Do you think you understand Communism?
Yes
63.1% (53)
63.1% (53)
No
1.2% (1)
1.2% (1)
I understand a fuzzy concept.
28.6% (24)
28.6% (24)
I know it's a bad thing.
2.4% (2)
2.4% (2)
COMMUNISM? WHERE!?
3.6% (3)
3.6% (3)
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Poll: An Understanding of Communism

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Okay, so I'm in a Political Science course, being a freshman and all, and today we discussed the political spectrum. On one end was the Reactionary Conservatives, and the left ended with Radical Liberals. The second most left part of the spectrum was Communism. Unfortunately, I don't completely understand the concept, and I'm absolutely sure that the majority of people who think they do don't. The question I'd like to ask is: What is your mental concept of Communism, do you think it is a fundamentally flawed system, in both perfect and realistic worlds, and do you think humanity will ever reach a point at which Communism is truly realized?

If you are a TL;DR person, stop here and respond. Otherwise, enjoy my well-worded explanation of my infinitesimally minute knowledge on the subject.

Obviously, I'm from the United States, home of the Constitutional Republic, yadayada. We all know US Citizens all say "RABBLE RABBLE COMMUNISM RABBLE RABBLE SOVIETS RABBLE RABBLE." It's seen as a negative thing. However, the "Communism" we know, as far as I can tell, is only Totalitarian Socialism. Government ownership and control. There has never been a truly Communist system under my understand of the concepts of Karl Marx.

To point out what I understand, here are three points...

1) Communism is an evolution of Socialism where the State begins to gradually atrophy as public control becomes truly public control of the means of production.

2) Communism requires this atrophy in order to move forward from an all-powerful government which controls everything.

3) Democracy and Communism are intrinsically related, as the Community must be one voice and one group in order to provide for itself through the common ownership of means of production.

Have I missed something, or is my understand fundamentally flawed? Are you like so many others, thinking that if Communism were to be common, China would have become an aggressor and won? Or do you think you understand, or truly understand, what Communism is.

TL;DR, Communism ain't bad.

Communist like any and all social economical system has a single flaw, PEOPLE !
Humans can and do fuck up any decent theoretical system by just being human.

Capitalism works because it builds on the most basic of human impulses, GREED.

Robots would embrace communism because they lack a desire to exploit the system for their own benefit.
We humans are not robots.

To answer your question, "will we ever reach point were we won't mess up communistic systems?"
NO, because we won't be ourselves any more.

My thoughts exactly. I'm just seeing if other people have hope... It looks bleak from here.

And my captcha is Face the Music. Huh.

Well I've read a book called "The Essential Writings of Karl Marx" and while it was the most difficult thing I have ever read, it has given me much insight on what the thought process is.

Basically the Capitalist system was built over centuries of it and inherently creates the evil cycle of giving people the smallest wages as possible causing mass poverty yet a booming merchant class. The idea is that you must change society to do this, hence all these "Bourgeois tendencies" people like Mao would attack. The thing however was that the Proletariat will be fed up with the system, and WILL overthrow Capitalism to established some Proletariat dictatorship (not necessarily Communism).

It's hard to explain in such general terms, but I think my EAP essay prompt helps illustrate it basically "Should employers regulate what their employee's do off hours?" a Communist would argue that since you need a job that this is basically slavery and that the only way to fix it is to remake society. But it's hard to explain even with this, you'd have to read the works directly and understand them (the hardest part) to get the mindset of it.

Yeah, that makes sense. I've read the first five pages of Karl Marx's Das Kapital... That didn't tell me much though, since I was 15 at the time... I was a Communist, then I got smart. Now I'm just a moderate with liberal leanings.

I'll let these two give their elaborate definition of communism:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeNDzbFv2f8

Blablahb:
I'll let these two give their elaborate definition of communism:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeNDzbFv2f8

I like it. Short, sweet, and completely missing the point!

I agree with the magic monkeys. It's a very nice idea, but it doesn't really take the less noble aspects of human behaviour into account... It's just far too easy to break.

