Look, let’s be honest. Communism is an ideology that has been tried and debated many times since its inception. It has a long history, with proponents as varied as Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong. The basic principle of Communism is the abolition of private property and the distribution of goods based on need rather than ability to pay, and almost everyone agrees that it’s kaput.
Many critics of Communism see it as a means of implementing a police state for the benefit of a few, through the use of poetic language. This was certainly one result of the system proposed by Communist thinkers like Marx and Lenin. However, the reality is that true democratic Communism has never really been tried. A system where everyone receives according to their needs would be a radical change from our current capitalist society, where wealth inequality is greater than ever before in human history. This inequality leads to massive social ills, including unequal distribution of health care, as well spiraling drug addiction.
Indeed, the idea of Communism has been tainted by its association with authoritarian regimes like the Soviet Union. But these regimes were not actually Communist; they were simply dictatorships masquerading as Communist states. True Communism is a system in which all property is owned in common, and everyone is equal. Such a system has never been implemented on a large scale, so it’s impossible to know how well it would work. But if it were combined with free speech and genuine democracy, why wouldn’t it work?
Many of the leading intellectuals of the 20th century were adherents, men and women of good faith and kindness. Why did advocate it? Because they were idiots? Because they were tyrants? Perhaps because it is an idea that offers the possibility of the best possible world; but an idea that was high-jacked by opportunists?
We need a less stern Communism, a Marxism that is less-Karl, more-Groucho. There is no reason why life under Communism couldn’t be fun, no reason why the people couldn’t say what they want, make the music they want, live the lives they want to live. Gulags don’t belong in a Communist world.
The current capitalist system is unsustainable, and I think that we need to try something new. Think about how a Communist system would work, one with term limits and an independent judiciary to prevent corruption, genuine direct elections, economic equity, sharing of wealth and a social contract. The arts would flourish decoupled from a system that emphasizes only profit; without the monopolization of wealth, productivity would skyrocket.
Let’s imagine the benefits: a society where everyone is equal, property is shared, and all of our social ills are addressed. Would it be worth a shot?
The so-called “populists” have stolen a lot of the taglines of my comrades, with great success, but they don’t mean it, they thrive on a politics of resentment that pits citizen against citizen and vilifies minority populations, and they don’t implement true protections for the people.
What should the Left offer to combat this? A sort of liberal Capitalism? I would suggest, instead, that we combat right-wing populism with a true democratic Communism, where everyone is free and independent, but also shares wealth and property. This radical idea has never been truly tried; why not try it now? After all, with so many of our social ills left unattended to by the current capitalist system, imagine what we could achieve.
Is there any reason why Communism is inherently oppressive? Is oppression a bug or a feature? I think it is a bug. It could have been fixed.
There is a lot of debate about whether Communism is inherently oppressive. Some argue that it is, due to its focus on equality and the redistribution of wealth. However, I believe that this view misses the real problem with Communism: namely, that it is not truly democratic.
In true democratic Communism, all property would be owned collectively, but free speech would be protected, everyone would have a role in the government and a stake in self-government.
With this system in place, I believe that oppression would be a thing of the past.
With right-wing populism surging as a reaction to the flaws of Capitalism, I am simply saying that now is the time to start exploring a fairer, more equitable system.