Communism Isn't All That Bad

My Thoughts On: July 12th, 2007

Proponents for Communism claim that it's ethically superior and could work if humans were "less greedy and more selfless". But can Communism really work, even if run by angels? The staff of the 'NAM challenges the moral and practical applications of Communism in this exposure of another Myth of New America - that Communism Works.

Part of the power of the Myth of New America is its ability to change the public's sense of world events. The "fall of Communism" in the late 80's, along with the economic and political collapse of the Socialist Soviet Union, symbolized what many people thought was the end of the major political threat of Communism. Despite this "demise", Communist ideas are still pretty popular in most modern political platforms. Ask some representatives of political science from your local colleges and high schools - "Communism isn't all that bad", they might say, "it's a good political platform that simply hasn't been done right yet."

The Intelligentsia here behind the 'NAM would like to shed light on the ideas that seem to support this pro-Communism sentiment. We won't throw out conspiracy theories using confusing figures outlining some massive Communist takeover. What we will do is discuss some of the ideas of the "Average Joe", and answer them, showing you that indeed, Communism is still around in modern political thought, and it is "that bad".

Debunking the Myth - the idea that "Communism Isn't All That Bad":

"The fall of the Soviet empire had nothing to do with true Communism - Lenin, Stalin, and Khrushchev all practiced different forms of Socialism. You can't blame its collapse on Communism."

The efforts of the Soviet Union to centralize economic planning were the chief source of Soviet domestic problems, including its massacre of millions of civilians. When citizens wouldn't cooperate with the authoritative dictums of the Kremlin, many were deported to death camps while others were outright executed. This is the coercive mechanism of all Socialist governments, because the simple principle of central planning and public ownership of the means of production requires a forceful, coercive, and often violent totalitarian government. As many economists have shown since, the sequential economic collapse of these nations is not only because of their massive failure in keeping the peace or respecting citizen's rights, but also because government is never a good financial investment. The redistribution of wealth always operates at an inequity, losing money for every dictatorial command it must employ to keep markets socialized and under "public" government control.

But was this real Communism? Let's compare Marx and Engel's Communist Manifesto to the Soviet Union in practice, for some direct comparisons, to see if the Soviet Socialism was "true" Communism. The Communist Manifesto calls for abolition of land-ownership and rents being applied to public interests, with the various 5-Year Plans and treatment of agriculture-working peasants, Russia enacted this. Soviets also had a progressive income tax and they confiscated much property from emigrants, rebels and civilians. Soviets owned a national bank and had exclusive ownership of minting, while holding strict dictation over communications and transportation. They established industrial armies for agriculture either through domestic reforms or by deportation into labor concentration camps, and they also had factories and other places of production directly headed by state officials. Quotas were often shared in communal groups, giving equal liability to all labor. Forced relocation into Siberia and the Soviet school system both round out the U.S.S.R.'s following of the Communist Manifesto, the chief statement of ideas behind the traditional Communist Party.

So, indeed, the Soviet Union did collapse due to Socialism, and it was practicing the same kind of traditional Communism Marx suggested.

"I'm Democrat, none of my political decisions have anything to do with Communism."

Despite Democrat president John F. Kennedy being one of the most hardened anti-Communists around, Communism plays a big role in the leftist Liberal movement of today. The ideological shift in the Liberal Democrat movement from prior to the 1900's is evident by a change in policy making in social and economic reform: Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal started the Democratic trend to emphasize social welfare over the economy. While FDR was removing the gold standard (thus consuming the nation's weight in gold) and running the first national deficits, he was instituting Social Security, graduated income taxes and putting laborers on the dole so they weren't classifiably unemployed (a tactic employed by nearly every Socialist nation to date).

The Democratic tradition is to control how private property is used for "the national community". Democrat stances mirror Communist ones on issues like: public schools (itself a plank of the Communist Manifesto), taxes on the wealthy, unemployment, worker's rights, Social Security, guns, federal policy of banks and money lending institutions.

"I'm Republican, we hate Commies too."

Republicans, on the other token, since they advocate economic liberty, claim their segregation from Communist ideas. However, the Rightist Conservatives begin to stray into Communist Authoritarianism when it addresses personal liberties and the military. Republican reforms to end prostitution, drug use and "anti-family" lifestyles all require heavy government involvement in private trade and the use of an individual's most basic units of property, his/her own body, homes, and personal belongings. Republicans will always need to regulate the economy so long as it calls for these social reforms, and tax the people to fund these efforts to prevent what it considers "social ills". In this "there should be a law" sense, it is no different from the Democratic Party.

