward the poor. Whose freedom do we protect by keeping this property in the hands of the wealthy?

You ask, do we not abolish freedom by abolishing private property?

We ask, whose freedom are you protecting by keeping private property?

Certainly not the freedom of the proletariat, for private property protects the freedom of the bourgeoisie to exploit that property. That property is exploited further by using your labor to do so. It should be no surprise that you do not receive the true value of your labor in the form of a paycheck. For how would the bourgeoisie command profit? For every dollar you generate for the bourgeoisie you earn a pitiful fraction in return, and each year that amount shrinks through inflation and stagnant wage. Who is the free one? The owner of capital, or the slave chained to its mechanisms? Who would we free by abolishing this so called ‘private’ property? We would free YOU. You keep your house, you can keep your car, but the business you work in and the land we extract value from will be owned by the community such that it may benefit the community.

Then you ask, do we not abolish individuality by abolishing private property?

We ask, whose individuality?

Do you protect the rights of the rich and famous to flaunt wealth, purchase extravagant clothes, and express themselves through their own media? Or should we be protecting the individuality of the workers to express themselves without cultural repression brought about by bourgeoisie religion and cultural dogma?

Corporate-Media-controlIn bourgeoisie ‘free’ media, who speaks? Those who support the capitalist mode of production, that is, the bourgeoisie. The media is not free, the media is controlled by groups who wish to remain in power. As a result, those who are subjugated by this media have their own individuality repressed to conform to their desires for the poor; that is, to not complain, work dutifully, and to consume trinkets.

When you say individuality is abolished by socialism, what you are really saying is bourgeoisie individuality is abolished by socialism. And for that reason I say we abolish private property to free you from it’s chains.

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15 comments

  1. Sorry, but this seems like all spin, to me. Many of the main Commie planks listed here have been proven untrue. For instance, the immiseration theory doesn’t hold water, the data disproves it. Even in the 19th century, when socialists claimed this (and Marx actually fabricated evidence in its support) real wages were increasing in Britain (a free trade nation) and America (a protectionist nation with a large internal free trade zone): the process is now called “growth deflation”; witless masses and intellectuals were of course fooled by the money illusion. But the truth was this: As real wages grew, the population grew, improving their lives. The socialist calumny was debunked early by economists. See Yves Guyot, The Tyranny of Socialism, to which I wrote a foreword (it is available as a Kindle e-book on Amazon), for his explanation for why the Iron Law of Wages was all hat and no cattle (see forthcoming his Socialist Fallacies, same publisher, for more on this).

    And I thought the visual meme you presented about corporate control of media was a parody of anti-capitalist thought. Here we are on the Web writing what we please, no censorship. It would be great to have more readers, you and I, but at least we aren’t suffering as we would if under communism. When private property is abolished, what is left is regulation of public property by the political class. And that is horrible, as witness the USSR and China. Talk about indoctrination!

    Or a free-for-all of no property, with its Tragedy of the Commons.

    Maybe you are too young to know all this. It helps to have lived through the Cold War, and to have had relatives who had been commies, too, fool enough to give the Soviet way of life a try. They saw the error of their choice very quickly, and scuttled back to America, lucky to have had Finnish passports.

    1. Hello, thanks for stopping by.

      The point of this article is not to defend communism. It is to write what Communists believe. I did the same thing with Fascism.

      To say that the ‘data disproves communism’ is completely irrelevant to the discussion, the discussion is about the principals of communist ideology. Indeed, what you are proposing is spin in its purest form, to refute an argument before even presenting its claims.

      I have yet to actually reveal my own thoughts regarding private property explicitly, but if you read other articles I wrote I think my stance would be quite clear. However, my stance is completely irrelevant and should in no way impact how I present the ideology. It is my goal to present their case as if I were myself a communist, to give it full credence. Again, I did it with fascism in earlier posts.

      But maybe you are to old to be bothered with such exercises

      Take care,

      1. Interesting. I was wondering what you were up to, until the last paragraph, in which you advocate abolishing private property….

        Perhaps you tipped a hand too early?

        I hold that private property and the rule of law to be mankind’s liberator, so long as the power of the state is constrained by such a rule of law. So when someone attacks private property, it no longer seems an academic or pedagogical enterprise.

