If there is one thing that annoys me when seeing arguments against Communism is persistent ignorance. We’re not talking about simple ignorance where someone is not aware of a fact, but the kind of stubborn insintense on false ideas even when one has explicitly been told that they have it wrong. At this point we’re not simply talking about someone who has it wrong but about someone who is unwilling to learn.
Witness now this obtuse argument from BadTux who tries to explain why Communism is doomed to failure with arguments even a cursory look at an introductory text to Marxism should have put to rest.
He flies right off the bat by separating the political aspect of Communism from the economic, not obviously undertanding that this is impossible. Communism is not simply an economic system but a complete one, ecompassing social, political and economic aspects. You cannot disconnect the economic aspect of Communism from the social simply because it requires a specific type of society to work.
Communism is about having a classless, stateless society. It’s that simple. If you have a state or separation of classes, whether in the form of government bureaucrats or simple capitalists, you cannot claim to be in Communism. In any sense. It’s that simple. So by taking the economic aspect of the Soviet Union and calling it “Economic Communism”, you are using a flawed system as an example.
Next, we have the argument of how people would not join communes by themselves and they would have to be forced. Something which is of course totally away from any historical reality. If BadTux had bothered to actually read the History of the Russian Revolution he would have seen how “few” people were willing to to form soviets. The reality was that people were joining Soviets by the thousands, both the proletariat in the cities and the peasants in the armies. They were very much the majority and did not have to use any force.
He at least tries later to improve the validity of his article by talking about “modern communism” not realizing that there is nothing “modern” about it but rather that the original idea was about industrial societies. The idea for Communism was that it always required an industrialized society before it could take hold. This was the original idea from the time of Marx. The lack of a big proletariat in Russia and China was a large, if not the largest reason why the revolutions failed. A feudal peasant population is incompatible with Communism.
Then we’re treated to the impossibility of handling the modern production under communism simply by bringing up all the elements required for a product. But that’s just it. There’s no explanation of why this makes it impossible other than the inability of the author to think about it.
And with these arguments we are then told “So this, then, explains why communism as an economic system has failed every time it has been tried” and then goes on to bring the Soviet Union as an example. So he has failed to grasp what Communism even is, and then brought up State Capitalist society as proof. Incredible!
We then continue with the “other aspect” of Communism which is the political which apparently has been shown to fail…in a capitalistic society. What BadTux does not realize is that Communism does not work on an per-nation basis. Communism has to be achieved internationally so as to not have the need for standing armies or a state apparatus. Even Lenin recognised the need for International movements for Communism and this is what he was counting on. He knew that if that did not happen, the Russian Revolution was in a really tight spot.
It is no worth looking at individual communes in a Capitalist society as they are not the point or an example of socialism. Their struggle to survive in a Capitalist society is what creates contradictions among the people within. This “problem of power” that BadTux keeps referring to does not exist in a society where people can easily leave a syndic they do not like and immediately join another or form their own.
And indeed. there is no better example for this than the Free Software movement. Therein you have groups of people clustered around any specific application and you have a benevolent dictator at the top. This “leader” or group of leaders that BadTux claims would always cause problems and dissolving the group. However not only does this work our, but it works admirably. When the leaders are indeed benevolent, the group prospers and keeps them in their place due to their abilities. If the leaders misbehave enough however, the dissatisfied people simply fork the project and start a new group. What “problem of power”?
This is why such arguments from ignorants are so annoying. You end up having to refute arguments which have nothing to do with Communism at all. This is not productive at all to the Communist who does not learn anything new but rather has to waste time pointing out strawmen left and right. Argue why the Labour Theory of Value is wrong. Argue how exploitation of the worker does not exist. Argue, in short, for things that Marxism actually explains and proposes, not whatever half-truths you gathered from school and popular news sources.