Is Communism Really a Failure? - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#14856333
As a member of the Western capitalist world, I have, of course, been brought up believing that the capitalist system is superior to Communism and socialism, and that Communism never turns out well. Because of that, I was always confused about why some people still think Communism could work and is a good idea, so I decided to dig deep and find out what I could about their perspective.

I'm no economist, so I cannot speak authoritatively, but here in the U.S., at least, Communism is seen as a failure as proven by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the adoption of free market policies by so called Communist countries such as the People' Republic of China. I think even Cuba is beginning to move towards private sector employment. Also, alot of the countries are not places you would want to live in like North Korea or the aforementioned China.

A Communist did point out to me that the U.S.S.R. did experience a growth in its GDP shortly prior to its dissolution as shown in the graph below, while after that point, it seems to have taken a huge dip before going back up, albeit higher than it was when it was still the Soviet Union. Since the chart only sequentially lists the dates by 2, it is hard to tell whether the year 1991 was also a time where the GDP went up, or if that is when it started to decline. I think 1991 is the year that the U.S.S.R. collapsed.

Image

Also, Cubans do not seem to need to worry about unemployment, healthcare, or literacy, unlike in some Western democracies. Now, many of the products manufactured in Communist countries were inferior to their counterparts produced in capitalist country, at least that is what I have heard, although I do not know if the Soviet Union started to improve the quality of its products later improved or not. The same goes for Cuba. Maybe the inferiority of those goods were more of a product of dictatorship rather than Communism itself as an economic system, though a lack of competition from the free market or private sector could also be contributing factor to that.

What are your thoughts?
#14867956
I too was raised in this belief. But nowadays I think that the cold war was a war between two systems that both cannot possibly work:

- A democracy that also wants to be a capitalism

- A socialism that isnt also a democracy

Socialism, as it has been defined in the bible and other sources over the millenia, is supposed to be a society of solidarity, a society without dependency and exploitation. How exactly would that ever work without a democracy ? This socialism was more obviously wrong, more obviously not free, so it failed first.

The other concept is just as braindead, though. Capitalism means there is a small financial elite that hold all the economic power of a nation. These people have unlimited resources, they can buy and control the media, and they can buy and control politicians. How exactly can that work in combination with the idea that the people should rule, as is the idea of democracy ?

And thats exactly what we see in the world today, first people vote the politicians and then the politicians work against the people. Its basically a "the sheep can choose their buther" scenario that we witness in the world.
#14867965
If you had visited any of the countries in the Soviet block, you wouldn't need to ask that question. Even though the former GDR was one of the most advanced countries in the Soviet block, crossing over from West Berlin was always a shock, even to visitors who were free to leave again. To people condemned to live in that open-air prison, the repressive nature of the totalitarian regime was all-pervasive.

That GDP graph is totally meaningless. When the iron curtain came down, most of the acclaimed industry of the communist regimes collapsed because it wasn't capable of competing with Western industry. The state planned economies resulted in constant penury, which had an impact on industrial production and people's life.
#14869670
Communism is the absence of central authority, however, the absence of central authority isn't possible without universal interaction. Until the world's whole population accepts universal rights, central authority will be necessary
#14879981
The "Communist" states were communist in the sense that they were striving to achieve communism by struggling against capitalist hegemony. It's debatable whether they even achieved socialism (according to Stalinists they did; according pretty much any other socialist, not so much), but none of them achieved communism before collapsing under the weight of the very capitalist hegemony they were struggling against. So in that sense, I suppose you could say the communist project, as conceived by the Bolsheviks, was indeed a failure. The question is: could it still work? And if so, by what means? Do we do more of the same, creating proletarian states in opposition to the capitalist order? It's hard to conceive of such a strategy working now. It's an interesting irony that when all these socialist revolutions were occurring in the 20th century, capitalism had never been more powerful. Yet now, when capitalism seems to be at its weakest, the capacity for large-scale worker's revolution just doesn't seem to be there. It seems that the way past capitalism now is to build resilient structures that can weather the storm as capitalism collapses upon itself. That still doesn't mean getting to communism, or even socialism, but for either of those to stand a chance, capitalism will first have to devour itself.
#14923250
Scrybe wrote:As a member of the Western capitalist world, I have, of course, been brought up believing that the capitalist system is superior to Communism and socialism, and that Communism never turns out well. Because of that, I was always confused about why some people still think Communism could work and is a good idea, so I decided to dig deep and find out what I could about their perspective.

