How?

That’s possibly what you’re asking. How could any of these Changes actually stop the problems of Capitalism that we’ve talked about?

For starters they end the contradiction between profit and wages by ending that entire system.  No longer is the system built on the necessity of profit.  Instead of the need to first make money for a private owner, the needs of the Community are put first.  Shelter, food, water, heat in colder environments, and transport. These are all ensured for everyone without the need for anyone to pay for them, and are regarded as human rights.  No one is left without simply for not having adequate money.  Without profits and wages governing the economy, it no longer lurches from one economic catastrophe to the next, and no one is left wanting.

The details of how this is accomplished vary between the different proposed ideologies, but all of them directly eliminate profit and Capitalist wage systems.  Some of them do so through the use of “labor-notes,” which I have criticised before.  But even though these systems are problematic from a moral and systemic point of view, they are still superior to Capitalist wage-systems.  As “labor-notes” are not given based on a private owner’s profits, but instead based on the availability of goods and needs.  And a “labor-notes” system of wages does not deny anyone what they need to survive, it’s really simply a ration method to ensure that goods and needs are distributed fairly, so nothing is hoarded by some and denied to others.  Even advocates of it rarely see it as anything more than a temporary measure until the revolution is over and scarcity is fully eliminated.  This system was used by the Soviet Union, which certainly stands as a testament to the flaws of such a system, but also it’s positive sides.  After all: the Great Depression did not have an effect on Russia, which experienced a period of prosperity and expansion of industry during that time.

Others advocate a system where goods and needs are simply distributed to all based on availability and need by a Democratic system, all without the issuance or exchange of any type of currency, even labor notes. This group often points to the region of Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War, where this very system was used to great effect. There was no one lacking any need or good until supply lines were cut off by the Government’s forces.  War always creates severe scarcity of everything. Were it not for the war, it is difficult to see how anyone would have been without whatever they needed or wanted, despite no money being used.

By eliminating private ownership over the means of production, and profit we liberate everyone from the tyranny of “The Puritan Work Ethic,” from tedious and unnecessary work, as well as overproduction. With wage-labor motivated by the need for profit, people have to work a certain amount of hours just to gain enough money to survive, whether or not that work even needs done that much.  This creates a system which over-produces everything and reduces all workers to a life of drudgery.  But without profit there is no need to over-produce anything. Products can be made in only as much as is needed or wanted, and distributed for the same reasons.  Meaning that no one has to work a set amount of hours beyond the bare minimum to produce what is needed.  Leaving everyone With far more free time to pursue their passions, which enriches all of society.

The end of profit also means that the value of someone’s work is no longer determined by how wealthy it can make a business owner.  Meaning that work which was cast aside by society as “hobbies,” or worse, would be able to flourish under Communism.  Art would be in great abundance under Communism, as it would be no longer be restricted by the need for profit or the poverty of the artist.  But “hobbies” are not simply artistic pursuits, many such interests are in math, science, medicine, and a myriad of other subjects which greatly benefit all of society, but get tossed aside under Capitalism simply because the individual doesn’t have the knowledge or interest in marketing their research to Capitalist investors.  Or simply such investors lack interest in investing in pursuits which they cannot turn a profit on, even if it will benefit society.  Because Capitalism only gives value to things which can turn a profit for someone.  Ending this tyranny of profit would free academia to expand in every direction, and also free its availability up to the entire population.

The elimination of profit and Capitalist wage-labor has another effect which contributes to the end of class divisions: ending the division of labor.  As Karl Marx describes it in “The German Ideology:”

“For as soon as the distribution of labour comes into being, each man has a particular, exclusive sphere of activity, which is forced upon him and from which he cannot escape.  He is a hunter, a fisherman, a herdsman, or a critical critic, and must remain so if he does not want to lose his means of livelihood; while in Communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.  This fixation of social activity, this consolidation of what we ourselves produce into an objective power above us, growing out of our control, thwarting our expectations, bringing to naught our calculations, is one of the chief factors in historical development up till now.”

This not only increases everyone’s happiness, but their productivity as well.  Because people work more efficiently when they’re happy, and labor power is no longer being wasted by making anyone work more than is necessary, nor making them work jobs they hate or aren’t even the best at.  Everyone’s talents and interests can be allowed to be applied to their greatest effect.  And the general education and capabilities of the population as a whole will be greatly increased.  Because under Communism everyone has the opportunity to learn a myriad of different skills and knowledge, but they also have the opportunity to focus on any subject or skill they please in order to become an expert in that field.  This is all accomplished by the elimination of profit, Capitalist Wages, and the need for every individual to work a specific number of hours so they personally can acquire enough currency to survive.  When these are gone it no longer matters who performs a job or when, because the product of that job benefits all anyway.  So who performs that job can be different at different times.  All that matters is that the job gets done, not who does it or how long it takes.

This also tackles homelessness and joblessness, allowing everyone access to their rights to shelter and work.  Because when profit and private ownership of business no longer exists there is no longer a need to prohibit any one from doing a job.  Once again: all that matters is that a job is done, it doesn’t matter how many people perform it.  There’s always work that needs done, and everyone will benefit from the produce of that work, So everyone would be encouraged to perform as many jobs as they want instead of being forced to do a single job for their entire lives, and an employer only hiring as few people as possible in order to increase profits as things are now.  As for homelessness: already right now in the U.S. there are more empty homes than homeless people. The problem is not lack of homes or a lack of resources to build homes.  The problem is the need for profit and currency.  People’s needs under Capitalism are not placed first, profit is.  And so, those who need a home are denied one simply for lacking currency to purchase one.  We have the resources at this very moment to end homelessness in the blink of an eye, all that stands in the way is profit and the Capitalist system which necessitates profit.

The elimination of the necessity for profit also goes very far towards ending the degradation of the environment.  As global warming, and other damage to the environment, is almost entirely created through overproduction and the pursuit of profit before everything else.  A socio-economic system that is not built on profit would have no reason to keep using practices or making products that damage the environment, because abandoning such practices or products wouldn’t have any negative impact on profits since there would be no profits to begin with.  Under Capitalism, such destructive behaviors are not only performed in spite of knowledge to their destructive nature, they are continually expanded.  Because Capitalism necessitates that a business continually expands to continually generate profit.  As Edward Abbey wrote in “The Second Rape of the West:”

“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.”