The core values are very agreeable. Everyone is equal, and there need not be a rigid caste-system or a ruler-class. However, the usual end result always seems to be that a dictator and his circle of party-bosses and enforcers effectively replace the old tyrants, and it all just repeats itself, them hoarding private fortunes for themselves. Secret police and violent crackdowns on individual expressions follow suit.

However, I do think we -can- keep every individual fed, happy and given all due rights, without having droves of people shot or installing a totalitarian regime. Communism just doesn't seem to be the right way to do it. Now, capitalism is in dire need of some revision, and it's got about as much blood on its hands as communism does. But it has stood the test of time better.

Of course, there's always the slight problem that the more puritan communists would rather see everyone above a certain society demography hung from a lamppost before our society can truly begin to improve, while the more hardcore capitalists seems convinced that they can't feel happy and accomplished with their fortune if other people below them had it slightly better, or god forbid were truly equal to them. Still, I think we might have something salvagable in there, something that we certainly could use if we want to improve the situation of our species.

Communism would be running a great society, if it weren't for those humans getting in the way. :<

As others have mentioned, the primary flaw in communism is not the system itself, but the people needed to support it.

In small groups, a purely communistic system works perfectly well. The system begins to break down once you try to take it beyond a group of roughly 100, maybe less. The disconnect occurs when individuals no longer feel like they are helping themselves and those they immediately care for, and are instead simply working for some faceless mass of people.

The lazy and/or greedy individuals begin to stop working, or at least to do as little as they can get away with, simply because they no longer feel a need to do otherwise. Many of those loyal enough to keep giving their all begin to resent those who do not, and some follow suit. In the meantime the economy suffers, with just as many net consumers, but far less actual production.

In order to offset this problem, some other means of "encouraging" the populace must be found. For the USSR and China, their solution involved force.

I don't think we will ever see some golden age communistic utopia, and I for one hope never to do so. Not because I think the concept itself is evil/wrong, but because in order for it to work, we must change many of the characteristics that make humans worth recognizing as individual beings.

Communism is a wonderful system... on paper.

In practice you just need to look at how horrible a vast majority of the populace lives. Won't get into details as I hate seeing a post that takes up the whole monitor and I know when I see those posts I skip them :P

Not 100%, but I think I know quite a bit about it. Enough at least not to automatically scream "evil commie!" or something reflexive like that.
That said, from what I understand, Communism is simply impractical in the real world, particularly on the scale of a nation of millions. It is an overly idealistic ideology that does not work because in its ideal form, it relies on human beings behaving fairly towards one another, not exploiting, not cheating or if they do, that the rest of the community does the right thing rather than whatever agenda they want to follow. It does not take human behaviour realistically into account. There have been and are small truly communistic enclaves and I do believe it can work in that limited regard, but as I said, I don't think it can work on a large scale.
Funnily enough it is very similar to extremist Libertarianism or Anarchocapitalism. They, too are overly idealistic and utterly fail to take realistic human behaviour and error into account.
Eh, to go on a bit of a tangent, when I say "human behaviour", I mean what we currently experience and have experienced for the last thousands of years. I don't see it as an absolutist truth that human beings just have to behave this way. If a major switch occurred, perhaps human behaviour could be altered. Some have proposed, that finally working out a technology like fusion, which would possibly remove all our energy-wants, could do that. Don't know if I believe that, but maybe?

I've been a communist myself for roughly 5 years.

Pfheonix:
The question I'd like to ask is: What is your mental concept of Communism, do you think it is a fundamentally flawed system, in both perfect and realistic worlds,

IRL Communism; the Soviet Union. But they called themselves 'Socialist' states because they were in a process of becoming a 'true' communist state, so technically they weren't communist.
In-theory-communism; Utopia, where you take what you need and produce what you can, no police, no state, no war.

Pfheonix:
and do you think humanity will ever reach a point at which Communism is truly realized?

Kind of. Capitalism needs two things;
-scarcity; it's a system to deal with scarcity
-human competitiveness; it incorporates the idea that every (healthy) human has value and will get rewarded for this value

The industrial revolution took away our physical labor; the Singularity will take away our mental labor. When machines are smarter than us, there will be no reason to put humans to work. But when machines are smarter than humans, the end of scarcity won't be far away. I don't know if we'll end up with communism, but it will be the end of capitalism, at least the end of capitalism as we know it.

