T Nation

If America Should Go Communist

Should America go communist as a result of the difficulties and problems that your capitalist social order is unable to solve, it will discover that communism, far from being an intolerable bureaucratic tyranny and individual regimentation, will be the means of greater individual liberty and shared abundance.

At present most Americans regard communism solely in the light of the experience of the Soviet Union. They fear lest Sovietism in America would produce the same material result as it has brought for the culturally backward peoples of the Soviet Union.

They fear lest communism should try to fit them to a bed of Procrustes, and they point to the bulwark of Anglo-Saxon conservatism as an insuperable obstacle even to possibly desirable reforms. They argue that Great Britain and Japan would undertake military intervention against the American soviets. They shudder lest Americans be regimented in their habits of dress and diet, be compelled to subsist on famine rations, be forced to read stereotyped official propaganda in the newspapers, be coerced to serve as rubber stamps for decisions arrived at without their active participation or be required to keep their thoughts to themselves and loudly praise their soviet leaders in public, through fear of imprisonment and exile.

They fear monetary inflation, bureaucratic tyranny and intolerable red tape in obtaining the necessities of life. They fear soulless standardization in the arts and sciences, as well as in the daily necessities of life. They fear that all political spontaneity and the presumed freedom of the press will be destroyed by the dictatorship of a monstrous bureaucracy. And they shudder at the thought of being forced into an uncomprehended glibness in Marxist dialectic and disciplined social philosophies. They fear, in a word, that Soviet America will become the counterpart of what they have been told Soviet Russia looks like.

Leon Trotsky
August 17, 1934

http://www.newyouth.com/archives/classics/trotsky/if_america_should_go_communist.html

So what are you saying? You support this guy? You want America to be communist? I’m sorry I don’t understand your point.

Trotsky was, of course, writing that during the Great Depression, a slightly more desperate time than now. Surely, the disparity between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat has widened since then, but even the working class are living pretty well these days (better than Russian peasants of any age) and the poor are neither in the mood nor the condition to foment a revolution. They’d rather just collect welfare and watch TV.

Coincidentally enough, when Trotsky put those words to paper, Roosevelt had just confiscated the American people’s gold, and launched the first phase of the New Deal, which was as close to communism as we’ve ever gotten in the United States. And that was a bit of a turkey, by most accounts.

[quote]ssn0 wrote:
…[communism] will be the means of greater individual liberty and shared abundance.[/quote]

Really? Is there any inkling of that anywhere in history? Can you name just one communist country who’s citizen have enjoyed more individual liberty and abundance than we do in Western capitalist nations?

[quote]40yarddash wrote:
So what are you saying? You support this guy? You want America to be communist? I’m sorry I don’t understand your point.[/quote]

I don’t think there is one. ssno appears to be going through his teenage rebellion phase where any idea that goes against our current modern society is automatically valid and better.

It’ll pass.

[quote]Varqanir wrote:

Coincidentally enough, when Trotsky put those words to paper, Roosevelt had just confiscated the American people’s gold, and launched the first phase of the New Deal, which was as close to communism as we’ve ever gotten in the United States. And that was a bit of a turkey, by most accounts. [/quote]

One of my favorite parts of Trotsky’s passage:

Hitherto America’s conquest of nature has been so violent and passionate that you have had no time to modernize your philosophies or to develop your own artistic forms. Hence you have been hostile to the doctrines of Hegel, Marx and Darwin. The burning of Darwin’s works by the Baptists of Tennessee is only a clumsy reflection of the American dislike for the doctrines of evolution. This attitude is not confined to your pulpits. It is still part of your general mental makeup.

was written very shortly before Trofim Lysenko slammed the Soviet Biology/Genetics machine to a grinding halt and held it there for nearly three decades. He did this with the typical ‘We don’t have time to think’ handwaving and by tossing the works of Darwin and Mendel out the window nearly wholesale, not to mention convincing Stalin to execute quite a number of the USSR’s leading scientists or have them sent to the Gulags. Hooray command-style socioeconomics!

“…gene is mythical part of living structure which in reactionary theories like Mendelism-Veysmanism-Morganism determines heredity. Soviet scientists under leadership of Academician Lysenko proved scientifically that genes don’t exist in the nature.” -From Soviet Encyclopedia circa 1950

[quote]lucasa wrote:
…convincing Stalin to execute quite a number of the USSR’s leading scientists or have them sent to the Gulags.[/quote]

Did they experience the “greater personal liberty” of choosing which?