During no Republican government has government's scope, budget or powers ever become smaller. The first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, unknowingly instituted a plank of the Communist Manifesto, a progressive Income Tax. As is the trend with Republican legislation, it was a declared "temporary" reform that simply never died. The good intentions of Republicans get turned against them when they create functions government wasn't meant to have. Even in stark contrast with Communist economic doctrine, Republicans share many similarities in domestic doctrine, on issues like: prostitution and pornography, drug use, freedom of the media/press, state and religion, importance of nationalism, state role in "family values", trade protectionism.

While significantly less openly Socialist than Democrats, the Authoritarianism of the Republican Party requires the controls of Communism to work. This is reflected most in Republican administration like George W. Bush's presidency, which saw an increase in government to it's first 2 trillion dollar budget with $96 billion in two years going to Socialist/Communist public works programs, the same programs Democrat presidents like Clinton heavily funded (although Clinton only spent $51 billion in his six years).

"The United States doesn't have any Communistic aspects to it."

United States leaders will not associate any of their platforms or politics to Communism, but that may have more to do with American history never having a popular political movement calling itself “Communist” or “Marxist” than it does with any real differences. When we examine the facts, there are very many disturbing similarities. Karl Marx declared a Communist Manifesto of ten planks necessary to convert a free state to Communism. Some policies endorsed by the Communist Manifesto are reflected in the current U.S. government, they include: zoning laws and imminent domain practices, a progressive graduating income tax for the purpose of social welfare programs, regulatory agencies for the purpose of centralizing the market, asset forfeiture laws, exclusive fractionalized central government banking (Federal Reserve Bank), nonconvertible assets (there is no longer a dollar for gold equivalency, which allows the state to confiscate all the gold bullion assets banks would've needed to keep for conversion), government trust over transportation and communication (FCC, FAA, DOT), subsidized farmlands/agricultural funds, prison industrialized labor programs, minimum wage, confiscated and redistributed retirement pension (Social Security), government-owned health programs, urban planning, and lastly, a free but mandatory attendance government-operated school system (the current state of our public schools).

If we ever want to endeavor to disassociate the U.S. from Communism entirely, we should seek to take a decisive stance against it's ideas - and we can't do that without first addressing why so many of our current policies mirror Marxist ones (in both practice and principle). This is neither coincidence nor conspiracy, but the reflection of a new trend in American thinking that leans more towards Communist/Socialist ideas than Capitalist ones.

"Communism would work if it wasn't for greedy human nature."

People are always out to fulfill their own needs and desires. Even the most caring philanthropist is going to feed himself and ensure the comfort of himself and those close to him before making the effort to take care of others. The above fact is especially true of the kind of people who get involved in politics. The need to get re-elected or hold power in other ways does to the human instinct of self-preservation what the use of anabolic steroids does to human muscle tissue. No matter how much an idea works in theory, if it cannot work in real life, then nothing else matters. A nice guy politician will never get elected to a power position because he wouldn't be willing to step on people to climb the political ladder. Any person in a position to bring communism into play in an economy will have already proven himself unworthy of the kind of trust that communist loyalists would like to give him. So what if communism works on paper, 2+2=5 works on paper too, but two pencils and two pens does not add up to five writing utensils.

"The government should redistribute what we really don't need - it helps out the people. That part of Communism is still a good idea."

The forced "redistribution of wealth" is a sickeningly sweet synonym for theft, pure and simple. Who has the ability to judge what one needs, you or a government agency? By a socialistic definition, no one needs a television. No one needs computers or the internet. No one needs that game room that they are adding on their home, that new car when a cheaper one would get them where they are going. Really, we don't NEED anything besides basic shelter, food and water. And if we allow communism to creep in, that is all we will be left with for our hard work (although whether we would even receive those basics is questionable). However, note that hardly anyone who calls for the redistribution of wealth is willing to hand over their television and their numerous other luxuries to those who are less fortunate.

A man once said to Davey Crockett, "The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be entrusted to man, particularly under our system of collecting revenue by tariff." When one works for his money, whether he toils on the assembly line or used his entrepreneurial skills to build a business up from the ground, he deserves every cent he earns. People work hard and productively to improve their lot in life, communism reduces that motivation. On a large scale, our collective productivity is directly related to our overall standard of living. Redistribution of wealth hurts everyone.

"Economies flourish under a properly practiced Communism, right? Unemployment is low, agricultural production is up, and social services are at a peak."

Communist economies do flourish, if all you look at is “official” unemployment rates, agricultural production, and free access to social services. However, if you look at growth in Gross Domestic Product, inflation, unofficial unemployment rates (the real number of people not working vs. official government numbers), quality of social services available, average incomes of families, or any other statistic related to the actual production of labor, you will find Communist governments severely lacking. Communism is not good for economic growth; in fact, economies are known to totally collapse as a result of Communist practices (most notably, the Socialist Soviet Russian economy).