  2. Hi wirkman,

    It is a legitimate opinion to think that the ending is no good, however, I enjoy ending these type of posts (What is X without the spin) attempting to convince my readers to agree with the arguments of an ideology. In this way, through temporarily agreeing with a Fascist or a Communist, the reader would realize that competing ideologies are not “junk” or something you can just “ignore.” They are innovations of the highest human order, built from the ground up to deal with longstanding social issues. Ideologies are capable of propelling people to sacrifice their lives and even kill or subjugate others in its name.

    That is the power of ideology, the power to be used a shield to justify our actions and behaviors. It is more than just a pair of ‘sunglasses’ we use to interpret reality, ideology is the very method we use to see the world, I hold that it cannot be ‘removed’. There is no objective ‘truth’ with which we may view the world in (so I suppose that is perhaps my own spin, deep down).

    My goal is to convince others of this view point, and to share my passions in the process.

    Thanks for your thoughts on private property, I do not think it is unfounded as we currently exist in some of the most prosperous and safest times in human history (if you are in the west at least). That is certainly worth respecting

  3. A Response
    I have for many years thought that the problem many people have with Marx is a combination of both the remains and stigma of the red scare and the cold war, in which I was raised, and a failure of understanding as regards what Marx himself meant. In reading your apt short summation of this basic precepts it struck me that the simplest shift in terminology might have a profound impact on the youth of this society. The youth were not raised in the cold war, do not recall the Red Scare and do not recall “Better dead than Red” as a real thing; there is no emotion in that to them. It is dusty history. What follows is a short exploration of this idea, for your consideration.

    The People are wage slaves, they only work so they can consume and consume so that they may survive. Each year brings with it a stagnant wage with goods at higher cost. Every year yields more profits toward the rich and greater suffering toward the poor. Whose freedom do we protect by keeping this property in the hands of the 1%?

    You ask, do we not abolish freedom by abolishing private property?

    We ask, whose freedom are you protecting by keeping private property?

    Certainly not the freedom of the People, for private property protects the freedom of the 1% to exploit that property. That property is exploited further by using your labor to do so. It should be no surprise that you do not receive the true value of your labor in the form of a paycheck. For how would the 1% command profit? For every dollar you generate for the 1% you earn a pitiful fraction in return, and each year that amount shrinks through inflation and stagnant wage. Who is the free one? The owner of capital, or the slave chained to its mechanisms? Who would we free by abolishing this so called ‘private’ property? We would free YOU. You keep your house, you can keep your car, but the business you work in and the land we extract value from will be owned by the community such that it may benefit the community.

    Then you ask, do we not abolish individuality by abolishing private property?

    We ask, whose individuality?

    Do you protect the rights of the rich and famous to flaunt wealth, purchase extravagant clothes, and express themselves through their own media? Or should we be protecting the individuality of the workers to express themselves without cultural repression brought about by the 1%’s cultural dogma?

    Corporate-Media-controlled 1% ‘free’ media, who speaks? Those who support the capitalist mode of production, that is, 1%. The media is not free, the media is controlled by groups who wish to remain in power. As a result, those who are subjugated by this media have their own individuality repressed to conform to their desires for the poor; that is, to not complain, work dutifully, and to consume trinkets.

    When you say individuality is abolished by socialism, what you are really saying is the 1%’s concept of individuality is abolished by socialism. And for that reason I say we abolish private property to free you from it’s chains.

    😉

    1. Hi D.N.B,

      I agree in principal, the cold war attempted to use public shaming to get people to refuse to be communists (in the same way we crowd shame KKK members or white supremacists). As time goes on the threat of a communist take over world wide diminished so we don’t care as much about it anymore. Using “the 1%” rather than the bourgeoisie is probably wise, as the latter is a pretty old elitist term and doesn’t relate to the common worker communism wants to rise up with.

  4. Yeah, as someone who grew up in the Eastern bloc, I have to say that life under Communist rule was pretty miserable. That being said, having lived in the States for a long time, I have also seen/experienced the painful drawbacks of the capitalist system. I think the best type of society I’ve ever lived in was the Western European model, with its mix of private enterprise and a safety net. I suppose that makes me a liberal.

