Communism is not statist

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.

Another fatal flaw of Capitalism: Myopia

Capitalism is very good at exploiting natural resources. So good in fact that it can deplete them to a degree that impedes the actual lives of humans.

Sóc miop / I'm short-sighted
Image by vitelone via Flickr

It seems that something’s gotten into me recently and I keep writing about Capitalism-related subjects. I don’t know if this is triggered by the ongoing world-crisis or my late frictions with Libertarians but I guess it’s one of those things that needs to run its course.

There’s one thing that Capitalism does very well and that is to exploit resources and when those are running low, find something to replace them due to supply and demand. Thus when there is a demand for energy, capitalism will open opportunities for people to provide that energy.

There is however a fatal flaw in the procedure. The flaw is not fatal for Capitalism but unfortunately for the whole world.

You see, Capitalists are extremely short sighted by necessity. If a Capitalist does not seek to maximize profits, they will not have enough money for reinvestment and thus their competitors will overcome them. It’s a dog-eat-dog situation where you can be zero from hero in a short amount of time.

Capitalist Apologists will explain then that this is ultimately good for the consumer as this constant competition drives costs down and we all gain. But what they do not mention, is that this need to outdo your competitors by reducing costs does ultimately more harm than good.

Because one needs the maximum amount of short term profit, the consideration is always on using the technology and knowledge already available in order to cut down costs. Research & Development is not only expensive but also a risky endeavour which is why it is undertaken only when current costs are rising too high in the previous business model.

This is all well and good theoreticaly, but practically it is slow enough to create very real problems for everyone. Take for example oil. Until now, it has been the most valuable resource on Earth and it’s abundancy meant that there was enough supply to make it the number one choice for the Energy Capitalist. However Oil creates quite a few problems, the main ones of which are that it destroys the environment through global warming and that it funds and supports fanatics (religious or not).

In the long term, for the benefit of the whole humanity, it is far more beneficial to move away towards energy independence and clean energy sources. On the contrary, staying on oil means that the problems we have already increase at an exponential rate.
Because however the Capitalist is absolutely blind to the long term future –by necessity ((meaning that those who are not, are outpaced by those who are and drop out of the race))- they will keep using oil until other factors make it impossible to continue doing so. Only then will the capitalist seek to develop clean energy sources.

But by then, it will be too late. What use will clean energy be when the whole planet is in the process of meltdown with billions of people dying? Capitalism cannot foresee this. it can only see the short term profit.

And that’s not all. Not only is the Capitalist unaware of the damage he is doing for the long term, but he will seek to silence and muddle the waters to his benefit for as long as possible for his continued existence depends on him doing so. There is a very specific reason why Capitalists are the biggest deniers of Global Warming.

And this applies mostly to unregulated capitalism, completely free from Government intervention or assistance. The only reason companies are doing R&D now, which is a totally long-term strategy, is because they know the Government will protect them with artificial scarcity laws (AKA: intellectual Property). The Government has enough disconnection from profits to be able to see the coming events and attempt to steer the rudder away from turbulent waters. This is the reason R&D is very often subsidized in order to promote it or environmental (and not only) policies are made mandatory.

I am no fan of the State control, but I recognise that an unregulated Capitalism is a recipe for disaster. It will stimulate tremendous “economic” ((where “economic” means that the rich will get richer and they will pass that as a benefit for everyone)) and productive growth until, like a bacterium which found ample room to grow and expand, it will end up killing its host and thus itself and all it has achieved.

If we had an environment with unlimited resources, Capitalism would have been a passable choice. If we had achieved unlimited energy production or space exploration enough to allow us to mine other planets, then this might have been possible (and even then regulation for not destroying the Earth ecosystem would still be necessary). But we are limited and are very close, or have even passed our limits.

We recognise this, because we can see further than next quarter’s profits but they cannot. To give you another metaphor:

If Humanity is a train and we let Capitalism steer the wheel, all they will be able to see is the straight tracks in the next ten meters ahead and keep accelerating. They will fail to see the sharp turn 1 kilometer away, until it’s too late to slow down anymore. It will not be any consolation to anyone that we managed to break the speed of sound as we go over the cliff. We still won’t be able to fly…

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