Why is it that when I talk to a person who associates themselves with the right I get called a communist? And when I talk to a person who associates themselves with left I get called a libertarian? Come on now. I am better morally than either of the two possibilities that have been presented. Communism leads to totalitarianism. Libertarianism is absolutely oppressive. Fuck both of them, I want a new ideal to strive for.
communism does not necessarily lead to totalitarianism... that is just how it has played out on certain occasions.
at risk of sounding like a neoliberal--which is not what I'm promoting at all--communism is absolute tyranny over individual. It requires that your needs be the same as everybody else, it requires a homogeneity of thought that impinges the creative process. There is nothing desirable about the equality that the communist promotes. I would prefer a principle which limits oppression over the individual, rather than increases it.
I have heard this argument many times. That communism cannot account for individual differences, which I think is absurd. How does capitalism account for individual differences? By upholding sexist, racist, heterosexism, ageist and ableist hierarchies?
And how would communism create any kind of homogeneity of thought impinging on the creative process when so many Marxist work is based on the creative capacities of the people or on reaching our full human potential? To me, capitalism (and any form of organizing with differential power relations) requires a homogeneity of thought... as Marx says "the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch ruling ideas". If workers didn't uphold the ideas of the ruling class, they would revolt.
I was on my cell phone at this time and had limited ability to respond, but I wrote;
it is a misconception that communism would require homogeneity. Look at the famous quote "from each according to ability to each according to need". Difference is accounted for. Your argument is like saying you don't like cats because they're yellow. It makes no sense! Don't confuse Stalinist Russia with communism.
So ,he was offended by the cat comment... which, in retrospect, was kind of rude, but I thought it made a certain point. In his next response, he argues that communism requires giving absolute power to a small group who are supposed to act in the best interest of the people, and then says
Dismantle the power of the few and you have yourself a properly functioning democracy. Which is way better than communism for sure.
ummm... that's what the communism I imagine would look like... a "properly functioning democracy," not hoping a few people will act in everyone's best interest. So I said
Its not communism if a small group has power. Communism only exists if wealth and power are held by everyone. As soon as the heirarchies between powerful and powerless (or less powerful) begin to develop, you have something else entirely being called communism.
Still not accepting the difference between communism and what has been passed off as communism on specific occasions, he used Russia as The Historical Example of why communism is inherently wrong using Nietzche's will-to-power to back up his point.
These "historical" arguments using one specific example of communism not working to show why communism will never work might be the thing that annoys me most about arguments on whether or not it is feasible. And I responded by saying
You are looking at history selectively. Some communist states did not turn totalitarian- some were overtaken by capitalism through war others fell apart for other reasons (our "civalization" being forced on to them for example), some near-communist societies do exist (zapatistas). I will accept that honest attempts at communism haven't worked out, and that some attempts were not actually attempting communism, but I don't think that (or nietzche) proves definitively that communism is impossible.
I could keep going and show the rest of the arguments here, which continued to bring up Nietzche, but I don't think it is relevant to my post (or in the interest of keeping people reading my blog when the posts are too long).
I think the main point of this post is that several of these arguments play out all the time and I am tired of them because they don't make sense.
1. Stalinist Russia was not a communist state. It's demise does not prove communism to be impossible.
2. Different ideas are not only possible, but encouraged, in a communist state. Communism does not require everyone to do the same thing, think the same thing, have the same needs, or go back to a technology free society where nobody gets anything that we might consider a luxury (another common assumption).
3. Communism does not give power to a few people to make decisions for everyone. Communism would require full democratic participation.
I could really dissect the debate and come up with dozens of misconceptions that tend to play out on a regular basis, but, I am going to stop with these three for now. Feel free to add your own in the comments section if there is a common argument that you find particularly annoying.
I think these misconceptions are part of why so many people who I might consider to be communists do not embrace the term "communism." And, if we don't start using the word more often, how are we going to change these misconceptions?
Edited to add: A friend pointed out that this is somewhat simplistic, and I thought I should acknowledge that they are correct... I could turn this into three (or more) separate posts and make it far more nuanced and whatnot, and I might someday do that, but for now, this piece that does oversimplify some things will have to do!