    But I see that you are really just playing a clever game of presenting political ideology to us 😉 I’ll be interested in reading further installments and finding out what you really think.

    1. My opinions on private property have been hinted at and sprinkled in other posts. That’s not to say I’m a libertarian, but I do agree with the free market system as the best “default” system we’ve got currently untill a superior alternative emerges. As far as my own ideology, or my own solutions to the woes of man, well, that should wait a bit. First so that I learn more about other peoples thoughts, and second, the posts on such a topic will be very long, have multiple parts and naturally be read by few people. I think step 1 is to list our all current ideologies which matter today so I can become informed, then propose my own thoughts afterwards (preferably with an audience).

      It would be a bummer to write a 10k word essay to the applause of crickets 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by eurobrat.

  5. Let me preface my reply with the statement I know you were writing about communism as it would be presented by a communist. My reply would be to any would be communists out there who might have pumped their fist in agreement with that mindset.

    The flaw with communist ideology is that everyone will work equally for equal reward. It fails to consider the flaw in human nature that many demonstrate of wanting to be in charge. Every ‘communist’ nation is more of a caste system than communism. In true communism, all people have the same. The same housing, the same food, the same medical attention, the same transportation, the same…..

    In communist nations, there is the common caste made up of the daily workers (no matter the what field they work in); the supervisory caste who live better than the common caste and are the immediate taskmasters for the common caste, and the leadership caste who live in opulence while telling the other castes that everyone has the same lifestyle for the good of the nation. Anyone from the other castes that questions the lifestyles of the leadership caste are labelled and sent off somewhere for ‘re-education’.

    This can be seen today in North Korea. The common caste consists of millions starving everyday, while the supervisory caste has enough to eat, and the leadership caste is living fat on the hog. Notice how you have never seen a skinny North Korean leader named Kim?

    Then you have the human flaw of wanting recognition. How many inventors will you have if the reward of coming up with a new innovation is nothing? There would be a few, but the vast majority would not have the initiative to excel if it meant the only ones who would profit from it would be the leadership.

    Ideally, it would be paradise if true communism worked. It would be also ideal if there were no murderers, no thieves, no wars, no disagreements, etcetera. However, we all know it is not in human nature to be perfect humans.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. In this case I’ll defend Communism since these arguments are exceptionally common from Liberals.

      For one, communists do not care about utilitarianism, to say socialism is inefficient is using a classical liberal view on what you think is important and trying to get a communist to agree. They fundamentally do not care as much about what’s efficient or not.

      To the other point, you’re using exiting cases of supposedly communist societies and claiming that since they are defunct (and they are defunct because of your views on human nature, again imposing liberalism on a communist who will never agree), the ideology is therefore crap.

      By this reasoning you can say, since some Muslims kill and slaughter innocents that Islam is an evil religion. Or that because Christians kill Muslims in the name of Christ, that Christianity is therefore an evil religion. There is a difference between attacking the actual ideas of the movement and criticizing those who proclaim to follow it.

      There are examples of reasonable communist societies existing. The Kubutz in Israel, anarchist commune in Paris, and some sporadic farming communes around the U.S, the Maoist village in China. They indeed exist.

      As far as the incentive to invent, there is no money in a communist society, so they invent for personal fulfillment (like in Star Trek)

  6. Thanks I am a Duck

    You indicated that you would now follow my Blog and I popped over; must say I am impressed.

    However, due to time restraints this morning I will come back to read it slowly and check it over a bit.

    On my side I look at most of these “collectivist names” like communism with a bit of humor; should rather say from a satirical point of view. Is Russia a communist State today? Is China one? Good grief, can Cuba be called communist?

    ‘Nuff said for now. If you have place for an old fellow from Sefrika and his own weird humor about politics in general, I shall surely drop in again.

    In the meantime you can decide whether you really want me around from this:

    https://ikejakson.wordpress.com/2015/01/17/nomogeny/

    1. Plato

      To provide a philosophical answer to your question one first needs to ask what communism was when it was first written. My answer to that is that it was written as comedy for a Broadway Show.

      That’s all it was supposed to be. Karl Marx and young Freddy had no other plans for it.

      America got scared and for a while scared everyone else about it until it died a natural death as all comedy eventually goes.

      IkeJ

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