As an Epicurean, I require very little to be content: Food, Shelter, Friends and the absence of pain. All these things have always been generally easy to achieve and as such they are what each person should be able to have. The fact that so many do not is a telling problem of the disfunctionality of our society.
One could ask: “As an Epicurean, why do you care what others have? After all, if you can achieve a state of hedony1 why should you care if others do the same?”. This is really a moral issue and should be looked in this light.
The question is, how do I go from the descriptive “My only needs are those which bring me in hedony” to the prescriptive “Everyone should be able to fulfill the needs that bring them in a state of hedony“. To go there, we first need to look at my reasons for doing so.
- The more people that desire that others are achieving hedony, the more likely it is that I will be able to achieve and sustain it through their combined efforts.
- Achieving hedony allows people to work on achieving the rest of their desires. Since I’m trying to make it so that one of those desires is that everyone is achieving hedony, then this helps spread this desire as well as happiness which comes from being in this state.
From these we can see that I have reasons to promote the desire (i.e. it is considered good) that people should be able to fulfill the needs that bring them in a state of hedony. It becomes a moral value.
So how does this lead to Communism? Well, Communism has the ideological proposition that everyone should be producing according to their abilities and receiving according to their needs. By itself, the second part of the sentence is not very descriptive as anyone can claim the most extraordinary things as needs. However through the lenses of Epicurism, the needs transform to something objective: The things one needs to be in a state of hedony.
Communism then conflates exactly with the moral value I have reached via Epicurism. Each of us should be striving to the best of our abilities to help others fulfil their needs. And since the needs one has on average2 are the very basic and most easy to create, the effort we would require from each of us for this to be achieved would be minimal.
Of course Communism is more than a ideological proposition. It also proposes the way a society would be organized (Classless & Staleless) which also follow from Epicurism since authority and inequality either lead to emotional pain or to the increased cost of basic needs, making them opposed to the moral value I explained above.
Now to be accurate, I never really moved towards the libertarian socialist quadrant because I looked at the subject philosophically, but rather because intuitively, for someone with an Epicurean mindframe, the concepts of Anarchism/Socialism/Communism fit very well to my moral values.
Only later did it occur to me how much one leads to the other and the dialectic relationship between them. As much as the Epicurean subconsiously espouses the libertarian socialist mindframe, so does the consistent libertarian socialist require an Epicurean thinking to avoid sliding into authoritarianism or crass individualism (ie Capitalism)
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- Disclaimer: This is the Epicurean use of the word – the absence of pain, not the contemporary. Read my article on Epicurism for more [↩]
- adding the cost of medicine which are more resource intensive but also much smaller in production scale than food [↩]