Does Communism require everything to be under state control, with a Bureaucratic government deciding everything? Far from it
Whenever most people think of Communism, they assume a big fucking government which is responsible for the central planning and the running of the society as a whole as the benevolent rulers think best. This preconception once again generally comes from the way Socialist regimes of the 20th century have ended up running their shows and as I pointed out in the first part of this series, they do not represent communism.
Indeed a statist Communism is an oxymoron for, by definition, Communism is stateless. There is not central planning commitee, no benevolent leader-for-life, no bureaucracy.
In the original ideas of Karl Marx, Communism was always supposed to be the end result when the state had finally withered away. The only situation where state exists is under socialism which is the stepping stone to Communism. But the state of Socialism is not in any form the state which you are aware now or the one of Stalinist Russia either. Is is a completely new beast.
The state of Socialism is based on the working class and the point of it, as opposed to the current example of state, is to protect the rights of the majority against the assault of the minority.
It is not based on location, it is based on profession.
The elected repressentatives do not simply come from a general location and thus put forward the requests of the workers, farmers, capitalists etc as the current system is. Instead they are the repressentatives of the workers. One for the car workers, one for the computer techs, one for the scientists and the like. As such these repressentatives not only put forward the requests of a group of people who have a very close interest in their actions but they are themselves part of those people.
The current crop of politicians who generally end up being either progeny from rich families or people from professions which make a lot of money (ie lawyers), thus they have no interest or knowledge of the working class situations. If they look elitist, foreign and untouchable, it’s because they are. They have nothing in common with the lower class so how do you expect them to know what is good for you or others like you?
Unlike them, socialist delegates should know exactly what the people they represent want and if they do not, then they cannot hide behind excuses. Everyone of their group will understand their language and failings and they will be recalled and replaced.
It is not supposed to be untouchable
The most important thing that changes in the socialist state is that elections do not happen only infrequently, making it difficult for people to decide if their chosen representatives did their job or not. The members of the state are supposed to be subject to, if not instant, at the least very quick recalls when they do not represent their people anymore.
The state machine is not for the protection of the state
Currently the police and the army are not there to protect the citizens. They are there in order to stop the majority of citizens from fighting with the capitalists. When the poor and homeless rise up and demand to occupy the empty buildings of the rich, it is against them that the army will turn.
In the socialist state there is no army and police force as a separate force from the workers. This is simply part of a societal “chore” that the members of the working class must do in order to protect themselves from outside forces or from people who would destroy them in order to take power. Thus these forces are constantly changing and their members mingle with the working class, insuring that they will be protected from propaganda and not turn against their own people.
The withering of the state
All of these characteristics of the state above, are not about Communism. They are about socialism. This state is not there to control the people but to protect them from those who would use force or intrigue to dismantile the new system. Once this danger has gone away, this state has no reason to exist anymore. There is no need for many people to do the “army chore” when there is no external country ready to invade and enforce capitalism on them, and thus slowly there will be less and less people doing it until the army slowly withers away. Similarly there will be no reason for police or any other state instrument.
Only once the state has withered away can a society be said to be in Communism.
38 thoughts on “Communism is not statist”
Another awesome post 🙂
I've never really looked into what a Socialist society would look like before Communism. Was interested to read. Was that straight from Marx, or your own ideas? Or a mix of the two?
*goes and links to this so more people read*
Marxist ideas, my own expression
Ahhh, I see. Sorry I didn't know, unfortunately I haven't read quite enough Marx yet–enough to know when anti-Communist propaganda is full of shit though. 😉
Pure communism as you describe seems to represent an ideal here, not unlike the anarcho-libertarian ideal where no government is necessary and society becomes self-organizing. I'm pretty sure both extremes would not work in practice. My personal ideal is what I call "objective government" where everything is based on economic and behavioral modeling. As real-world data comes in, the models are adjusted for best outcome. Again, it is doubtful that this ideal could work in practice, because it would involve overruling any human objections to best efficiency. Placing efficiency at the top of the priority list would probably involve some violation of people's individual rights. Nearly every idealist system shares this same weakness.
We seem to be evolving toward some kind of hybrid corporate-capitalist-socialist world administration (in say 50 years). I'm pretty sure it won't look like anything idealists of any stripe would support. It will probably have more power than today's governments, but minorities will also have better protections than they do now. Any viable system would have to tackle the religious oppression, festering genocides, and the unsustainable methods and economic disasters allowed by the current world order.
