Tag Archives: Positive liberty

Does communism stiffle individualism?

This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series Misunderstanding Communism
Peasants having lunch in a commune.

The most scary concept for anyone who considers communism seems to be the idea that it requires the total submission of the individual will for the good of the country, the state or the party. This misconception is happily perpetuated by the capitalist propaganda machine who gives you such great images as people having to wear the same clothes, sing the same songs and share the same toothbrush.

Indeed such a thought is terrifying enough that it’s enough for the propaganda machine to label anything it does not wish to happen as communism and start rolling out those images to scare the public to the path they want, as is what happened with the first attempt of US for universal healthcare when Hillary was pushing for it.

But not only is Communism not against the individual but it is the only real celebration of individualism possible and It aims to achieve this through positive freedom. Under communism people are supposed to have the liberty and the capability to do whatever they wish, as long as this does not inhibit the liberty and capability of others to do the same.

Now I can just imagine the anarcho-capitalists (or “libertarians” as the US Americans like to call them) jumping up to cry foul. They consider that true freedom is when one has just the liberty to do something, as long as they do not infringe on the liberty of others. But this is simply the illusion of freedom. Are you free when you can wear any type of cloth you like but you can’t afford anything more than plain brown?

No. Negative freedom is simply the freedom for some to reduce the freedom of others through non-violent means.

Think of the freedom Communism provides as the freedom which exists between a couple. Both have a voluntary relationship within which they agree to limit their freedom in order so that one is not degraded for the benefit of the negative freedom of the other.  Thus, while they both have the freedom to wear whatever clothes they want, have their own possessions and totally different taste, they do not have the freedom to avoid doing their share of the chores, for then, the burden falls on the other and the relationship is strained. But no one would ever consider such a limitation as an affront to liberty.

And this is the kind of limitation Communism demands. It requires that people voluntary do their part of societal “chores” simply so that all the burden does not fall to the few unlucky. It requires that people do not take actions which reduce the freedom of everyone else. It only demands that people be equal, not identical.

Other than that, it is of no consequence how each person chooses to live his own life. It is exactly because under communism you do not have to limit yourself in any way in order to survive that people are truly free. Aren’t you jealous of all those small startup companies whos employees get to work whenever and however they want? Imagine that not only every job was like that, but you also had the freedom to do exactly the kind of work you want, without worrying if it’s economically feasible.

Having said all that, it is worth pointing out that there is a system that does restrict your freedom. This system not only requires that you do a kind of work that you do not like in order to survive, but it frequently requires you to conform to the wishes of the company to a large degree. From the demand for a suit&tie, to personal styling to outright uniforms. This is not only demanded in work but can even start as early as school years. Not only that, but it breeds a uniform culture where every artist ends up sounding the same and the only new things to wear are what others tell you in the form of trends.

This system is, of course Capitalism. The system where true freedom is reserved only for the rich.

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