Why so many communists?

There are a few around. What could be the reasons behind their communism, from their point of view?

Though I don’t think the points below can be weaved in a good argument for communism [1], I think is handy to have such a list.

  1. Dialectic materialism is true:
    1. Falling rate of profit
    2. Worker exploitation
    3. Correlation between prices and labour (LTV)
  2. Worker exploitation
    1. Based on Marx’s Labour Value Theory
    2. For Analytical Marxistas and others, based on some other theory
  3. Standard of living in the Soviet Union was decent
    1. For some, better than the American’s
    2. For others, not as good, but justified, as the Soviet Union began from a poorer condition
  4. Cuba
    1. It ranks high in the Human Development Index
    2. The healthcare system is good
  5. North Korea
    1. Some say it works, but capitalist media shows a distorted image of it
    2. Others say it doesn’t, but that this is because isolation, and still being at war, or that the system is not properly implemented
  6. Lenin & Stalin
    1. He showed communism is able to transform a mere agrarian country into an industrial superpower
    2. Capitalist media distorts the extent of their killings, including Holodomor
  7. Nordic countries, Welfare State
    1. Just a patch to keep capitalism going
    2. Not fair enough
    3. They will end up collapsing due to internal contradictions in capitalism
    4. They show that life is better when you move away from pure capitalism. Moving even further may be even better.
  8. Past failures
    1. We can learn from them
    2. Computers will make central planning possible in the future
    3. Or Langean market socialism will do instead
  9. Appeal to community
    1. G.A. Cohen & David Graeber show that we usually behave like communists (we share things, don’t charge interest). Why not extend that to society?
    2. Communism would be the most moral system possible
  10. For some, traditional values
    1. Communes
    2. Everyone is part of a Brotherhood
    3. One is expected to work hard (“From each according to his ability”)
    4. But consume only what he strictly needs(“To each according to his needs”), as consuming more means the rest of the Brotherhood has less
  11. Technological achievements
    1. Counting the number of milestones achieved, the Soviet Union won the Space Race
    2. Even when they began from an agrarian society, the Soviet Union managed impressive technological achievements
  12. General American Counterexample
    1. The United States is supposed to be the posterchild of capitalism
    2. But the US is an imperialistic State, with a dysfunctional health system, vast inequities, poverty, consumerism, etc.
  13. General Criticism of Capitalism. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons. Capitalism itself is a mistake, and must be replaced, and the only plausible alternative is communism
    1. Imperialism
    2. Dominant class control of the State, in detriment of workers
    3. Patriarchy
    4. Environmental destruction
    5. Unsustainable growth
    6. Inequality
    7. Market instability (business cycles)
    8. Consumerism and planned obsolescence
    9. Basic needs are not guaranteed
    10. Capitalism is not Hell on Earth because only because it is regulated by the State
    11. Unemployment
    12. Poverty
    13. Slavery
    14. Third World exploitation
    15. Capitalism requires violence to be implemented (e.g. enclosures), forcing people to enter into wage labour contracts

[1] That is, some are true for the reasons they think, other are true for other reasons, others are false, others are true but irrelevant, etc.

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4 Responses to Why so many communists?

  1. Wolf says:

    I’ve been following your blog for a few months now, first time comment.
    This post piqued my interest.
    I’m curious about why you prefaced the list by saying you judge everything that follows as mostly false.
    I’m not trying to troll you or start a protracted debate/argument, I’m actually really curious to understand your viewpoint on it further.
    Are you saying that items on the list are false, in that communists falsely ascribe these phenomena as connected to the daily continuance of capitalism? And instead they can be traced back to separate causations / structures, e.g an essential human nature?
    Or are you saying that these phenomena in fact are false, not happening. Or that communists interpret their existence falsely?

    Two items jump out. Environmental destruction – specifically, climate change, sixth extinction, deforestation, marine ecosystem collapse. And basic needs not being guaranteed / met. I’ve leaned towards understanding these processes as inextricably linked to capitalism’s functioning. But keen to understand differing viewpoints from a fine blog.

