The Communist paradox.

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  • #26
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vanesch said:
Yes, but it is possible that "communism on paper" is something that cannot dynamically exist within a society made of human beings ; in that when you try to apply it, it exists for 3 days, and then automatically evolves into something else, typically a totalitarian regime, sovietist style.

A bit like ice cubes in boiling water: it is dynamically not stable.

But sure is fun to watch!!!
 
  • #27
russ_watters
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Smurf said:
We need to stop confusing Sovietism with Marxism, they are two completely different systems that somehow ended up with the same name.
That's a little misleading. Explanation to follow...
Marxists follow Marxist principles, Stalin followed his own principles and the west called him Communist, it really doesn't matter if people think Sovietism doesn't work, I agree with you, but there is absolutely no way you can attach that to a failure of Marxism.
Now that simply isn't true: Stalin (and don't forget Lenin) called themselves communists. Lenin, especially, most certainly was a follower of Marx (Stalin was mostly just a psychopath). And don't forget - "The Party" was The Communist Party. The west didn't pull that out of the air - they got it from the mouths of the Soviets(same goes for China).
So stop saying "Communism won't work" because you've got a lot of guts to say that when we've yet to try it and it's obvious that our system we have now is hardly flawless.
Well here's the problem with that statement: Since Lenin was a follower of Marx and did try to impliment a version of his vision, we most certainly can say that. There is a catch-22 implied by your statement (the usual one with regard to communism) that simply isn't correct: 'it wasn't tried, so you can't say it failed.' It simply isn't true - it was tried a number of times. Trouble is, it wasn't workable as Marx outlined it. Why? His work was all theory and no application.

For an analogy, a lot of people in the US complain that we're not holding to the principles of the Declaration of Independence (or even, to a lesser extent Locke's Two Treatises). Well, the Declaration, like Manifesto and the Two Treatises is a theory document, a statement of general principles, not a functioning government document. It has to be adapted and applied to reality to set up the actual structure of the government. Lenin made an honest effort to do just that - to take this statement of principles and ideals and turn it into a functioning government. He failed because the principles of Marxism are flawed.

edit: HERE is a great page of Communism quotes. My favorite is this one from Lenin:
We must hate — hatred is the basis of communism. Children must be taught to hate their parents if they are not communists.
And a great one from Regan, which I agree with:
How do you tell a communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin.
MORE: This one from Lenin says it pretty clearly:
The goal of socialism is communism.
 
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  • #28
selfAdjoint
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russ_waters said:
Well here's the problem with that statement: Since Lenin was a follower of Marx and did try to impliment a version of his vision, we most certainly can say that. There is a catch-22 implied by your statement (the usual one with regard to communism) that simply isn't correct: 'it wasn't tried, so you can't say it failed.' It simply isn't true - it was tried a number of times. Trouble is, it wasn't workable as Marx outlined it. Why? His work was all theory and no application.

All you can say historically is that Lenin, a genuine Marxist, did try to implement his vision of the state that would lead to communism, a state of primary accumulation directed by the vanguard party. This was necessarily, in Marxist view, a harsh process, and Lenin should be held to account by history for the cruelties perpetrated under his leadership. He got just so far with his plans and died. He was succeeded by Stalin, who as you point out, was just a psychopath, and who is responsible for the worst genocides in history. Subsequent communist states are inevitably modelled on the "successful" communist state of stalinist Russia (well they did overtake and surpass Nazi Germany, and kept up with the USA militarily for 40 years). So it's fair to say that in all communist states after the USSR, stalinism, not marxism, was the pattern. The last real marxist who tried to found a state was Lenin, and his state, harsh as it was, was hijacked by a monster.
 