Yea, communism sounds great. That’s why my parents risked life and limb to escape Czechoslovakia in 1968 after the Russian invasion. It was so promising they had to leave. The rest of my family struggled and had to basically grow their own food to get by. My cousin was thrown in jail for protesting. It such a great system.

My mom goes for a visit in 1988 and the KGB visited my family shortly there after to ask questions about my father. Please let me live in communism it’s great. Just ask the “happy” people of Cuba who don’t have pets because they ate them.
Ironically, they may have to wait in line for bread, but they were free to smoke and drink as much as they wanted.

[quote]pookie wrote:
lucasa wrote:
…convincing Stalin to execute quite a number of the USSR’s leading scientists or have them sent to the Gulags.

Did they experience the “greater personal liberty” of choosing which?
[/quote]

My understanding is that it was more of a “shared abundance” scenario.

[quote]pat36 wrote:
but they were free to smoke and drink as much as they wanted.[/quote]

Take those away and see how long it takes for a revolution to start.

You know, this is getting me all emotional. Do you know how many people have died because of communism and communist governments? It’s in the millions, not hundreds, not thousands, but millions. Do you know how many people continue to suffer under communist dictatorships?

Why don’t you ask the North Koreans how much freedom they have. Or how about the Cubans, and the Tibetans? The idea has behind communism has been proven wrong over and over again to the detriment of many. It doesn’t work, it can’t work and it won’t work. Why don’t you take wreckless and move to Cuba or North Korea? Then you guys can, if you are allowed to comminicate, tell us how great it is.

Also, they fear lest the Reds win the World Series every year.

Correct me if I am wrong–I am not a political scientist (laugh) or economist but isn’t communism more a doctrine of Marxian economic principles where the government takes responsibility for its economic interests, not necessarily an authoritarian political structure? Aren’t some modern day social governments both democratic and a smidge communistic?

Couldn’t China, for example, if it shed it’s authoritarian style of government, be both democratic and communistic while also using capitalism in a state mandated way to grow economically–i.e., controlling its wealth and not allowing individuals to become wealthy?

Could you imagine a system where everyone got paid the same no matter what (except maybe based on some sort of rank and seniority to instill some sort of value in hard work and loyalty, etc., a la the military pay scale) and only saw a rise in pay based on its GDP/GNP? It would mean that the “people” would own the means of production out right because they ultimately are the labor force.

If China can’t figure it out no country can.

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:
Correct me if I am wrong–I am not a political scientist (laugh) or economist but isn’t communism more a doctrine of Marxian economic principles where the government takes responsibility for its economic interests, not necessarily an authoritarian political structure? Aren’t some modern day social governments both democratic and a smidge communistic?

Couldn’t China, for example, if it shed it’s authoritarian style of government, be both democratic and communistic while also using capitalism in a state mandated way to grow economically–i.e., controlling its wealth and not allowing individuals to become wealthy?

Could you imagine a system where everyone got paid the same no matter what (except maybe based on some sort of rank and seniority to instill some sort of value in hard work and loyalty, etc., a la the military pay scale) and only saw a rise in pay based on its GDP/GNP? It would mean that the “people” would own the means of production out right because they ultimately are the labor force.

If China can’t figure it out no country can.[/quote]

You might want to read Hajek`s “The road to tyranny” and Friedman?s “Capitalism and freedom”…

To put the main argument into a nutshell:

Even Marx conceded that political freedon went hand in hand with economic freedom, yet he wanted to abandon (or thought it inevitable that it was given up) economic freedom while never mentioning why that would not also destroy political freedom.

Alas, whenever economic freedom became smaller political freedoms also did.

Think about it:

If government wants to stop you from smoking weed, it needs to finance its agents by taxing YOU!

Now you are poorer and less free.

And that is basically all that happens whenever government wants more money to “better” society…

Now imagine a govertnnment that claims to be “society”…

All those controlling assholes that never could keep their noses out of other peoples businesses would be your ultimate master…

Do not even try to immantesize the echaton!

[quote]pat36 wrote:
You know, this is getting me all emotional. Do you know how many people have died because of communism and communist governments? It’s in the millions, not hundreds, not thousands, but millions. Do you know how many people continue to suffer under communist dictatorships?

