Great read! A few questions come to mind:
Andrea Hays
1

Thanks Andrea! To try and answer your questions: for the textbook definition of communism, what I was getting at here was that while communism is generally defined as a system where the means of production are owned by the commons and each individual works and is paid according to their abilities and needs, Stalinism was really just openly oppressive tyrannical dictatorship. I’m by no means saying I think communism is the cure for capitalism, and no, I don’t think there’s been a successful, truly communist country in world history (though I’m not saying there couldn’t be). My point was merely that if someone from a capitalist society is going to criticize the constructivists – who believed deeply in a utopia free of class division and inequality – but then elevates symbols of naked capitalism, they had better be prepared to be challenged in return.

I’ll point to an example from Canada, where I live. The last government was staunchly conservative, very right-wing. They had a plan to make a memorial to “victims of communism,” a monument no one was asking for or needed. The question a lot of people at the time posed was, “okay fine, it’s a great idea to honour these deaths, but are you also going to build a monument to the victims of capitalism?” Because to be fair, those numbers are very likely much higher.

I should mention too that I’m not a communist, though I am a fan of the constructivist period of design, both for its aesthetics and ideals. I’m more of a Scandinavian socialist, in that I’ve no problem with people making money, so long as they expect to be progressively taxed, so that money can work toward helping society that gave them privilege in the first place, through funding public goods such as Medicare, public education, utilities, etc. To me, the argument that socialism is a fairer system than capitalism is won by examining a simple comparison: if capitalism is about me first, where socialism is about all of us first, how can it be denied the latter holds the moral higher ground?

Thanks for reading and challenging! It’s really much appreciated, and hope you’ll stay tuned for further instalments. Also, if you’ve not checked out Jacobin magazine, I’d give it a look. They’re terribly intelligent, but the articles are never stuffy or overly academic. They make a great case for the left/socialism/progressive politics in a refreshingly clear way.

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