If redistribution of wealth is the only test of a good economy, then by all means, a Communist government is very economic. Unfortunately for Communism, redistribution of wealth is very uneconomic and is a bad measure for testing the real standard of living. If economies decline as a result of Communism, then everyone will end up being equally as poor. If this is the case, and history shows it to be, then Communism is an utter economic failure.

"Communism is a morally superior system, even if it's impractical."

Using the morality of any one of the major religious sects in existence today, communism is actually quite the immoral system. It encourages sloth. People don't need to work hard so they don't. People get no bonus for working hard, so they do as little as possible. Communism also takes away the property of people who earn it. In order to institute a communist system, the government or some other agency must re-distribute wealth. Seems charitable to those who have nothing, but to people who have something, it amounts to legalized theft. There is also the issue of making sure that the people are willing to give up their property for the greater good so to speak. Most of the time, the communist revolution shortcuts this problem and takes the quick moral out - known to most people as murder. Some people have this misguided conception that poverty is the key to morality. In that sense, and only in that case, are those who say communism is morally superior correct. After all, what easier way is there to make everyone poor than to convert to communism?

"Regardless of how Communism might work, it is inevitable."

Marx and his group of intellectuals were the first to establish the idea of inevitable Socialism/Communism - that there is a "scientific" basis to believe that Communism is an inevitable part of human nature. However, economists like Ludwig Von Mises made the argument that the only thing inevitable about Communism is its eventual economic decay due to the inability of Communism to produce vital economic calculations. Without these calculations, any central economy system will eventually fail - the more centralized it becomes, the less it's able to judge what kind of products/services are necessary, and in what quantity they must be produced.

So, if Communism is inevitable, but so is it's failure, then society is inevitably going to collapse. Thankfully, we at the 'NAM do not believe that Communism is inevitable in any way, shape or form.

"We have to turn to Communism, in a Capitalist society, the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. Communism and Socialism is the only means of preventing this catastrophe."

The dogma of the “rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer” assumes that always, all property will have the same values. If property can increase in value, or decrease in value, then the rich and poor of a community can collectively get richer/poorer at the same time. In the case of a real economy, it is often the case that property becomes cheaper and easier to get, thus what was once expensive and rare is now cheap and abundant - goods have decreased in value, making it easier for everyone to accumulate more valuable goods. A citizen’s income means more, and is more valuable. This means that the rich can get richer while the poor get richer (and that they get rich together for the same reasons). Likewise, if goods get more rare or harder to produce, then the opposite can happen, the rich can get poorer while the poor get poorer.

Communism has never shown itself to be capable of being productive enough to prevent the rich and poor from both becoming even poorer collectively. Capitalism, on the other hand, moves based on the cooperation of individuals, which typically is in favor of a growing economy, more often meaning the rich getting richer while the poor get richer.

In the end, Communism doesn’t prevent this catastrophe. It creates it.

"Communism may be bad, yes, but a Communist-style 'mixed economy' is necessary to prevent some of the problems Capitalism causes."

The idea that Capitalism “causes problems” must be shown before it is assumed. Capitalism offers no guarantees that people will behave one way over the other - and neither does a Communist government or a partially Communist "mixed" economy. So the notion that a “mixed economy” fixes production or moral problems of the free market is unsubstantiated. In fact, it often is blatantly wrong. Communists often blame Capitalism for a myriad of problems such as drug use, pollution, job loss, decline of art/science, rising crime rates, education failure, etc.; however, they fail to show how Communist government laws prevent these problems better than properly enforced free-market mechanisms. Nothing supports that “a little Communism is better than none”.

"The poor are generally ill-served by Capitalism, Communism is right in showing us this much."

Communism strives to bring equality. Poor people suffer under a capitalist system for a variety of reasons. Under communism, everyone suffers, because everyone becomes poor. It would appear that there are fewer poor people in a communist system, but that is simply a slanted statistic. In any communist nation, the average annual income of citizens is much lower than the average yearly income of people living in areas with a free market economy. Nobody is poor, they are all just average. By the standards of the rest of the world, that average is poor. Communism helps nobody.

"Communism is dead."

Communist parties around the world may be faltering, but the truth is that many other parties and politicians are now adopting Communist ideas into their platforms, keeping alive many Marxist core principles. The United States has enacted zoning legislation, progressive income taxes, social security and welfare reforms, and other literal policy making that is entirely coherent with the Communist Manifesto. Communism, and more broadly Socialism, is not nearly as dead as some may say it is.

Communism as a name-brand platform may be dead, but its ideas are most definitely still alive. If you've heard anyone espouse the ideas in this article, as we here at the 'NAM have, then that's an example of how alive it really is. Perhaps the biggest Myth about Communism is the Myth that it doesn't exist in the New American culture.

... Communism, just another part of the New American Myth we live in everyday.