This will take a strong central authority which is at the same time highly accountable. The "state" seems to be a necessary evil.
Communism (there is "unpure" form of it) is indeed an ideal, but it is an achievable ideal unlike anarcho-capitalism. Anarcho-Capitalism is not possible because it is inherently flawed in the sense that it bases itself on a vice (greed) and in that Capitalism itself creates class separation between the haves and the have nots. You cannot have equality in a system like this.
If you do not believe Communism cannot work in practice then I'll be glad to hear your argumentation. Hopefully after this series, you will not attack the same strawmen as most people do.
"Communism (there is "unpure" form of it) is indeed an ideal, but it is an achievable ideal unlike anarcho-capitalism."
But anarchno-capitalism is achievable. The fact that there are past societies that have achieved it shows that truth.
"Anarcho-Capitalism is not possible because it is inherently flawed in the sense that it bases itself on a vice (greed)"
It does not logically follow. And greed may not be a vice. Because of "greed", to satisfy themselves, someone may be motivated to do altruistic or self-sacrificing actions. Because of "greed", there are people who are motivated to put the anarchno-communist system into place.
"Capitalism itself creates class separation between the haves and the have nots."
Actually, capitalism makes everyone more wealthy. Although there may be differences in wealth, it does not turn haves into haves and have nots.
"You cannot have equality in a system like this."
That is true. But, is equality a good goal?
"If you do not believe Communism cannot work in practice then I'll be glad to hear your argumentation."
There is no reliable mechanism managing the transformation and distribution of scarce resources.
Hello e_j_h, please use the blockquote html tag for quoting as it makes stuff easier to read. Check the comment policy
Which past societies have achieved Anarcho-Capitalism? (Not being sarcastic, truly curious now)
It does follow because you cannot have a perfect society based on a vice. And greed is indeed a vice
That is really an unfounded assertion with no reasonable basis in reality and obviously displayed wrong in practice.
The end result of Capitalism is greater wealth for the Capitalist and lesser wealth for the working class. The reason for that is that labour-power under capitalism is a commodify and thus subject to competition. This drives the price of labout-power down to its cost which is the bare necessities for a worker to be productive. Anything in excess of that will be trimmed away due to competition with other workers.
Yes, yes I believe it is. Egalitarianism trounces liberty (ie you shouldn't have the liberty to reduce the political or social power of others)
What do you mean by "mechanism"?
What do you mean by "mechanism"?
Indeed, and this is why Marxism is not an idealist system
The state was not required for most of the existence of humankind when people were living in gentile communes. It was only formed to stop the emerging classes from fighting each other and eventually the class with the power took it over. It is not something necessary.
What we seem to be evolving right now is only due to your sight of the developed world which is based on the severe exploitation of the labour of other nations. Once this exploitation is not possible anymore, any benevolence from the ruling class will be thrown out of the window in the name of profit.
Sorry, I couldn't help jumping in. Why should the burden of proof be on BlackSun alone? What, if any, evidence do you have that Communism is an "achievable ideal"?
Just to be clear, I am not accusing it of not being achievable, I am just giving you a chance to make your case.
Unfortunately the comment field of my post is not the best place to make this particular point, only because it takes some explanation. What this series is attempting to achieve is to make people look past their preconceptions and be open to take a second look at something they dismissed out of hand.
There are very good introductory material to marxism out there which I do propose you read and make up your own mind. It's not complex and it's not longer than a booklet usually. I propose How Marxism Works.
If you have arguments after that, I'll be glad to discuss them.
Thanks. I'll take a look at that.
I couldn't get the file to open. OpenOffice.org writer gives me a "General input/output error" error message.
Do you have any suggestions, or another site that preferably doesn't use M$ proprietary formats?
Never mind. I re-downloaded it, and now it seems to be working.
Thanks. That's even better.
Marxist thinkers regarded the state as the instrument of pursuing the interests of the stronger class (capitalists/bourgeoisie). In his vision of stateless society, there would be no reason for conflict (no material motivations), therefore no reason for a state to exist. When problems arise ad hoc groups of worker's representatives will figure things out. Unfortunately what happened was that those "groups" (soviets) never dissolve themselves and were not accountable to the ppl. But what is important, is that USSR was NOT a Marxist state (i suggest Tony Cliff's "State Capitalism"). I would also argue (and i've received quite a lot of criticism on the matter) that Lenin was not even a Marxist.