And as Murray Bookchin put it in his book “Remaking Society:”

“To speak of ‘limits to growth’ under a capitalistic market economy is as meaningless as to speak of limits of warfare under a warrior society.  The moral pieties, that are voiced today by many well-meaning environmentalists, are as naive as the moral pieties of multinationals are manipulative.  Capitalism can no more be ‘persuaded’ to limit growth than a human being can be ‘persuaded’ to stop breathing.  Attempts to ‘green’ capitalism, to make it ‘ecological’, are doomed by the very nature of the system as a system of endless growth.”

Ending the pursuit of profit, ending Capitalism, allows us to have a system that is sustainable.  Because when profit no longer governs our lives or our socio-economic system, any and all practices or products that damage our environment can be abandoned without economic repercussions, and they can be replaced by sustainable ones.  Because ending profit and the division of labor also means that no potential “green” technology would lack funding or people to undertake it, nor would it ever be deemed “too expensive” to pursue, as that very concept wouldn’t exist anymore as a fact of society.

Then there is the issue of Democracy.  As I’ve already pointed out: Democracy cannot exist under a Capitalist system.  The only thing it can ever be is a Plutocratic-Oligarchy.  When the ownership and control over the means of production is removed from private hands and placed into the hands of the people through a  Democratic system that is composed of the people rather than held above them as a State, then and only then can Democracy exist.  With the end of this ends the accumulation of gross personal wealth and political power, ending the influence of such things over the Governmental process.   Power resides with the means of production, it always has, and always will.  It is, after all, the single greatest influence on our lives, because it is the things which we all need and rely on for a modern life.  And so, once again:  whoever controls the means of production controls society and the organization of society; whoever controls the means of production controls the Government.  So, in order to have a Democratic Government, a Government “Of the people, by the people, and for the people,” the means of production must be Democratically controlled by the people, not private owners, nor controlled by an alienating State-type-Government.  This is what Communism accomplishes.

Of course, as I’ve said before: this is not a guarantee simply because private ownership over the means of production has been eliminated, eliminating the constitution of Government as a State is just as integral.  Because the best any State-type-Government can ever be is an Oligarchy.  But the institution of Socialism is integral to that process, because as long as private ownership over the means of production is continued, then Government will continue to be dominated by those private owners.

I am by no means making the assumption that an actual perfect system can be achieved by implementing these changes.  A perfect society is impossible But we can and should always strive for a better society than what we have, especially when the current society is so oppressive and exploitative, as it is now.  If no one ever attempted to correct the flaws of society simply because perfection was unobtainable we would certainly be living in a much worse world than even now, and we absolutely wouldn’t have even a semblance of Democracy.  Neither are any of these changes a guarantee that things could never become worse, more tyrannical.  No system can serve such a guarantee.  Just look how many Capitalist Republics have fallen to totalitarian regimes every bit as horrendous as what everyone imagines the totalitarian systems of past Communist regimes to have been.  Still, even a skeptic can see how a Governmental and economic system which prohibits any single person or group from having control over it would be much more difficult to turn towards totalitarianism and oppression.  The most vulnerable that such a society can be is when it is first being built, and it is during that time when our society must be more vigilant than ever at resisting those elements which will seek to end Democracy.  That is really what it comes down to, and always has: the vigilance of the people to build and protect their Democracy.  Even the United States while it was in its infancy nearly fell to a Dictatorship.  The leadership of the military, a mere weeks after defeating the British forces, approached George Washington with a plan to seize power and establish an American Monarchy.  The only thing which stopped the plan was the fact that Washington had no desire for it.  The battle for Democracy never ends, but it always begins with our desire to realize it.

The only way to realize Democracy, the only way to end the greatest problems of our society: poverty, homelessness, slave-like wage-labor, over-production, environmental degradation, and undemocratic Government, is to place ownership and control over the means of production into the hands of the people as a whole through a truly Democratic system, and the only way to have a truly Democratic system is to end all class systems.  Otherwise Government will simply be an Oligarchy of whatever ruling class exists.  The only way to do that is to structure Government so that it is not elevated above the people, so that it is instead composed of the people themselves, so that it is a proper Communist Government.  Communism is the cure to the maladies of Capitalism, and the maladies that continue to plague us from past systems, it is the only cure to them, and the only system to finally realize a truly Democratic society.

“Communism Kills Innovation, and Makes Everyone Lazy!”

This is probably the oldest and most repeated of these zombie arguments.  It generally goes something like this: “If you don’t have to work, you won’t. Why would you work when you could just sit around and let other people work?”  Of course the most common sense answer is: because you like having things and doing things.  Communism, as we’ve argued before, starts with the culture recognizing that we all still need to accomplish work in order to have a modern life.  But no one should nor needs to be exploited to accomplish that work, and everyone should receive the entire benefit from the the work they do.  Its also a democracy, meaning that if you don’t contribute to your community, but lazily reap what your community produces, you’re likely to be ostracized by your community and no one is going to want to help you when you need help.  The Capitalist argument is also based on a fallacious definition of what constitutes “work,” As I’ve pointed out before: Capitalism only calls activities “work” if they can produce profit for an owner.  Communism ends that concept, recognizing that almost all activities can qualify as work, as they all enrich society in some way, and we cannot quantify the value of anyone’s work anyway.