I'm no economist, so I cannot speak authoritatively, but here in the U.S., at least, Communism is seen as a failure .......

So far @Paradigm gave the best answer. Scrybe, you should consider re-thinking your ideas of communism. People typically think of one of two things when they mention "communism". They either are thinking of communist theory and the implementation of that theory, or they are thinking of communist society. The problem is that the former, while thinking of efforts to implement communist theory, believes those efforts did in fact produce "communism" when in reality, the effort by communists have only been to create socialism. (So communism has never existed, but then neither has socialism.) In other words they confuse the two: the theory and the economy.

So your question really seems to be "is communist theory really a failure in the attempt to create socialism?"

Or maybe "is socialism really a failure?"

Socialism is about ending the private ownership of the means of production for private profit by a worker take-over of the means of production. So to be "socialism", an economy must be owned and directed by workers. That is the only way known to end private profiteering as an economic model. And as we can see, there have been several attempts to create socialism but we have never seen a national economy that is owned and directed by the workers. Therefore, we cannot yet say that socialism is either a success or a failure. We are still trying to work out the strategies and methods of successfully establishing socialism.
#14969918
No it is not a failure and here are some of the reasons why:

- Women and men can talk to each other in public and make eye contact. Prior to socialism in some Balkan societies such as Albania, men and women were not allowed to have any form of communications in public, from places like lobbies in cafes to wealthier weddings.

- Divorce and freedom from family control and/or long term domestic abuse. Prior to the Soviet Union, getting a divorce in the Russian Empire was for the most part, illegal, expensive, and was very complicated. Only wealthier, educated owners or doctors could get divorces, if a priest allowed it. Domestic abuse was not recognized prior to the Soviet Union on a national, cultural level (the Soviet Union had movies about domestic abuse, and being stuck with alcoholic husbands based in the pre socialist years). Forced marriages were common, especially in rural areas (as late as the 1910's, over 60 percent of the Russian population was rural). And most people had homes that their elders passed on (meaning your elders were your boss until they or you died).

- Freedom from religious ignorance. Prior to socialism, especially in Muslim areas such as parts of central Russia, Bosnia, Albania, and parts of Bulgaria, anyone who was an atheist would lose their job and be homeless. Anyone who was depressed because they hate slavery, feudalism, or capitalism would be told that they don't have enough faith. And religion was taught in common schools and in many universities prior to socialism. You could not masturbate, say "bad words" such as shit, drink alcohol, nor talk back to your parents, even if they are abusive!

- Literacy went up, especially in the Balkans, and in Eastern Asia. In Maoist China, Albania, and Yugoslavia, more people knew how to read and write.

- Life expectancy went up. Due to not stressing out about bills or worrying about having enough customer revenue, your overall health deteriorated less. And since society became more individualistic, like how women could divorce and be free, people had more air to breathe, allowing better health. And people had access to free health care.

- Sexual freedom increased. Women could have multiple sexual partners. Men could masturbate. Since society became less religious, sex was more socially acceptable, and society was more lose. It was way easier to find a partner.

- Women had more rights. Women were allowed to divorce, get a college education, work hard, and go to outer space! The first woman to enter outer space ever was from the Soviet Union. Women were allowed to join the military, and help their countries be even stronger due to a higher military population. Getting an abortion was also more allowed and much easier.

I don't see how any of this can be a failure.
#14970050
This is an interesting thread and I am surprised I have only just come across it. Although I would argue that the Soviet Union was never a Communist state but perhaps a totalitarian socialism project. And yes it was a failure as it collapsed.

Nonetheless change the question to "Why was The Soviet Union a failure?" And you ask an interesting question that should be debated on PoFo. Because to me the system itself (a socialist republic) was not the reason the Soviet Union collapsed but because the Soviet Union didn't innovate. Without self interest within a free market there is no reason to progress and a society stagnates. So while Western societies progressed and standards improved, the Soviet Union standards of living remained weak and that led to nations declaring independence. Nepotism prevented the government from desiring progress and when Gorbachev tried to bring in a hybrid economic state to entice free market enterprise to enter the Soviet Union, this was too little too late.

