Aidan James, Rise! Magazine
Even though the Soviet Union collapsed over twenty years ago, the stigma about their beliefs still resonates among American youth. Though the Soviet Union had presented itself under the banner of Communism, the truth is that this totalitarian state was just as Communist as Hitler’s Germany was Socialist. Under this guise, Communism has become associated with massive purges, unfavourable living conditions, poverty and oppression – a completely inaccurate representation of Marxist theory. Marxist theory does not call for the installation of a dictator nor does it call for the oppression of the nation. The “communism” that had plagued the world in the 20th century is not an example of the egalitarian society that most communists strive for, but instead acts as a warning against an overly powerful bureaucratic state. Their failure is not an example of how communism has failed, but how an oppressive state can collapse under its own weight.
The countries that have taken the mask of communism fail to follow many if not all of Marx’s principles when transitioning into communism. While these societies did do away with private property, they replaced it with state ownership– turning the populace into a slave labour force. Interestingly enough is the difference between public and common property. Public property is property set aside for public use under state management such as land designated for parks and wild reserves. Common property however would be described as property that is shared with a community in which the community has a common interest in the property much as an H.O.A. works to maintain a standard of living. A fusion of these two properties would be the result of the abolition of private property. The systems that grew out of these revolutions, however, became too powerful and failed to dissolve into the hands of the people. Class is also prevalent in these failed states as the system pushes everyone to the standards of poverty while the new ruling class, in the case of the Soviets, high level political bureaucrats and military officials, remains comfortable by exploiting the labour of their servants. In Russia, for example, the Tsar was simply replaced by an even more ruthless dictator. Stalin, for example, found power through the elimination of political adversaries. Massive purges of political dissent were the product of his own greed and paranoia. Stalin worked to eliminate or exile many key player in the Bolshevik revolution, such as Leon Trotsky, altered history as well as projecting Lenin as a symbol. By establishing a state above the people as opposed to a people’s state, this, if at any point in time, was the beginning of the end of Soviet Communism.
Many of these countries were also too underdeveloped for such a system to be successful as a period of capitalism is required to build up the basic means of production and industrial infrastructure such as factories, roads and rail roads, agriculture – general industrialization. This is a crucial point which has been overlooked by almost all ex-communist nations as the people bought into attempts by a few at instituting this system. Russia for example had almost no major modern industry in the country. It wasn’t until Stalin that the country experienced rapid industrialization, and then only under an iron fist. Russian agriculture was also highly underdeveloped when compared to the rest of Europe. Much of the farming in the early Soviet Union was tended by man’s hand and absent of any mechanization. And while this primitive mode of production may have been good enough for a feudal state, it was simply inadequate for modern supply and demand.
To put it plainly, communism was not meant for these countries – at least not in the period when revolution sprang forth. In order for communism to succeed, several condition must be met (such as class struggle, the evolution of industry, and the major urbanization of the population), and the countries that have those variables met are reluctant to transition. Of all of the countries with such variables, the United States is the prime candidate for such radical change. The United States is on the edge of economic disaster as capitalism is running its course. Communication, transportation and manufacturing have evolved to a point where masses of humans have been completely eliminated from production. Jobs that still require masses of manpower are exported overseas to cheaper countries with more lenient labour laws, and existing wages are reduced to compete with the new market, causing cheaper labour to become more widespread. Autonomous machines are expected to replace a huge number of workers worldwide as logistics and transportation are replaced by machines that perform more efficiently and cheaply than humans. The auto industry was one of the first hit by this realization of modern capitalism. Cities such as Detroit have been left in ruin as profit takes priority. Workers are just another expense which can be cut as new technology promises better profits. In the late 1900’s, it was factory workers, but now almost every aspect of the labour force is under threat as technology begins to pass humans. This might seem like the destruction of our society or the rise of Cyberdyne, but it isn’t. The loss of work is an issue only in a capitalist economy. The whole model of capitalism functions by workers doing work, earning money, and spending that money on the goods and services of other workers. However, in a communist one, it means more time for recreation – more free time.
The word communism brings a bad taste to many mouths as it reignites memories of war and anti-American hate. The stigma of communism is a ill one. Even though war and death were carried through under the banner of communism, it is not the true identity of the ideology or the people who believe in it. True communism is still yet to be had, and it’s our job to show the world what a Marxist society truly looks like.