“The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.
Workers of the world, Unite!“
These fiery words concluded the “Manifesto of the Communist Party” by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. They were a declaration and a rallying cry, boldly announcing to the world that Communists would not retreat, they would not hide their intentions because they did not need to. The cause of the Communists was noble, just, and necessary. For the Communists strived toward the total liberation of all people, the end of exploitation, and a classless society where everyone truly is equal. Communists all over the world strived to overthrow monarchies and oligarchic republics, establish democracies, often for first time, and to improve the standard of living for all people. Such a cause requires no deceit, no trickery to bring the masses to your cause. Because the masses are the cause. Their liberation, and your own, is the very thing which a Communist fights for.
For over 100 years Communists boldly proclaimed themselves in this way, never attempting to hide their intent and proudly calling themselves Communists. But then came the cold war, McCarthyist fear and silencing of dissent, and the rise of the “new left.”
With the confrontation between the U.S. empire and the USSR, came heavy stigmatization of Communism. The term came to become synonymous, in the public eye, with totalitarian dictatorship (much because of U.S. propaganda efforts to do just that) and even opposition to Democracy. Because of this the “new left” sought to distance itself from the term “Communism,” and the ideals it represented. They no longer sought to transform society into a classless one. Now “leftists” looked to Social-Democratic ideals as the “true” embodiment of Socialism. They denuded the left of it’s anti-Capitalist goals, now seeking to instead make Capitalism more ethical (something, Communists have always regarded as neither possible nor desirable.) Even leftists that still sought to end Capitalism, such as Anarchists, tried to distance themselves from Communism and Marxism, denying the crucial role those ideals played in the formation of Kropotkin’s ideology. Even Anarchists that acknowledged this, and sought to reinvigorate the Communist ideals of Anarchism, like Murray Bookchin, still avoided the term “Communism.” Because if they dared use it, they would be labeled a treasonous sympathizer to the Soviet Union, and perhaps even face arrest. They ignored that all-important tenant founded in those final lines of the Manifesto; Communists do not hide our goals or abandon our ideals. Communists proudly and boldly announce our ideology, we do not allow Capitalists to redefine our terms.
It is long past due that Communists reclaim our name, that we once again make our intentions known to the world, and proudly bear the title of Communists. We will always be demonized by the Ruling Class, the owners, and always have been. We shouldn’t care what they say and what they think of us, because they are our enemies; we aren’t appealing to the Ruling Classes. It is the Working Class, the “Proletariat,” the renters, the laborers, the homeless and jobless, all those who cannot live off the work of others, it is they that we preach to. We make it known to them that we seek to allow them to liberate themselves, because no one can do it for them, and we are them. We tell our fellow workers what we are, and what Communism is.
It is to you that I now speak. To you , the wage-worker , the renter, to all those who do not own the factory or the department store, to all those who must sell their labor just so they can keep a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs. I’m here to tell you that we Communists are not the wealthy owners trying to maintain their power, as the fascists are. We are from among you, we are workers . As I write this I work two jobs to keep from becoming homeless. So, when we tell you what we are seeking to accomplish, we are not making promises of things which we want to give you, as the politician does. We are asking you to help yourself, to take our hands as equals to liberate us all.
What do we, the Communists, seek to liberate us all from? We all know what the Capitalists have taught us that communism is, what they claim about our talk of liberation. The Capitalists tell you we want dictatorship, that we oppose Democracy. They point to the Soviet Union as if it were the primary example of Communism, and as if Communists want to duplicate it exactly. The Soviet Union is an important country to study and learn from because it was the first great experiment with Communism. But it is no more the perfect example of Communism than the first efforts at building Democracy out of Feudal-Europe were perfect examples of Democracy. If we wholly reject the Soviet union as a learning tool because it was too oligarchical, why then do we hold up the establishment of Parliament in England with the Magna Carta as a triumph of Democracy? That “Democracy” was anything but, as only the nobles could vote or hold office. Even when America’s Republic was first established, only male landowners could vote or hold office. But these are still important, still victories of Democracy that put us one step further down the road to a better world. The Soviet Union is no different. It was imperfect, but it made great strides in our march towards complete freedom and Democracy, and proved many of the core concepts of Communism as correct and possible.
Since I have pointed out that Communists oppose oligarchy and dictatorship, you might be asking what we want. What do Communists Stand for, why do we believe a revolution is necessary, and how do we want to change society and Government?
Communism is the pursuit of the ideals that inspired the American Revolution, and that the U.S. Government has always paid lip service to. Communism is the abolition of class society and all forms of exploitation, it is the end of the subjugation of the many by the few. Communism is true Democracy where all people are a part of Government, not subjected to it. This is what we advocate when we call ourselves Communists; Communists demand Democracy in all systems that affect everyone and everyone needs to survive and live comfortably. Instead of a sham Democratic Government controlled by wealthy Oligarchs, and workplaces ruled by small Tyrants.
Communists see the old echos of Feudal and Religious Society that continue to dominate our lives, and we know they must be abolished. Where before we had the King, the Lord, and the Priest, we now have the Owner, the CEO, and the Economist. Where before we were serfs subjected to Church law and the command of the Noble, we now are Wage-Workers subjected to the Puritan Work Ethic and the dictates of the Capitalists who own all things that we rely on to survive. Where before the System was guarded by Knights devoted to the code of Chivalry, now Capitalist Society is enforced by Police that are blindly devoted to whatever the Capitalist Oligarchs declare is the law.
Communists, above everything else, oppose exploitation. We want you, the worker, to benefit entirely from your work. Not work to support the laziness of owners and be rewarded for your backbreaking labors with a miniscule portion of the wealth you create. But we also know that we are not islands unto ourselves. We all need and benefit from the society we live in, and thus it is in our interests to ensure that everyone is healthy, comfortable, and always has access to all they need to survive. This is why Communists regard healthcare, shelter, food, water, and access to work, all as human rights. And so seek to build systems that allow all access to these needs, instead of leaving most lacking these simply because they don’t generate profit for an owner, as Capitalism does.
However, unlike the Social-Democrats who think all of these can be provided without changing anything by implementing welfare systems, Communists know that the system must be drastically altered to ensure all of these things for everyone. Thus Communists advocate changing both the Government and the economy into a single Democratic System. Under such a system, tax-funded welfare programs would not exist at all, because everyone’s needs would be provided for inherently by the socio-economic system.
I know that right now everything you’ve been taught in School or by your friends and family is screaming at you: “This is utopian, impossible! This is tyrannical! It only works on paper, not in real life! It always devolves into a Dictatorship!. etc. etc.” All these points I will address in the coming pages. I ask you to please remember that these points about Communism were taught to you by Capitalists. If you wanted to learn how a car works, would you consult an Amish person? If you want to know what Communism is, do not seek out its most ardent opponents. Instead, listen to Communists.
To my Communist Comrades I say stand up and boldly proclaim our name! End this cowardly concealment of our title, do not let the Capitalists take it from us. Those who fight to end tyranny and exploitation never have anything to be ashamed of, but rather it is their opponents that should be ashamed.
Of course, Communism is a solution to a problem. We cannot ever convince you to advocate for a solution if you do not believe there is a problem. Obviously, we all want a classless society, or at least the vast majority of people, especially those who believe in Democracy. Communists point to Capitalism as a system that must be eliminated first if we are to achieve that classless society. But why? Why can’t we achieve classlessness without abolishing Capitalism? That, is not a short answer, Karl Marx wrote for years on the subject, and created the most comprehensive analysis of Capitalism to-date, called “Das Kapital,” and it is three immense volumes long! Nonetheless, I will attempt to answer this question as concisely as possible.