There is also the fact that, once again: Communism ends the division of labor.  Absolutely no one is truly “lazy,” just wanting to sit around and do literally nothing all the time.  There is an activity that we all want to perform that benefits society, but we are more often than not prohibited from doing that activity under Capitalism for many reasons.  And look how many people perform such tasks anyway.  How many people enjoy working on cars as a recreational activity, and not even a part of the job they perform for their livelihood?  Or carpentry, or construction, or any activity which even qualifies as work now under Capitalism?  My own Grandfather spent his entire life building houses, furniture, electrical work, rebuilding and repairing cars, and nearly every other construction and carpentry related activity, but never as his job, because he never had the knowledge nor the desire to be a businessman.  He worked as a State employee at a mental Hospital, and then as a truck driver.  He hated those jobs, but was required to perform them for the majority of his life, because that’s how Capitalism works.  If you aren’t a business s savvy person, it doesn’t matter how beneficial your skills are for society, or how much you enjoy doing that work.  You can’t do that work for a living without also being good at capitalist business, you can’t make money off any skill if you aren’t also a good salesman, or you find someone hiring for that job.  Communism has no such restrictions. It allows you and everyone to pursue those passions that you enjoy, because all your needs are provided by everyone else doing the same thing in a society.  If my Grandfather had lived in a Communist society, he could have spent his entire life doing carpentry, working on cars, building houses, doing electrical work, as his livelihood, and so could everyone else who wants to.  Him and society could have benefitted from the work he already wanted to do for a living.

On this subject, I want to turn once again to the words of Peter Kropotkin in his seminal Work, “The Conquest of Bread.” This will be a long section, and I apologize for that.  But Kropotkin makes the most thorough rebuttal against this Capitalist argument, and I feel it is worth quoting in as close to its entirety as possible.  Still, this is an abridged version of the entire rebuttal.  The complete essay is from chapter 12 of “The Conquest of Bread,” and I highly encourage everyone to read it.

“The objection is known. ‘If the existence of each is guaranteed, and if the necessity of earning wages does not compel men to work, nobody will work. Every man will lay the burden of his work on another if he is not forced to do it himself.’ Let us first remark the incredible levity with which this objection is raised, without taking into consideration that the question is in reality merely to know, on the one hand, whether you effectively obtain by wage-work the results you aim at; and, on the other hand, whether voluntary work is not already more productive to-day than work stimulated by wages.

…They fear that without compulsion the masses will not work. But during our own lifetime have we not heard the same fears expressed twice? By the anti-abolitionists in America before Negro emancipation, and by the Russian nobility before the liberation of the serfs? ‘Without the whip the Negro will not work,’ said the anti-abolitionist. ‘Free from their master’s supervision the serfs will leave the fields uncultivated,’ said the Russian serf-owners. It was the refrain of the French noblemen in 1789, the refrain of the Middle Ages, a refrain as old as the world, and we shall hear it every time there is a question of sweeping away an injustice. And each time actual facts give it the lie. The liberated peasant of 1792 ploughed with a wild energy unknown to his ancestors, the emancipated Negro works more than his fathers, and the Russian peasant, after having honoured the honeymoon of his emancipation by celebrating Fridays as well as Sundays, has taken up work with as much eagerness as his liberation was the more complete. There, where the soil is his, he works desperately; that is the exact word for it. The anti-abolitionist refrain can be of value to slave-owners; as to the slaves themselves, they know what it is worth, as they know its motive. Well-being, that is to say, the satisfaction of physical, artistic, and moral needs, has always been the most powerful stimulant to work. And when a hireling produces bare necessities with difficulty, a free worker, who sees ease and luxury increasing for him and for others in proportion to his efforts, spends infinitely far more energy and intelligence, and obtains first-class products in far greater abundance. The one feels riveted to misery, the other hopes for ease and luxury in the future. In this lies the whole secret. Therefore a society aiming at the well-being of all, and at the possibility of all enjoying life in all its manifestations, will supply voluntary work which will be infinitely superior and yield far more than work has produced up till now under the goad of slavery, serfdom, or wagedom.

…to do manual work now, means in reality to shut yourself up for ten or twelve hours a day in an unhealthy workshop, and to remain riveted to the same task for twenty or thirty years, and maybe for your whole life. It means to be doomed to a paltry wage, to the uncertainty of the morrow, to want of work, often to destitution, more often than not to death in a hospital, after having worked forty years to feed, clothe, amuse, and instruct others than yourself and your children. It means to bear the stamp of inferiority all your life, because, whatever the politicians tell us, the manual worker is always considered inferior to the brain worker, and the one who has toiled ten hours in a workshop has not the time, and still less the means, to give himself the high delights of science and art, nor even to prepare himself to appreciate them; he must be content with the crumbs from the table of privileged persons.

We understand that under these conditions manual labour is considered a curse of fate. We understand that all men have but one dream — that of emerging from, or enabling their children to emerge from this inferior state; to create for themselves an ‘independent’ position, which means what? — To also live by other men’s work! As long as there will be a class of manual workers and a class of ‘brain’ workers, black hands and white hands, it will be thus.

…It is precisely to put an end to this separation between manual and brain work that we want to abolish wagedom, that we want the Social Revolution. Then work will no longer appear a curse of fate: it will become what it should be — the free exercise of all the faculties of man.

…Moreover, it is time to submit to a serious analysis this legend about superior work, supposed to be obtained under the lash of wagedom…”

Here, Kropotkin lists conditions that he observed in workplaces throughout the world, which were horrendous, and exceedingly inefficient at the time of his writing (the mid-19th century.)  Certainly conditions have improved, but they also have remained the same in the ways that matter:  profits are held above the health and safety of workers consistently.  And then there is the simple fact that a wage-worker has no incentive to work harder than the bare minimum, as they do not reap the rewards of their harder work, the owner of the business does.  Peter Kropotkin continues on this line:

“…And if you talk to the workmen themselves, you will soon learn that the rule in such factories is — never to do entirely what you are capable of. ‘Shoddy pay — shoddy work!’ this is the advice which the working man receives from his comrades upon entering such a factory. For the workers know that if in a moment of generosity they give way to the entreaties of an employer and consent to intensify the work in order to carry out a pressing order, this nervous work will be exacted in the future as a rule in the scale of wages. Therefore in all such factories they prefer never to produce as much as they can. In certain industries production is limited so as to keep up high prices, and sometimes the password, ‘Go-canny,’ is given, which signifies, ‘Bad work for bad pay!’

Wage-work is serf-work; it cannot, it must not, produce all that it could produce. And it is high time to disbelieve the legend which represents wagedom as the best incentive to productive work. If industry nowadays brings in a hundred times more than it did in the days of our grandfathers, it is due to the sudden awakening of physical and chemical sciences towards the end of last century; not to the capitalist organization of wagedom, but in spite of that organization.

