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magz
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29 Nov 2022, 9:47 am

I found it an interesting question, indirectly asked in this thread: viewtopic.php?t=409591

What is communism?
And does it have any chance of working in the real world?

I think we should start from the utopian slogan:
From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.
Great.
Now: who decides abilities and needs of each commune member? And how?

Please, no "commies good", "commies bad", etc. in this thread. Let's look into this idea in an analytical way - trying to pinpoint why it notoriously failed in every state that tried it - and, possibly, give us some broader idea on what is possible or not in societes and states.


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29 Nov 2022, 10:09 am

I don't think I'm an expert on communism because ive never read marx's works and all I have to go by are the "Better Dead than Red!" Narratives here in the US but personally I think communism sounds good on paper but always fails simply because of the nature of humans.


It's hard to force all humans to be 'equal' when we're not much different from our relatives the apes who are always looking up to an alpha who gets more of their share than the other lesser apes.

Notice that in every communist society the one in charge of the country still gets nicer things than the average citizen in that country?



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29 Nov 2022, 10:16 am

DeathFlowerKing wrote:
I don't think I'm an expert on communism because ive never read marx's works and all I have to go by are the "Better Dead than Red!" Narratives here in the US but personally I think communism sounds good on paper but always fails simply because of the nature of humans.
I think any system not accounting for human nature is doomed to fail.

DeathFlowerKing wrote:
It's hard to force all humans to be 'equal' when we're not much different from our relatives the apes who are always looking up to an alpha who gets more of their share than the other lesser apes.
I wonder what "being equal" even means in this context. People have different talents and capacities, if we create literally equal expectations, some would inevitably be better or worse fit to fulfill them - which would create inequality again.
I'm telling it from my experience as an unevenly able ND...

DeathFlowerKing wrote:
Notice that in every communist society the one in charge of the country still gets nicer things than the average citizen in that country?
I believe hypocrisy needs to be accounted for as yet another aspect of "human nature"...


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Nades
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29 Nov 2022, 10:17 am

I think even when the government equalises everybody by law, individuals will always differ. With the same income for example, some might be a lot more prone to saving money than others.

Inequality will always be the natural outcome of humans being human.



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29 Nov 2022, 10:21 am

Communism, to me, is an utopian/dystopian "ideal."

In real life, it cannot work----for the reasons stated above, "human nature" being prominent amongst them.

As practiced in the "real world," it has obvious that nations which take a communistic/socialistic approach to their economies are doomed to ultimate failure.



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29 Nov 2022, 10:27 am

Nades wrote:

Inequality will always be the natural outcome of humans being human.


^ This



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29 Nov 2022, 10:27 am

As others above have said, the bad qualities of human nature.Someone will always think they are better than others ,need more goods and services than others ,and desire what others have.
Basically greed and ego.


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29 Nov 2022, 10:30 am

Misslizard wrote:
As others above have said, the bad qualities of human nature.Someone will always think they are better than others ,need more goods and services than others ,and desire what others have.
Basically greed and ego.


And if given the power and authority to do so they'll say and do anything to keep the other humans from getting their hands on what they have.

And this doesn't just apply to communism, i think it applies to every system including capitalism.



magz
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29 Nov 2022, 10:54 am

kraftiekortie wrote:
As practiced in the "real world," it has obvious that nations which take a communistic/socialistic approach to their economies are doomed to ultimate failure.

Some levels of socialism are the mainstream in Europe and it looks like "the third way" is not such a failure as communism was.

I find it worth considering - what makes the difference here?


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29 Nov 2022, 10:58 am

DeathFlowerKing wrote:
I don't think I'm an expert on communism because ive never read marx's works and all I have to go by are the "Better Dead than Red!" Narratives here in the US but personally I think communism sounds good on paper but always fails simply because of the nature of humans.

It's hard to force all humans to be 'equal' when we're not much different from our relatives the apes who are always looking up to an alpha who gets more of their share than the other lesser apes.


My understanding, at least the version Marx believed, is that it's not so much about people being "equal" but people being free, specifically the underclasses. Free from the capitalists taking (what he thought was) the fruits of the worker's labor and free to pursue their passions without worrying about where their next meal would come from. "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." Marx thought capitalism was making people feel alienated from their work. Before you had bakers and sculptors who saw the fruits of their labor and now you have incredibly specialized work like the guy in charge of quality assurance for ball bearings or what have you. He also felt captilism had a lot of contradictions.

