The Case for Communism — About This Blog
It’s no secret that the world is changing, and at a dramatic pace, too. Last year we saw political shocks in the form of the Brexit refurendum result and the election of TV personality and pseudo-fascist Donald Trump as president of the USA. The economic recovery from the 2008 financial crash is the slowest in modern history — the slowest since the bubonic plague in the UK’s case — and shows no signs of getting any better. This has a knock on effect to your average persons’ incomes, living costs, and therefore standard of living, through political choice rather than economic necessity. There is a real possibility that we are on the verge of another Great Depression, a Third World War, and in turn perhaps a complete collapse of society as we know it.
To many, this hasn’t come as a great suprise. The system in which we live under, capitalism, is self-destructive by nature. From the Conservative’s right-wing neoliberalism to Labour’s left-wing Keynsian social democracy, capitalist society will always prove unsustainable in the mid-to-long term. This creates inevitable financial crises, much like the Great Depression in the 1920’s and the Crash in 2008, and the many smaller but still calamitous economic problems in between. This paves the way for (potentially fascist) right-wing nationalism to rise, much like the Nazi Party in Germany, the National Front in the 70’s and the un-coincidental rise of Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, Nigel Farage and Geert Wilders in the last few years.
There is only so long this cycle can repeat itself. As the saying goes ‘the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. There must come a time where we say ‘enough is enough’ and we decide to overhaul the system and take a new direction. There can only be two choices on offer: communism or fascism.
In this blog, I will make the case for communism; to make it accessible and relevant for 21st Century Britain, to debunk the myths and show that revolutionary socialism is the most humane route to take.
There are many forms and flavours of communism. Here we will be focussing on the most popular and widely studied versions as outlined by Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin.
Marx famously wrote the Communist Manifesto in Manchester in the 1860s alongside his friend and fellow radical thinker Freidrich Engels. The Manifesto is considered the starting point for anybody wanting to learn about communism or left-wing politics whether they intend to follow the philosophy or not. Marx also wrote Capital, a (far more complex and detailed) critique of the capitalist political economy which is considered one of the most accurate analyses of the system that has ever been written.
Lenin was the leading figure in the Russian Revolution in 1917 and served as the head of government from 1918 until his death in 1924. He followed the ideology set forth my Marx and developed his own political theories, which became known as Leninism. He was a staunch opponent to imperialism — the process of a state expanding its power or control through aquisition or influence over foreign, often less developed countries by violent or exploitrative means.
Communism is the final, permanent stage of socialism in which the means of production are owned collectively by the community and each person gives what they can (in terms of time and effort) and takes what they need (in terms of basic necessities and leisure). Communism calls for the abolition of social classes, the monetary system (money) and the state. The aim is a completely egalitarian society, in which all individuals are equal and collectively run their society and economy.
The motivation is rooted in the inevitable class conflict under capitalism. The working classes — those that must work to survive — are exploited by the capitalist class — those that own the means of production — for profit. This struggle will result in the exploited class emancipating themselves from upper-class rule and establishing a ‘dictatorship of the proletariet’. That is, a society run in the interests of the mass working class and not a minority of wealthy property and land owners.
The Marxist model of communism takes a materialist view, that is, it follows a logical and scientific analysis of society, politics and economics as oppsed to an idealist view. Marxism offers no real blue print as to how the final society will function or be built, but rather offers the tools to best understand the flaws of capitalist system, the conditions in which a revolution can take place, and the fundamental characteristics of a communist state.
True socialism cannot come about by reformative, parliamentary means. This must come about by way of a revolution, which cannot come at any point, the conditions must be ripe — i.e. an existential crisis under the current system. This, Marx says, is inevitable due to the self-destructive and cruel nature of capitalism.
Socialism is best described as the transitionary society between capitalism and communism, in which the means of production are taken in to public ownership (industries nationalised), the economic and political systems are reorganised and the population are gradually prepared for the final stage. Vladimir Lenin rightly states that communism is not acheivable overnight, and that the socialist transitionary period is indefinite and necessary to avoid collapse.