Archive for the ‘Communism’ Category

What does communism mean to me?

I enjoy starting blog posts with rhetorical questions. Aren’t they nice?

I’ve had some heated debate with friends and not-so-friendly individuals about communism. For some reason, people seem to insist on linking communism to that bourgeois paradise of the USSR or China. For the uninitiated, communist theory can by scary, it’s filled with slightly foreign terms like proletariat or bourgeois, and scary words like capital (which has nothing to do with places like Paris, Berlin or Washington DC). It all has to do with what’re called dialectics. Dialectics are, simply put, methods of argument. Karl Marx introduced Marxist dialectics (the best kind, if I do say so myself), which revolutionized the discussion of history. Rather than the traditional Western view of history, government and its influence on the people, along with military conflicts, Marx presented the idea that all of human history was the history of class struggle. The proletariat, or working class, are constantly oppressed by the bourgeoisie, or the business owners. The bourgeoisie own capital, which is a method of production. The easiest way to understand these concepts is in a factory system. In a factory, you have the workers (proletariat, individuals are called proletarians) who are paid for their labor by the factory owners (the bourgeoisie) who own the machinery and factory itself. The workers basically trade their labor for money, then the owners go out and sell the goods. Marx presents the idea of removing the bourgeoisie, who don’t actually add anything to the process, they just serve as a middle man. The means of production, or capital, would be owned by the workers, or proletariat, cutting out the middle man. Obviously, there’s a lot more to Marxist theory, but this is a basic crash course.

Later communists added things to Marx’s original theory, but I prefer to take it straight from the source. Ideally, I believe that through socialism, through common ownership of capital, we will eventually reach a communist society. A communist society is, essentially, a state-less society run by what is called a “dictatorship of the proletariat.” People generally tend to shy away from the term dictatorship, but this is another Marxist dialectic. It doesn’t refer to an actual dictatorship, rather, it refers to a system where there is no “government” per-se, rather, it’s simply a direct democracy. In my ideal political system, politicians and representatives would be done away with, and instead, we would have a direct democracy, similar to that of Ancient Athens. All governing was done on the communal level, at a certain increment of time, all the townspeople (mind you, in that day, this excluded women, slaves, and non-land-owning men) came together to take a vote on everything concerning the community. Naturally, in an egalitarian society, absolutely everyone would be included, regardless of gender, ethnicity, job etc. This is, naturally, a very simplified overview of what would happen, someday, I want to get deeper into individual issues,  but I’ll leave it here for now.

The next thing I want to touch on is the abolition of money. This is something that, I think, many people have a great deal of trouble with. The concept of money is quite ingrained in our society, many people really just don’t understand how a system could work without it. I do not propose that we return to a barter economy (obviously that would be useless today) but rather that we revolutionize the concept of work. Right now, you work because you want to provide for your family, you want to secure yourself a better economic status, or you simply want to eat. Rather than seeing work as a begrudging obligation, as we do today, work should be seen as a fundamental important part of the smooth running of a community. We shouldn’t work because we want a pat on the head and a present, but rather because we realize that our work allows society to function properly. Something that I find very irritating today, is the reverence of different types of work. The jobs that contribute the least to society, being a businessman or stock broker for example, are seen as more prestigious than the ones which contribute the most to society, like plumbers or janitors. Money is another kind of middle-man between the work done and goods, similar to the bourgeoisie.

A quick obligated note: I always feel that it’s important to mention that this is not a process that could feasibly happen overnight. The speed in which it would occur is up to your own personal theories, but I don’t think anyone thinks that society could completely be overhauled in the space of a couple weeks. Indeed, this would have disastrous effects, displacing people’s jobs without creating new ones.

I think I’m going to pause now, and let this portion be absorbed. Feel free to leave a comment or contact me another way, let me know what you think of my political and economic theories! Thanks for listening 🙂

Living Red

Wake up to the smell of class struggle...I wanted to speak a bit on my choice of communism, and on what communism means to me, eventually winding back into how choosing to pursue the life of a revolutionary Marxist effects my day to day life.