I sympathize with the spirit of it and I feel some of his criticisms of capitalism were valid and still are today, and I think there is validity to a materialist view of history, but his predictions were wrong, the labor theory of value (I'm told) is wrong, and practical implementations of his vision went horribly wrong, I think in part because his view of it required violent revolution and that comes with it's own problems, and communist leaders tried to micromanage everything to fit their interpretation of Marx's vision. For whatever reason it all became 1984ish (Animal Farm is my favorite book describing the transition). I think it's kind of an outdated ideology now too, a product of it's time. I think "ideologies" in general are a problem, they kind of become like cults. I think we just need to have a good ethical foundation and make informed policy decisions based on the needs of the times. That's why I get annoyed when any practical suggestion of public policy gets met with "no that socialism!" We can't have healthcare because that's socialism and Stalin was a socialist, etc. :roll:


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29 Nov 2022, 11:03 am

usagibryan wrote:
DeathFlowerKing wrote:
I don't think I'm an expert on communism because ive never read marx's works and all I have to go by are the "Better Dead than Red!" Narratives here in the US but personally I think communism sounds good on paper but always fails simply because of the nature of humans.

It's hard to force all humans to be 'equal' when we're not much different from our relatives the apes who are always looking up to an alpha who gets more of their share than the other lesser apes.


My understanding, at least the version Marx believed, is that it's not so much about people being "equal" but people being free, specifically the underclasses. Free from the capitalists taking (what he thought was) the fruits of the worker's labor and free to pursue their passions without worrying about where their next meal would come from. "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." Marx thought capitalism was making people feel alienated from their work. Before you had bakers and sculptors who saw the fruits of their labor and now you have incredibly specialized work like the guy in charge of quality assurance for ball bearings or what have you. He also felt captilism had a lot of contradictions.

I sympathize with the spirit of it and I feel some of his criticisms of capitalism were valid and still are today, and I think there is validity to a materialist view of history, but his predictions were wrong, the labor theory of value (I'm told) is wrong, and practical implementations of his vision went horribly wrong, I think in part because his view of it required violent revolution and that comes with it's own problems, and communist leaders tried to micromanage everything to fit their interpretation of Marx's vision. For whatever reason it all became 1984ish (Animal Farm is my favorite book describing the transition). I think it's kind of an outdated ideology now too, a product of it's time. I think "ideologies" in general are a problem, they kind of become like cults. I think we just need to have a good ethical foundation and make informed policy decisions based on the needs of the times. That's why I get annoyed when any practical suggestion of public policy gets met with "no that socialism!" We can't have healthcare because that's socialism and Stalin was a socialist, etc. :roll:


Yes, I agree with a lot of what you said. Especially the part about idealogies being essentially like cults. They're all dangerous concepts but how can we make a world where people don't feel the need to rely on ideologies? That in itself feels like another failing if human nature in a way...



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29 Nov 2022, 11:08 am

DeathFlowerKing wrote:
Misslizard wrote:
As others above have said, the bad qualities of human nature.Someone will always think they are better than others ,need more goods and services than others ,and desire what others have.
Basically greed and ego.


And if given the power and authority to do so they'll say and do anything to keep the other humans from getting their hands on what they have.

And this doesn't just apply to communism, i think it applies to every system including capitalism.

I also think that a phenomenon of "the mighty of this world" is something both undesired and universal.


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magz
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29 Nov 2022, 11:17 am

usagibryan wrote:
I think it's kind of an outdated ideology now too, a product of it's time.
I think the "labor theory of value" does not account to i.e. automatization - the same things can be produced with way less amount of labour but they are just as useful or useless as they were before.
There's enormous difference between e.g. how much work had to be put into agriculture 100 years ago to feed everyone - vs how much agricultural work is needed today to produce even more food.

usagibryan wrote:
I think "ideologies" in general are a problem, they kind of become like cults. I think we just need to have a good ethical foundation and make informed policy decisions based on the needs of the times. That's why I get annoyed when any practical suggestion of public policy gets met with "no that socialism!" We can't have healthcare because that's socialism and Stalin was a socialist, etc. :roll:
Very well said. I think ideologies becoming cults are something that enormously disturbs possible discussions on actual problems and how to adress them - or even makes such discussions practically impossible.


