Thank god no past advocates of Democracy gave any serious attention to such small-minded arguments like the one attempting to point out that Communism has “never worked before.” Because that very same accusation could be made against Democracy itself two centuries ago. After all they called the United States “The Great Experiment.” Before the United States and the Parliament of the U.K., the history of Democracy was filled with failures. From ancient Athens being conquered by the Kingdom of Macedonia, to the Roman Republic being controlled by Slave-owning nobles and later devolving into a Monarchical Empire, to the French Republic falling under the Dictatorship of Napoleon who crowned himself a new Emperor. Everywhere you turned you could see Democracies failing and Monarchies prevailing. There are also just as many Dictatorships and Oligarchies which profess to be Democracies but are nothing even close to a Democracy. We can even see right now how the United States has devolved into a Plutocratic Oligarchy (really it never was anything else.) If you are an American reading this, do you feel like you have any power in this “Democratic” Government? Still, Democracy advocates are undeterred by this history of Democracy “never working” and continue to press forward, as they should
Communism is no different because it is the continuation of the principles of Democracy, and thus it is an imperative. Even if every past attempt at Communism was wholly and irredeemably a collection of total failures, we must still press on to establish Communism. Because all those failures show is that those attempts were flawed, that their methods to attempt Communism were not the right path; their failures do not detract from the goals of Communism itself. Because Communism is the goal, the methods thus far used to attempt to reach Communism are other “isms” meant for that purpose, not Communism itself. The Soviet Union’s system was not the only way to achieve Communism any more than the United State’s system is the only way to achieve Democracy. And like those past failures at Democracy, we must look at the past failures of Communism, learn from what they got right and what they got wrong. We must develop systems to avoid making the mistakes of these past attempts at Communism, and to repeat or even improve on the areas that they succeeded in.
“That sounds nice,” many argue, “but you can’t change people. You can’t legislate people into being moral. That’s why Communism will always fail.” This shows another misunderstanding of what Communism is and its goals, as well as Capitalism’s. Because both Communism and Capitalism are the opposite of what this argument assumes them to be. Human behavior can and does change, it is constantly being altered by its material and cultural conditions. Still, yes, it cannot be changed overnight, and this is not the goal of Communism anyway. Communism Seeks to prohibit people from acting out their most destructive and exploitive habits by destroying the existing system and replacing it with one based on cooperation and providing for everyone’s needs, instead of profit for individual owners. A Capitalist system not only allows such self-centered and exploitive behavior, it encourages it. Capitalism necessitates profit and the exploitation of labor. Thus greed and apathy towards laborers is a positive force to the Capitalist system. This is why the Character of “Gordon Gekko,” and the real life wall street billionaire that inspired the character, Asher Edelman, both declared that “Greed is good.” It’s even become a philosophical concept that is taken seriously in the intellectual community. This is the profound impact that Capitalism has had on culture, and the very reason people make the argument above, as well as the assumption that “Capitalism is human nature.” All in direct contradiction to l70 years of scientific study that has consistently proven otherwise. Archaeology and History has shown that this kind of culture is not normal, it is not even prevalent in the historical record. Humans have existed for nearly 200,000 years, and until 5,000 years ago, all human societies were Hunter-gatherers. The system of Hunter-Gatherer subsistence is dependant upon cooperation and mutual ownership over the natural resources that the society depends on. The bounty of which is shared equally. There was no profit, no greed, in fact the cultures of Hunter-Gatherers have universally developed traditions that severely discourage any kind of greed and necessitate sharing and cooperation. That is the society that Humans evolved in, and existed in exclusively for 98% of our existence. If you want to make an argument about human nature, the evidence supports Communism as being Human nature, not Capitalism. Even the great Charles Darwin noted:
“Those communities which included the greatest number of the most sympathetic members would flourish best and rear the greatest number of offspring.”
Human culture changes based on the Systems that manage society, on our material conditions. If we want a society that is built on and Organized around cooperation and mutual-aid, then that is the kind of socio-economic system that we need. If you want the “greed is good” mentality to die, then we need to end the socio-economic system that not only allows people to indulge their greed, but actively promotes greed and abuse of power. If you want a Government that doesn’t abuse its power, then we need a Governmental system that doesn’t allow individuals to have that power in the first place.
It is not that Communism has failed every time, no society has succeeded in establishing Communism in modern history, because what has failed continuously are the different attempts to achieve Communism. We must have the courage to keep trying, because Communism is the imperative. Humanity must progress into a Communist society if we are to survive, because Capitalism is destroying the planet and our species. Capitalism is pushing us into Nuclear war, degrading our population’s health and survival, and drastically changing the planet’s climate. Capitalism is an existential threat to all of us, and so we must have the courage to attempt new systems, to learn from the past mistakes of previous attempts to build Communism and build something new. We must have the courage of those first advocates of Democracy across America and Europe, the courage to begin the next great experiment in Democracy.
Perhaps the methods of past Communist attempts were not the right path, but if you aren’t promoting some kind of solution to Capitalism and class, then you aren’t working to improve society. And not a “fix” for them, because Capitalism isn’t broken, Capitalism is inherently flawed and must be replaced, and class systems are inherently immoral and unnecessary. Whatever system we come up with to end both Capitalism and Class Society, that system will be Communist, because that is what Communism is: a classless society.
For generations we have professed our courage as a society, our bravery. We have manifested this in imperialist wars and conquest, all to “defend freedom and Democracy.” But now we must cultivate a new kind of bravery if we want to move forward, a social-bravery. The bravery to trust that when no one is suffering in poverty, or drudgery, or imprisonment, that their happiness will invigorate society as a whole and uplift everyone. Such a society is not possible if we simply rely on what we’ve been calling “charity”: the actions of individuals, simply hoping people will behave benevolently, and perpetuating a socio-economic system that allows people to enrich themselves through greed and exploitation. We must build a system for providing people’s needs so that no one requires individual charity to begin with. That is a truly charitable society. And we will not have those systems so long as we tolerate and promote social cowardice. We must be socially brave in a way that we have always been militantly brave. Poverty, bigotry, exploitation, and the systems which create them, are every bit as insidious an enemy as the Axis Powers of World War Two. We must have a courage to attack them with equal fervor and solidarity. Until our society becomes one that promotes social-bravery, it will never be a free and Democratic society.