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.
#14973968
SSDR wrote:@Senter, Your answer is a mixture of the liberal, and the ultra leftist ideologies. How do you feel about anarchy?

I think anarchy and anarchism are non-starters. I think the idea of eliminating government and just letting people interact "freely", if that is what these ideologies are, is ridiculous in its impossibility.

But I'm a bit confused as to what about my post is "liberal".
#14974271
@Senter, I looked at your profile information, and your economic stance says:

"The U.S. is in the advanced stage of capitalism referred to as "monopoly capitalism". Here, the system now begins to accelerate in its degeneration. Bernie Sanders called for a political revolution. A political revolution can be peaceful if it happens early enough in the decline, or it will one day be violent. Let's get it done early."

You support Bernie Sanders. And he is not a socialist. He is a liberal.
#14974316
SSDR wrote:@Senter, I looked at your profile information, and your economic stance says:

"The U.S. is in the advanced stage of capitalism referred to as "monopoly capitalism". Here, the system now begins to accelerate in its degeneration. Bernie Sanders called for a political revolution. A political revolution can be peaceful if it happens early enough in the decline, or it will one day be violent. Let's get it done early."

You support Bernie Sanders. And he is not a socialist. He is a liberal.

I mentioned one of Bernie Sanders' subjects of advocacy. What makes you think I support him? I'm a socialist and he claims to want democratic socialism, which is a capitalist permutation.
#14974410
Senter wrote:I think anarchy and anarchism are non-starters. I think the idea of eliminating government and just letting people interact "freely", if that is what these ideologies are, is ridiculous in its impossibility.

Err ... thats not what [mainstream] anarchism is at all.

A good definition of anarchism is on Stanford: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/anarchism/
"Anarchism is a political theory, which is skeptical of the justification of authority and power, especially political power."

In effect anarchism does not remove the government, but it leads to grassroot democracy in both politics and economics, because grassroot democracy is an actually justified authority.

What you describe is a completely different idea, which is called anarchocapitalism, or anti-political movement.
#14974554
@Senter, That is true, "democratic socialism" is a capitalist permutation. So, if you are a socialist, what kind of socialist are you and why?

I am no follower of anyone, but some people tell me I am a "Stalinist," but in reality, I support Władysław Gomułka more because he rebelled against Stalin, and destroyed Zionist movements in Poland. He also liberalized Poland in the 1960's, so he banned Zionism and liberalized his country. And that is what I really like. Bierut, who had lots of influence over Poland from 1947 until his death in 1956, was a puppet to Stalin. I also like Margot Honecker of the DDR, she was a true feminist and was a very strong, independent, self minded woman. She helped the DDR get stronger.

Who I really dislike is Rosa Luxembourg and Leon Trotsky. Their ideas make no sense, and their followers tend to be very manipulative and back stabbing. I also strongly dislike the Antifa, and those fucking Western neo-Marxists who don't really understand socialism.
#14974613
Negotiator wrote:Err ... thats not what [mainstream] anarchism is at all.

A good definition of anarchism is on Stanford: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/anarchism/

In effect anarchism does not remove the government, but it leads to grassroot democracy in both politics and economics, because grassroot democracy is an actually justified authority.

What you describe is a completely different idea, which is called anarchocapitalism, or anti-political movement.

But we don't actually know what it "leads to" because, as you pointed out, it is a theory.
#14974615
SSDR wrote:@Senter, That is true, "democratic socialism" is a capitalist permutation. So, if you are a socialist, what kind of socialist are you and why?

I am no follower of anyone, but some people tell me I am a "Stalinist," but in reality, I support Władysław Gomułka more because he rebelled against Stalin, and destroyed Zionist movements in Poland. He also liberalized Poland in the 1960's, so he banned Zionism and liberalized his country. And that is what I really like. Bierut, who had lots of influence over Poland from 1947 until his death in 1956, was a puppet to Stalin. I also like Margot Honecker of the DDR, she was a true feminist and was a very strong, independent, self minded woman. She helped the DDR get stronger.

Who I really dislike is Rosa Luxembourg and Leon Trotsky. Their ideas make no sense, and their followers tend to be very manipulative and back stabbing. I also strongly dislike the Antifa, and those fucking Western neo-Marxists who don't really understand socialism.