…’But the danger,’ they say, ‘will come from that minority of loafers who will not work, and will not have regular habits in spite of excellent conditions that make work pleasant. To-day the prospect of hunger compels the most refractory to move along with the others. The one who does not arrive in time is dismissed. But a black sheep suffices to contaminate the whole flock, and two or three sluggish or refractory workmen lead the others astray and bring a spirit of disorder and rebellion into the workshop that makes work impossible.’

…To begin with, is it not evident that if a society, founded on the principle of free work, were really menaced by loafers, it could protect itself without an authoritarian organization and without having recourse to wagedom? Let us take a group of volunteers, combining for some particular enterprise. Having its success at heart, they all work with a will, save one of the associates, who is frequently absent from his post. Must they on his account dissolve the group, elect a president to impose fines, or maybe distribute markers for work done, as is customary in the Academy? It is evident that neither the one nor the other will be done, but that someday the comrade who imperils their enterprise will be told: ‘Friend, we should like to work with you; but as you are often absent from your post, and you do your work negligently, we must part. Go and find other comrades who will put up with your indifference!’

This way is so natural that it is practiced everywhere nowadays, in all industries, in competition with all possible systems of fines, docking of wages, supervision, etc.; a workman may enter the factory at the appointed time, but if he does his work badly, if he hinders his comrades by his laziness or other defects, and they quarrel with him on that account, there is an end of it; he is compelled to leave the workshop.

…Then, why should means that are used to-day among mates in the workshop, traders, and railway companies, not be made use of in a society based on voluntary work?

Take, for example, an association stipulating that each of its members should carry out the following contract: ‘We undertake to give you the use of our houses, stores, streets, means of transport, schools, museums, etc., on condition that, from twenty to forty-five or fifty years of age, you consecrate four or five hours a day to some work recognized as necessary to existence. Choose yourself the producing groups which you wish to join, or organize a new group, provided that it will undertake to produce necessaries. And as for the remainder of your time, combine together with those you like for recreation, art, or science, according to the bent of your taste. Twelve or fifteen hundred hours of work a year, in a group producing food, clothes, or houses, or employed in public health, transport, etc., is all we ask of you. For this work we guarantee to you all that these groups produce or will produce. But if not one, of the thousands of groups of our federation, will receive you, whatever be their motive; if you are absolutely incapable of producing anything useful, or if you refuse to do it, then live like an isolated man or like an invalid. If we are rich enough to give you the necessaries of life we shall be delighted to give them to you. You are a man, and you have the right to live. But as you wish to live under special conditions, and leave the ranks, it is more than probable that you will suffer for it in your daily relations with other citizens. You will be looked upon as a ghost of bourgeois society, unless some friends of yours, discovering you to be a talent, kindly free you from all moral obligation towards society by doing necessary work for you. And lastly, if it does not please you, go and look for other conditions elsewhere in the wide world, or else seek adherents and organize with them on novel principles. We prefer our own.’

That is what could be done in a communal society in order to turn away sluggards if they became too numerous.”

I’ve pointed out this solution at times, and been met with the rebuttal: “So you make people choose between working or being ostracized and even exiled from society?”  First, I think anyone can see how that is preferable to the “be a wage-worker or starve” threat that Capitalism makes to all of us.  Second:  that is not even what is being argued.  This is a possible solution to the hypothetical problem of a Communist society that is fraught with “laziness.”  It is not suggested as a pillar of Communism that would exist everywhere, and it is not forcing such a choice on anyone, it’s merely pointing out that a society is not likely to decide to provide you with the fruits of its produce if you choose to not contribute to that produce in any way.  That does not mean you are left to starve, or without shelter, or barred from having anything.  Because the only people who are likely to ever make the decision to not contribute to society, are those who are able to meet all their needs without society to begin with.  Meaning that they’ve already ostracized themselves from society, and they already have everything they need and want to live.  Also, as I’ve pointed out: this “laziness” problem isn’t one that will even exist.  Kropotkin continues on this theme:

“We very much doubt that we need fear this contingency in a society really based on the entire freedom of the individual. In fact, in spite of the premium on idleness offered by private ownership of capital, the really lazy man, unless he is ill, is comparatively rare.

…As to the laziness of the great majority of workers, only philistine economists and philanthropists say such nonsense. If you ask an intelligent manufacturer, he will tell you that if workmen only put it into their heads to be lazy, all factories would have to be closed, for no measure of severity, no system of spying would be of any use.

…So when we speak of a possible idleness, we must well understand that it is a question of a small minority in society; and before legislating for that minority, would it not be wise to study its origin? Whoever observes with an intelligent eye sees well enough that the child reputed lazy at school is often the one which does not understand what he is badly taught. Very often, too, it is suffering from cerebral anæmia, caused by poverty and an anti- hygienic education. A boy who is lazy at Greek or Latin would work admirably where he taught in science, especially if taught by the medium of manual labour. A girl reputed nought at mathematics becomes the first mathematician of her class if she by chance meets somebody who can explain to her the elements of arithmetic she did not understand. And a workman, lazy in the workshop, cultivates his garden at dawn, while gazing at the rising sun, and will be at work again at nightfall, when all nature goes to its rest.

Somebody said that ‘filth is matter in the wrong place.’ The same definition applies to nine-tenths of those called lazy. They are people gone astray in a direction that does not answer to their temperament nor to their capacities. In reading the biography of great men, we are struck with the number of ‘idlers’ among them. They were lazy as long as they had not found the right path, and afterwards laborious to excess. Darwin, Stephenson, and many others belonged to this category of idlers. Very often the idler is but a man to whom it is repugnant to make all his life the eighteenth part of a pin, or the hundredth part of a watch, while he feels he has exuberant energy which he would like to expend elsewhere. Often, too, he is a rebel who cannot submit to being fixed all his life to a work-bench in order to procure a thousand pleasures for his emulover, while knowing himself to be far the less stupid of the two, and knowing his only fault to be that of having been born in hovel instead of coming into the world in a castle.