  • #29
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selfAdjoint said:
All you can say historically is that Lenin, a genuine Marxist, did try to implement his vision of the state that would lead to communism, a state of primary accumulation directed by the vanguard party. This was necessarily, in Marxist view, a harsh process, and Lenin should be held to account by history for the cruelties perpetrated under his leadership. He got just so far with his plans and died. He was succeeded by Stalin, who as you point out, was just a psychopath, and who is responsible for the worst genocides in history. Subsequent communist states are inevitably modelled on the "successful" communist state of stalinist Russia (well they did overtake and surpass Nazi Germany, and kept up with the USA militarily for 40 years). So it's fair to say that in all communist states after the USSR, stalinism, not marxism, was the pattern. The last real marxist who tried to found a state was Lenin, and his state, harsh as it was, was hijacked by a monster.
Lenin killed millions deliberately in slave labor camps, executions and man-made famines.
http://www.gmu.edu/departments/economics/bcaplan/museum/comfaq.htm

And no, there was no stalinist master plan the all the communist states tried to follow. Several of them condemned him and his system even when he still was alive and almost all after his death. And they repeatedly tried to change the system to make marxism work. The Great Leap Forward, the culture revolution, red khmer ruralization and Korean Juche are only the more infamous of these many attempts. More unknown are the repeated significantly different approaches over time in every communist country to make the economy work. In the end they all failed.
 
  • #30
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Aquamarine said:
Lenin killed millions deliberately in slave labor camps, executions and man-made famines.
http://www.gmu.edu/departments/economics/bcaplan/museum/comfaq.htm
No one ever said they liked Lenin's methods. Besides, starting in russia couldn't have been easy in a country with little to no industrialization, and a huge gap between rich and poor, most certainly not where Marxist theory was intended to be applied.
 
  • #31
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russ_watters said:
Now that simply isn't true: Stalin (and don't forget Lenin) called themselves communists. Lenin, especially, most certainly was a follower of Marx (Stalin was mostly just a psychopath). And don't forget - "The Party" was The Communist Party. The west didn't pull that out of the air - they got it from the mouths of the Soviets(same goes for China).
Right. My bad, didn't mean to imply that.
 
  • #32
russ_watters
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selfAdjoint said:
All you can say historically is that Lenin, a genuine Marxist, did try to implement his vision of the state that would lead to communism, a state of primary accumulation directed by the vanguard party. This was necessarily, in Marxist view, a harsh process, and Lenin should be held to account by history for the cruelties perpetrated under his leadership. He got just so far with his plans and died.
I agree with all of that.
He was succeeded by Stalin, who as you point out, was just a psychopath, and who is responsible for the worst genocides in history. Subsequent communist states are inevitably modelled on the "successful" communist state of stalinist Russia (well they did overtake and surpass Nazi Germany, and kept up with the USA militarily for 40 years). So it's fair to say that in all communist states after the USSR, stalinism, not marxism, was the pattern. The last real marxist who tried to found a state was Lenin, and his state, harsh as it was, was hijacked by a monster.
This part is tougher. I did say Stalin was mostly just a psychopath: he was a psychopath with a plan. He didn't just randomly kill 25 million people: he did it under the auspices of communist reforms. In fact, I think in a lot of ways, his version of crazy fit well with Marxism: according to Stalin, people were just commodities. Resources. Numbers on a page. There is a famous quote, with a double meaning, formerly up in the Holocaust museum: "One death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic". If you're going to go for state control, treating people that way is the most efficient way to do it: you collect, spend, and re-allocate your resources as best for The State.
 
  • #33
loseyourname
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Better to follow Thomas More than Marx if you really want a communal society. Keep it small and self-sustaining. The closest approximation I can really think of are isolated religious communities like those of Amish and Mormon fundamentalists. I doubt such an idea could ever work for a large nation-state.
 
  • #34
Mercator
Communism does not exist

There has never been a communist regime on this earth. All discussions about the Soviets or Maoism are idle, because they were just dictatorial regimes. Some of them, like the Chinese "communist" dynasty are still succesful today, not because they are communist, but because they are dictatorial. Because they are dictatorial, they can claim anything they like, even claim to be communist while in practise doing exactly the opposite of what communism means. Discussing the utopian dream of communism in the context of todays reality is like flirting with quantum physics to explain simple physics. And like quantum physics, communism is just a slogan for most of the crowd. They maybe nice people to have a beer with, but someone who is unable to distinguish between socialism and communism should perhaps bring his discussion to the local bar instead of here.
 
  • #35
selfAdjoint
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russ_watters said:
In fact, I think in a lot of ways, his version of crazy fit well with Marxism: according to Stalin, people were just commodities. Resources. Numbers on a page.

