Tuesday, September 07, 2010

A Comment on The New Communism

Sunsara Taylor was scheduled to give a talk to a Humanist association, and her photographer got arrested for taking pictures during a police arrest. That’s a particularly idiotic thing to happen, and I do think the charges should be dropped (although he has apparently been convicted at this point, appeal pending), but that’s not what I’m on about today. In a comment on the arrest, she had the following to say:

“The themes of my talk, which drew on the theoretical framework developed by Bob Avakian in his book, AWAY WITH ALL GODS! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World, examined the basis for a morality that is rooted neither in the brutality and ignorance of Biblical times nor the narrow-minded individualism and relativism of modern U.S. capitalism. I posed the need for a morality that both reflects and serves the struggle to bring into being a world free of all forms of exploitation and oppression, a communist world, a world where everyone contributes whatever they can to society and gets back what they need to live a life worthy of human beings.”
How very Star Trek of her. Communism seems to be undergoing some kind of resurgence in popularity among the sort of people who don’t remember what life was like for people in the Soviet Union and its satellite states during the late 20th Century. Somehow, these people missed, forgot, or never learned about the dismal failure of Communism.

You can find the kind of altruism needed to operate a successful commune in a fairly small group of hand-picked people, but when you try to implement Communism on a national scale, it falls apart, and you end up with bread lines, rampant corruption, and people who are willing to risk death to escape from their own country. Communist nations have historically used walls, barbed-wire fences, minefields, and military force to keep their citizens from leaving.

In theory, you could have a government run by altruistic officials and supported by an altruistic population, but there simply aren’t enough altruistic people in reality for that to work. There are some, but not nearly enough. So, maybe you could give power to altruistic officials and have them enforce altruistic behavior from the rest of the population. That kind of power is dangerous, though, if it ever ends up in the hands of the corrupt. Again, see the Soviet Union for an example of what happens in reality when you concentrate power in the hands of a few idealists, no matter how pure their intentions were in the beginning.

Capitalism may not be the kindest and gentlest economic system in the world, but it has proven to be effective, and it allows people with talent to excel and become successful. Around the world, as societies have changed from managed communist economies to free markets, standards of living have improved. I’m not some crazy anarcho-capitalist who thinks the magical market will do everything right, but Capitalism is easily a better system than Communism.

No comments: