Are the commies out to get you?

A 1947 comic book published by the Catechetica...

Is Communism something violent? Does it inherently require that people start killing those who do not agree with it in order to achieve it? Hearing the propaganda thrown around, one could very well be led to believe that Communists are bloodthirsty demons who will break down your door and take your stuff. That they will force you to sing hymns, and clap for the glorious leader on pain of death etc.

Some of this is patently ridiculous but there is the sliver of truth in that every attempt at communism has gone through a violent struggle which then ended up with a dictatorial state rule. One looking no more than skin-deep at this might indeed get the idea that communists somehow spring out of the ether, kill the resisting peaceful citizens and establish their brutal rule

But when having a deeper look, one easily can find the errors in this image.

The Revolution

If one thing is true about Communism, it’s that it has proven impossible to be achieved without a revolution. The Capitalist system has proven to be very resilient to reformation from inside and instead of it changing, it ends up changing the reformers. Thus there is no alternative that to destroy the flawed system and rebuild from scratch.

But this revolution is not about violence. The people who demands things change do not want to kill their fellow man, they simply wish to stop being exploited. The way they go about it is by ignoring the Capitalist rules and simply starting to live under their own. Thus they ignore the previous agreement about private property. The majority decides that the means of production should belong to the majority who has paid their cost many times over already and they peacefully take them over.

It is at this point that violence occurs. Not from the workers, but from the state machine who steps in to protect the interests of the minority. When the workers are assaulted first by the police and later by the army, it would be foolish to remain peaceful. For peace would only mean the continuation of exploitation. But the workers are not the aggressors. Communism is not the cause of violence.

This assault from the minority towards the majority has always been the case in all revolutions. Accusing the communists of violence is as morally empty as accusing the slaves Rome of being violent when they revolted, or accusing the bourgeois of being violent when they overthrew the monarchies.

Revolutionary violence always comes from the side of the exploiter who has the most to lose and who controls the power of the state.

Imperialism

This is the fear that a communist nation would engage in the classic imperialistic moves. That it will attempt to invade other countries and forcibly turn them “Communist”. This of course is absurd. Communism has no state to wage out the war and the workers of a commune have no incentive to leave their homes and assault other countries.

Certainly, the USSR was guilty of playing the imperialist game (at least as much as the US did when it was making dictators while “spreading democracy”) but as this was a State Capitalism, it should come as no surprise. Indeed they were acting perfectly in the capitalist nature.

But a general fear of communist imperialism can simply be attributed to projection on the Capitalist’s part. If anything, the only form of “imperialism” that can be waged is peacefully cultural, where the workers or the world take the example from the ones who have succeeded and work on their own revolution. But of course, this is why Capitalist nations are so propagandistic against Communism in the first place.

Day to day

So will a communist society breed violence day to day? After all, violence is the norm in a capitalist state which depends on competition and greed. Well, that’s exactly the point. Communism does not depend on those. Why would violent crime happen when people can simply get what they need for free? How could violent suppression happen without a state?

Any system based on cooperation instead of competition can only be peaceful and this is why fears of communist violence are not only unfounded but a telltale sign of propaganda.

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39 thoughts on “Are the commies out to get you?

  1. I don't know about needing revolution, or at least a violent one. A lot of Europe looks like they have been slowly evolving in that direction, and they seem to be doing quite well.

    I might change my opinion about violent revolution (regardless of where the violence comes from) if there were any well-known examples of the numerous violent revolutions towards communism actually resulting in an ideal communistic society. Unfortunately, all the violent revolutions I can think of tended to result in rather oppressive states … 🙁

  2. LMAO, I like the fact you've quote-mined me in the header

    It's not a quote mine! It's a perfectly accurate fact 🙂

    so I guess you can keep it up.

    Why thanks for the permit 🙂

  3. Wellllll…to be fair it was a comment about one specific thing, so it doesn't apply to general things by the international quoting convention #3465. 😛

    On that note, did you hear about Darwin saying the eye could not have evolved? Amazing!

  4. Unfortunately, all the violent revolutions I can think of tended to result in rather oppressive states … 🙁

    Unfortunately this is a very simplistic view of history. It was not because of the revolution that oppressive regimes came to power (although I admit I was under the same misconception recently) but because a) people didn't know enough b) the country was not industrialized c) the imperialist powers intervened to help the counter-revolution. They did the last part by funding dictators.

  5. A lot of Europe looks like they have been slowly evolving in that direction, and they seem to be doing quite well.

    You're not living here so I can't fault you for being misinformed but Europe has been degenerating from that direction. Socialist policies are slowly eroded similar to the way they are in the US. These reforms did not come as the result of the politicians but by the fear of open revolt. It worker pressure each and every time which made the politicians do reforms. Reforms which the capitalists are always eroding in the name of "free market"

  6. That, however, is not a violent revolution but self defense – that is unavoidable.

    However, it's a matter of changing minds to create a revolution of culture and mindsets. Once the majority are convinced it can be a matter of tearing down the capitalist system armed with hammers and a rejection of currency instead of guns and grenades. I personally think the best way for this to start is if one area (probably a small town) that can grow for itself (I've always thought one of the many ag towns I've lived in or currently live in would be perfect) simply refuses to use currency and does away with it in this nonviolent matter. A small scale revolution yes but a powerful one.

  7. I've always thought that the best sort of revolution is a nonviolent one. Revolutions need not be violent to change how the system works. Revolutions can be revolutions of minds, people tearing down the system themselves.

  8. Once your nonviolent revolution stops following the rules of the system, the system will use violence to put you back in line. It's, unfortunately, unavoidable.

    Perhaps the future will prove me wrong but the past tells the same story.

  9. That, however, is not a violent revolution but self defense – that is unavoidable.

    But this is what I've been saying in this article. All communist revolutions have started out non-violent.

    I personally think the best way for this to start is if one area (probably a small town) that can grow for itself

    It's been tried before and it has failed. Look up Kibbutz and the recent comments from Freindenker

  10. It might be a simplistic view, but unfortunately it's the one with empirical support so far, with not so much for the converse view. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing: it could be a discouragement of violence, but it also means there hasn't been a successful revolution so far …

  11. Like biological evolution, political systems will go through ups and downs, as I'm pretty sure governments aren't deliberately aiming to become communist (most of the time, anyways). So it should be expected that there be regular degeneration, but has it really been getting so bad that most of the continent is moving irrevocably away in the opposite direction? 🙁

  12. It's mostly functional in that a lot of countries have been able to maintain it for a long time, not that it establishes a utopia. We have actual real world examples where capitalism have lasted a long time, although hardly in a pure form, but the lack of any long-lived free communist societies is always going to stumbling block in widespread and unconditional acceptance that free communism is absolutely going to be viable for the long run.

    In no way do I mean that capitalism is better.

  13. Seconded. For us privileged people, it seems functional, but in reality it is anything but. It puts profit over life and production over sustainability. Thanks to, for example, capitalist agriculture, we are swiftly turning the world into a desert instead of using intelligent farming techniques that will allow us to continue as a race. That is not functioning.

  14. In capitalism's defense, it mostly came about as an evolution of previous systems; no one was really trying bring it about as an explicit economic system. In fact, the so-called father of capitalism, Adam Smith, was writing about what he observed about economics, that it worked in the manner of capitalism: he was actually critical of capitalism.

    Or maybe not about the "critical" part. I might have been misled by an interview in the Daily Show, but it does seems reasonably certain that he wasn't arguing that capitalism was ideal, just that self-interest isn't necessarily purely destructive.

  15. But those are not revolutions with the explicitly stated goals of establishing capitalism, so I would give them a wee bit more leeway in failing to establish a capitalist society, in contrast to some of the more well-known and explicitly communist revolutions that just ended up with a totalitarian state.

  16. If communism is so great, then why did every single attempt at establishing communism through violent revolution get defeated by a counter-revolution? Although I wonder what the counter-revolutions were and who supported them in the Soviet Union and China … (I might understand it a bit more if it was just modern China we're talking about, which combines the worst aspects of capitalism and totalitarianism, but the People's Republic of China was oppressive far long before it started to accept even a glimmer of capitalism. And I'm pretty sure Western imperialist powers didn't support Stalin's or Mao's rises to power …)

    (Although personally, I think the failures has a lot more to do with the nature of violent revolutions themselves than with communism. The fact that there's violence means there's powerful factions aggressively opposing it, which means more potential for failure …)

  17. So I guess it's a difference in understanding of a word, for you it means ability to maintain itself, for me it means success and how well it works. For me, for a system to work well, it needs to be able to provide the basics for those who need it.

    It should be noted, I think, that capitalism was basically a new idea and had not really been attempted on a large scale, just as Communism has not. I think small examples are sufficient for larger examples, just as micro evolution shows macro evolution (or maybe I'm wrong about that, science is not my strong spot).

  18. I think db0 would do a much better job explaining this than I, however, from what I understand you are correct–however, the petty bourgeois had to convince the people that theirs was a better system and it required a popular revolution. The people thought they'd be better off under capitalism so they pushed for it and rebelled against their feudal lords in favor of a different kind of tyranny.

    I have no doubt that great crisis of capitalism such as the ones we currently are having will get worse and will lead to a move towards the next stage of civilization. As I've mentioned here before, we are in a major crisis thanks to capitalism. A scientific report basically said that we have till 2030 till we need 2 planets to support human life if we continue as we are now. Capitalism puts profit over sustainability and life. Humanity is intelligent, we know this, and eventually we will realize that profit is not as important as survival.

  19. Actually, there was definitely an explicit move among the petty bourgeois to wrest power from fuedal and religious rulers and put it into the hands of businesses in the name of the people. Marx gives an excellent account of this in his Manifesto.

    However, communism is obviously the next big step. The problem is, thanks to the Cold War and corporate control, people are so opposed to it. But as Marx wrote, the more financial and world crisis there are, the bigger they will get, and worse and worse, until finally it crumbles under revolution.

  20. That seems more like the bourgeois, having grown rich thanks to an already existing capitalist economy, wresting political powers, not poor and oppressed merchants imposing capitalism (oppressed, maybe, but not poor).

    And I have my doubts about communism being the inevitable result of revolution fueled by crises. Systems other than capitalism have tended to crash back down to step one when they collapsed under their own weight, and I wonder whether capitalism would be an exception. That's what happened when Russia and China collapsed and had their communist revolutions, and we all know how that turned out.

    Evolution, on the other hand …

  21. What violent revolutions were there where capitalism was the explicit goal, the revolutionists actually succeeded in seizing power, and managed to continue to maintain a capitalist agenda? I'm not even sure if there were any violent revolutions that satisfy the first two conditions for capitalism (perhaps because I've been brainwashed so effectively, but I would then need education in specific concrete examples), and yet we all know specific examples of violent communist revolutions whose effective goal was communism and the revolutionists succeeded in seizing power, yet turned totalitarian.

    Pity that there isn't any real empirical example for proper communism on a large scale. Then it would be a whole lot easier to debate its relative merits. At least with capitalism, we actually do know that a lot the time it's mostly functional while also going through horrible crashes, not too mention all of the other problems such as exploitation and lack of long-term thinking. (Pure free market ideologues are a whole lot worse than communist idealists: the former ignore real world evidence that stares them in the face. I can't believe some people say that the solution to the current economic meltdown due to a free market gone amuck is an even more unrestrained free market …)

  22. What violent revolutions were there where capitalism was the explicit goal, the revolutionists actually succeeded in seizing power, and managed to continue to maintain a capitalist agenda?

    The Capitalist revolutions took the form of religious wars originally as it was easier to convince the peasants to fight and die for their version of God instead of the opponents. Nevertheless, the most unashamed Bourgeois revolution was of course the English Civil War of 1642

  23. and yet we all know specific examples of violent communist revolutions whose effective goal was communism and the revolutionists succeeded in seizing power, yet turned totalitarian.

