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The Communist paradox.

  1. Feb 1, 2005 #1
    Just some random thoughts about Communism:

    We "fought" the whole cold war to end Communism. We lost tens of thousands of troops in Vietnam, and many more thousands of troops in other armed conflicts around the world in an effort to put an end to Communism. Our whole foreign policy from the end of WWII until the USSR fell apart was dominated to stopping the spread of Communism and encouraging those who opposed it, costing us billions and billions of dollars in everything from giving armed aid to counter-revolutionaries and our own arms build up against the USSR.

    Now, Terrorism is the enemy, and Communists aren't enemy #1 anymore.

    Meanwhile, at home, we're buying goods from Communist China. After all this anti-Communist stuff, it's COMMUNISTS who can compete bests in many niches of our free market system. Communists sell their goods to Capitalist countries, and Capitalist countries buy their goods from Communist countries. Buisiness owners love free-market systems for a market to buy goods, but when producing goods, buisinesses can't build factories in Communist China quick enough.

    After all this anti-Communist stuff, we're ignoring the human-rights violations in China, and giving them huge amounts of our buisiness. If we boycotted China and other Communist countries, we'd have to pay more for basic, (currently) inexpensive goods, because they'd have to be made in America where there's a minimum wage. This would probabally cause a signifigant economic depression, since people would have to pay so much more for basic goods. There would probabally be calls for a higher minimum wage, and for the government to do more to protect the economic interests of the people, IN EFFECT, LEADING US CLOSER TO COMMUNISM.

    I'm sure some of the more lasseiz-faire people will say that "If goods were made in America, it would benefit America and Americans, because more Americans would be making money, as opposed to Chinese people making money, and the extra money people are paid for making goods will go back into the economy." However, making buisiness owners employ only Americans in the first place would be limiting the free market. On top of that, it's obvious that by the choice of many buisiness owners, that it's more profitable for them to employ people in Communist countries than in Capitalist countries, again showing that Communists in some cases can compete better than Capitalists IN a Capitalist economy. And, since buisiniesses make more profit employing people to do work in Communist China than in America, by boycotting Communist countries, you'd be signifigantly cutting the profit margins of buisinesses, and as Capitalists anywhere will tell you, the more money that a buisiness makes, the more it benefits people, becuase they can expand, hire more people, and drop their prices.

    So anyway, feel free to respond to any of these little paradoxes you want. I just got thinking about the role of Communism in our world and felt the interaction between Communism and Capitalism was really interesting and quite funny in some cases.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 1, 2005 #2
    but that's not real communism though. & it's not a paradox either

    but i wonder if "big government" is such a bad thing though:
    -- Bill Blum

    or how about Carter's National Security Advisor's son, Mark Brzezinski in the LA Times, 1994:
    & re: "fighting communism"
    -- Pulitzer-prize nominee Michael Parenti
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2005
  4. Feb 1, 2005 #3
    Sure, China isn't Communism as Marx envisioned it, but I would argue that China actually is real communism, since every government proporting to be Communist has essentially developed into a totalitarian state essentially the same as China.

    However, if we define China as a Communist country, and America as a Capitalist country, their relation is pretty paradoxical. The Communist country, while espousing the evils of Capitalism, needs to sell it's goods to a Capitalist country, because the citizens of a Capitalist nation are better off and can afford to buy these goods, while the Communist ideology that runs China leaves their citizens devoid of the ability to have basic goods. Meanwhile, in America, most believe in economic competition, and to compete, companies go to a Communist country to employ workers for cheap, since they won't get any better in a Communist factory, and then they sell these goods back to Capitalists at a much lower price than if they were made in a Capitalist country.

    The Communists need the Capitalists as a market, or they'd make no money, and the Capitalists need the Communists as producers, or else all the goods would cost too much.