Lastly, a good many ‘idlers’ do not know the trade by which they are compelled to earn their living. Seeing the imperfect thing made by their own hands, striving vainly to do better, and perceiving that they never will succeed on account of the bad habits of work already acquired, they begin to hate their trade, and, not knowing any other, hate work in general. Thousands of workmen and artists who are failures suffer from this cause. On the other hand, he who since his youth has learned to play the piano well, to handle the plans well, the chisel, the brush, or the file, so that he feels that what he does is beautiful, will never give up the piano, the chisel, or the file. He will find pleasure in his work which does not tire him, as long as he is not overdriven.

Under the one name, idleness, a series of results due to different causes have been grouped, of which each one could be a source of good, instead of being a source of evil to society. Like all questions concerning criminality and related to human faculties, facts have been collected having nothing in common with one another. They say laziness or crime, without giving themselves the trouble to analyse their cause. They are in haste to punish them, without inquiring if the punishment itself does not contain a premium on ‘laziness’ or ‘crime.’

This is why a free society, seeing the number of idlers increasing in its midst, would no doubt think of looking for the cause of laziness, in order to suppress it, before having recourse to punishment. When it is a case, as we have already mentioned, of simple bloodlessness, then, before stuffing the brain of a child with science, nourish his system so as to produce blood, strengthen him, and, that he shall not waste his time, take him to the country or to the seaside; there, teach him in the open air, not in books — geometry, by measuring the distance to aspire, or the height of a tree; natural sciences, while picking flowers and fishing in the sea; physical science, while building the boat he will go to fish in. But for mercy’s sake do not fill his brain with sentences and dead languages. Do not make an idler of him!… Such a child has neither order nor regular habits. Let first the children inculcate order among themselves, and later on, the laboratory, the workshop, work done in a limited space, with many tools about, will teach them method. But do not make disorderly beings out of them by your school, whose only order is the symmetry of its benches, and which — true image of the chaos in its teachings — will never inspire anybody with the love of harmony, of consistency, and method in work.”

It’s worth noting that these assertions that Kropotkin makes here are already being confirmed and accepted by our current society.  Our education system has had to drastically adapt in recent years after realizing what Kropotkin wrote about one hundred and sixty years ago: that some children need to be taught differently.  And anyone would admit that we all work better when we are working at jobs that we enjoy and believe in.  But we can’t live in a society that allows everyone to do that as long as we have such unnecessary restrictions on us as the division of labor and the necessity of profit, and the only way to rid ourselves of these diseases of society is Communism.

We can also look at all the Scientific and engineering achievements made by the Soviet Union and Cuba as testaments to the argument “Communism makes everyone lazy and kills innovation” being wrong, despite the Soviet Union and Cuba only being a State-Socialist systems with a lot of flaws.  If the Soviet Union can be that, and yet still be the first country to put a satellite in orbit, the first human in space, the first woman in Space, the first space-walk, the first full orbit of the earth, the first space station, the first probe on the moon, the first probe on venus (which was also the first manmade object to land on another planet), the first cell phone, and a very long list of other achievements, then how much can a truly Communist society achieve?  If Cuba can eliminate illiteracy, have more doctors per-capita than any other country, eliminate homelessness, and end famine despite enduring a blockade and economic sanctions for 50 years which make it extremely difficult for the small island nation to engage in trade for necessities, how much more could a Communist society that is open and free to trade with the world achieve?

This is not to sound like I am using a double-standard, leaving the flaws and mistakes of the Soviet Union, Cuba, and other Socialist-States to its Government while claiming the achievements as ones of Communism.  The achievements and failures of these countries are their own, and no one else’s.  But we can and should learn from both of them.  A Communist system is not guaranteed to be free from problems, but it’s also not guaranteed to fail.  Whatever governmental system we put in place to achieve the goals of Communism, like any other system, is capable of failing in some ways and making great achievements in others, and it certainly will do both.  Because these are systems composed of and made by people, and we aren’t perfect.  But as I said before: a system based on and composed of Democratic principles is sure to make it far more difficult for it to fail in regard to providing for everyone and allowing everyone to pursue their interests.  Because those are the things everyone wants, and when the people as a whole are the Government, when the people control the systems they rely on to live, they can use those systems to provide all that they want and need while living their lives how they want.

“That’s ‘Mob-Rule!'”

As soon as any conversation about direct-democracy comes up, or even just a Democratic system that includes the participation of the populace in the lawmaking process in some other way, inevitably it is opposed by someone claiming that it is “mob rule,” or decrying the “tyranny of the majority.”  The idea is that if the population votes directly on laws and regulations, instead of elected politicians, Society will devolve into chaos or will oppress the minority of the population.

This belief actually originated with people who opposed Democracy in the previous centuries, when the people were trying to overthrow the various monarchies throughout Europe.  It’s based on the classist ideas that the majority of the population are dumb, brutish, and violent needing to be governed by the “enlightened” minority, usually a ruling class like the old Nobility of Europe, the Bourgeoisie of Capitalism, or some academic aristocracy.  It is built on the basic idea that the masses are actually incapable of being educated, rational, and even incapable of knowing what they want.  This idea not only has no material basis, but flies in the face of all existing evidence, and even the very principles of Republican Democracy.

Republicanism is a system of Government where the population, instead of voting directly on laws and regulations, vote for “Representatives” who then make and vote on laws and regulations.  It trusts the masses to choose Representatives, people who are supposed to vote how the people that elected them want them to, but it does not trust the masses to be able to vote on those laws and regulations directly, or to be able to compose those laws and regulations.  It’s a completely contradictory concept.  If the people are capable of choosing a Representative, they are capable of voting on laws and regulations directly.  And after all: those representatives are supposed to vote how the people want them to anyway.  It’s an unnecessary “middle-man” relationship which allows the possibility of those “representatives” to abuse their power and vote directly in opposition to the desires of their constituents, which is undemocratic.