Pfheonix:
TL;DR, Communism ain't bad.

It's not a bad dream, but it's bad to apply in IRL at this moment. A lot of people have explained you why already. But...

2:48-3:12
Then, in the name of democracy, let us use that power! Let us all unite! Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth the future and old age and security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie! They do not fulfill their promise; they never will. Dictators free themselves, but they enslave the people!

image
image

Pfheonix:
Okay, so I'm in a Political Science course, being a freshman and all, and today we discussed the political spectrum. On one end was the Reactionary Conservatives, and the left ended with Radical Liberals. The second most left part of the spectrum was Communism. Unfortunately, I don't completely understand the concept, and I'm absolutely sure that the majority of people who think they do don't. The question I'd like to ask is: What is your mental concept of Communism, do you think it is a fundamentally flawed system, in both perfect and realistic worlds, and do you think humanity will ever reach a point at which Communism is truly realized?

If you are a TL;DR person, stop here and respond. Otherwise, enjoy my well-worded explanation of my infinitesimally minute knowledge on the subject.

Obviously, I'm from the United States, home of the Constitutional Republic, yadayada. We all know US Citizens all say "RABBLE RABBLE COMMUNISM RABBLE RABBLE SOVIETS RABBLE RABBLE." It's seen as a negative thing. However, the "Communism" we know, as far as I can tell, is only Totalitarian Socialism. Government ownership and control. There has never been a truly Communist system under my understand of the concepts of Karl Marx.

To point out what I understand, here are three points...

1) Communism is an evolution of Socialism where the State begins to gradually atrophy as public control becomes truly public control of the means of production.

2) Communism requires this atrophy in order to move forward from an all-powerful government which controls everything.

3) Democracy and Communism are intrinsically related, as the Community must be one voice and one group in order to provide for itself through the common ownership of means of production.

Have I missed something, or is my understand fundamentally flawed? Are you like so many others, thinking that if Communism were to be common, China would have become an aggressor and won? Or do you think you understand, or truly understand, what Communism is.

TL;DR, Communism ain't bad.

All I know is that I am not supposed to like it. All we ever hear is how bad it is.

I tend to think I have a kind of decent idea about what communism is, however I know that plenty of people would disagree with me (myself included sometimes). Probably somewhere in between option 3 and 1.

KlLLUMINATI:

All I know is that I am not supposed to like it. All we ever hear is how bad it is.

Most people imagine the USSR or Mao's China when they think of 'Communism'.

Of course, it's worth remembering that the state capitalism undertaken in both states threw both from being basically feudal kingdoms to superpowers that rival the USA in just a decade. Russia in the last Century, China now. I mean, who were the first people in space?

So no, very few things are all bad. Anyone who tells you otherwise isn't thinking hard enough about what they're saying.

Danny Ocean:

KlLLUMINATI:

All I know is that I am not supposed to like it. All we ever hear is how bad it is.

Most people imagine the USSR or Mao's China when they think of 'Communism'.

Of course, it's worth remembering that the state capitalism undertaken in both states threw both from being basically feudal kingdoms to superpowers that rival the USA in just a decade. Russia in the last Century, China now. I mean, who were the first people in space?

So no, very few things are all bad. Anyone who tells you otherwise isn't thinking hard enough about what they're saying.

As a American we are taught it is bad by movies,news,literature etc...

Communism is when self righteous snobs try to re-shape society through violence so that they can steal your shit and give it to somebody else.

/thread.

Communism actually pre-dates Marx.

Marx saw himself as representing a modern scientific version of socialism/communism as opposed to a utopian one.

In a very broad sense communism is against private ownership of the means of production and against private ownership of the resources of our planet: that the earth and everything in it should be a common treasury used to enrich all mankind rather than a small group claiming it for themselves.

It is a fine and beautiful idea.

I hope one day we can realise it.