    How much anti-Communist sentiment is there anymore? Do any policy makers talk about how we need to stop communism? I don't believe that I've ever once heard anyone in the Bush administration even utter the word Communism...
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2005
  5. Feb 1, 2005 #4
    Parenti wrote that in 1969
     
  6. Feb 1, 2005 #5
    And so what relevence does it have today? I don't see any...
     
  7. Feb 1, 2005 #6
    I'm not making a case against Communism here (though I think it's a ridiculous notion), I'm just noting how Communist and Capitalist countries in todays world are somewhat inter-dependent upon one another, and while both profess to hate the other, they both help each other out quite a bit.
     
  8. Feb 1, 2005 #7
    I remember hearing Bush say during his inaugural address (seemingly randomly) say the phrase "Shipwreck of Communism." I wasn't particularly paying attention to what he said before or after that, but he did say that.
     
  9. Feb 2, 2005 #8

    vanesch

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    I never understood why the US was so very anti-communist. Except maybe that a system like the US, where everything is supposed to be based upon competition and fighting, needs a bogeyman in order to function.

    After all, communism was a kind of society experiment, just like the putting aside of the "ancien regime" was in the revolutionary years at the end of the 18th century. So if it was a bad experiment, then those involved would find out at their own expense, and if it was a good experiment, then why be against it ? If the US thought that their system was better, why not just take advantage of the fact that the others would get behind ? And if they thought that communism was better, why not adopt it :-) ?

    Of course, the expansionist visions of dictators like Stalin and Mao were something to recon with. But why intervene in say, South America where there was no such menace ?

    I think it was a religious war, honestly.
     
  10. Feb 2, 2005 #9
    Well ideologically, the USA is supposed to be about competing and working hard to get ahead, not everyone being equal.

    It turned out that it was a bad experiment. No damned communist nations even bothered to follow Marx's vision of achieving full industrialization/capitalism before becoming Communist, and thus none of them had the means to actively support their whole population in any signifigant way. Furthermore, every single one turned into a dictatorship essentially. After WWII, it was apparent that Communism just lead to violent opressive dictatorships and mass poverty/starvation.
     
  11. Feb 2, 2005 #10

    vanesch

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    Let us take statement (1):
    And then (2):

    Although essentially I think (2) is correct (one could argue whether communism automatically leads to it, or whether in all these experiments somehow the thing got corrupted, but that doesn't change the fact), and if you say (1) is also correct, then my point was:
    Why the hell didn't the USA LIKE others to embrace communism ? If you know , following (2), that they will get into oppressive dictatorships and mass poverty and starvation, it is all the easier, following (1) to "be the best".

    That's why I don't understand the US hate for communism in other parts of the world.

    It is a bit as the hare, who thinks that running the fastest is the greatest thing in the world, who gets angry at the turtoise for having such a heavy thing on its back, because that will forbid him to run fast ???

    Instead of thinking: "that fool will at least be a piece of cake in the competition"
     
  12. Feb 2, 2005 #11
    1> You have a poor understanding of the USA
    2> We don't live in a bubble. Why do you care what the US does? If we collapse our currency, why should you care? If we open our own style of gulogues (sp?) then why do you care?
    3>Except that the spread of communism was synonymous with the spread of the sphere of influence of the USSR . Removing the ability to trade at fair prices, or have multinational companies operate elsewhere? I can't see why that would be bad for us :bugeye:
    4>Of course they were. Who knows, I mean, Cuba is just a little country that wasn't a big deal, right? :rolleyes:
    5>WOW. So what religions were fighting? Christianity and......the non-religion of communism?
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2005
  13. Feb 2, 2005 #12

    vanesch

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    Probably. But it does seem that the US needs something to act against. To make life spicy, I guess :tongue:

    I don't think I would care, honestly. I would vent my opinion about it, but I would never support any action to correct it, in any way. BTW, you *are* collapsing your currency :tongue:

    Why would you like to trade, except with yourself ? Now, the sphere of influence of the USSR, that's maybe something that was also _induced_ by fact that communists knew they shouldn't knock on the door of the USA, or better, that they would need protection against the USA and its anti-communist policy. If the USA would have been more neutral, maybe the influence of the USSR would have been less important, who knows.