But that last part is why a lot of proponents of Republican systems support it to begin with.  They believe that directly-Democratic systems allow for the “tyranny of the majority,” which needs to be counteracted by Politicians being free to vote in opposition to the will of their constituents when that will is oppressive to minorities.  As an example, the argument is often made: “what if the majority of the population is racist?  They will simply make laws to oppress the racial minorities.”  This argument can only be taken seriously if it existed in a vacuum devoid of historical understanding.  Because we have seen for 400 years Republican “Democracies” do exactly that to racial minorities, or even racial majorities as was the case in apartheid South Africa.  In fact, the very reason we understand how Governments can oppress people in this way is because of so many actions by Republican Governments doing exactly this.  Republicanism is not, and never has been, a protection against tyranny and oppression.  In fact, Republicanism more easily facilitates that tyranny and oppression.

That undemocratic flaw of Republicanism, that “Representatives” can vote in direct opposition to their constituents desires, allows the possibility that they can create laws that actually bring any semblance of Democracy to an end.  Republican Government places all the power to make laws into the hands of a small group of people.  All the masses can do is try to pick good representatives and hope they use this power responsibly.  These “Representatives” can, and very often do, use the power instead to increase their own power, wealth, and oppress groups they hate or that oppose their actions.  However, they don’t need to even do this to violate the assumption made by the “tyranny of the majority” argument.  If republican government behaves as it’s supposed to, with the Representatives voting and enacting laws reflective of the people’s desires, and the majority of the population is bigoted and racist.  Then that is what those laws will reflect, and it is exactly what they have reflected in the past.  Such as the Jim-Crow laws and the well as the “one drop” rules of the U.S.  Republicanism even exacerbates this fact, because it’s much easier to push a minority dissenting voice to the Side so that it’s arguments aren’t even heard.

A Republican Government brings the majority voice to the front through the “winner takes all” Representative system.  That representative will vote and voice the opinions of the majority of people (if they behave how they are supposed to in such a system.)  They won’t voice the arguments or vote how the minority of the population votes, because that’s not the purpose of this system.  So often the arguments of the minority aren’t ever even heard in the lawmaking process.  Whereas, in a Direct-Democracy, or a similar system, there are no such representatives, so the minority of the population is involved in the lawmaking process directly, their arguments are heard and their votes are cast.  This increases the possibility that they can influence the majority to avoid being persecuted and marginalized.

“I do not like the thought of the community telling me what to do with my property.”  Is another argument I’ve heard often, and I am always left wondering: why is community governance worse than the dictatorship of owners and politicians?  In a Direct-Democracy, you have as much of a voice as anyone else, and an equal vote.  If you do not like a proposition, then voice your opinion, argue against it, and vote against it.  That’s more power than you have under any Republican Democracy, where you simply have to hope that your “Representative” votes the way you want, and you only have the empty threat to not vote for them in the next election.  Besides, I can assure you that no one in a directly-democratic assembly would want to take your personal property from you.  What use would they have for a house, or car, or any other personal item, which they all already have?  We’re talking about Communism, a system that provides all these things to you as a right, and that has abolished monetary wealth.  No one has any means of benefiting themselves by taking these things away from others.  Especially since we’re talking about a directly-democratic assembly, a group of equal citizens acting together for mutual benefit, not a dictatorship of any single person.  There is no way that such a group could take the personal property of you in a way that would satisfy the greed of everyone in the community.  And there would be your own family and friends in the assembly who would also have the same vote as you, who could help you stop such actions.

The one argument in defense of Republicanism that has some merit, is the one that argues: “the people do not have time to vote on every law and regulation, to make and hear every argument. The whole population cannot be full-time Governors.”  This was certainly true when Republican Government was first conceived, and when it reemerged several centuries ago.  But that was before technology that has connected all of us, allowed us to span continents in a matter of hours, and made the need to do so obsolete through the use of electronic communication.  In the l8th century, when Republicanism became so popular, it took weeks to travel only a few hundred miles, and all original documents had to be hand-written, not to mention that even printing presses were hand operated.  Governance was a slow process, and popular votes even slower.  Now, technology has made the process, and the process of dispensing and discussing information, all happen at the speed of thought, all without requiring anyone even leaves their homes.  It is possible for everyone to be engaged in Government while performing their jobs. The argument that the populace has no time to govern themselves is also rooted in the assumption that governance must be a fulltime job, that laws must be constantly passed.  This is because that’s how our current government works.  This is mostly due to useless politicians trying to justify their careers, and also due to the nature of Capitalism, which requires constant interference from the State in order to continue limping along.

A Communist society would provide for everyone’s needs inherently through the nature of the system, meaning there is no need for Social-welfare systems, and no constant adjustment of regulations.  The people wouldn’t even need to engage in any governing activities more than on an annual basis, or to meet an emergency need.  Government could be small, with little bureaucracy.  And a system that is uncomplicated is less alienating to the populace, which encourages participation, making for a healthy Democracy.

But, of course, a healthy Democracy is no longer the goal of Republicanism.  What I have been pointing out is readily apparent to everyone, and far more than Communists see the flaws in Republicanism.  Even many opponents to Communism are just as critical of Republican Government as I have been.  Republicanism is perpetuated by the Bourgeoisie precisely because it allows them to maintain control in an undemocratic way.  Not as individuals, but as an Oligarchy.  Because the wealthy realized long ago what I am trying to tell you: that the only way to end conflict among them, the constant attempts by them to individually take power, was to ensure no single one of them had power.  That was the purpose of Republican “Democracy:” it was meant to be, from the beginning, an Oligarchy of the wealthy.  Republican “Democracy” is Democracy for the rich, the owners of the means of production, and subjugation of the poor, the workers.  They maintain the facade of Democracy by letting you pick your tyrants from time-to-time.  They can rest easy in this process, because so long as the means of production is privately owned, one of their own will always be picked for these offices, these “Representatives.”  Because the owners of the means of production will always have the most influence, and the most wealth, so they can reach more people, more of the population will always know the names of the wealthy Bourgeois politician and what they say.  Any working class citizen who attempts to compete simply won’t have the funding, or the political influence, to match the Bourgeoisie.  So in all but a few rare and token instances, the working class person will lose the political race.