Yeah well, mechanically implementing what someone determines to be "Marx's guidelines" to install socialism is bogus since Marx didn't elaborate on the process of establishing socialism. So the strategies must be developed to fit the specific conditions that prevail in any country.

Capitalism didn't depend on violent revolutions to seize state power. The capitalist system grew incrementally over time. That allowed problems to be identified and addressed early and methodically as opposed to seizing state power and then having to immediately provide a huge variety of measures, policies, agencies, commissions, and various authorities to figure out how to address a myriad of problems and urgencies fast.

Similarly, since seizing state power didn't work in most cases of communist revolutions, I advocate a gradual, methodical, measured path to full socialism that begins with the establishment of worker-owed, worker-run co-ops and the passage of legislation to facilitate that process.
#14974766
@Senter, Exactly, Marx never talked about how society must get to pure socialism, so many of the people who followed his ideas used different tactics to reach Marxist socialism, and those different ideas and strategies fought against each other, like how Stalin and Trotsky did not like each other, or how Enver Hoxha said that "Eurocommunism is anti communism." The same thing with China and Eastern Europe in the 1970's and 1980's.

And yes, capitalism never rose through violent revolution against feudalism, it was a scientific process that evolved over the industrial revolution, creating socialized, non family oriented wage jobs. It also evolved over technology and education, the more advanced the technology is, the more that capitalist owners can exploit, creating more wealth. For example, when a factory automates in a capitalist economy, the workers at that factory lose their jobs and wages (unless if the automation is taxed and those workers live off the wealth that the factory generates, via universal basic income), and when it gets automated, the owners make more money since robots and automated technology have more abilities than living humans.

What do you mean by "since seizing state power didn't work in most cases of communist revolutions?" I kind of don't understand what you are saying. Are you saying that socialism didn't work in socialist countries such as the Soviet Union or the DDR because socialist revolutionaries seized state power? Changing ownership rules and creating socialist paths.

So you think that socialism could be achieved by reformist rules, having all enterprises being workers' owned and having labour unions, and legislation to enforce the process?
#14974791
SSDR wrote:[b] What do you mean by "since seizing state power didn't work in most cases of communist revolutions?" I kind of don't understand what you are saying. Are you saying that socialism didn't work in socialist countries such as the Soviet Union or the DDR because socialist revolutionaries seized state power?

I'm saying they never actually got to socialism, -worker ownership and control of the MoP. They began with a revolution and a strategy to develop socialism, but they never achieved a stable, functioning worker-owned system. They were derailed to state capitalism.

So you think that socialism could be achieved by reformist rules, having all enterprises being workers' owned and having labour unions, and legislation to enforce the process?

-much like capitalism and feudalism did. Yes. Why is this any different?
#14974868
@Senter, "Derailed to state capitalism?" Yeah this is proof that you're very liberal, and that you're either a left communist, Western Marxist, or you're just an ultra leftist. Socialist states such as the Soviet Union were state socialist that had some capitalist characteristics, but they were state socialist. This response of yours makes you sound like you believe that socialism can't have ANY state, whether the state is capitalist or socialist. When Marx described socialism as "stateless" he meant a capitalist state, and a capitalist state is a state that enforces capitalist classes, defends private property rights, and maintains a currency and uses debt to control the workers.

Reformism that has some socialized characteristics is state capitalist, not state socialist, and that reformism conserves the capitalist mode of production, but uses some state capitalist or some socialist characteristics to defend its mode of production, so that it doesn't collapse, giving true opportunity for a socialist uprising to occur.

How is it different for feudalism to evolve into capitalism? Because both defend classes, currency, the concept of value, debt, and in some cases, slavery (some capitalist countries defended slavery and had it enforced like Saudi Arabia up until the 1960's). Capitalism is a modernized, less family oriented, liberalized version of feudalism. The only main difference between capitalism and feudalism is that in capitalism, the labourers have opportunities to change their class (for example, a poor farmer starts his own company, gains lots of customers and gains access to natural resources, builds his company, and gets rich and becomes an employer himself), labourers can choose where they live and how their wealth is (in feudalism, landlords chose where you live and how your material wealth is, via how you dress or what luxuries you're allowed to have, etc.), and is not as family oriented (in more advanced capitalism, where the economy is more socialized, via welfare, wages, labour unions, state employment, jobs).

Capitalism is more similar to feudalism than it is to socialism.

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