These are arguments that I have encountered with depressing regularity. They have absolutely no material basis, and are almost always arguing against the strawman of Communism that Capitalist propaganda has created, not what Communism actually is. But they are thrown around so frequently that I feel compelled to mention them.
“You don’t understand economics. This is too expensive, you’ll run out of other people’s money.”
No, you don’t understand that existing economics are not universal laws of nature. They’re products of Capitalist property laws, culture, and monetary systems. They were deliberately created, and can be deliberately changed, and that is what Communists propose to do. You’re not arguing against Communism, you’re arguing against Social-Democracy, and some imagined system that still operates on the rules of Capitalism but tries to act like it’s Communist. The entire argument is based on a complete misunderstanding of what Communism, and even Capitalism, are. You’re arguing against a strawman. But please at least understand this: we Communists oppose the “welfare state” of Social-Democracy as well. Communism is a completely different socio-economic system. Communism doesn’t “take money from the rich and give it to the poor” like you’re imagining. Communism doesn’t have “rich and poor,” it doesn’t even have money in any traditional sense. Communism removes individual owners of the means of production, and instead makes the means of production Democratically owned and managed by the society itself. Meaning that the people distribute goods and needs directly to themselves, instead of being barred from them until they can pay for them with currency. This means that Communism doesn’t have any “welfare” systems, like a Social-Democracy. Instead, everyone’s needs are provided for inherently through the systems they participate in.
“So everyone is mutually poor then?”
What does “poor” mean? Is someone who has a house, never lacks food, has all the comforts of modern life, a car or at least access to good and safe free public transport, is this person poor? When such things are regarded as human rights, and freely available to all by giving the people direct power over the economic and governmental systems they need, then no one is poor. This eliminates the entire “rich” and “poor” dichotomy, instead making the whole society as wealthy as it makes itself. Because Communism is built on the understanding that none of us are “islands unto ourselves.” We all need and benefit from society as a whole, and as such the best way to make our own lives better, is to better society. When we have direct access to the entire fruits of society, and our lives are uplifted by it, then we can see immediately an improvement in our lives as we improve society and everyone else’s lives, which encourages everyone to engage in such activities.
Let’s say you have potholes on your street. In our current society, you have to petition your city council, make an argument to them, make a big noise, until weeks, and maybe even months or years later, they finally get a resolution through all the bureaucracy to get out a work order and fix the potholes. But your misery doesn’t end there, because it’s not just your street that has potholes. After the cost of all the potholes being fixed comes in, the city council realizes that it needs to raise taxes to pay for it. But in a Communist Society, there is no City Council held above the people like this, you and your fellow citizens directly manage your community yourselves. You present your pothole problem to your fellow citizens directly, and come to an agreement to fix them. Those who have experience doing this work step forward to do it, as well as a few who want to learn. Then that work crew simply takes the equipment to fix the potholes and does it, because you all mutually and democratically own that equipment. Maybe the work crew fixes all the potholes in the community, or maybe they pass off the equipment to another work crew that wants to fix the potholes on their street or their neighborhood. And that’s it, done. Because there are no taxes and there is no money as it exists under Capitalism. This entire process would take only a day. Which sounds more like a “poor” society? The one where the potholes don’t get fixed for months and then charges you all more for the repair, or the one where your community fixes them immediately at no extra cost to anyone?
“Wage Labor is a voluntary exchange. So it’s ethical”
There is nothing voluntary about being given the choice of selling your labor or being homeless and hungry. As I’ve already argued in the essay on slavery and wage labor: even the choice of who to work for isn’t one that a worker actually has, but rather it is the Bourgeoisie who choose which supplicants they want to exploit. The poor worker has little choice but to take the first job they can get, and no choice but to simply accept the poverty wages, because it is still better than being homeless and hungry.
And on top of this the vast majority can’t even simply choose to not engage in this system, because we can’t be subsistence farmers since that takes a lot of land to begin with, which must be paid for with money, and we must continually pay taxes which must always exist in a Capitalist system. And we can’t all be small-business owners with no employees, it’s physically impossible to have 7 billion small businesses. Even cooperatives aren’t a viable alternative, since they cannot compete with Capitalist business for the same reason that a Capitalist business can’t compete with a business who’s workforce is composed of slaves. Cooperatives and Capitalist businesses have completely and diametrically opposed goals. Cooperatives are about providing for people’s needs and wants, without exploitation, in a sustainable manner. Capitalist business is the exact opposite of all that, and thus is able to exploit, expand, and out produce cooperatives, in every way.
“Communism is anti-religion.”
This is the most absurd claim of them all. It is based on some decidedly oppressive laws towards organized religion under several Leninist Governments. But as I pointed out before: those were the wrongs of those specific Governments, not inherent aspects of Communism. It was wrong for the United States to persecute native Americans and enslave Africans, but no one ever assumes these actions are inherent to Republican-Democracy. Communism is an ideology that is indifferent to religion beyond the basic idea of prohibiting anyone from forcing others to adhere to their religion. Largely the reason it is perceived as being militantly atheist is because of the writings of early Communists who denounced state religion. But that is the crux of it: religion at their time was a branch of the Capitalist State, and it was that kind of religion they were denouncing, something even most pro-Capitalists today would agree with.
This argument is most easily debunked by the mere existence of millions of religious Communists all over the world. An individual which comes to my mind is Herbert McCabe, who is accurately described as a “Marxist-Theologian” who famously wrote “The class struggle and Christian Love,” which argues for the very concept of Christian Marxism.
There are a myriad of other small arguments that are often made, but no more worth mentioning. The rest can be plainly seen as having no substance by anyone. But I am sure that I will spend the the remainder of my life arguing against the points I made here. Most will be simply re-hashed versions of the critiques I have already mentioned. That’s how these arguments go, and why this very book sounds rather repetitive at times; pro-capitalists are entrapped by illogical propaganda, the “trashcan of ideology” as Slavoj Žižek has described it. This “pure-ideology” creates a painful and fierce kind of cognitive dissonance when it’s challenged, making the person refuse to accept when their arguments are defeated, which causes them to simply repeat those arguments over and over again. I know this because I was them, I was an ardent advocate of Capitalism once. I know all these arguments because I made them, it wasn’t until I deployed to Afghanistan and was forced to see all the evils of Capitalism on full display in a way that I could not ignore it or challenge it. Rosa Luxemburg once said that “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.” But some people, like I was, need their chains lifted in front of their face before they acknowledge the existence of them.