Geeze, where did you get this notion of marxism? This is what Marx accused capitalism of! Marxists, however deluded on other things emphasize the humanness of the people. Stalin did NOT behave that way and he was NOT a true marxist. Some have called him a State Capitalist. The USSR was all about primary accumulation; about "overtaking and surpasssing" at all costs.
 
  • #36
russ_watters
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selfAdjoint said:
Geeze, where did you get this notion of marxism? This is what Marx accused capitalism of!
I know. The ironies and paradoxes of Marxism are the most interesting part of it. This again is what I find so astonishing: how did Marx (and his followers) not see these flaws?
Marxists, however deluded on other things emphasize the humanness of the people. Stalin did NOT behave that way and he was NOT a true Marxist.
Well, again, what people are we talking about here? "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few," don't they? If 25 million farmers need to die so that 250 million (and their decendents) can live in a communist utopia, that's a small price to pay, is it not?

Again, since it was not possible to put into practice "true Marxism," people had to adjust it to make it "work." I think Stalin understood that better than people give him credit for:

Marx would have everyone doing what was best for The State out of a sense of twisted patriotism. What The State needed when Stalin came to power was industrialization. So the patriotic farmer, knowing this, should have donated his farm to The State and moved to a city to work in a factory. But the farmers didn't do it. That's a dilema that Marx wouldn't have been able to deal with. But to Stalin, the solution was simple and logical: the most efficient way to get people to do something they don't want to do is order them and then shoot anyone who disobeys. Ehh, that's still too inefficient: Don't even bother asking, just sieze the farms and shoot everyone on them.
 
  • #37
selfAdjoint
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Show me where Marx said everyone should do what was best for the State! Marx said the party should serve the proletariat. He was all for expropriating the expropriators, and talked vaguely about the dictatorship of the proletariat - that is of the great mass of people - but he never envisioned a Monarchy, such as the USSR became.
 
  • #38
loseyourname
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selfAdjoint said:
Marxists, however deluded on other things emphasize the humanness of the people.

I don't know about that. He definitely emphasized the well-being of the people, but historical materialism viewed humans as automatons controlled entirely by group dynamics. When it proved that humans were indeed human and would not simply do what a good Marxist would feel was in the best interest of their class, what option is there other than to force them? All socialistic policies require aggression, whether it be Stalin's forcing the people off their farms at gunpoint or the IRS taking your house if you don't agree that a large percentage of your income should belong to the state. They require aggression because, whatever the merit of individual policies designed to promote better group fitness, the vast majority of humans will always act in their own self-interest, not in their own group interest. Capitalism is the system that emphasizes this, treating humans not as commodities but as humans - rational agents that act in their own self-interest.
 
  • #39
russ_watters
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selfAdjoint said:
...but he never envisioned a Monarchy, such as the USSR became.
I never said he did. All I said is he didn't develop his idea enough to set out a feasible plan for how Communism would happen and function.
Show me where Marx said everyone should do what was best for the State! Marx said the party should serve the proletariat.
All his spin sounds great: "the party should serve the proletariat." Wonderful, but what does that really mean? Marx was for the abolition of private property. So you tell me: how do you do that? How do you abolish private property without forceably taking it from people? I submit that barring a unanamous desire, there is no other way than dictatorship. Marx wanted the abolition of private property, Stalin achieved it.

Wikipedia:
Other than control by the working class, Marx laid out no plans for the structuring of a communist society or of the society which the working class would build on the way to communism. He assumed the working class could do that for themselves and that it would be a productive society able to meet the needs of the people and much more. Marx was followed in his optimistic approach by the political parties who adopted his theories and detailed plans for the structuring of socialist or communist society were not put forth or developed. With the success of the October Revolution in Russia a Marxist party took power, but without any blueprints for building the new society. [emphasis added]
 
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  • #40
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When speaking about disproving Marx, it is worth to keep in mind that according to Karl Popper it is not possible.