But what about a Communist Republican system, like so many Leninists advocate, why can’t that work?  I will readily admit that a Socialist Republican Government is much superior to a Capitalist one, and preferable.  It cannot be dominated by the Bourgeoisie, because they don’t exist under a Socialist System.  However, as we’ve discussed, there isn’t even a need for it anymore, and the more the populace participates in the Governmental process the more faith they have in it, keeping it healthy and perpetuating it.  No system facilitates this better than a directly-Democratic one. And even a Socialist Republican Government is capable of developing an oligarchical group.  Because those in power have an advantage in elections over any challengers.  There is also simply the fact that they can, once in office, behave undemocratically by voting in opposition to their constituents’ desires, and even changing laws to end Democracy.  The only sure way to avoid this, is to not have such “Representatives,” to not have lawmakers, and instead make the people as a whole the lawmakers.  It entails the same risks towards “the tyranny of the majority” as Republicanism, and thus requires the same diligence of the population to oppose it.  But, Direct-Democracy lacks the systems which make the “tyranny of the majority,” or the destruction of Democracy, more likely to happen.

“The Tragedy of the Commons”

First, this argument is based on a misunderstanding of what “the tragedy of the commons” points to.  It is thrown around by anti-Communists as an “example” of what is “inevitable” in such a society where resources are shared.  They use it to suggest that mutually controlling resources inevitably leads to famine, as the resource is misused.  But this is not ever what “the tragedy of the commons” pointed to.  It points out a situation where a mutually shared resource will be wasted by everyone because they are in competition, and thus always act in their own selfish-interests, which leads to the squandering and waste of the resource, ending its existence for everyone.  That, as you can see, is what we have now.  That is pointing to the flaw of Capitalism, not Communism.  Because Communism regulates resources mutually for everyone’s benefit, and actively ends competition through the end of the necessity for profit, and providing for everyone’s needs.  

The second issue is that the recent popularization of the very phrase “the tragedy of the commons” comes from a 1968 scientific essay written by Garrett Hardin.  In this essay he points to the theoretical problem with “the tragedy of the commons” being caused by overpopulation.  A problem that is certainly possible, as I pointed out in this very book: infinite growth is not possible on a planet with finite resources.  That rule applies to population as well as business.  But, overpopulation is not as immanent of a threat as Hardin and others would have you believe.  I will not go into the deep details of this fact, as this book is not meant to be a scientific work, and also because Communism addresses this problem anyway.  

An ever increasing population is necessitated by Capitalism, because as I’ve pointed out already: Capitalism necessitates constant and ever-increasing growth of business.  This necessitates an ever increasing workforce, which necessitates an ever increasing food source, which necessitates an ever-increasing force of laborers to cultivate food sources.  Capitalism continues and promotes the almost universal cultural aspects which encourage everyone to marry and reproduce (a carry-over from the days of agrarian society, where a family had to supply its food for itself, and thus needed as many children as possible to work their food source) in order to fulfil this need.  Communism is the diametric opposite of Capitalism, being based on sustainability and fulfilling for everyone’s needs first, rather than profit and growth of business.  And without the need for profit, nor the need for the populace to purchase goods to move Capital, there is no need for everyone to work at all if it is possible.  We can replace the workforce with automation entirely if possible, without any negative economic side-effect.  All of this means that no one would be encouraged to reproduce at all if they don’t want to.  Because we don’t need a constantly growing workforce, or a workforce at all if we continue developing automation as it has been developed over the last two centuries.  Even without automation, the same need for an ever increasing workforce is non-existent in a Communist system, because only meeting people’s needs in a sustainable manner is considered.  There is no profit in Communism, no requirement to move Capital.  Such a system does not require a large workforce to begin with, nor does it require there to be jobs for everyone.  As I said earlier: it doesn’t matter who performs a job, only that the job gets done.  So if we can provide for everyone’s needs without everyone performing a job on a regular basis, that is a win for everyone, and drastically reduces the size of the workforce, reducing the stress on the commonly held resources that we already rely on.

Without encouraging or necessitating an ever-increasing workforce, the cultural traditions which encourage everyone to reproduce would quickly fade away, ending any potential overpopulation problems before they even occur.

But let’s return to what the opponents to Communism mean when they refer to “the tragedy of the commons.”  They argue that if all is held in common, then people will squander our shared resources, and ruin them for everyone.  This, they argue, is why famine is inevitable under Communism.  As I said, this based on a misunderstanding of Communism, a strawman.  Communists recognize that if a shared resources is available to all without any regulation, it would certainly be ruined and exhausted by modern consumption.  In fact, this is a major cornerstone of Communism, because that is exactly what Capitalism is doing.  It allows the resources that we all need to be privately owned and wasted by those private owners.  Communists see this and recognize that in order to prevent such a situation, we must democratically manage our resources.  They must be regulated as a part of the socio-economic system, we must end competition over these resources to avoid them being squandered and wasted.  

But, of course, this is not a guarantee that famines will not occur under a Communist system.  They are, after all, caused by natural events all the time.  And there were famines under past attempts at Communism.  So, we must learn from those mistakes.  And mistakes they were, not inherent aspects of Communism, but rather a result of the specific organization of the Governments that they occured under.  Mao’s “Great leap Forward” and the Ukrainian famine often called “Holodomor” occurred under highly centralized systems managed by a central committee, which over saw and mandated organization over the whole country.  This system organized the whole country into districts of specific production.  Meaning one or two regions of the county often were left to produce the food for the entire country.  This left the country susceptible to famine, as often one area of a country can be subjected to a drought while another experiences an abundance of rain.  A new Communist system must learn from this, production must not be so highly centralized.  We must leave each municipality to organize its own production systems according to its specific needs, as only the people in that region can understand how to manage it best.  But, at the same time, we must prohibit parochial independence of municipalities, and instead maintain a system to ensure that no community is left to endure hardships due to natural disaster, as the different regions of the country that are not subjected to the disaster can provide their access to the region that has been hit by drought, or hurricane, or some other event, until it can recover.  This will prevent such famines from occurring, and is similar to the precautions that the Soviet Union and China took after their famines, which ended famines in those regions for the first time in thousands of years.  Neither China nor the regions that composed the Soviet Union have experienced famines since “Holodomor” and “the Great Leap Forward,” prior to which they experienced famines on a regular basis for millenia.  China had previously experienced a famine almost every year for the last 2,000 years.

