As the Iran situation becomes worse1 and more and more people start speaking about it online, it seems that many take it as an opportunity to take a swipe at communism while they’re at it.
I’ve started monitoring twitter for mentions of political currents I am interested in and among the usual ignorant bashing, the following phrase, in various similar forms, seems to be posted often:
Theocracy is destined for the garbage bin of history along with Communism and Fascism.
This seems to be repeated by Liberals, Conservatives, Rothbardian minarchists and a generally a lot of people standing on the “right” side of the political spectrum. Putting aside the idiocy of putting Communism and Fascism side to side, there’s the implicit assumption that Communist has indeed been delegated to the “dust bin of history”.
But how much truth is contained in such a statement? While it’s undeniable that Communism has been severely slandered by those who would rather that you don’t know much about it; has it been discredited like fascism, to the point where ideological basis is rejected by most people outright? As much as it would seem so in the US political scene, the answer fortunately is no.
In times of a capitalist boom, there’s always a lot of pundits who will eagerly proclaim the obsolescence of Communism, the end of class struggle and “The end of History”. That lasts only as much as the next bust, recession and depression when the socialist spirit once more rises up to haunt the ruling class. It is at this point where the same pundits will try to stem the tide by reminding us that they already proclaimed Communism obsolete so why are we bringing it up all over again?
But in fact, Communism itself has not been discredited. The core idea of Communism: a stateless, classless society can’t be, as instinctively it sounds positive for most people. Instead what has been discredited are the hijacked results of socialist revolutions of the early 20th century, results which for the delight of the western propagandists were self-described as “Communist” or “Socialist”.
These ideas, that a totalitarian regime can somehow act for the best of the working class, have deservedly been discredited by history itself, which is incidentally proved Anarchist predictions correct. But, and this is the important point, since Communism is not about totalitarianism, this does not affect it.
Now some US Americans might claim that due to popular use, Communism has been accepted to mean the USSR, PRC example and as such, the phrasing is right. But then of course one could easily point out that the USA has completely fucked up the political definitions they use to the extent that, like their measurement system, they are the only ones who accept it.
For most of the world, Communism is far from discredited and even the Stalinist currents in many countries are still going strong. Certainly, many people might think that Communism can’t work in practice, but that’s not the same as rejecting the system altogether. Indeed most of the time it simply takes a libertarian perspective on it to show that what’s practically impossible is only the authoritarian currents.
But if one can say this about Communism, how about Fascism? Doesn’t it mean that Fascism as well can be considered valid? The main difference between them is that Fascism has been rejected by most people altogether, from the ideological components (racism, xenophobia, anti-labour, cronyism etc) to the specific practical implementations of it. It’s been rejected because its whole base is rotten to the core. And while there will always be people rotten enough to embrace it, it’s unlikely to gain popular support. (although of course, I can always be proven wrong)
But this is not the case with Communism, which still has pure goals and people have simply been prevented from progressing towards them; not as a systematic fault but because of the particular (flawed) paths that people took towards the goal. But there’s still other ways to attempt, other paths to take and fortunately there’s quite a lot of people willing to listen.
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- Personally I refrain from saying much about it as it seems there is a lot of propaganda from both sides, for an external observer like me to decide either way. Furthermore, neither of the two warring parties are on the side of the people of Iran [↩]