Grey Thoughts
Communism - What is communism
Years ago, I thought that I had a reasonable understanding of Communism. I knew it was bad, mostly because of the simple fact that people flee communist countries without exception. I knew the goal was a utopian society without property ownership that would always fail because of the true nature of man. However, over the last few months I have been studying communism in a lot more depth and I now realize just how little I truly understood about communism and its methods.

Over the next few weeks I am going to be writing a series of posts on Communism in an attempt to explain accurately what communism is and how it acts. Much of the material I am using comes from Marx, Engels and other proponents of communism as well as the works of Fred Schwartz and David Noebel. It is my wholehearted belief that we need to understand communism in order to properly understand the last 100 years of history as well as to protect us from its evil in the future.

So what is communism?

Back in 1848 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published the ‘Communist Manifesto’, melding Feuerbach’s materialism to the dialectics of Hegel to create dialectic materialism. The materialism part of dialectic materialism is easy to understand. Basically it is the position that Matter proceeds Mind (the opposite is idealism)
The ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought. --Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. 1
This idea essentially entails atheism/naturalism.

Hegel’s dialectic is a little more difficult to understand. Basically, Hegel starting people looking at history as a clash of thesis and antithesis, that is a position and the opposite position (its ‘negation’), producing a synthesis, or combination of the two positions. This synthesis position then clashing with it’s own negation to produce a new synthesis and so on.

Marx used this idea in looking at history, but framed it in a materialistic world in which the clash between two classes, the bourgeois (the owners of the means of production) and the proletariat (those who work with the means of production for the owners) was the primary driving positions used in the dialectic. Ultimately, Marx viewed history as a series of advances and withdrawals (Dialectic progress) towards the communist utopia

A useful illustration in understanding this view of dialectics is to consider the task of hammering a nail into a board. The ultimate goal is to have the nail completely in the board, however to get there, the hammer has to go through a series of strikes and withdrawals on the nail. With each strike, the nail goes further towards its ultimate goal but also, each withdrawal is necessary to enable the next strike. In the same way, history progresses towards its supposed ultimate goal of worldwide, utopian communism by a series of advances and retreats towards that communism. Note that I said that history ‘progresses’ towards global communism. The idea that history ‘progresses’ through dialectic change is important to the communist. All change is progress towards their goal and this idea of progress is simple accepted as a matter of faith without being defended. It is also important to understand that this article of faith is where the term ‘progressive’ comes from.

This concept of dialectic has several important ramifications. Firstly, any particular snapshot analysis of the superficial manifestations of communism is inadequate. To understand this point, recall the illustration of the hammer, it would be foolish to think that the hammer has given up or been defeated simply because you see it withdrawing. A current example is that of China, where the communists are still in power, but have instituted capitalism in order to gain resources. The Chinese communists have not changed their idea of communism one little bit; they are just operating under the dialectic idea. They are still just as committed to the concept of a worldwide, utopian communism. Many such examples are also seen in the history of Russia, for instance between 1921 and 1929 Lenin instituted a new economic policy to garner more agricultural surplus.

The second ramification of the dialectic approach is that current evidence is useless to convince a communist that his ideas are wrong. If the communist country fails in the socialism stage and is forced to revert to capitalism, this is just seen as another phase of the dialectic which will be reversed at a later date, bringing global communism closer still. Any event can be interpreted as just part of either a dialectic withdrawal or advance and so no possible observation can count against the communisms faith. In this way communism is unfalsifiable and merely a matter of faith.

Implicit in communism is the idea of atheism. It is from this presupposition, combined with evolution that the communist derives the idea that man is evolving, both biologically and socially, to become able to live in a utopian communist system. This utopia of communism is envisaged where collective ownership has created an over abundance of produce to satisfy all the needs of all the people, so that none live in want and no-one needs to oppress their fellow man; The State will be unnecessary and people will live in peace and harmony. In this, it also shares much with Secular Humanism, which also has an optimistic view of man’s future incarnations based on evolution. The communist (and secular humanist) believes that the right environment, i.e. socialism, is an important stepping stone in humanities evolution towards this goal.

Another important part of the Atheistic presupposition is that of Amorality. Essentially, the communist denies traditional morality (and religion) as merely a tool of the ownership class, used to control and placate the workers so they do not revolt against their oppression. Ultimately, the communist views any action that moves society towards the goal of a global communist utopia is a moral action. The ends justify the means. This means any action they want is considered ‘moral’, including the 100 million or so deaths due to communist purges that happened in the 20th century. Combining this amorality with the dialectic way of thinking means that the communist can undertake any action, make any false promises, even join any religion and still be considered acting in line with communism and being moral.

The final part of communism to note is that its stated goal is GLOBAL communism. Without global communism, no society can be completely safe. This is because if the ownership class still exists it will, by definition try to oppress the worker class, even across national boundaries. So until the communists can control the environment of all people, it cannot guarantee that the ownership class will not rise again.

In summary, the important components of communism are Dialectic Materialism, Atheism, Amorality, Evolution and Globalism. Understanding these components and how they interact is vital to understanding communist actions and motives in the past and present.

A really good post. I had to read the Manifesto (and do a presentation on it and a paper by Lenin) for a subject at University a few months back, and found it fascinating.

Fred Schwartz is a very interesting name. Fred is originally an Aussie, he had a starring role in a book I recently read, Suburban Warriors, about the development of the conservative movement from 1950 to 1980 in Orange Country, (Yup, the OC), California. In 2000 when the book was written, he was still in the area, involved with Rick Warren's Saddleback now, apparently.

Keep up the good work!
Post a Comment

<< Home

Powered by Blogger Weblog Commenting and Trackback by