[/quote]

All because people tried to make unselfishness into a social system.

The Communists believed that everyone existed to serve ‘the proletariat’, like the Nazis believed each person existed to serve the ‘Aryan race’. The only way to even attempt to make such systems work is to make a bloodbath of a society.

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:
Aren’t some modern day social governments both democratic and a smidge communistic?[/quote]

Yes. Canada is a good example, although it’s generally referred to as “social democracy.” A capitalist society with certain “socialist” measures aimed at correcting some of the perceived faults of capitalism.

Yes, but the problem with that is that there is no incentive to perform. Why bust your ass if you’re going to get the same wage as your lazy-ass neighbor? Why take some risk with a new idea you have if the state is going to “acquire” it for itself (or “the people”) and give you nothing more in return. Better to emigrate to the US and try to make it big there, no? :slight_smile:

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:
Correct me if I am wrong–I am not a political scientist (laugh) or economist but isn’t communism more a doctrine of Marxian economic principles where the government takes responsibility for its economic interests, not necessarily an authoritarian political structure? Aren’t some modern day social governments both democratic and a smidge communistic?

Couldn’t China, for example, if it shed it’s authoritarian style of government, be both democratic and communistic while also using capitalism in a state mandated way to grow economically–i.e., controlling its wealth and not allowing individuals to become wealthy?

Could you imagine a system where everyone got paid the same no matter what (except maybe based on some sort of rank and seniority to instill some sort of value in hard work and loyalty, etc., a la the military pay scale) and only saw a rise in pay based on its GDP/GNP? It would mean that the “people” would own the means of production out right because they ultimately are the labor force.

If China can’t figure it out no country can.[/quote]

The problem lies in education. If everyone is payed the same, why would anyone become anything but a janitor?

Communism, like capitalism, in it’s pure form relies solely on people NOT being douche bags. People ARE douche bags IE: Pure Capitalism or Communism will ever work.

Your original example, however, would be nice. Capitalism and communism combined. Let people be richer, but not rich enough to take advantage of all the underlings.

Motivation for education, reward for work. Capitalism at heart, but with communist principals. IE: Don’t let anyone earn more than 10mil a year. Tax the rest and spend on non-redistribution social programs like health care.

Meh. It’ll never happen successfully. Like I said before, people suck.

The one true best form of government is the truly enlightened despot. One with absolute power who can get things done, but truly cares about the people and understands perfectly how the people need to be helped. Plato’s dream. The Philosopher King. It’s happened a few rare times, but it’s always succeeded by evil sumbitches. Never really works past a decade or two.

The other perfect society would be the opposite. No government at all, where everyone is good. This is obviously impossible. People suck.

As of now, I’m for absolute social freedom, and temperance on spending, preferring to raise the taxes of the upper crust of US society to pay for social programs, while still practicing conservatively. Impossible, I know, but like I said; people suck.

(If anybody thinks this makes sense, please tell me. I really have no idea wtf i’m talking about up there^^^)

[quote]Beowolf wrote:
IE: Don’t let anyone earn more than 10mil a year.[/quote]

You’re saying that because you’re not even close to making 10 millions a year.

No matter where you set the bar, you end up with the same problem: the bar kills entrepreneurship and doesn’t reward people’s efforts.

Would you also prevent corporations from making more than 10 millions in profit each year? If not, people can pay themselves 10 millions in salary, but have their corporation buy them the jet, the boats, the mansions, etc. If you cap off corporate profit, you lose all the industry who need huge expenditure of capital to operate (ex: A chip fabrication plant for Intel or AMD costs in the billions to build.)

You can have progressive tax brackets, but completely capping off earning capacity is a recipe for disaster. If you do that, you better seal off your borders, because all the rich people will leave.

[quote]pookie wrote:

You can have progressive tax brackets, but completely capping off earning capacity is a recipe for disaster. If you do that, you better seal off your borders, because all the rich people will leave.
[/quote]

Oh no, they`ll stay…

Their money however…

[quote]Beowolf wrote:

The one true best form of government is the truly enlightened despot. One with absolute power who can get things done, but truly cares about the people and understands perfectly how the people need to be helped. [/quote]

Well, let me say this - I wish more left-of-center types were as candid and honest as you when it came to explaining what kind of government they think would be best.