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29 Nov 2022, 11:23 am

Once upon a time, back when there were guilds of bakers and guilds of coopers, etc., the cost of something was based on the actual cost of producing that item, plus a sort of set idea about what labor was worth. In other words, the cost to another person of something was closely related to the cost of producing that item.

At some point, the system changed from the above to a system of charging what the market would bear. At this point serious inequalities developed; ie bakers might be better paid, have a better lifestyle, than coopers. I'm just making up the examples, btw.

It occurs to me that this change was perhaps the beginning of capitalism, as some people were able to start storing wealth rather than living day to day.

I have some limited experience with the sort of socialism in Sweden. My son married a Swedish woman and at some point they decided to live in Sweden instead of the US. My son was an entrepreneur. He was very interested in making money, bettering himself, in a good old fashioned American way of competing with your neighbors. This, according to him, was not tolerated in Sweden and he felt quite isolated. He told me the Swedish thought it was..not sure of the right word here...but rude or even immoral to want so much more than your neighbor. He told me Swedes were content with a comfortable life and did not appreciate a striving man who wants to make/have more.

Swedes, I am told, are taxed highly. But also they get access to good healthcare, enough to eat well, decent jobs, good education and much of this is free. When my grandson was born, my DIL got something like a week in the hospital where they, it seems, coddled her and nurtured her into how to care for her first newborn. And this was all free. What a wonderful way to start out life, with a young mother so well supported in her new role.

I may have some of the details wrong in all the above. But the main points are there. People can be cooperative and nurturing. People can be content with being comfortable rather than crushing others.

Capitalism, as expressed in the US, is a terrible system that is no longer working. Our original super-rich people, Carnegie, Rockefeller, etc. got there by sacrificing the lives and meaning of millions of working men. There is nothing to admire there.

Does communism work? I don't know. Does capitalism work. NO.

I believe in the OP's opening statement. From each according to their ability, to each according to their need. I think Sweden has done a not-bad job of moving in that direction. (I know their incoming migrant problems have put a strain on this.)


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magz
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29 Nov 2022, 11:44 am

blazingstar wrote:
Once upon a time, back when there were guilds of bakers and guilds of coopers, etc., the cost of something was based on the actual cost of producing that item, plus a sort of set idea about what labor was worth. In other words, the cost to another person of something was closely related to the cost of producing that item.

At some point, the system changed from the above to a system of charging what the market would bear. At this point serious inequalities developed; ie bakers might be better paid, have a better lifestyle, than coopers. I'm just making up the examples, btw.

It occurs to me that this change was perhaps the beginning of capitalism, as some people were able to start storing wealth rather than living day to day.
I doubt there was such a golden age in the past - medieval and ancient communities were all full of inequalities and hoarded goods, including one's rights directly dependent on one's family of birth (different tiers of nobility, peasantry, "middle class"...)
Capitalism succeeded this system, not one of universal equality.

blazingstar wrote:
I have some limited experience with the sort of socialism in Sweden. My son married a Swedish woman and at some point they decided to live in Sweden instead of the US. My son was an entrepreneur. He was very interested in making money, bettering himself, in a good old fashioned American way of competing with your neighbors. This, according to him, was not tolerated in Sweden and he felt quite isolated. He told me the Swedish thought it was..not sure of the right word here...but rude or even immoral to want so much more than your neighbor. He told me Swedes were content with a comfortable life and did not appreciate a striving man who wants to make/have more.

Swedes, I am told, are taxed highly. But also they get access to good healthcare, enough to eat well, decent jobs, good education and much of this is free. When my grandson was born, my DIL got something like a week in the hospital where they, it seems, coddled her and nurtured her into how to care for her first newborn. And this was all free. What a wonderful way to start out life, with a young mother so well supported in her new role.

I may have some of the details wrong in all the above. But the main points are there. People can be cooperative and nurturing. People can be content with being comfortable rather than crushing others.

