Social Question

Fly's avatar

Do you think that it is possible to have true communism?

Asked by Fly (8699points) May 4th, 2010

Is complete communism possible? What is your reasoning?

I feel that communism is an impossible goal for several reasons, the first of which being that people will always want things- they don’t just want their needs to be met, they want their needs to be met and then some. Second of all, the majority of people in the world are religious, while communism seeks to abolish religion. Thirdly, people generally object change, especially change that would take things away from them- a communist revolution would not succeed over the people easily. Furthermore, communism would require redistribution of everything, which would take money, lots of time, a large government, and complete cooperation from the constituents. In addition, communism directly contradicts the constitution of the United States, as well as the constitutions of most other countries, and therefore would not be an easy or gradual transition.

What is your stance?

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37 Answers

lilikoi's avatar

No. People are too selfish.

Storms's avatar

The Christians did.

Trillian's avatar

Not a chance.

toomuchcoffee911's avatar

Nah, humans are imperfect.

Seek's avatar

@Storms And we all know how well that worked out for them, as it carried on so perfectly to this day.~

Communism works in very small doses – Kindergarten classrooms, College dorms when you have responsible roommates, and (duh) communal homes.

I’d love to think a real commune would be possible, but people in general are much more concerned with being “king of the hill” than with assuring that all people have enough.

Storms's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr It worked because it was a small number of people who were all on the same page. Same as your examples. The Church was definitely at its best when it was universally persecuted rather than merged with a State.

WestRiverrat's avatar

In small organizations communism can work. On a large scale it never has yet.

Even on a small scale it is not easy. How many communes started in the 60s, and how many are left from that era?

WolfFang's avatar

Even if people are impefect and selfish, it doesn’t mean obstacles cannot be overcome. People will keep refining their methods, one day we will get it right. Whether “it” happens to be communism or not

Storms's avatar

What makes you believe that there’s some secret formula out there for the ideal civilisation that we haven’t stumbled upon? Do you think that man will be perfected and, if so, how?

wonderingwhy's avatar

Greed, self-absorbtion, and preoccupation with the external; eliminate those and I’d give it a fighting chance.

WolfFang's avatar

@Storms because we have been constantly perfecting ourselves for millenia. Why stop striving now?

Storms's avatar

@WolfFang It’s not a question of willpower. Are you distinguishing between personal betterment and societal betterment?

WolfFang's avatar

Even if its not willpower, as I said, we(collectively) have been perfecting ourselves for millenia in more ways than one, the way society works being one of them. personal betterment will lead to societal betterment anyway

YARNLADY's avatar

Someday, maybe, but not as long as people are unwilling and seemingly unable to act in their own best interest.

Plone3000's avatar

It is obviously possible, there are many countries doing it. In America however I do not think this is the way to go, and barely any would agree on it. Democratic Socialisum would be a much better system in my opinion over Communisum and other democratic forms of government.

ETpro's avatar

Communism could be designed to work for the betterment of the whole society. Unfortunately, that is not what it has been designed for in those nations that have recently adopted it. In those cases, it was instead designed to make a small group of party bosses fabulously wealthy and powerful at the expense of everyone else. That’s why Communist Countries in recent history have needed barbed-wire fences and machine gun nests to keep the workers in their “worker’s paradise.”

As to being anti-religious, that has nothing to do with the basic form of economics and everything to do with who is instituting it. One of the earliest uses of communism as an economic model is doccumented in the Christian Bible’s Book of Acts as follows:

Acts 4:32—And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
33—And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
34—Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
35—And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

The Bible also cautions that certain early Christians, convinced of the immediacy of Christ’s return, decided not to work but to spend all their time in prayer and let others take care of feeding them. Paul warned believers that if such an able-bodied man would not work, let him also not eat.

So if you are going to use a communist system, you have to find ways around human laziness. One plan might be to meet people’s basic needs, but no more than that, and provide them the fruit of their labors to enjoy things above and beyond the basics if and only if they earn them.

As we have recently seen, Casino Capitalism is not without its vulnerabilities to evil human nature either. Nor, if we look back at the 19the and early 20th century, was the capitalism of the robber barons.

WolfFang's avatar

@ETpro I agree, and when it really comes down to the roots, Capitalism and Communism have and are being used to make certain minorities extremely wealthy at the worlds expense.
btw i don’t see how verse 33 is related to communism…

ETpro's avatar

@WolfFang Wrongly designed, either system really is all about establishing a ruling class with enormous power and wealth, which of course must come from… the non-ruling class.

Fly's avatar

@Plone3000 The “communism” currently used in other countries is nothing close to pure communism, which is what my question is referring to.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Communism can work in small communities like agricultural communes. Some Kibbutzim (plural of kibbutz) in Israel have implemented democratic communism effectively for years. They typically have mechanisms for dealing with disagreements and issues related to members joining or leaving the community.

I doubt this can work as well on a large (national) scale.

ETpro's avatar

In truth, communism’s economic model (not the political aspects of Marxism) may be blended with the best capitalism and socialism have to offer in order to produce a truly workable economic model that would be less prone to failures and excesses than any single model is. I don’t see that happening in America any time soon, though. We are so mired in extremes of ideology that tie each word to things they don’t actually represent.

Plone3000's avatar

@Fly are you trying to tell me that a country like China is not “pure” communism?
I generaly do not see any difference.