    Indeed, it wasn't a big deal.

    No, it was the ideology of capitalism against the ideology of communism. I meant religious war such as between PC fans versus Mac fans.
     
  14. Feb 2, 2005 #13

    russ_watters

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    Regarding the OP, the "Domino Theory" dominated US foreign policy in the cold war. It was the idea that if we don't stop communism from spreading in a few hotspots like Korea and Vietnam and Afghanistan, it'll spread like falling dominos. This was based on Marx's work (workers of the world, unite!) and the implication was that all communists were the same and all were in league with each other. Korea seemed to support that, with China's entrance into the war. It was always believed that China and the USSR would ally with each other to spread communism - in reality, they wouln't have. Knowing this, its not too hard to let go of the old idea that all communists are the same.
    I agree. Marx had a theory. Well, experimentation proved his theory wrong and led to a new theory: attempted communism leads to totalitarianism.
    I'm not sure about that - China is different from Russia in that they are not fully industrialized. A significant fraction of their population is still in the Middle Ages. I think the US-China relationship is more about that than about communism and capitalism having a symbiotic relationship (add to that the fact that China's growth in the last decade is almost entirely due to moderation and movement toward capitalism). It may be, though, that developed and developing have a symbiotic relationship.
    Its quite simple: Freedom(we like it) and imperialism(we don't like it). Communism => totalitarianism (which generally includes imperialism), as wasteofo2 noted.
    You utterly misunderstand America. Americans don't just want to "be the best" in the world and screw everyone else, we want everyone else to have what we have. That's the whole reason we stayed in Iraq after knocking off Saddam - and indeed, why we rebuilt France and the rest of Europe after WWII.
    You most certainly would care because a collapse of the American economy would devistate the world economy.
    Why trade? What? France is a member of the EU.... Trade is important - crucial even - to domestic and the global economies.
     
  15. Feb 2, 2005 #14
    Well, Communist nations were a threat to us and our allies in a military sense, and despite the US having a competitive attitude, many in the USA also feel we should help those less fortunate than ourselves. It's not like the USA is full of 290 million lasseiz faire capitalists who think everything that happens to everyone is entirely their fault.
     
  16. Feb 2, 2005 #15
    Calling China communist is like calling America Democratic. They're both far and beyond what they hold themselves to be.
     
  17. Feb 2, 2005 #16
    Maybe that's because they're so-called 'hate' is political rhetoric and the so called "Communist" countries are actually quite mixed economically (as are the so called "Capitalist countries).

    Add: One of the biggest mistakes in today's society is the thinking that Communism and Capitalism are opposite sides of a spectrum.
     
  18. Feb 2, 2005 #17
    Interesting to note, that part of Marx's theory was that Communism was to occur after Capitalism had already taken place and the nation was fully industrialized, and that an industrial nation which went through a signifigant period of Capitalism has never actually attempted Communism. I don't think Marx's theory has ever been tested, infact, the way all these "Communist" nations fail somewhat supports his theory, that you need Capitalism first, and then Communism will come.
    That's just another part of the Paradox, every Communist nation ever has completely ignored one of the main tennents of the Communist Manifesto.