Capitalism, as expressed in the US, is a terrible system that is no longer working. Our original super-rich people, Carnegie, Rockefeller, etc. got there by sacrificing the lives and meaning of millions of working men. There is nothing to admire there.

Does communism work? I don't know. Does capitalism work. NO.

I believe in the OP's opening statement. From each according to their ability, to each according to their need. I think Sweden has done a not-bad job of moving in that direction. (I know their incoming migrant problems have put a strain on this.)
Two interesting aspect of Sweden:
1. Cultural. American culture is, I hope no one gets offended, horribly rat-eats-rat conquest-oriented individualist. Nordic cultures rely really a lot on various-level local communities. American culture values individual power, Nordic cultures value social harmony.
I live in yet another culture. I find the impact of cultures on political realities a fascinating topic.
2. Can the Swedish system be called communist? I believe they originally called themselves "the third way". But, compared to USA, I believe Scandinavian social democracies are the closest thing to utopian communism that exists on the scale of a country.


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29 Nov 2022, 11:59 am

magz wrote:
blazingstar wrote:
Once upon a time, back when there were guilds of bakers and guilds of coopers, etc., the cost of something was based on the actual cost of producing that item, plus a sort of set idea about what labor was worth. In other words, the cost to another person of something was closely related to the cost of producing that item.

At some point, the system changed from the above to a system of charging what the market would bear. At this point serious inequalities developed; ie bakers might be better paid, have a better lifestyle, than coopers. I'm just making up the examples, btw.

It occurs to me that this change was perhaps the beginning of capitalism, as some people were able to start storing wealth rather than living day to day.
I doubt there was such a golden age in the past - medieval and ancient communities were all full of inequalities and hoarded goods, including one's rights directly dependent on one's family of birth (different tiers of nobility, peasantry, "middle class"...)
Capitalism succeeded this system, not one of universal equality.

blazingstar wrote:
I have some limited experience with the sort of socialism in Sweden. My son married a Swedish woman and at some point they decided to live in Sweden instead of the US. My son was an entrepreneur. He was very interested in making money, bettering himself, in a good old fashioned American way of competing with your neighbors. This, according to him, was not tolerated in Sweden and he felt quite isolated. He told me the Swedish thought it was..not sure of the right word here...but rude or even immoral to want so much more than your neighbor. He told me Swedes were content with a comfortable life and did not appreciate a striving man who wants to make/have more.

Swedes, I am told, are taxed highly. But also they get access to good healthcare, enough to eat well, decent jobs, good education and much of this is free. When my grandson was born, my DIL got something like a week in the hospital where they, it seems, coddled her and nurtured her into how to care for her first newborn. And this was all free. What a wonderful way to start out life, with a young mother so well supported in her new role.

I may have some of the details wrong in all the above. But the main points are there. People can be cooperative and nurturing. People can be content with being comfortable rather than crushing others.

Capitalism, as expressed in the US, is a terrible system that is no longer working. Our original super-rich people, Carnegie, Rockefeller, etc. got there by sacrificing the lives and meaning of millions of working men. There is nothing to admire there.

Does communism work? I don't know. Does capitalism work. NO.

I believe in the OP's opening statement. From each according to their ability, to each according to their need. I think Sweden has done a not-bad job of moving in that direction. (I know their incoming migrant problems have put a strain on this.)
Two interesting aspect of Sweden:
1. Cultural. American culture is, I hope no one gets offended, horribly rat-eats-rat conquest-oriented individualist. Nordic cultures rely really a lot on various-level local communities. American culture values individual power, Nordic cultures value social harmony.
I live in yet another culture. I find the impact of cultures on political realities a fascinating topic.
2. Can the Swedish system be called communist? I believe they originally called themselves "the third way". But, compared to USA, I believe Scandinavian social democracies are the closest thing to utopian communism that exists on the scale of a country.


I think the Nordic economies and politics are ill thought out. People are tiring of them as it's increasingly dominated by identity politics and race.

It's a political philosophy that's very vulnerable to being taken advantage of. Push over politics so to speak and people date speak out about it. They have a massive problem with being taken for a ride by illegal immigration which I think factors into heavily in why people are getting tired of it. They'll see their income slowly drain away if they don't get to grips with it.