I really think you should read the SF novels Voyage to Yesteryear by James T Hogan and some of Iain M Bank's Culture novels to get a more fictional utopian version of what a "good" communism might look like.

Also some 17th century pirates like Captain James Mission were considered communistic.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertatia

I also like these socialist songs by Dick Gaughan that capture a communist outlook:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6tGpyay0D4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWzzvnPOyTM&feature=related

Yah, enjoy mate.

Regards

Nightspore

Communism is ok when applied to small, close-knit communities.

It goes bad when it gets anywhere near government, or bureaucracy in general.

If you're a freshman in high school you're fine, but if you're a freshman in Uni and your prof is trying to distill the entire political world into a single left/right spectrum, either they don't have much respect for your learning capacity or they are so incompetent you should demand your money back.

Communism is an economic system. Left and right are political definitions. These really should be two axes that are separate. Even our terminology of left and right is insufficient for anything more than a superficial grasp of politics.

It's entirely possible for a country to be dominated by strongly left-wing politics and yet remain an undeniably[1] a capitalist society. Such countries might be found in Europe. I would propose there has never been a truly communist country, and that all countries that have been called communist are actually socialist countries. But in any case, it is at least theoretically possible to have a strongly right-wing communist country.

[1] Unless you've bought into FOX News propaganda

OP is pretty close to the mark. To answer one of your other questions, I think it most likely that one of the following two eventualities will at some point become inevitable: either we get something closely resembling socialism/communism, or humanity destroys itself.

One important point to make is that Marx said that socialism/communism could not possibly work if it was just in one country or one group of countries. He said it would have to be a truly global system existing throughout all countries simultaneously. He said that if there was one group of socialist countries and one group of capitalist countries then, all other things being equal, the capitalists could easily conquer the socialists, because their two opposing systems are geared towards providing two very different outcomes.

Nightspore:
Communism actually pre-dates Marx.

Marx saw himself as representing a modern scientific version of socialism/communism as opposed to a utopian one.

In a very broad sense communism is against private ownership of the means of production and against private ownership of the resources of our planet: that the earth and everything in it should be a common treasury used to enrich all mankind rather than a small group claiming it for themselves.

It is a fine and beautiful idea.

I hope one day we can realise it.

I really think you should read the SF novels Voyage to Yesteryear by James T Hogan and some of Iain M Bank's Culture novels to get a more fictional utopian version of what a "good" communism might look like.

Also some 17th century pirates like Captain James Mission were considered communistic.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertatia

I also like these socialist songs by Dick Gaughan that capture a communist outlook:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6tGpyay0D4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWzzvnPOyTM&feature=related

Yah, enjoy mate.

Regards

Nightspore

I'll add to that recommended reading list with the Mars Trilogy by K.S. Robinson; it's a solid read, and as a bonus it does a pretty thorough job of exploring the ideas put forth by Marx and some other communist intellectuals regarding the "evolution" of economic models, how each new economic system is grown from seeds within the previous one for eg. It's a solid proposition, I would simply say that, while he had some excellent ideas in general, Marx -despite not considering himself to be a utopian- got a little caught up in his work and projected rather too much of his own ideals into his analysis of future trends using aforementioned proposition. To my mind, while true, it's something we can only truly understand in a retrospective sense.

Pfheonix:
However, the "Communism" we know, as far as I can tell, is only Totalitarian Socialism. Government ownership and control. There has never been a truly Communist system under my understand of the concepts of Karl Marx.

To point out what I understand, here are three points...

1) Communism is an evolution of Socialism where the State begins to gradually atrophy as public control becomes truly public control of the means of production.

2) Communism requires this atrophy in order to move forward from an all-powerful government which controls everything.

3) Democracy and Communism are intrinsically related, as the Community must be one voice and one group in order to provide for itself through the common ownership of means of production.

Have I missed something, or is my understand fundamentally flawed? Are you like so many others, thinking that if Communism were to be common, China would have become an aggressor and won? Or do you think you understand, or truly understand, what Communism is.

TL;DR, Communism ain't bad.

Kind of. Where did you get those statements? I don't think they're from the Communist Manifesto, but I've not read it in years so I can't remember!