The Marxist account of history too, Popper held, is not scientific, although it differs in certain crucial respects from psychoanalysis. For Marxism, Popper believed, had been initially scientific, in that Marx had postulated a theory which was genuinely predictive. However, when these predictions were not in fact borne out, the theory was saved from falsification by the addition of ad hoc hypotheses which made it compatible with the facts. By this means, Popper asserted, a theory which was initially genuinely scientific degenerated into pseudo-scientific dogma.
- http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/popper/

It lead Popper to include falsifiability as a criteria for a scientific theory.
 
  • #41
SOS2008
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wasteofo2 said:
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.

Two things will happen. First the market that is doing all the buying needs to be earning income in some way in order to buy. So at some point, these businesses that are exporting jobs oversees will actually diminish the market they are selling to. Second, the country with the labor force that is being exploited will at some point demand wages and benefits that the American labor force demands, causing operations to move from Mexico to India to China and so on.

As for the US obsession with suppressing communism, first was fear of revolution here at home (the famous McCarthy era, etc.), and second was as Russ mentions, the domino theory--especially in view of balance of power in which alliances between countries such as Russia and China were viewed as a threat.

Funny how people get bent out of shape about various systems because of the stigma placed on each. If the real goal is national security, a country should try to create a market that requires the least dependence on imports as possible (e.g. oil). In particular a country should maintain self-sufficiency in the basic Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, food, shelter, etc. for its people. And why, as explained under the heading about farming, the US subsidizes food production. We also manipulate the market with taxation, for example luxury items (not basic needs) have larger sales tax, as it should be. Perhaps other basic needs such as utilities, health care, etc. should have low/no sales tax and "reasonable" profit margin caps? Sort of a mix of socialism in regard to basic needs along with free market capitalism for everything else. I know, I'm a radical off my rock... :shy:
 
  • #42
selfAdjoint
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SOS2008 said:
We also manipulate the market with taxation, for example luxury items (not basic needs) have larger sales tax, as it should be. Perhaps other basic needs such as utilities, health care, etc. should have low/no sales tax and "reasonable" profit margin caps? Sort of a mix of socialism in regard to basic needs along with free market capitalism for everything else. I know, I'm a radical off my rock...

This was the American system I lived in until I was 47. The Reagan revolution weakened and then killed it.
 
  • #43
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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.

But what if the rest of the world does not want what you have, ideologicaly speaking?

Here in Brasil the other day, I heard 2 real old guys debating capitalism, they both agreed with each other that it was good for those who already have but bad for those who do not.
Regardless of the truth, the fact is that many people here and no doubt throughout the rest of the world still feel like this. The communist party here in Brasil still competes in all elections and actually holds seats at all levels of government.
The gap between the rich and the poor has only gotten wider over the last decade.
I thing that we are at the point (at least here in Brasil) where if the promises of the benifits of capitalism don't start trickling down real soon, read: flooding down, we may face open revolt. Look at the Landless movement here MSTin Brasil, it is gaining force and they simply invade farms by the 100s and take over.
Sadly, I think that true global trade equality will never be a reality because of the different labor costs in different countries. The multinationals open factories in developing countries like Brasil and only pay the equivilent of the local salaries and the people accept it gladly. Perhaps if they paid a higher salary (although not = to that of the parent country or obviously that would negate the reason for opening a factory here) than the going local rate, this would force national companies to increase their salaries. Both GM and Ford opened factories here in Brasil recently, but not before they forced the federal and state governments to give them (1) free land, (2) Humungus tax breaks and much more, and the states fought like cats and dogs for the business. And the jobs that were created were few as the industry is so heavily automated. Is that fair? OK , I've said enough, time for someone else..
 
  • #44
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Supporters of capitalism point out that the percentage of people in developing countries living below $1 per day have halved in only twenty years, especially in countries like China that have embraced capitalism.
http://www.worldbank.org/research/povmonitor [Broken]

Life expectancy has almost doubled in the developing world since WWII and the gap to the developed world is starting to close.
http://www.theglobalist.com/DBWeb/StoryId.aspx?StoryId=2429

Looking at the world as a whole and not only the US shows that income inequality is in fact diminishing.
http://www.columbia.edu/~xs23/papers/worldistribution/NYT_november_27.htm
 
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  • #45
cronxeh
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Entropy rising, supply going down, demand going up - eventually all economies diverge and tend to either socialism or anarchy depending on your morals
 

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