"This state is not there to control the people but to protect them from those who would use force or intrigue to dismantile the new system. Once this danger has gone away, this state has no reason to exist anymore."
The state exists to serve its own interests, and those individuals or groups thereof, willing to exercise dominance over others, will *always* be attracted to such a powerful vehicle of control. The state *never* has, nor had, a reason to exist, other than its own aggrandizement.
There you have it however, the state is a problem because it is not truly accountable to the people it is supposed to be, the majority. It has always been controlled by a third class which used it as a tool to further their own interests. Now it's the Bourgeoisie, in the Soviet Union it was the Bureaucracy etc. What Socialism does is simply make this tool protect the interests of the majority, the Proletariat. That does not mean that the state remains as it is now, with the same people at the top and the same elections and functionality as these are items that are there to support the Bourgeoisie. Rather it is modified in such a way as to always remain truly under the control of the working class until it is not required anymore.
Just because a tool has never been used for good, does not mean it never can. Just because I always used my knife to kill and threaten people, does not make the knife itself bad.
Agreed in principle, but my point was rather that the existence of a powerful state entices precisely those people who are least likely to wield that power appropriately. The only people who ever want to rule others are those least fit for the responsibility.
The state is supposed to serve "the majority", and that's one of my principle objections to any State. That it serves an oligarchy instead of "the majority", is in my opinion, a difference only of degree.
Well, I do not seek a powerful state in the first place but even if it was the only way to step towards communism (as others think) it does not necessarily mean that there would be just a few people controlling it. We can and should make it in such a way so as to prevent this abuse of power. What I write above is an example I believe can work. Perhaps not but we can always discuss and amend.
Why exactly? If you have a Proletariat who attempts to abolish the class warfare and eventually reach a stateless society and the previous ruling class attempts to subvert that and return to the previous status quo, then why refuse the tool that can help prevent that?
Although the literature disseminated by most enlightened (and I use the term loosely) governments suggests they are for "the people" or "the majority," I think the evidence suggests that despite the propaganda, this is not why they were established, and this is neither how they are maintained.
I'm with you on the abolition of class warfare, and certainly oppose any coup by the existing ruling class to subvert such abolition. On the other hand, "the proletariat" is not the only "majority" that tries to wield the power of the State, the existence of the State gives rise to class warfare for its control, or for the appearance of control. In any society, there are myriad "majorities" with some degree of overlap, all vying for control. Fundamentally, what's right isn't always popular and what's popular isn't always right. This might be oversimplification, but there's no magic in majoritarianism.
The only majority that matters in the class struggle however is the Proletariat. The other cultural majorities do not matter inasmuch as they will support either the proletariat or the bourgeoisie depending on their class.
The reason why I mention the majority is not because it is magic but because we have in the history of humanity always a struggle between classes where the exploiters rule and the exploited toil. The Exploited are always the majority and it is them I support.
I disagree. Granted there are individuals in power who abuse that power but I think the state would exist even with 0% corruption. Additionally one could say the state has evolved over time, a "mega-meme" if you will, from warrior chieftains to present day bureaucracies. There's absolutely nothing to have been done to curtail this. And I don't believe humanity could exist without having some sort of state that sets rule of law. Humans are a violent and territorial species.
I agree that the state could not have been avoided as it's an memetically competitive social structure but I disagree that Humans cannot exist without it. They existed without it before civilization and hopefully they can exist stateless as the last form of civilization
would you consider the formation of "common law" without a "state"
can you recognize the possibility of a difference between a "state" and "governance as legitimate agency" where there are "rules" via common law but no "rulers" and thus no "rulership".
my definition of a state is a system of rulership that is set-up to serve the interest of a certain class (owners of capital and land) by allowing privileges to enclose the commons (natural and social) without any compensation to those being excluded.
it is one huge rent-seeking and risk shifting mechanism…
local governance as legitimate agency is constitutional limited to unsure equal liberty by requiring the just compensation where exclusive use is necessary and only protecting life, liberty and labor-based property (as opposed to law-based property via privilege).
I can recognise all the things that you mention and this is similar to my idea for libertarian socialism.
Yes, this is a definition of A state. It does not mean that it's the only way a state can work,
The argument from human nature is not a very sound one.
Great post so far db0. I intend to come back and read the series in entirety.
It is a good series Larro, even from my "anarcho-libertarian" perspective. Cheers!
You're conflating interest of the self and interest for the self and performing an equivocation fallacy. This post might clarify things for you a bit
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