1) I'd fault that statement as untrue in practice, because authority is required to implement such changes. Ironically, you end up with the workers being more controlled by fake unions and committees than they were before. One of Communism's flaws is that it got so carried away with the emancipation of the workers that the ideology demands the removal of any kind of structural control. Communism assumes that the system will self regulate. It doesn't. And the party has always ended up filling the role of regulator, because a regulator is required.

2) The 'all-powerful government' is a result of the 'vanguard party principle' (during the revolution the vanguard party must take absolute control until a communist state is established).
The 'all-powerful government' statement isn't necessarily a critique of other forms of government (though critiqued they were!); it's a description of the vanguard party.
Incidentally, it's the vanguard party principle that has led to all communist societies fail, because they never relinquish control. There's always an external enemy or bourgeois dissidents, or too few committees, or some other existential threat.

3)This is a misunderstanding. Democracy gives everyone the right to disagree with each other. Communism demands conformity, because without perfect conformity you need a regulatory structure. This distinction is another one of the failures of communism as opposed to socialism. "Community must be one voice" says it all really. Marx got this one wrong.

As far as I can tell, it's like a two party system, but with only one party.

OneCatch :

Kind of. Where did you get those statements? I don't think they're from the Communist Manifesto, but I've not read it in years so I can't remember!

1) I'd fault that statement as untrue in practice, because authority is required to implement such changes. Ironically, you end up with the workers being more controlled by fake unions and committees than they were before. One of Communism's flaws is that it got so carried away with the emancipation of the workers that the ideology demands the removal of any kind of structural control. Communism assumes that the system will self regulate. It doesn't. And the party has always ended up filling the role of regulator, because a regulator is required.

2) The 'all-powerful government' is a result of the 'vanguard party principle' (during the revolution the vanguard party must take absolute control until a communist state is established).
The 'all-powerful government' statement isn't necessarily a critique of other forms of government (though critiqued they were!); it's a description of the vanguard party.
Incidentally, it's the vanguard party principle that has led to all communist societies fail, because they never relinquish control. There's always an external enemy or bourgeois dissidents, or too few committees, or some other existential threat.

3)This is a misunderstanding. Democracy gives everyone the right to disagree with each other. Communism demands conformity, because without perfect conformity you need a regulatory structure. This distinction is another one of the failures of communism as opposed to socialism. "Community must be one voice" says it all really. Marx got this one wrong.

I'll admit that I haven't read it. These are just some understandings of mine, but thanks for pointing out that I actually don't really understand the concept. That's the point of this thread. For those who don't know to be educated by those who do.

Pfheonix:

OneCatch :

I'll admit that I haven't read it. These are just some understandings of mine, but thanks for pointing out that I actually don't really understand the concept. That's the point of this thread. For those who don't know to be educated by those who do.

I wasn't trying to say that you don't get it!
From what you said, your understanding isn't bad. I just thought I'd clarify a few things and expand on them. The vanguard party thing is particularly important in terms of how communists justify authoritarian behaviour.
And don't forget that it's a highly subjective area anyway; there's no real right or wrong in the matter :)

The Communist Manifesto is well worth a read if you're studying the area
You can find it free online, and it does help in terms of comparing what Marx's intentions were, and how communism itself changed with Trotsky,Lenin, Mao, Castro etc.

Sure, there are Communist states that have become great and powerful, but only by trampling on the rights of their citizenry. And also with a -lot- of death. Some of it genocide. Some of it just straight up incompetence. But mostly genocide.

I wasn't trying to say that you don't get it!
From what you said, your understanding isn't bad. I just thought I'd clarify a few things and expand on them. The vanguard party thing is particularly important in terms of how communists justify authoritarian behaviour.
And don't forget that it's a highly subjective area anyway; there's no real right or wrong in the matter :)

The Communist Manifesto is well worth a read if you're studying the area
You can find it free online, and it does help in terms of comparing what Marx's intentions were, and how communism itself changed with Trotsky,Lenin, Mao, Castro etc.

Oh, okay. In any case, thank you.

