Was the USSR Communist?

Soviet Union pavilion at New York World's Fair...

Overwhelmingly, most people’s understanding of what Communism is, comes from an extremely propagandistic presentation of the Soviet Union, generally by US right-wing sources. This would give you the idea that communism is supposed to be very authoritarian, rigidly collectivistic and anti-democratic.

This misconception is unfortunately so wide-spread that it’s not infrequent to be called a mass murderer wannabe for simply bringing it up and even though it is trivial to find out what Communism really is and how it works, this exasperatingly wrong view of it nevertheless persists in even otherwise brilliant minds.

So let me say this first: Whatever view you may have of the USSR (and there are quite a few supporters of Stalinism out there), it was not Communism.

Now, before you hasten to leave me a comment about Scotsmen and the like, it is important to know that the original thoughts of Marx and Engels were indeed the absolute opposite of Stalinism, Maoism etc. The fact that one can create a system and label it “Communism” does not make it so, anymore than North Korea is a “Democracy” or a “Republic”. Perhaps one can label it “Socialism” but this term is by itself ambiguous and does not necessarily equate to Marxism.

That is not to say that Russia did not really attempt Communism. It did, and it managed to achieve socialism for a very short while immediately after the revolution. But this newly-fledged socialism was defeated in the most humilating way. Not only did the counter-revolution won over the communists but it kept the name and the symbols to the overjoy of the capitalist of the rest of the world. Russian communism ceased to exist as soon as Stalin came to power.

But if USSR was not Communism what was it? Well, by the way it actually worked, the most fitting description for it is State Capitalism. Simply, the state took on the role of the ultimate Capitalist and set about exploiting the workers. Some of the practices it had, like the suppression of individuality, the strict hierarchical spread of power and the like, are identical to the ones within a common Capitalist corporation anyway. Others, like it’s inability to work efficiently or its large bureaucracy are problems that any sufficiently large corporation has as well. There hasn’t been a corporation of the sheer size of the Soviet Union of course so a direct comparison is impossible, but looking at the dinosauric movements of some of the biggest ones certainly points to that direction.

Another common opinion on this Communism = USSR misunderstanding is the claim that Communism has proven to be a failure. This attempts to show that the path Russia took in the early 20th century is the only possible result any attempt for Communism can achieve and thus it is not worth struggling towards it. But this is not simply wrong, it is intellectually dishonest. This assumes that the very unique situation Russia had to struggle is the common situation any communist revolution will have to face which is simply absurd.

Not only was the situation unique but their attempt was doomed from the start. The reason for this is that Communism requires Capitalism to exist before it can take over. It needs the hugely increased level of production achieved with it and the exploitation of the workers is what creates the revolutionary force. Russia attempted to jump directly from Feudalism (with a small growing capitalist class) to Communism while skipping the phase in between and ended up dislocating itself1. This is also the case with China as well. An agrarian society simply cannot support Communism, especially not when opposed from the rest of the world.

To extrapolate from these example to anything that may happen during our age is simply disingenuous. Not only do we have the production required to not suffer the same fate but we have many tools in our disposal that the Revolutionaries of last century couldn’t even dream of. The instant, international information exchange we can achieve now can easily be the most important.

It is simply practically impossible at this point for any attempt at communism to take even a similar path to the one of USSR and if it is achieved, it will look nothing like it.

Further Reading

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  1. This is not the only reason by far, but it is outside the scope of this article to go into much depth with this. If you’re interested more on the subject, read this very important book []

130 thoughts on “Was the USSR Communist?

  1. It's not just a matter of counting the dead. An accurate historical understanding of the USSR and PRC is necessary to understanding socialism. The question is, were the USSR and PRC failed attempts at establishing a communist/socialist state, or successful but profoundly flawed attempts that were defeated?

    The answers affect deeply our understanding of what must be done, and what must not be done, in any further attempts to establish a socialist state.

  2. Although I agree with what you say, this is not really a post to compare death counts. No matter how good, bad, incompetent or assaulted China and USSR were, it does not change the fact that they were not communist. This was simply because the situation these countries had to face could not lead to it or retain it. Certainly, we can look much further than capitalist propaganda and can see that things might not have been as bad as we're told and that the leaders of those countries did what they thought was best for their country, but this does not make it communism either.

    However good Stalinism was compared to Tsarism or Imperialism we must make it clear that it is still not what we're trying to achieve.

  3. "Also fortunately for me, the population that grew in the cold war is slowly dying out."

    True.

    "The new generation already seems much more open to the idea … this can be accelerated."

    Good luck with that, but I'm hoping the US will make it out of this financial crisis by restoring the regulation that got systematically destroyed over the last several decades, and by enacting a few policies like universal health care. Either way, I'm convinced it will probably eventually become irrelevant. As I have ranted about previously, we may be on our ways to a post scarcity world, and that will make almost all economic systems currently devised completely irrelevant. It might naturally lead to voluntary cooperation by default, for the same reasons that the Free Software movement exists and works so well.

    "Changing the word will not be of much help…"

    You're going to have your work cut out for you. Do you follow what is going on in the US closely enough to have heard the whole "Joe the plumber" saga? if not, google it. Basically, some redneck calls Obama a socialist, and the farther-right wing latches on to this because
    even "socialist" is basically a dirty word for many Americans.

  4. because even "socialist" is basically a dirty word for many Americans.

    You'd be surprised at how quickly abject poverty and exploitation can turn people socialist. And furthermore, I foresee that the US will very soon become much less powerful on the global scale so this will not matter so much.

  5. I'm reminded of Ayn Rand's book, Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal. If we simply dismiss all imperfect attempts at establishing a socialist state as "not socialism", we leave ourselves with no real basis for talking about socialism in a concrete, material sense.

  6. We should look at the historic events that led to each state and notice on where they went wrong. The history is what will lead us to recognize the mistakes and be prepared to avoid them. Similar to how history has shown that reformist socialism simply cannot be achieved.

    It's not about dismissing the attempts but as not using them as an example of communism when they were nothing but.

  7. Thank you thank you thank you. I have to explain this so often. Glad to see someone else explaining it better than I can

  8. 1) You wrote: " . . . Russian communism ceased to exist as soon as Stalin came to power. . . . ." But many bad things, such brutal suppression of Kronstadt rebellion, imprisonment of Mensheviks, etc. were introduced when Lenin was the leader. Those commented above do know about dark aspects of Soviet history. Those who are not familiar with it might learn about it from my short and easy-to-read book

    http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/excerpts.html

    2) I suspect that Russians would suffer less without proletarian dictatorship imposed by Lenin. (Read about their first post-tsarist government–Kerenski, duma, etc.). Russians had everything needed to economically catch up with other European nations, in a decade or two. Lenin is not less responsible for what happened than Stalin.

    3) By the way, some of you might like to read this OpEds

    http://www.opednews.com/articles/Socialism-Is-Not

    Ludwik

  9. I'm still reading the history of the russian revolution so I will keep my response for when I am done.

  10. Thanks for clearing that up. I had previously been thinking of communism as approximately meaning far left on the political compass, with the USSR and so on being special cases that were way in the top half of the chart as well.

    Unfortunately for you and those who share your political views, most of the population of the US at least grew up during the cold war. This results in a curious little mental short circuit at an unconscious level that goes something like "Communism = USSR = Enemy! Bad, evil, enemy!". In the US, your brand is a huge disadvantage right now. It might be more efficient for you guys to come up with a new word, rather than trying to get people to go beyond their gut reaction.

  11. Also fortunately for me, the population that grew in the cold war is slowly dying out. The new generation already seems much more open to the idea of communism and as Capitalism goes into more often and violent crises, it will itself create the movement that will destroy it. The US is at a very critical step at the moment. Capitalism has managed to bleed their country's production dry and as things grow worse and worse, more will start giving a second look to things they dismissed out of hand in the past, like communism. With more people pointing out that their previous views were outright wrong in the past, this can be accelerated.

    Changing the word will not be of much help. I had a similar idea in the past, but if the meaning stays the same, it is easy for someone to accuse your new word of being "communism". No, it's better to clear up the word instead of trying to obscure what you're trying to say. Marx's ideas are anyway important in this understanding and it's impossible to mention him without people knowing what you support

  12. There are some who would dispute you and say that Stalin (and Mao) really were communists, and place the fall of communism at Kruschev & Deng. Personally, my opinion of both leaders is so deeply colored by Western propaganda that I'm agnostic awaiting further investigation.

    Be that as it may, there are several things that one must keep in mind that we do know. Both pre-revolutionary Russia and China were desperately poor in a purely material sense. Both Russia and China had been profoundly authoritarian societies for millennia; neither had very much connection with the philosophical and political tradition of Western Enlightenment. Marx noted that all societies inherit from the past not only the means of production but also the political superstructure. Any western communist society would likely be very different from the USSR & China because we would be inheriting very different economic and political traditions.

    Both countries (but especially the USSR) were threatened with imminent attack; the Soviet Union was in fact attacked by Germany because the USSR was communist. The USSR had to recover from WW-I (the classic internecine imperialist war), the civil war (with the rebels provoked, aided and abetted by anti-communist capitalist, imperialist countries) and WW-II (a nakedly imperialist war of aggression). The Soviet Union could not have looked on Patton's desire to keep rolling into Moscow, nor the obvious hostility of the West towards the USSR during the Cold War, with anything other than the best-justified paranoia; just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

    The historical record seem crystal clear on Hitler: he intentionally and deliberately murdered millions of people simply because he didn't like them. The historical record is much less clear on Stalin and Mao: Did millions of people die? Probably. But the question is: Did they die because Stalin or Mao simply didn't like them? Or did the people die because the leaders made blunders trying to recapitulate in a couple of generations (with their very survival at stake) the economic and political developments that took the West centuries to achieve? And, especially in Maoist China, did many of those people die simply because people had been dying from natural causes (famine, drought, flood, etc.) by the millions from time to time in China for millennia? Mobo Gao (The Battle for China's Past) notes that four million people fewer people died in China during the time of the Cultural Revolution than in India during the same period.

    Keep in mind too that the West has had its share of blunders causing the deaths of millions. Even excluding the almost continuous warfare, just the Spanish Flu — in no small part a consequence of the massive, rapid urbanization of the Western population — killed 20 million people. If communism must be called to account for its blunders (and it must), capitalism does not deserve a free pass.

    To what degree are the people who died under Stalin or Mao (especially Mao) offset by those that were saved? Compared to both societies before their revolutions, what was the improvement in material standards of living and medical care, both of which profoundly expect both life expectancy and quality of life? Yes, many people lived in grim, poorly constructed apartment buildings after the revolution, but many were living in mud huts before the revolutions.

    Too many people, I think, fault the USSR and the PRC for not catching all the way up to the West, for not achieving in 50 years what the West achieved in 500 years.

  13. But many bad things, such brutal suppression of Kronstadt rebellion, imprisonment of Mensheviks, etc. were introduced when Lenin was the leader. Those commented above do know about dark aspects of Soviet history. Those who are not familiar with it might learn about it from my short and easy-to-read book

    Ok, a few things. The Kronstadt suppression happened because the Kronstadiers at that point were nothing like the revolutionary elements which inhabited this fortress in the Revolutionary days. They were the arm of the counter-revolution. Read this.

    1. Ok, a few things. The Kronstadt suppression happened because the Kronstadiers at that point were nothing like the revolutionary elements which inhabited this fortress in the Revolutionary days. They were the arm of the counter-revolution

      After investigating more on this issue, it seems that the Bolsheviks were not really honest about this.

  14. I would have to say that I agree with you about 99% of the things you said. The only thing that I would not agree with you on is the idea that the Soviet Union ever had "socialism". The reason I would not agree with you on this is because Socialism is, at least by my definition, a stepping ground where the class system is abolished, and the economy begins to resemble a communist one. However, the Soviet Union did not do this in any way. What Lenin, Trotsky and even Stalin created cannot be defined as socialism. The complete lack of any form of democratic process, the idea that Lenin had absolute authority, and the relentless oppression of any dissenting oppinions cannot be called socialism. Under Lenin and Trotsky, the anarchist movement was quite litteraly destroyed. I am by no means an anarchist, but to KILL them because they disagree? What socialism is that?

    1. You are right of course. I've changed my view of communism somewhat since I've written this article and I am very much in agreement.

  15. I've been trying to explain what Communism is to my freinds, without lending them a copy on the Communist Manifesto and this is such a great summary. They may finally listen to me when I don't connsidered their anti-communist aguments envolving Russia!

  16. I completely agree that the USSR was NOT a "communism", however your characterization of it as a "state capitalism" is incorrect. The USSR was an "oligarchy", where all power was invested in Party Members. I understand why you used the term "state capitalism" rather than the right term, you think capitalism has something to do with opression. Capitalism is freedom incarnate, it is based on the principle of individual rights.

    1. A capitalist corp IS an oligarchy, much like the USSR state. Capitalism is made by the production style, not by the organization style. This is why you can have a company that looks like an oligarchy with some modicum of democracy (i.e. corporations) or one that looks like monarchy (traditional company). If anything, a corporation most closely resembles the "Communist" states than anything else.

      1. A capitalist corp is not an oligarchy. A corporation can not be described using terms describing government models. Just like govs., corporations can be structured many ways under different business models but you are missing the obvious. YOU don't have to deal with any corporation in a capitalism that you don't want to but YOU don't have a choice what government you are born under. Furthermore, under a capitalist system you are not even required to participate, you are free to live off the grid. The USSR's centrally managed socialist economy required everyone to participate or become a crimial, this is not freedom. As the US's economy becomes more centrally controlled by the current administration we are seeing the same requirements to particiate or become criminal ie… legal requirements to purchase insurance from a third party much like how you are forced to buy from a utility company. The utility company doesn't have a contract with YOU, they have a contract with the local government. This is what will happen with insurance except they taking it one step further, you don't become a criminal if you don't buy electricity, but you must buy insurance or become a criminal.

        1. capitalist corp is not an oligarchy.

          Yes it is. An oligarchy is a government model much like monarchy, repressentative democracy etc. Just because it is one you don't like doesn't make it any less of a government model.

          I am also far from missing the obvious, much like a corporation, YOU also have a choice in going to live under a different government. And much like I don't have a choice if I wish to work in a capitalist/market economy so do you not have the choice in choosing to live under a government. If selecting which capitalist business to work as a wage-slave under is "freedom" then selecting which government to live under is also "Freedom"

          PS: Under a capitalist system you are as much free to not participate as you were in the USSR. It requires that you become a hermit as the only way for most to live is to work under a capitalist wage-slavery. If everyone could possibly avoid this without starving, then everyone would.

          1. Oligarchy is a GOVENRMENT MODEL not a corporate structure. Is it true that I can move to a different country if I don't like the government of the one I was born in? Ever hear of the "Berlin wall"? Are you familiar with the draconian immigration laws OUTSIDE the US?

            If you didn't participate in the system of the old USSR you found yourself in jail or the Gulag. In a capitalism, if you don't participate you become a farmer.

          2. As for being able to escape capitalism but not governments that isn't really a difference. Different corporations have draconian requirements (in the CVs of their employees and the subjective decisions of HR) and "draconian" requirements in capital in order to become a farmer. DO not forget that the US did start as a primarily farm/homestead based production and the capitalists used the state to modify this to their benefit. If the state was not there, Capitalism would not even exist as everyone would have chosen farming and artisanship over wage-slavery. So in fact, in order for Capitalism to survive, farming as an option for all must not exist. And in fact it doesn't.

          3. Why do you assume everyone wants to be a farmer or artisan? Libertarian socialism is a very nice idea but is impossible in large populations. I would even say some form of socialism/communism is REQUIRED for the survival of small populations.

            There is also no such thing as "wage slavery". If you can't find a corporation you like to work for START YOUR OWN or become an independent contractor. If you do find a corporation you do enjoy working for you trade your skills for dollars of your own free will.

          4. Why do you assume everyone wants to be a farmer or artisan?

            Because I look at history and I see that people were perfectly happy to be farmers and artisans and they had to be forced into wage-slavery. And yes, it is wage slavery as most people don't have a choice on whether they work for a wage or not. If this is not slavery, then stop complaining about the government as that's exactly the same kind of "freedom" you espouse. The freedom to find another government to live under…if you can.

          5. LMFAO… something tells me you never worked on a farm. BIG assumption that people were happy to be farmers BTW. I think it had more to do with the fact they HAD to be farmers. Also, why would I need to find another government? The one here suits me fine. It is YOU who are dissatisfied… so why haven't YOU moved?

          6. LMFAO… something tells me you never worked on a farm. BIG assumption that people were happy to be farmers BTW. I think it had more to do with the fact they HAD to be farmers.

            I suggest you read some history and learn of the extensive violence and coercion required to make people abandon self-management (as was the case in homesteads, farms (individual or communal) and artisanship). There's no assumptions there, only looking at the historical facts you're ignorant of.

          7. The test of your theory is to conduct a survey. Do a survey of 1000 people asking them if they had a choice, what would they chose: life as a farmer or their current urban/suburban modern life. Note: I left out rural because they CHOSE to be farmers. Yet another example of how a capitalist system is far more tolerant of people's free choice to do as they please as compared to your idea of forced submission into an agrarian lifestyle.

          8. Your test is to do a loaded survey? I think you need to learn a lot about surveys. People have asked however the opinions of many and got replies you wouldn't like:

            [youtube 8y7zobJ7ZPc

            youtube]

            Again, you keep projecting your fears onto me with your silly talk about "forced submission" after I've explained to you again and again that this is not what I'm saying. If you don't stop, I'll have to start mocking your obtusity.

            A capitalist system allows choice but does not allow possibility. It's therefore a moot option. It's like allowing everyone to wear any colour they like but having them afford only shit-brown. In fact, the barriers to people doing what they wish are huge.

          9. As you say, survey results can be skewed… just like that silly one you linked to. Of COURSE no one wants a boss… in a capitalism they DON'T HAVE TO HAVE ONE. Would they still be productive? OF COURSE! If they did NOTHING they would get bored. The REAL question is "would you be productive enough to not only compensate for your consumption but to compensate for other's lack of production?" Which empiricaly becomes: "Will you voluntier to become responsible not only for yourself but for people you don't know?" The ONLY way you will get people to agree to that is if you have draconian rules excluding the "unproductive" from society or FORCE them to be productive.

          10. Ah, now that you don't like the results of the survey, you dismiss surveys eh? Nice double standard.

            Of course that is not the only way to have people be productive. A far better one is to allow them to retain the full surplus value they create rather than allow leeches (i.e. capitalists) to skim the profit off just because they're already rich.

            I still find it extremely humorous that you presume to speak about humans would act with any authority, even though humans managed to be collectively productive long before capitalism came about.

          11. I don't dismiss surveys, only those who attempt to manipulate the outcome with question phrasing. Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.

            You are now talking in circles. You want people to keep the surplus value of their productivity but don't want people to have property? Which is it? Does not a doctor who saves lives every day produce and keep more than he needs to live? What about the engineer who invents something that benefits all of mankind? Does he not keep the profits of his productivity?

            History is against you. American capitalism advanced science and the human condition more in 200 years than the rest of human history did in 10,000 years. The standard of living across the world changed VERY little prior to the American Experiment.

          12. People can just as well keep the surplus value of their labour and not have property. Property only allows the accumulation of land and capital. It does not affect production. I've already explained all this in the article I linked to you before which once again you refused to read. You're obviously not here to learn but to try and convert to your pathetic philosophy.

            History is against you.

            If you actually cared to read history, you'd probably find out that you're wrong. But of course, I don't expect you to be doing much reading based on how little you're willing to even understand what I'm talking about anyway.

          13. The surplus value one creates is simply the product they make. They get to keep it and do what they want with it, as opposed to the capitalist keeping it and giving them a wage which is lower than what they would have made by selling it themselves.

          14. Where would the workers get the tools and materials to produce the product that they will keep and sell themselves?

    2. Capitalism is only freedom incarnate for those who have already consolidated businesses into massively wealthy enterprises. It's anything but democratic because it concentrates economic power in so few hands that enterprise is "free" primarily, if not only, for them. The wealthiest 20% of U.S. families own 83 percent of all the wealth, the top ten percent own 71 percent, and the wealthiest 1 percent have almost 40%. By comparison, the bottom 40% own 0.2% of the wealth. I don't see what's so wonderful about this lopsided distribution of wealth.

  17. Furthermore… communism is no better a form of government than an opressive oligarchy. Communism does not value individual rights, it is based on the principle that majority rules, just like a pure democracy. 51% of the population can vote away the rights of 49% of the population. Under neither communism nor democracy can freedom live long. Only through a republic can freedom be preserved for the masses… but only as long as the representatives don't bow to opressive pressure from special interests within the represented populace.

    1. I can see that you are not really familiar with Libertarian Communism or most likely most other libertarian socialist movements and theories. I suggest you start here before you try to explain to me what Capitalism it and isn't.

      1. Collective ownership, management, distribution etc… does not eliminate the class structure, it solidifies it, it puts everyone in the same class, the lowest class. It also requires that those with ability freely give away themselves to those with less ability without compensation, it REQUIRES sacrifice. This is where the theory that libertarian socialism isn't "force" falls apart. While it is a virtue to freely sacrifice, FORCING one to sacrifice one's self for the benefit of others is the very definition of slavery.

        1. When everyone is in the same class, whether that is the lowest, middle or upper, then you have eliminated classes effectively. Of course what you meant to say is that everyone would be poor or some other silliness. You keep asserting other such nonsense as you continue of course when you insist that LibSoc requires force or sacrifice. No, it requires Mutual Aid and it's based on voluntary use of it.

          I will have to insist you read the primer I gave you before you make even more obvious you don't know what you're talking about.

          1. I did not mean to imply everyone would be poor… a standard of living that would be quite comfortable is reasonable. However, you should re-read your statement: "You keep asserting other such nonsense as you continue of course when you insist that LibSoc requires force or sacrifice. No, it requires Mutual Aid and it's based on voluntary use of it." Specifically: "REQUIRES MUTUAL AID". What would happen if I decided to never aid anyone but myself? What if I never allowed the car I drive to be driven by someone else even if I am not using it? What if a create a retrovirus that cures a genetic dissorder but don't freely distribute it? What if I don't voluntier to give mutual aid? What with the "forceless" libertarian socialist local union/community do to me?

  18. Oligarchy is a GOVENRMENT MODEL not a corporate structure.

    Corporate structures have a government model themselves. It resembles oligarchy.

  19. Oh Cheezus fucking Christ. READ THE FUCKING PRIMER. You do not understand what you're talking about and you're asking me to explain a whole theory in the comments of my blog. I have no inclination to indulge you when I've already written or linked to most of the stuff you ask but are to lazy to read.

    If you don't want to give mutual aid then don't. You will effectively ostracize yourself from society. I hope you're happy.

    1. LOL… If I didn't understand what socialism is then HOW DID I JUST GET YOU TO ADMIT THAT YOU ARE FORCED OUT OF THE SOCIETY IF YOU DON"T FOLLOW IT'S RULE OF FORCED SACRIFICE? You socialists are so easy.

      1. So wait a minute? If I don't wish to interact with greedy little bastards I "force them out of society" but when the only way not to become a wage-slave is to become a hermit it's "freedom"?. Not facilitating someone who wants to dismantle a LibSoc society is "force" but not facilitating someone who wants to dismantle a Capitalist society is "freedom"? Sounds like a double-standard to me.

        1. Yes! When you force someone out of a socialist society (and let's face the fact that history teaches us socialists murder and imprison them in re-education camps, not banish them) you are using the state's force. When an individual chooses not to work for a corporation or engage in capitalism it is freedom. If a socialist in a capitalist system wants to not own anything he is free to do so. He is also free to commune with other socialists and collectively own what ever they want. Everyone is happy! The problem is that in a socialism, a smaller population results in a lower standard of living and each person has to work harder. This is why socialists want to force EVERYONE into the system

  20. WTF are you talking about? I didn't force anyone out of anything. They took themselves out by not participating. And you continue to use intellectually dishonest ways by implying that the USSR was an example of socialism/communism in a post explaining why it wasn't.

    Your argument basis is simply Capitalism = Freedom and then declare that if whatever I propose is not capitalism, it's not freedom. It's tautological nonsense and you convince no-one.

    1. LOL… Where do the ones who refuse to submit go? Those in a capitalist system are free to stay and do as they please. In a socialist society, those who do not submit to voluntary slavery are either FORCED to submit or they have to leave, they can't set up a capitalist cell can they? Also I NEVER used the USSR as an example. Capitalism is freedom because you can do what ever you want within that system without legal penalties. YOU advocate socialism which REQUIRES participation or you are not permitted to stay. There is no double standard. Your linked example is severely flawed. The tenant farmer is FREE TO BUY HIS OWN LAND AND BECOME the landlord (or not if he chooses to work the land himself) rather than pay rent. No choice exists if everything is collectively owned.

      1. Lordy! Those who refuse to submit are allowed to do whatever they think they can do. Nobody is going to take their stuff away. I find it extremely humorous that you insist on describing libertarian socialism while only displaying that you have no idea what it entails and simply project your fears into it.

        If they want to setup a socialist cell, they're welcome to try. Of course I think they'll find it hard to do so when nobody would accept becoming their wage-slave or enforcing their Private property claims.

        As for the tenant who can buy the land and blah blah, well not everyone has this option and in fact most people don't. In capitalism most tenant farmers will always be tenant farmers, ie wage-slaves. Your eagerness to assume that under capitalism everyone would be free to do whatever he likes is simply unrealistic when one sees the tendencies of the real-existing capitalism.

        Choice is in fact what exists in collective ownership and this was displayed greatly during the Spanish Syndicalist Revolution where those who didn't want to collectivize were allowed to stay outside with their own land. Unlike capitalism of course where choice is given only on paper but not in practice as most can't afford it.

        1. "Those who refuse to submit are allowed to do whatever they think they can do. " So I would still be allowed to drive a car and live in a house even if I didn't work to support the community? I could go pick up a new bass boat and then hit the grocery store for beer and chips on my way to the lake for some bass fishing? I would still be allowed access to the communal property even though I didn't do a thing to produce or add value to the community? WHERE DO I SIGN UP!? LMFAO

          So you think upward mobility is unrealistic? Tell that to Oprah, Bill Gates and every other first generation self made million/billionaire who started from humble beginnings. Then you can read about all the FREE CHOICE CHARITY WORK THESE DIRTY CAPITALISTS DO AND FUND.

          You have a lot to learn.

          1. So I would still be allowed to drive a car and live in a house even if I didn't work to support the community?

            You would still be allowed to keep what you already possess and possibly be provided with your means of subsistence. People of course would refuse to give luxuries they produced to a leech but of course now you're going to complain that you're being forced. You've basically trying to prove that either I'm forcing you or I'm allowing you to mooch. For you, without market pressure there is not alternatives and you stubbornly refuse to hear what I'm saying.

          2. How long do you think it would be before there were more leeches than producers… or at least enough leeches that produce less than they consume? Which is the REAL problem. Not that everyone would go fishing rather than produce but they would produce just enough to "qualify" for their benefits. This will result in huge numbers of people who consume more than they produce. The end result of that would be the complete stagnation of society. Without the motivation of benefit for one's work there will be no work done.

          3. So you think upward mobility is unrealistic?

            It is unrealistic to expect it for everyone. There's simply not enough room at the top. Plus, the upward mobility has been decreasing the more the markets open. That is, the more deregulation, the more difficult it is for people to advance in wealth and status.

            Plus. the upward mobility has far more to do with luck than with skill.

            Also, don't get upset, you know you can always go to some easier location where your beliefs won't be challenged. You don't have to stick around here with the LibSoc and get all upset.

          4. You are wrong! There are more 1st and 2nd generation millionaires now and growing at a faster rate than ever before. LUCK? LMFAO You think success is luck? This is the root of your problem my friend… you think your success and failure is based on luck rather than effort, determination and ability! No WONDER you buy into these crazy socialist notions! LMFAO… luck. HA! (not upset…. LAUGHING!) Ever hear the saying "A fool and his money soon part"? It isn't "An unlucky person and his money are soon parted". Your dismissal of success as a product of luck is your mechanism from removing personal responsibility for your self. Which is what socialism does.

          5. Yes, it is mostly luck. Luck of nationality. Luck of wealth. Luck of ability. Mostly luck. If you get born poor in congo, you're most likely screwed while if you're born rich in the US, it's quite hard to lose it.

            I find your amateur psychology on me quite humorous however.

          6. THERE WE HAVE IT! Luck of ability? Ability is not the result of luck, it is the result of EFFORT! Or maybe you think some people are born able to program or design computers? While being born in the Congo IS bad luck… MILLIONS of people who COME TO AMERICA to escape their bad luck of birth location to realize the results of their efforts. However, if a person does not take responsibility for their lives and are born in the Congo, in the Congo they will stay.

          7. Luck of ability means not being born with no hands or blind. But you know, don't let me stop you from grasping at the easiest conclusion so you can use CAPS again…

            And of course millions immigrate to escape the location they were born, but of course, those are the lucky ones who can…

          8. You are so full of garbage… the workplace is FULL of successful people born with physical challenges. And it wasn't luck that got those people to the US. It was effort!

          9. It must be nice living in your fantasy land where meritocracy rules and only the lazy are poor. Of course it's hilarious that all pro-capitalists end up positing the same fantasy land and it's actually the reason why you can't convince any serious amount of people. Any hard-working wage-slave who can't seem to get a break would laugh in your face if you said that…at best.

          10. even if they manage to come to america, they still have to face the bad luck of having no money, and then they have to face the bad luck of not being in the right community, and then you have to work really hard at a crap job, because it's probably the only one being given out to congolese immigrants. then after working 50 hours a week for 20 years, lo and behold, you're still poor.

  21. Also, why would I need to find another government? The one here suits me fine. It is YOU who are dissatisfied… so why haven't YOU moved?

    It suits you fine? Really? Then why are you whining about taxes and how it becomes fascists with insurance and whatnot huh?

    As for me, I don't accept that choosing who rules you is freedom anymore than I accept that choosing who you work for is freedom. So moving jobs or countries will not make me free.

    1. Pay attention! these new taxes and fascist mandates perpetrated by the progressives in congress and the executive branch are CHANGE FROM the government we are guaranteed by the Constitution.

      If free choice of governance, employment etc… doesn't constitute freedom for you, what does?

  22. You don't like them? There's other nations you can go to. According to your logic, as long as you're free to leave, then you're free.

    If free choice of governance, employment etc… doesn't constitute freedom for you, what does?

    You still don't understand that there's no "free choice" here. Most people can't choose to not be a wage-slave. Most people can't choose to not be ruled by a government. As long as those are not available options, any "freedom" is illusory, as much as choosing between Stalin or Hitler is "Freedom"

        1. Positive liberty vs negative liberty is a complex issue. One forces equality of condition through the state and the other enables individual determination of condition. Which sounds more "free" to you?

          1. You actaully think the individual determination of a talented engineer will result in equality of condition with someone with an IQ of 75 WITHOUT the use of state force to take the surplus productivity value FROM the engineer? Well no, you said people would be able to keep surplus value… now that is a contradiction. How do you get to keep your surplus productivity when other people CAN'T be as productive as you yet they will somehow have the same "condition" or quality of life as you? Can you say "PARADOX"?

          2. You actaully think the individual determination of a talented engineer will result in equality of condition with someone with an IQ of 75 WITHOUT the use of state force

            Sure. It's their individual determination by which they will decide to produce each as much as they are able and give the rest away to those who wish it, helping each other in the process. Just because the IQ75 will be a janitor will not make him any less socially useful and therefore no reason to be rewarded any less.

          3. How do you get to keep your surplus productivity when other people CAN'T be as productive as you yet they will somehow have the same "condition" or quality of life as you?

            Productivity is relevant. People are talented at different skills but they are all equally socially necessary. The Engineer might be a horrible janitor himself so he will not do it, but he still needs someone to do it. As such there is no reason why there should be a difference in reward between then for the same amount of labour.

    1. What are the barriers to starting your own company besides the $25.00 fee for incorporation paperwork which is not even needed if you are a sole proprietor?

      1. Barriers to entry erected by already estabilished players. Capital barriers (in that you need to buy land and/or capital). Knowledge barriers (in that you need to learn the trade and you may not be able to afford this). And that's not all of course.

        1. LMFAO…. sound's like excuses to me. Competition? Yes it is a barrier, Capital… BS, there are millions of people looking for a place to invest money. Knowledge barriers? Where do you think knowledge comes from?

          1. *Sigh*, you don't even bother to understand what I say. Talking to you is totally a waste of time.

          2. Oh, I understand and actually agree that there are barriers to success. How do you eliminate a person's IQ barrier? How do you eliminate the barrier presented by someone else competing with you? How do you eliminate the barrier created by someone TRYING harder than you are willing to try? How do you elimanate these barriers without using force on the person presentiong that barrier? You must think you have the right to have success rather than the right to try to achieve it.

          3. I'm not talking about barriers to "success".I'm talking about barriers to self-management. You claim that everyone can be self-managed but then you agree that there are barriers to entry (either from luck, or ability). As such you've basically agreed that not everyone can be self-managed and thus some are doomed to be wage workers as not all can be "successful" at the same time. Therefore you have just proven "wage-slavery". thanks.

  23. I do believe that communism is not properly understood by the great majority of people, the same can be said for capitalism, or any economic system. I do not believe dismissing all economic knowledge developed in the USSR is sensible.

  24. Communism necessarily denotes the communal ownership (by state or otherwise) of the means of production.

    Stalinist Russia met this definition.

    1. State ownership is not communal ownership any more than centrally controlled money supplies are a free market.

  25. Highly, highly debatable and misleading. The USSR wasn't communism, because in Marxist theory, Communism is a classless, stateless society, where no borders seperate human beings, and all people of the world cooperate. Socialism is the transition phase, after the revolution against capitalism, to communism. However, the USSR was to some degree socialist until 1985 (when Gorbachev [who is seen as a traitor to many] established his reforms which included trading with fortune 500 companies.) It was not democratic, but it did have it's upsides – such as the fact that the living standards of the common person in the USSR dropped dramatically after the fall of the USSR. It aided many much needed people's movements throughout the world, Angola, Grenada, Nicaragua, South Africa, and notably Afghanistan. Contrary to popular belief, Afghanistan was not 'invaded.' Following the Saur Revolution, the Afghanis sought the help of the USSR. That was the best government Afghanistan had ever known.
    Many of the former Soviet republics were shitty before entrance into the Union, and since the 'fall of the iron curtain' – are shitty today.

    That isn't to say that the USSR was all fine and dandy. It had many faults and made many poor decisions. However, these decisions are to be examined along with the material conditions that led up to them.

    1. Sorry but the argument that State Socialism improved the lives of the countries it was enforced in doesn't hold much water. First of all it improved them in some ways but worsened them in others (especially in all areas of personal freedom). Capitalism can boast of much of the same thing where it significantly improved the lives of those nations implementing them. It's just that the costs of Stalinism were taken on by their own people while the costs of Capitalism where outsourced via imperialism.

      As for it even being called "Socialism" I'll have to disagree. The workers did not own their means of production. Hell, they were not even allowed to change work without permission from the bureaucracy. The bureacracy owned the means of production. They were the capitalists in this sense and this is why USSR is more accurately described as state capitalism.

      My stance on USSR is that it's no better than any other capitalist or class society. It's not only flaws, anymore than Capitalism is only flaws, but we can do so much better.

  26. You don't mean to say that the Soviet Union wasn't Communist, you mean to say that it wasn't Communist as envisioned by Marx and Engels. The same way America isn't Capitalist as envisioned by Smith. This was boring.

    1. Dude! It had money! Communism cannot have money! It's in the definition!

      That said, most genuine Communist attempts have also failed. IIRC, in the Spanish Civil War all anarcho-communist communes found the need to switch to anarco-collectivism or to mutualism.

      1. What's that "it's in the definition"? You're trying to turn communism into religion! Poor anarchist…

        1. What's that "it's in the definition"? You're trying to turn communism into religion! Poor anarchist…

          You're saying that communism is undefined? It does not include the abolition of markets?

    2. No he means to say that it WAS NOT COMMUNISM and i am entirely in agreement, Marx layed out the rules of Communism and the Soviet Union was not coherent with these rules and by extension of that was not Communist. As i always say about the Soviet Union and China- you can call a chair a table but it doesn't make it any more true then you eating your meals off that chair.

  27. Just passing by and noticing what was said here. Well said. Communism is simply making everyone "equal"; I use the quotes because some might become irate after merely suggesting it… but what do you think about Communism? Can it work? Just from sheer curiousity… the way the world is now, some would support it, others would oppose it. I'd like to hear your feedback.

  28. Let's remember some things really important to Scientific Socialism that Marx and Engels said in The German Ideology and Critique of the Gotha Programme of 1975:

    "Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality [will] have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things. The conditions of this movement result from the premises now in existence." (The German Ideology)

    "But these defects are inevitable in the first phase of communist society as it is when it has just emerged after prolonged birth pangs from capitalist society. Right can never be higher than the economic structure of society and its cultural development conditioned thereby.

    In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labor, and therewith also the antithesis between mental and physical labor, has vanished; after labor has become not only a means of life but life's prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly — only then then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!" (Critique of the Gotha Programme, Section I)

    So, yes, the USSR was communist; like Cuba, Albania, DDR ("East Germany"), Vietnam, Hungary, DPRK ("North Korea"), China, etc. are/were also communist.

    Let's also remember that Lenin was the "next one" on the list of Scientific Socialism's contributors, followed by Stalin. (See Harpal Brar's Trotskyism Or Leninism, 2009; Ludo Marten's Another View of Stalin, 1994; and Mossaiye Olgin's Trotskyism: Counter-Revolution in Disguise)

    Some people are thinking about "communism" in a very very idealist way, repeating US, Nazi and Cold War propaganda, thus paying lip service to utopian socialism and anticommunism.

    1. So, yes, the USSR was communist; like Cuba, Albania, DDR ("East Germany"), Vietnam, Hungary, DPRK ("North Korea"), China, etc. are/were also communist.

      Sorry, no, none of what you quoted actually proves this.

    2. Let's also remember that Lenin was the "next one" on the list of Scientific Socialism's contributors, followed by Stalin. (See Harpal Brar's Trotskyism Or Leninism, 2009; Ludo Marten's Another View of Stalin, 1994; and Mossaiye Olgin's Trotskyism: Counter-Revolution in Disguise)

      Great, just because some guy said so, it must be true. Be serious.

      1. You didn't even read these guy's books I mentioned and are ready to criticize? Oh, give me a fucking break, for reason's sake!

        1. A nice courtier's reply but I don't care. I have seen zero reasons to read some random guy's books. Especially because I don't really give a damn about marxism-leninism and because I find the idea of "scientific socialism" loaded. As if other strains of socialism are "unscientific".

          1. Wait, wait! You "don't really give a damn about marxism-leninism" but loads your mouth readily to criticize it?!

            Oh… ¬¬' Very nice!

          2. And, yes, other strains of socialism are unscientific and everyone know it with good reason; these other strains are the utopian socialism, based on IDEALISM, a philosophical school defeated by materialism. If you have read Marx, Engels, Lenin and other Marxists, you will see this defeat very well. 🙂

          3. Lolwut? The only unscientific and utopian forms of socialism are indeed the marxist-leninists, who've been actually proven to be failures in history many many times. (USSR, PRC, North Korea etc) and yet insist that their methods work. Don't make me laugh when talking about "everyone".

  29. Communism is a political-economical structure based on many things, concrete/economical and ideological/political/philosophical: collective property, socialization of property (distribution of essential goods to society — which needs, in instance, development of productive forces), people's power/proletarian democracy (within people's communes/councils/assemblies/etc in workplaces, factories, farms, districts, villages, cities etc), dictatorship of the proletariat, economic planning of – at least – the most important sectors of economy, society needs as the leading force of changes instead of profit and so on. As I said in the previous comment, and complementing here, communist society doesn't need to be fully built for a country to be considered communist.