So what do I think is needed for socialism to work from what I have learnt from the Soviet Unions failures? Firstly nepotism and power to remain to the select few has to be eliminated and replaced with electoral representation where the interest of the state remains in the hands of the populous at all times - and never to the elite. The state must aim to progress at all costs and work with the population to understand what it is they want from their state - after all there is no invisible hand that would do that for it in an economic system that doesn't promote self interest. The state must be prepared to trade outside its borders. The state should exercise complete freedom and allow people to protest and adhere to the message of the populous when they do. It is the only way to understand when contradictions in the system occur so solutions can be found to stop them from escalating when allowing this. And finally, if you are creating a economic system that provides rather than pays, to encourage work - and high quality work at that (to prevent substandards in quality) what you can take from the state must be in line with what you provide to it - and not just with your needs. Otherwise there is no will to provide for someone else if you feel you are doing their work for them - and you will just to the bare minimum to survive. And that is bad news if your vital infrastructure falls down and deteriorates due to poor quality work.
#14971089
The reason why many pro Americans and other westerners seem to go against true socialism is because after the Second World War, when the USA ruled Western Europe, the USA purposefully made their infrastructure a certain way to raise people to subconsciously hate socialism. This is why many post WWII "socialist" and "communist" parties like the Democratic Socialists of America, the current CPUSA, or worse... the Antifa, are not really socialist. This is because the USA made their environment a certain way to bring up people to hate, and to not understand what socialism really is.

Publicly and privately, the American infrastructure set up their society to subconsciously hate socialism. Public enterprises such as the government and the American police (police officers in the USA cannot be communists and will lose their jobs if so), public schooling, and many cities. Public schools started to teach children in a subconscious manner to hate socialism. The way that the schools are set up, encouraging children to join extra curricular activities that are competitive in a capitalist manner, and promoting a socially competitive environment (nerds are losers, popular kids are rich and wear expensive clothes, or a social hierarchy, etc.). Some cities encourage the family institution. Privately, many jobs promoted extreme "customer service" where workers fake their smiles, and worship customers like kings. Many jobs also advocated holidays, and some mocked workers who didn't celebrate holidays, to put pressure on everyone to do so, so they can be stressed out and too busy to realize that capitalism is bad. Holidays are a decoy.

The media was also very capitalist starting in the 1950's. Many celebrities who were communists, or were close to socialism lost their jobs. The media promoted fashions so that clothing companies can make money. Actors like Marlon Brando or James Dean were used by the Zionist media to promote biker jackets and jeans so that jean companies like Levi's or leather jacket companies like Schott could make lots of money. Music also got more competitive. Rock was more competitive than jazz. Elvis Presley wore expensive clothes so that people who liked him could wear expensive clothes, so that clothing companies can make more money.

Here is another great example of how the American post WWII media was very capitalist. The movie "The Grinch" which was released in 1957, taught that people who don't celebrate Christmas are bad. The grinch was a symbol of socialism, while the pro Christmas characters in the movie were a symbol of anti socialism and pro capitalism. People who don't buy presents so that companies don't get rich are "evil" like the grinch. The movie also teaches that money buys love, and that Christmas is "truly" fun. Is it? Is it really fun to stress out about buying presents, worrying about financial stress and family drama? Is it really fun to teach children that money buys love? And health wise (in scientific terms) the financial stress is bad, and to prove that, heart attack and stroke rates are higher during the holidays because people have to go through more holiday stress, which can potentially kill them.

The USA also promoted an athletic fashion. Americans love to wear athletic clothing such as jeans, T-shirts, or all star converse shoes. Non-American companies such as Adidas were funded by the USA so that the USA could have more international markets to trade with, so that the USA can get richer.

The USA in the 1950's and early 1960's also had a contemporary conservative phase, where middle class women were promoted to be housewives by staying home, cooking and cleaning. Men were advocated to start their own companies, and the "under god" was added to the Pledge of Alligence in 1954 to promote religion. Hippies rebelled against this, but they were raised under this, so hippies were spoiled, upper middle class capitalists who ended up becoming college educated Reaganists.

The USA promoted a certain capitalist culture on purpose to get as many people to hate, and to misunderstand what socialism is.
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