Fly's avatar

@Plone3000 Then you clearly do not know much of anything about communism. I suggest you check the link I gave above to get an understanding of pure communism (aka Marxism), and then read about the Communist Party of China before you try to argue that point.

Plone3000's avatar

@Fly first of all you don’t need to get all defensive, I was just asking you a question. But since you are smack talking me, and because you are such an expert why not just point out the difference?

Yes. Ovcorse there is a difference, mabie a mere one, but lets be honest, its still Communist regardless if you throw in a word like “China”, “pure”, or “Marxism”.

toomuchcoffee911's avatar

@Plone3000 She isn’t being defensive, nor is she “talking smack” about you. She’s simply suggesting you further read the article so you can learn what pure communism is.

Fly's avatar

@Plone3000 As @toomuchcoffee911 stated, I was not “getting all defensive” or “smack talking,” I was just suggesting that you educate yourself on the matter. And, as a matter of fact, that are several differences- rather large ones at that. Simply pointing out the differences to you would not help you learn anything, nor is it my job to educate you on the information that I went so far as to provide in my thread, which you proceeded answer without having knowledge of.

Plone3000's avatar

@Fly why would you ask a question that you know so much about?

WolfFang's avatar

@Plone3000 maybe because she wanted to see our viewpoints as well…?

flutherother's avatar

Most people believe that the individual is of more importance than the state because most people are individuals themselves. What is a state anyway but a shoddy compromise. Communism will never work because it overvalues ‘The State’ and undervalues people.

ETpro's avatar

@flutherother Communism did work in the early Christian church, and still does in some religious orders. The communist states we are familiar with today were not really set up to secure the greatest good for the people. They were set up to secure the greatest good for a ruling elite in charge of the single political party, the Communist Party. THey were rationalized to make a small oligarchy incredibly rich and powerful at the expense of everyone else. Capitalism in America today is on the road to the same ruin. When an oligarchy sufficiently suppresses the masses and impoverishes them, they kill the goose that laid their golden eggs.

Earthgirl's avatar

My “stance” and the reason I don’t feel that communism will never work is that it takes away freedom. Economic parity is nice dream but if in order to achieve it one needs to have a police state where neighbors are informing on each other and the state tells you what your life’s work will be instead of you being able to choose it, if the means of production are so mismanaged that the country is thrown into a state of poverty, if the state dictates to you how many children it would be “fair” for you to have, well, you get the picture.
Human nature is not a hard set group of traits, I think. It can shift situationally. If Capitalism can bring out greedy instincts does that mean that Communisim brings out only the nobler ones? No, and of course we have seen that it is not so. In fact, when people are pushed into a situation where they need to curry favor in order to get privileges or in some cases even to survive, they will resort to a lot of backstabbing and dirty dealings to get one up on each other. Envy and jealousy do not disappear. You cannot dictate to people that they be fair. It needs to be done by choice or it doesn’t work. By raising social awareness and rewarding people for being altruistic and not by forcing it on them, that is the only way to evolve into a more just society.
I am reading a great book right now about Romania under Communism. It’s called Smuggled by Christina Shea. It is fictional but weaves in a lot of the history of Communism in Eastern Europe. It’s interesting to see how the political systme affects the life of one woman.

ETpro's avatar

@Earthgirl Why would a communist system need to be a police state? Granted all communist nation states in existence today are, and I explained why above. But the one described in the Bible in which Christians lived holding all things in common most certainly wasn’t a police state. There are religious groups today that as a choice of faith live in such a system, and they are not police states.

Mind you, I am not a supporter of communism or socialism. I believe well regulated capitalism is a superior system. But I think we tend to make communism and socialism a Bogey Man it really isn’t. Authoritarianism and absolutism are the true enemies of man, and they can infect capitalism in the form of fascism and crony capitalism just as easily as they can creep into socialist and communist states. When they rear their ugly head, you get a police state.

wundayatta's avatar

@ETpro Have you looked into gift economies? I think some tribes of Northwest Indians worked this way. Probably the most famous aspect of these cultures are the potlatch ceremonies, where people give away as much as possible. From those who have, to those who need.

I’m not sure exactly how it worked, nor whether it worked on a daily basis, but it seems like a potential model for working communism. Communism can work with the necessary cultural supports. People need to be brought up to value helping others in serious material ways. People also need to value work and community. These are difficult cultural values to build in a community, but if you can do it, I think communism can work.

YARNLADY's avatar

It is only possible in small communities where people truly have the best interest of all involved as their main value.

ETpro's avatar

@YARNLADY Perhaps so as society exists today. But we may have little choice but to explore how to make socialism work on a broad societal level in the future. As robotics takes over more and more of the work load, what do we do.

This is a serious question. In the early days of this country and up through industrialization, the US used to employ around 90% of its population in the agriculture industry. Today around 5%. work in agriculture, but we are a major food exporter to the world. We did not move out of the age of agriculture into the industrial age as some social commentators have wrongly suggested. Instead, we automated agriculture. We now do far more with just 5% of the population than we formerly did with 90%. This will happen throughout the workforce. So we need to start thinking about how to support people when machines do the work for them.

Nullo's avatar

@ETpro The anti-religious aspect of Communism is, IIRC, present in the Manifesto. In practice, the Church was persecuted because it was the social force, the rallying point that the government wanted to be. It is written that, “No man can serve two masters;” there can only be one ultimate authority. The faithful obey the law of the land because God tells us to, unless it runs contrary to the faith.

ETpro's avatar

@Nullo That’s certainly true of Marxism. Good point.

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