    Is what you are judging to be false about these examples, that communists posit the only plausible alternative to these capitalist phenomena is communism. Or are you saying it is false to ascribe them to the functioning of capitalism in the first place?

    • Artir says:

      Good point! I fixed my post to make it more clear.

      For example: climate change and mass extinction of many species are real. Deforestation is not as evident. There has been deforestation in some areas, but the rate of deforestation is going down

      http://www.nature.com/articles/nclimate2581.epdf?referrer_access_token=zO39o84YJwzBRMc5nK-SSNRgN0jAjWel9jnR3ZoTv0NAJ5kAuOuTRGQv1e0pm6qLYzoV3hmyWobR5EIh_91pdhn_e7lLVo19cxEJCoAx7qAGQK_UTELCl8ZT1KSp7VmTBxI6qHl1Jb_VWTn5dGto0aQfYSQxM0MrPm_8Gi4fSVxj3Ulojp_LZRaPkpYFkDOe&tracking_referrer=www.popsci.com
      http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/i3010e/i3010e.pdf

      In europe, it is actually increasing http://www.foresteurope.org/docs/SoeF2015/PART%20II%20CRITERION%201.pdf

      Marine ecosystem collapse seems true. The Great Barrier Reef is one big good example. Many fisheries is another.

      Basic needs are certainly not guaranteed almost nowhere in the world. (Guaranteed as in ‘no matter what, they will be met’), and they are not met by and large in poorer countries, and in small segments of the population in developed countries. But not even in the Soviet Union (And I don’t say you defent it!), which had this as an explicit goal, this was achieved. Fortunately, the trend is for those basic needs to be met in greater proportion as time goes on.

      The thing is: Those particular points are not because of something in capitalism. Capitalism is an economic system whose main characteristic is that there exist capital (as in, the means of productions are separately owned, and tradeable in a market. Given that, capital is the market price of the means of production). Capitalism in real life can be instantiated in many ways, but arguably, any defender of capitalism will say that modern capitalism needs a) rule of law b) robust property rights c) low corruption and stuff like that. Measuring how capitalistic a country is, going by these measures is still hard, but there are some who try http://www.heritage.org/index/ranking

      In South America or in Africa, for example, indigenous rights are trampled by corporations, in ocasion with the help of their governments, in order to acquire resources like wood or minerals. However, this doesn’t quite happen in the more capitalistic countries, yet the corporations are the same. According to economist Hernando de Soto, this is in part caused by the property rights of these people not being formally recognised.

      In the case of fisheries, something similar happens: some fisheries, owned by local fishermen do work fine in regulating themselves. Large scale fisheries, under government control, are not owned by anyone, but regulated instead. If regulation is not adequate, the fisheries go wrong, which is what happens. An alternative is to expand property to global fisheries, by, for example, giving communal property to a cooperative of fishermen made up of smaller cooperatives that are near the sea the fishery is located in.

      Other illustrative example is the US. Surely the US is held to be the paragon of capitalism, but then many people are quick to point out many problems with the US. And these critiques are true un many cases! An overpriced health system, mass incarceration, racial issues, or obesity to mention some. But is this because of capitalism, or because some particularity of the US? Why doesn’t Switzerland display these same things?

      One could made a case that capitalism causes some of these things. In a post I have, where I argue that consumerism goes against the values of capitalism (as in, capitalism is built on savings, etc), I say that consumerism is more prevalent in capitalistic societies, not because of capitalism per se, but because it makes us wealthier, and wealth begets consumerism.

  2. Pingback: On criticising communism | Nintil

  3. Trent says:

    “The thing is: Those particular points are not because of something in capitalism.”

    Of course it is. Capitalism inherently creates more debt than value and money. Under capitalism, there is always more owed to debt repayments than there exists money. This leads to poverty being a systemic necessity. To prevent collapse, the system then needs to expand infinitely, leading to ecological collapse.

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