“Communism” on a micro-scale (where a small group of people consensually get together and pool resources to provide for each other) can work wonders, where people’s strengths and weaknesses might make up for each other. However, this system is voluntary for the members at the end of the day, and no one will be forced to join that.
This is why Communism breaks down on the macro-level: A Government by definition is not optional (which is sad), so a Communist Government will enforce some sort of standard on people whether they like it or not. People from a certain place, just by their geographic location, will be deprived of their freedom to do what they want.
When Marx first raised the idea of social progression, he believed communism was the final stage of social evolution. The idea is that society would go from primitive society to slavery to feudal society to capitalism to socialism and eventually reach communism. In his hypothesis, Marx predicted human society would reach communism AFTER we had cumulated great material wealth. The exact words he use were “the utmost abundance of material”. He believed that only when we have more than enough resources for everyone, will we reach a society in which all the material goods are allocated by state government. There’s no limit what or how much you can take. The state will provide you with whatever want, food, housing, clothing, decoration, entertainment… and you do whatever you’re willing to do to contribute. There’s no currency, there’s no social status, there’s no poor or rich, your every possible need is provided by the government. You go to work not for earning livelihood, but instead, you work for pure self fulfillment or self improvement. Your contribution to the society has no connection to what you receive from the society. You can, by all means, do nothing, just enjoy life. But Marx believed people will want to contribute, for their own self fulfillment. This was the Utopian picture Marx had painted when he first discussed communism.
As you can see, there’s really nothing evil about this idea. In a way, it’s very similar to the society pictured in Star Trek, in which people work to advance human technology and knowledge as a whole, instead of working for material wealth and personal gain. It is a very idealistic society, and everyone is happy.
But this theory had some flaws. After so many years of the “utopian dream” that Marx thought of didn’t live up to it. Why?
Because Karl Marx made a catastrophic error in basing his system of thought on the Labor Theory of Value, and amplified that with a complete failure to understand the necessity of prices and incentives as information systems – a combination that invalidated everything else he concluded from that point onward.
This catastrophe would not have mattered, and would have made him little more than the subject of economic ridicule that he is today, except that he wrote ideological works including the Communist Manifesto, that were prescriptions for rebellion, and that formed both the basis of a new pseudo-religion masquerading as a political system. Second this pseudo-religion formed the a model with which the east could react to, and compete with, the disruptive social and political effects of anglo consumer Capitalism under Democracy.
The east needed an ideological alternative to ‘jump ahead’ of the west. In their societies, democracy could not function because it required that familial trust and freedom from coercion be extended to all members of society, which was impossible due to eastern cultural retention of family and tribal priorities where trust and freedom from coercion is extended only to family and tribe – and coercion and corruption were pervasive elsewhere.
So what actually is wrong?
The root of the evil was this : if the individual is not sovereign, then you can justifiably visit upon him any amount of oppression, depravity and violence in service of the collective.and reject both the sovereignty of the individual and, therefore, individual which exist independent of the collective!
Don’t believe me? You may read this excerpt :
Marx attacked the substance of the revolutionary eighteenth century American and French political documents that proclaimed the fundamental “rights of man”: liberty, equality, security, property, and the free exercise of religion. Marx objected that these alleged rights derive from a false conception of the human individual as unrelated to others, as having interests can be defined without reference to others, and as always potentially in conflict with others. The rights-bearing individual is an “isolated monad … withdrawn behind his private interests and whims and separated from the community.” (Marx 1844, 146)
The truth is that Communism is Totalitarianism — the collective, being the only sovereign, is endowed with all political and economic power, free to exercise it over all aspects of public and private life. So that basically means rights like privacy, liberty, justice are all either in the hands of the “leaders” that form the state, or rather are playfully ignored. Rights are never possessed by the individual, and they are not ceded to the collective. Rather, they originate with the collective.
Now here is when the real problem arrived. While much of Karl Marx’s communism talked about a social revolution where there would be an attack on the capitalists who possessed much of the industries and resources, which ultimately after being possessed by the working class would increase manifold, so much so that there would be no one left for the resources to be equally divided, the problem increased when Stalin used this theory by nitpicking and manipulating certain part of it to force rapid industrialization.
Stalinist industrialization was officially designed to accelerate the development towards communism, stressing that such rapid industrialization was needed because the country was previously economically backward in comparison with other countries; and that it was needed in order to face the challenges posed by internal and external enemies of communism.
Stalinism promoted the escalation of class conflict, utilizing state violence to forcibly purge society of claimed supporters of the bourgeoisie, regarding them as threats to the pursuit of the communist revolution that resulted in substantial political violence and persecution of such people. These included not only bourgeois people but also working-class people accused of counter-revolutionary sympathies. Stalinist policies in the Soviet Union included state terror, rapid industrialization, the theory of socialism in one country, a centralized state, collectivization of agriculture,cult of personality in leadership, and subordination of interests of foreign communist parties to those of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union—deemed by Stalinism to be the most forefront vanguard party of communist revolution at the time.
While Marx is sometimes given a pass, because his ideas were abused by Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and the Khmer Rouge, which resulted in the murder 100M people, the fact remains that Communism isn’t possible because human cooperation is impossible in a division of knowledge and labor without the combination of money, prices, accounting, contracts, and the constant desire of people to identify new opportunities and niches to fill in response to changing demand and shocks.
What are the other problems associated with Communism?
Marx founded Communist philosophy on the principle that class struggles have been, by far, the primary cause of all strife, wars, economic woes, and regime collapses. There are popularly thought to be three major classes of people: the upper, the middle, and the lower. The upper class has most of the wealth; the lower class the least; and the middle class plays the peacemaker between them, maintaining the hope and sanity of the lower class. Without the middle class, heads are chopped. Communism itself does not erase the class struggle, as it proclaims, but keeps it going. It does this because it is a government: there must be a group of people in charge, and it’s likely that this group enjoys its power. By maintaining their power, the leaders of a Communist state separate the population into at least two classes: themselves as the upper class, and preferably everyone else in the lower class.Communist states have generally not featured a middle class—and its absence allowed for the Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917; the Chinese of 1949, the Cuban of 1953-59, and a host of others. All of these revolutions ended with the rise of a Communist state—and all of them were the ruin of their respective nations, because the Communists themselves became the very same brand of elitist upper class they had deposed.
Also, Marx’s doctrine is fraught with faulty logic, loopholes, and unsolved problems. His idea of economics is based on the labor theory of value, which asserts that a car, for example, should cost more than a TV, because more labor is needed to produce it. But this is an oversimplification of the market.
Cola in India tastes almost identical to Coca-Cola, but costs half as much. The labor is the same, but people are happy to pay twice as much for the only difference: the brand name. The same holds true with medicine.
In the same way, tennis shoes can cost over $200 in the US, despite being made in China or Taiwan for only about $3–10. Why do they cost so much? Because the industries that own them sell them based on how highly they are in demand by the public. That’s why they have athletes endorse their products: to make them more desirable to the athletes’ fans.
This is expressly why Marxist Communism has caused the utter collapse of so many national economies: it thinks in broad strokes, and fails to tell one subtlety from another. This, first and foremost, is because Communism is not grounded in reality.
It seems fitting to me that only with unlimited resources would Marx’s ideals be fulfilled. As in, only under a borderline impossible situation would ideals which have continually failed succeed. It seems reminiscent of the “No True Scotsman” fallacy. I’m of the opinion that ideals are not what people say they are, but rather the actual results of the actions of their believers. By this notion, Communism has objectively failed. I’m simply taking it one step further to claim that even in it’s “purest” form, Communism is doomed to failure.