I like to joke that I’ve been red all my life. I started off, as most young boys, following right in my father’s footsteps. My father is a gun-touting, misogynist, Social-Darwinist Republican. For much of the first half of my life, I chose to go with my father.  I think I was probably one of the most brainwashed misinformed little robots running around the playground, but the worst part was that I was being encouraged to think for myself. Essentially, I was told to think for myself, while being misinformed about all other view points. So it was like “believe how you like, as long as you believe what I believe.” I’ll always remember walking around the mall with my father and step-brother, and eventually stumbling onto the subject of politics, where I proclaimed to everyone the common cop out that, “sure communism sounds great in theory, but when it gets to practice, it just doesn’t work.” My step-brother agreed with me, but my father was shocked and appalled! “It doesn’t even make sense in theory? You have us [essentially the blue collar white people] workin’ hard and contributin’ as much to society as possible, then those lazy liberals, runnin’ off welfare [“lazy” brown people, who were also all here illegally and taking all our jobs, goddammit!] benefitin’ from all our [again, the white people] hard work!” Well of course, that makes perfect sense! My young brain certainly didn’t think that questioning authority might be virtuous, or doing my own personal research might have some kind of benefit. He’s an adult, he knows what he’s talking about, right?

I continued on this young republican path for a good chunk of time, but eventually I began to have questions that my father couldn’t answer, or I was just too terrified to answer myself. This was right about that time when we got a computer and I learned all about the wonders of the internet and, especially, Wikipedia. I devoured everything that they had on any sort of political theory, I read about Ancient Chinese political systems and small poorly developed economic theories that had never made their way into a textbook, and certainly not into the world at large, nothing could sate my voracious appetite. It went on like this for, literally, years, until I started finding things that were a bit further to the left of the typical politics I was used to, and this is where I simmered for some time. I began to describe myself as a Democrat, and I aligned myself based on American politics and American political issues. Pro-choice. Pro-gay marriage. Pro-welfare and social security.

I stayed in this kind of in between stage for quite some time as well. As I read more and acquainted myself with more and more political theory, I found myself drifting further and further to the left, even to the point where I found my “fellow” Democrats too conservative for me. This is also the point where I really began to develop my love of foreign languages, and, naturally, to learn a language, one must acquaint oneself with the culture at hand. This introduced me to European politics and, ultimately, socialism. Socialism, of course! This kind of statist, Euro-socialism finally met my full needs as the happy little leftist teenager I was. Along with this I was introduced to a world where environmentalism wasn’t just those hippies chaining themselves to trees, but to a place where it actually had a huge and, at some points, very powerful voice in the government.

It really took me a while to actually find Karl Marx. For European politics, it seems that socialism was represented by faces like Lionel Jospin and countries such as Denmark, while communism was associated with Karl Marx and the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, following the workings of the Socialist Party, especially in France, taught me a lot about their modern ideology, but actually very little about their roots. It actually took me until my sophomore year of high school (last year, if I have to remind anyone!) to be introduced to communism and Marx, by a friend of mine. I instantly felt my appetite settled, my hunger for an ideological home settled. The more I read from him, the more I felt that he was speaking to me. Although I may not agree with Marx on every single ideological point, I will always have a very very special place in my heart for him, for bringing me home. I began to familiarize myself with other modern communist and anarchist writers, such as my dear Emma Goldman, Lenin, Trotsky, Kropotkin (who I hear from a little birdy did the nasty with Emma Goldman. All I can say is YES, you go girl! Sexual revolution all the way!) and Proudhon among many many others.

Alright, I’m going to cut myself off right now. I think that there’s a lot more that I can say, but I’m going to just talk about my journey to where I am right now. I’ll add more later, but I think that monstrous long blog posts make readers sad and scared. 😛

Wake up and smell the class struggle