Katatori-kun:
If you're a freshman in high school you're fine, but if you're a freshman in Uni and your prof is trying to distill the entire political world into a single left/right spectrum, either they don't have much respect for your learning capacity or they are so incompetent you should demand your money back.

Communism is an economic system. Left and right are political definitions. These really should be two axes that are separate. Even our terminology of left and right is insufficient for anything more than a superficial grasp of politics.

It's entirely possible for a country to be dominated by strongly left-wing politics and yet remain an undeniably[1] a capitalist society. Such countries might be found in Europe. I would propose there has never been a truly communist country, and that all countries that have been called communist are actually socialist countries. But in any case, it is at least theoretically possible to have a strongly right-wing communist country.

Socialism is the economic system, communism is a political system. And it was a Liberal-Conservative scale of ideology. Not political groups. Freshman at a Community College/Budding University. It's an intro PoliSci course, and it was the first lecture on the subject. We're going further next week.

[1] Unless you've bought into FOX News propaganda

Pfheonix:
Socialism is the economic system, communism is a political system.

I don't really buy that distinction.

Now obviously "Communism" has a lot of different interpretations based on who you ask, so no single definition is the ultimate correct one. But the way I understand it, socialism is an economic system where the state owns the means of production in order to try to force equality between classes. Communism then is an economic system where the means of production aren't owned, but are shared among all and therefore there are no classes.

You can (theoretically) have a communist democracy, communist dictatorship, communist monarchy, communist republic, or any other system of government. Therefor I cannot accept that communism is a political system.

And it was a Liberal-Conservative scale of ideology.

Yeah, that scale is rubbish. You cannot describe politics in anything less than 2 dimensions, and personally I think you need 3 or more.

He did mention the four scale, with economic ideology on one axis and social on the other. That's the one I love.

Learned about it in our Political Science lessons (A levels). It's got a nice vision, and I can respect Marx/Engels for having such optimism in human capability, but I just don't see it ever being implemented into reality.

As a side note, Marx has to be one of the most patronizing people I have ever had to learn about. Arguments against his false consciousnesses theory always came down to: "you're oppressed but you just don't know it."

Lethos:
Learned about it in our Political Science lessons (A levels). It's got a nice vision, and I can respect Marx/Engels for having such optimism in human capability, but I just don't see it ever being implemented into reality.

As a side note, Marx has to be one of the most patronizing people I have ever had to learn about. Arguments against his false consciousnesses theory always came down to: "you're oppressed but you just don't know it."

Well, you just think he's patronizing because you're op-... Wait. I think I was about to fall into a trap there.

The questions imply a monolithic idea of communism. Every author who ever wrote on the subject ever, has a different conception of 'communism'. You can talk about concepts and definitions, but that is basically splitting hairs.

The question 'do you understand communism?' is basically identical to 'do you understand the colour yellow'?

The "problem" with political science is that it turns political thought into such an abstraction that it no longer corresponds with political realities. I'm of the opinion (and you can disagree with this) that political realities shape political theory, and not the other way around.

That's why it is impossible to understand "Communism", which is a concept so full that it becomes empty. Compare Marx's writings (and his political experiences) with Lenin pre-revolutionary writings.

Then, just for laughs, compare these writings with his actual policies after the Bolshevik seizure of power. Where does "communism" begin, if it ever does?

KlLLUMINATI:
All I know is that I am not supposed to like it. All we ever hear is how bad it is.

This explains so much about your other posts.

Najos:

KlLLUMINATI:
All I know is that I am not supposed to like it. All we ever hear is how bad it is.

This explains so much about your other posts.

You left this post out. As a American we are taught it is bad by movies,news,literature etc. You realize school children were taught to hide under their desk in the 1950's in case of a nuclear war. The korean and vietnam wars purpose was to stop communism from spreading. History textbooks in America are anti-communism. The 1940 Smith Act the first peacetime sedition act in American history, authorized the government to crack down on speech as well as action by making it illegal to "teach or advocate" the overthrow of the government or to join any organization that did. This is why alot of Americans just think communist/communism is the enemy of democracy.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smith_Act#Communist_Party_trials

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