    I'm not really talking about Communism and Capitalism in a grand sense, really just in the US-China sense, since we didn't exactly have a huge dependence on Soviet products and did fine during the USSR's existance. Your note of the fact that China's been growing by becoming more capitalist etc. just shows even more of the Paradox, the only way that the self-proclaimed Communist nation can advance in the world is to compete Capitalist style, moving away from Communism. But, at the same time, they're industrializing and becoming more capitalist, and more people are actually benefiting, the standard of life in China is raising. At the same time that they're moving away from Communism, they're actually following Marx's plan and moving towards it. Communism in China is really more like an Aristocracy, where the government officials and a few small sub-societies are very wealthy, and the majority of the people are very poor - creating huge class divisions, as Marx saw in pre-capitalist socieites (which China is/was). Now that China's becoming more Capitalist, the quality of life is raising for more people, and they're sucessfully industrializing, which is exactly how Marx saw it. And hell, the rhetoric in China is still very anti-Capitalist, so who knows, even if they become fully Capitalist and industrialized, they may one day actually try a fully industrialized Communism...
     
  19. Feb 2, 2005 #18
    East Germany and Czechia was industrialized before Communism. And Stalin did build an enormous military industry by transforming Russia into a concentration camp. Communism still failed.

    Communism fails because

    1. The assumption that people will magically change their nature. The desire for power and status will cease to exist. As will corruption, violence, envy and wars. People will become completely altruistic and endlessly work for the common good.

    2. The failure of central planning. It is usually impossible to predict something as complex as the economy and how resources should be allocated. In capitalism, this solved by trying many solutions and letting competition find a good one.
     
  20. Feb 2, 2005 #19

    vanesch

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    You will probably be surprised, but I agree with you :smile:
    Indeed, what makes Communism fail lamentably is that there are so many egoist bastards around :biggrin:

    Ok, I don't agree with you 100% on your second point, but only say, for 90%. For many things it is right, but for _some_ things, I think that central planning can still work better. A main area is fundamental scientific research, which should benefit at least partly from "central planning and funding" (although individual competition also plays a role). The reason is that any direct material benefit can easily take 50 years or more to pay down. And there are a few other things I think that are best centrally planned.

    But we were not talking about whether communism is a good or a bad idea. The question was why the US was so terribly aggressive against everything communist, even if it had to support nasty dictators to do so. I wonder if not a big part of the cold war was instilled by this very strong reaction on the part of the US. With some hindsight, I don't really know whether the USSR was such a big threat after all.
     
  21. Feb 2, 2005 #20

    BobG

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    I think the US was more anti-USSR than anti-Communist, even though, already being anti-Communist certainly made it easier to be anti-USSR. And while the US may have wound up the most powerful of the anti-Soviets, it was really a shared Europe/US fear of the USSR (hence NATO).

    While we certainly didn't like the USSR prior to WWII, we didn't have an intense enough dislike of each other that we couldn't be allies. What happened at the end of WWII and immediately after is what really built up the mutual paranoia.

    During the war, the only thing we really had in common was the fear of a military power dominating Europe and the rest of the world. Prior to WWII, it was Germany that looked to be that threat. Considering the devastation WWII caused, there was a good possibility that eliminating Hitler would only clear the way for someone else to step in and finish the job Hitler started.

    On one side, you had a nation that lost about 10,000 people a day, including civilians, because a good part of the war was fought in their country. Their driving force (at least according to them) was to never have a war fought on Russian soil again - hence their grab of Poland and Eastern Germany at the end of the war and their continued 'acquisition' of buffer states.

    On the other side, we could look at what the USSR did at the end of war and have visible proof that our worst fears were valid. The USSR did take over Eastern European countries and what guarantee was there that they weren't just finishing the job Hitler started? Stalin was just as ruthless as Hitler and the acquisition of Eastern European industries should have improved their ability to move even further west, should they have desired.

    Yes, there was mutual fear between the US-USSR. Probably more than was actually warranted, since I'm pretty sure the US never had any desire to invade or colonize the Soviet Union and the USSR probably had no plans to take over all of Europe. But the USSR's actions in Europe certainly warranted some serious apprehension over just large a 'buffer' they needed. And, considering Soviet history, it's at least somewhat understandable they'd be a little nervous at the only remaining superpower cozying up to Western Europeans and permanently basing the strongest military left so far away from home and so close to the USSR.
     
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