    I guess you're ashamed of past experiences because suffered too much anticommunist propaganda. For example, some people still talk about "Stalinism", but there's no "Stalinism" in the real world, it's pure propaganda made to attack USSR and communism. Stalin was a Marxist(-Leninist) and either in theory and practice was the "continuation" of Lenin — as we all know he is the "heir" of Scientific Socialism after the death of Engels and the definite defeat of many false ideologies like reformism, liquidationism, blanquism, menshevism and anarchism. Plus, the opposition of Leninism to Trotskyism and vice-versa is well documented and proved by comrade Harpal Brar.

    It's also strange to see communists holding a bourgeois view of politics, putting into the "accounts of Stalin and Mao" deaths that are in no way related to these two great communists of our history. You should read Mario Sousa's Lies About The History of the Soviet Union, great text, very long but also very clarifying.

    1. Communism is a political-economical structure based on many things,

      You seem to be confusing a lot of concepts. Such as the fact that the "dictatorship of the proletariat" comes before actual communism. At least in Marx' view.

      1. The dictatorship of proletariat is the character, or quality, of the worker's State in the first phase of communism, when capitalism is not completely overcome.

        1. If we take marxist theory, then no. The dictatorship of the proletariat is the a phase before communism. During socialism and the building towards communism.

          1. So we think the same about this question. I'm just using Marx's term in Critique of the Gotha Programme, and you're using Lenin's term in State and Revolution if I'm not mistaken. Same thing, in reality.

          2. I think the best explanation of the dictarorship of the proletariat was given by Hal Draper really.

    2. As I said in the previous comment, and complementing here, communist society doesn't need to be fully built for a country to be considered communist.

      Sorry, but that's nonsense. You may say it, but it does not make it true.

          1. Because posting a fairly irrelevant part of the Gotha Critique and then listing what Stalin said or did in USSR does not prove that Communism was practiced in the USSR. At least not as most communist understand and expect it.

    3. I guess you're ashamed of past experiences because suffered too much anticommunist propaganda. For example, some people still talk about "Stalinism", but there's no "Stalinism" in the real world, it's pure propaganda made to attack USSR and communism.

      Nonsense. There's obvious and clear distinctions between the various large strains of Marxist-Leninism. Trotskyism, Maoism, Stalinism, to name a few.There's also non Marxist-Leninist strains, such as Autonomism. But it's common for sectarians to deny this and simply dismiss everyone except Stalinism as "not-communism"

      1. The use of "Stalinism" is the only nonsense here. It has a strawman fallacy behind. This term was created by opponents of communism within USSR, either saboteurs using it negativelly (like the traitor and counter-revolutionary Trotsky) or opportunists using it positively so they after would use it to attack Stalin (like Nikita Khruschev, the most notorious one).

        Trotskyism was always against Marxism-Leninism. Read the books I mentioned, please, then we talk again on this specific issue.

        1. Blah blah saboteurs blah blah counter-revolutionaries blah blah. Get a grip.

          You keep denying the reality that there are different strains of Marxism and Marxism-Leninism. I am in no mood to indulge you if you cannot even recognise this simple fact.

          1. Yes, there are. Maoism, Hoxhaism and Juche for example. I'm not denying anything, I just hurt your divine trotskyite dogma.

  30. Yeah, "failures". Not one great gigantic fail. Just small "failures", "mistakes" that Marxist-Leninists insist won't happen again. Just Because. The truth of the matter however is that Stalinist Socialism, failed abjectly, and degraded into Capitalism. And that, you cannot deny.

    And for every positive exposition of life in the USSR, there negative ones as well, such as the provided by Emma Goldman, and let's not even mention how many people praise capitalism just as well.

  31. Does anyone see a great conspiracy theory here? Fascist on the right, Communist Socialist on the left, which leaves who in the middle? The good ole moderates, United States, Western Europe, etc. Does anyone not see the character of scapegoat applied to these totalitarian governments? Communism and Socialism were on the rise in the late 1800's and early 1900's, new political ideologies threatening the core of an authoritarian political structure. Why not highlight the obscurities of these new ideologies by utilizing patriotic isolation to ignore the rise of dangerous leaders. Leader's who explicitly exploit the political ideologies of the people. Remember that by historical count no revolution has successfully come about without the upper middle class intellectuals IE not the working class suggested in Marxism. Not to permeate impending doom for the conservative but the Occupy movement resembles that of Marxism and like most movements was steadily hijacked by the upper middle class televised to skew the real message of our current oligarchy. In other words, I agree completely with your post and appreciate your intellect on the subject. So many factors of Communist theory have not come together, perhaps a simple plot to keep the masses dependent and free of thought.

  32. Others mentioned things Lenin did below, but I would say that as soon as he told the workers they could not caucus independently anymore (‘too much division’ speech), it was over. He only used populist ‘worker-power’ rhetoric as he was vying for power – not before or after.
    [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQsceZ9skQI ]

    Stealing the Ukrainian grain-harvest and killing the anarchists was par for the course – repeated in Indonesia, Spain, and everywhere else anarchists arose; history shows us that the Communists and Capitalists always preferred each other to the anarchists, because the same Elites ran both systems from the top. We can debate which one gives us “larger pens” to roam in, but both were (and are) systems of slavery.

    Keep in mind, that Lenin was sent from the USA to Russia, passing through the British check-point in Nova Scotia on the way, with his stockpile of gift-gold intact, then traveled on a sealed train through Germany. The USA held the Siberian railway from his enemies until he took power, (feigning support for the ‘white army’ much as the USSR feigned support for the Spanish anarchists), whereupon he had the infrastructure for his first 5 year plans built by Western Transnationals.
    [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GhPsJCXPqY ]

    In short, he was no communist, just a totalitarian experimenting with a new bankster-Elite test of human exploitation. As an epilogue, It would appear that the bankster vampires have settled on the “Indonesian model” as the best way to suck our blood, and are using ‘Austerity’ to bring all nations down to that circle of hell.

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