However, there is a possibility at least that “Holodomor” and “The Great Leap Forward” were deliberate malicious attempts to exterminate portions of these countries’ populations by their rulers.  It is not something that I believe it was, I do not see the evidence of such an act.  Rather I believe they were a failure in Governmental composition and management, and at the most a degree of apathy or ignorance about malicious intent within the lower ranks of the Soviet Union’s and Maoist China’s bureaucracies.  Still, if this claim was true it would not be a criticism of Communism, but rather another criticism of Republican Government, and yet another example of its flaws.  As is testified by the fact that Capitalist Republican Governments have done the same.  Particularly the United States and the United Kingdom.  In fact, the U.K. performed this exact method of attempted genocide in both Ireland and India.  Since the only common factor between China, the Soviet Union, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, is the fact that they are/were all some form of Republican Government, we must conclude that this Governmental system is the source of the problem.  Especially since the claim is that these famines were intentional and malicious.  Only a country that has rulers would even attempt something like that.  The solution is to not have rulers, to have a Communist Participatory-Democracy.  Because the people aren’t going to enact a genocide on themselves.

Of course, many will point out that such management is possible without totally abandoning Capitalism.  And they often point to countries like Sweden, Norway, and Denmark as successful Capitalist Social-Democracies.  These countries and their “Nordic model” of Capitalism are hailed as proof that Capitalism can be regulated into an ethical system.  As we will discuss, that is not the case, at all.  It is, in fact, impossible and undesirable.

“We Can Reform Capitalism.”

This argument is well known, and has gained even more frequent use in recent months largely due to the rise in popularity of Bernie Sanders and what he mistakenly calls “Democratic-Socialism.”  It’s really nothing more than a reemergence of the “New Left” of the 60’s and 70’s.  These people argue that it is not necessary to abolish Capitalism, but rather they advocate for what they call “a mix of Capitalism and Socialism.”  Which shows a gross misunderstanding of what both Capitalism and Socialism are.  But their misuse of these terms is not what I want to talk about.  What they really want is highly regulated Capitalism.  They believe this is preferable to Communism; “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater,” they say.

Well, we aren’t talking about babies or bath water, I am not interested in hollow platitudes or idioms.  We need to make decisions on our society based on material conditions and facts instead.  And the fact is that Capitalism is inherently flawed.  Even if greed and lust for power were non-existent, and we didn’t even need any kind of regulation, Capitalism would still be immoral and unstable.  For these reasons alone it should be abolished.  And if it were even possible to regulate Capitalism into a moral and stable system, it wouldn’t even be desirable. Because this system would be so bloated with bureaucracy that it would be expensive and alienating to the population, exacerbating the very problems you hoped to eliminate.  This is why it is not possible to regulate Capitalism, to rely on Social-Democracy to make Capitalism an ethical and stable system; the more you try to make Capitalism better, the worse it makes the system, compounding the problems of Republican Government and even Capitalism, because Capitalism benefits from greater bureaucracy.

Capitalists thrive in bureaucracy, they don’t recoil from it.  Bureaucratic Republican systems become slaves to their structure, they cannot adapt easily and quickly to changing conditions, allowing them to be exploited by Capitalists to retain power and expand their wealth.  It’s why they’ve always built such bureaucratic Governments to begin with.  We even saw this happen in the wholly anti-Capitalist Soviet Union, whose massive and complex bureaucracy was skillfully used by Capitalists to turn the system in their favor through programs like “Perestroika,” which allowed private ownership and management of businesses for the first time in the Soviet Union, and eventually brought an end to the Soviet Union.  How much more so do you believe they can influence a system that isn’t even opposed to Capitalism?  Political power resides with those who control the means of production.  If you want the people to have political power, if you want a healthy Democracy, then the people need to control the means of production.

“But look at the ‘Nordic Democracies,’ they prove that you’re wrong.”  This is the common argument from the Social-Democrats today.  They are right that Social-Democracies like Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, are better than a system like that of the United States, because they aren’t quite as brutal to their populations.  But also keep in mind that these systems have only been in place for a few decades, not quite long enough for the inherent flaws of Capitalism to catch up with them as hard as they have in other countries.  And we know that these contradictions will catch up with them, because we saw in 2008 that even these countries are not immune to financial depresion.  They were affected just as badly as the United States and the U.K., they just had better social-welfare programs to offset some of the pain for the majority of the population.  But still, homelessness, poverty, and severe financial inequality, all still exist in these countries.  Because the labor of the working-class, the Proletariat, is still exploited, and it is still a Capitalist system that is subject to the contradiction between wages and profits.  Just because it’s slightly less oppressive, doesn’t make it a solution.  Would it have been acceptable if the United States had merely imposed laws that required slaves be treated humanely, instead of abolishing the institution altogether?  Of course not!  An immoral and oppressive system is still that, even if you force those being exploited to be treated a little nicer.  It must not be tolerated in any form, but instead must be ended altogether.

Anyone can see the problems with trying to regulate a Monarchy, or a Dictatorship, into an ethical system.  Without abolishing the Monarchy or the Dictatorship, the only effective method is to denude the Monarchy or Dictatorship of all power, transferring it to a Democratic body.  Meaning it’s no longer a Dictatorship or a Monarchy, but rather a Democracy with an expensive and pointless figurehead that has no actual power (yes, the U.K., I’m looking very judgmentally in your direction.)  The same rule applies to Capitalism, because it’s the same situation.  The only way to effectively “regulate” it is to make it not be Capitalism.  Any talk of allowing the private owners, the Bourgeoisie, to remain in control of the means of production, but forcing them to behave ethically, is no different than arguing a King should remain in power but be forced to behave ethically.  The only means of accomplishing this changes the system into something else, something Democratic, something Socialist, and renders the Bourgeoisie without any actual power.  At that point, wouldn’t it make more sense to just abolish their position and make the means of production mutually owned as well as Democratically controlled?  Our ancestors realized this in regards to monarchies two hundred years ago when they threw off monarchies in America and across Europe, replacing them with Democracies (or at least attempts at Democracy.)  It’s time we realize the same thing in regards to Capitalism.

“It’s Never Worked Before.”

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.

Small Arguments

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.