    Again, this is simply false. The revolutionaries did seize power but then they were defeated by the counter-revolution.

  24. At least with capitalism, we actually do know that a lot the time it's mostly functional

    Oh come on now. It's may be mostly functional for the first world nations but it I do not label anything that makes 5mil children die yearly as functional. And that's just one bad aspect…

  25. The Russian revolution did not begin with the goal of estabilishing communism either. Most people didn't know much about communism in the first place. This is an important factor of why it failed and how people got misguided.

    The English Revolution on the other hand, did have the goal of overthrowing the monarchy and estabilishing capitalism, or more simply put the power in the hands of the merchants and landlords

  26. If communism is so great, then why did every single attempt at establishing communism through violent revolution get defeated by a counter-revolution?

    I explained it before.
    A) It was not an explicit revolution towards communism. Most people did not know what they were fighting towards but rather trusted their leaders or were simply pissed.
    B) There was foreign interference
    C) The nations were not industrialized enough or be self-sustainable.

    For you it might seem that those nations have had only a single revolution and that ended up in Totalitarianism but that is simply wrong. In Russia's case it is much much more complex. They had 2 revolutions and between a civil war, and also imperialist nations assaulting them, and then betrayal once their army was weakened.

    More simply the attempts at estabilishing communism failed because the countries attempting it were isolated and not ready for it.

  27. Yep. As a sample, the socialist parties we have in Europe started out with actual socialist goals, removing Capitalism and the like. Nowadays, most of them are staunch supporters of Capitalism and imperialism. The English Labour party is a good example.

    And yes, the socialists policies keep getting eroded by time. National services get privatized and funding is cut. For example, at the moment in Germany it's starting to be very difficult to get healthcare for logotherapy, which was standard 5 years ago.

  28. Sorry but the time a system lasts, under no circumstances can be considered a measure of "success". Otherwise Feudalism was the most successful system ev4r

  29. I wouldn't consider it a success, but I would consider it functional for its time. I'm saying it in the same sense as "MS Windows is functional" 😛

  30. Eh, everything is "Functional for a time", even slavery. I do not disagree with that, indeed I consider that Capitalism is a necessary step in our societal evolution but it's just that, a step. It's time has come to an end and now it only serves to hold us back. Either we discard it and continue, or we keep it and stay stagnant, or even move backwards.

    This is the same that happened in Rome as a matter of fact. While slavery proved valuable to create an empire, a time came to discard it and their failure to do that was a major cause for their subsequent decline.

  31. A lot of the leaders had it as a stated goal, though, even if most of the followers didn't really care. And I have no doubt a lot of the leaders were sincere in their beliefs. On the other hand, I somehow doubt that those in the English Revolution were really after more than their own self interests, and I somehow doubt that their public goals were about installing capitalism.

    (Now that I think about it, the English Revolution was before Adam Smith was even born …)

  32. A lot of the leaders had it as a stated goal, though, even if most of the followers didn't really care.

    And this is why it pays to know the history of the event you're talking about 🙂
    The leaders at the time of the Russian Revolution were caught unprepared. The first revolution of February happened organically and suddenly. Indeed, the socialist leaders who were there (the most famous ones like Lenin and Trotsky were exiled) didn't even realise it was a revolution until it was too late. Many tried to stop it.

    The second revolution, the October one, was indeed led by the Bolsheviks, but mostly because during the time in between, everyone else fhad betrayed the revolution and they were the ones who defended the workers unconditionally and thus ended up in the leadership position. Still most people didn't know much about communism which is why Stalin was able to seize the opportunity when Lenin died.

  33. I know that. What I'm just keeping on saying is that when a revolution with some explicit stated goal fails to achieve the goal, and there have been no other revolution towards the same goal that succeeded, while a revolution that wasn't really after some implicit goal which was not even stated failed soon enough, then the latter is hardly an argument for why we should just ignore the failure of the former sorts of revolutions.

    I'm not that ignorant, and more importantly, I don't totally eschew the use of research …

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