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Reflections on Why Communism Is Not Historically Inevitable

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The conflict between different social classes was once so real and that one could think that it will result in a revolution. Nevertheless, today, 171 years after the idea of communism was founded, things seem to be taking the opposite direction. The social gap is widening every day. The working class which was presumed to be the one to revolt against the social inequality and thus causing a revolution are the one working so hard even when they are underpaid to keep the bourgeoisie in control of the economy. The society, which affects the existence, reasoning, and consciousness of man is so diverse and does not give a room for absolute answers. There have been arguments between philosophers over years, about which is the best economic, social and political system. The effectiveness of the system is what determines its success (Kemp, n. d.). Philosophers have written many books about the inevitability of communism, in which different philosophers came up with varying arguments. Karl Marx’s theories, for example, have had a significant impact in various disciplines. His concept (communism) has not been received so well, and chances are incredibly high that it will not be successful anytime soon. Communism is not historically inevitable because for it to happen, the system must be the best replacement for capitalism, and it should happen as a result of a revolution, which is not likely to happen.

Definition and Brief History of Communism

Communism refers to a system of economic and political organization whereby all the members of a community own property jointly. In a nutshell, community members share and enjoy commonwealth without private ownership of property. The concept was founded in the late 19th century by philosophers Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx. This came after the two philosophers met in 1844 and realized that they shared common principles in economic-political philosophy. They thus wrote ‘The Communist Manifesto’. The concept hoped to present a theory that would end the capitalist system. They argued that the availability of the social class system is what resulted in the exploitation of the poor and the working class. A proletarian is considered a worker. He lives solely through providing labor. Moreover, the capitalist system does not recognize him when he is not working (Marx, 2014). According to Marx, Engels and Riazanov (1972), the exploited class of workers would make class consciousness whereby they will be uncomfortable with the system and eventually, there would be a development of class conflict. This conflict would only be resolved through a revolution. In this revolution, the working class (proletariat) will revolt against the bourgeoisie thus, resulting in the establishment of a communist society. They argued that the society will go through a state of socialism and then finally it will settle on pure communism, whereby the states will abolish the private ownership of property. Every member of the society will give according to their capabilities and be given according to their wants. Consequently, the wellbeing of the society will be given priority over the wellbeing and the happiness of individuals in communist society.

Adam Smith’s Take on Communism

Adam Smith is popularly known as the father of capitalism, which is the direct opposite of communism. While Karl Marx believes that the working class is being oppressed, Adam Smith thinks that division of labor is mandatory and that it is what makes the economy grow. Evidently, one can tell that the two philosophers understood economic dynamics and power from two distinct points of view. Adam Smith thinks that it is the value that a person brings to the market what should determine the amount of wealth they get. The capitalists are not capitalists because they are greedy, or they want to oppress people. Conversely, they do so because there is a high competition (Smith, 2009). He held that a system where a person’s effort determines their success would succeed because everyone will be working had to succeed. Also, this system would have limited intervention from the government and the people. So, it is self-run, and it motivates people to work. For communism to be inevitable, capitalism must end, it is, therefore, logical to argue that since the system is self-run and both the workers and the bourgeoisie have no control over it, it cannot end unless it destroys itself, and that is not likely to happen any soon. Other philosophers like Fredrick Hayek, support Smith’s argument capitalism gives people the freedom to put effort and succeed. Also, he believes that people do not have a choice but to follow the social order in which they were born. For example, in his book ‘The Constitution of Liberty: The Definitive Edition’, Hayek argues that when people are entering the society, they have little to do but to follow the social order (Hayek, Bartley and Hamowy, 2011).

Why Communism Is Not Historically Inevitable

Communism is faced with many challenges. Communism has been tried in the past and in most cases it failed. For example, the Soviet Union tried to implement the concept of communism but it failed dreadfully (McKee, 2007). To understand why communism has failed in the past and may fail in the future, it is vital that we look into the nature of human reasoning, how human perceive the society, the conditions under which communism can be inevitable and finally, understand whether there is a possibility of absolute (ultimate reality) ending where the working class become socially conscious, since that is the only thing that can result in a revolutionary struggle against capitalism.

Personal Freedoms

Balancing democracy and communism is practically impossible. Innately people love to be in a position where they make decisions on what to have and what to ignore. Although communism may seem like a way of liberating people from the oppression, it is also a way of trapping them in a system where they have so little to say. At first sight, it is easy to think that communism is the best way to live a comfortable life whereby everything is provided. Nevertheless, a close look at the system one can easily tell that it comes with adverse consequences. Hayes (2008) recognizes that economic systems and freedom are intertwined. Also, people love to be able to improve and perhaps gain some heights of power. Actually, humans spend most of their time trying to prove that they are better than others. That is the reason people actually try to substantiate their point by all means necessary. Additionally, human beings innately love to acquire some heights of power and communism denies them that opportunity. However, Marx believed that communism did not trap citizens as capitalism did (Fandel, 2016).

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Stagnated Economic Growth

One of the reasons the communism system failed in Russia is the stagnation of the economy and the scarcity of the resources. If people are guaranteed that they will get whatever they need regardless of whether they work hard or not, most of them will choose to be passive as far as providing human labor is concerned. Hence, communism would not just result in a scarcity of resources and passiveness of members but also many people would take advantage and try to acquire more than they give. The reason, communism would result in an economic crisis is that there is nothing to motivate people to work hard.

Communism Would Result in Corruption

Instead of working hard to achieve something, people will be receiving services directly from the government. So, they will find ways to achieve even that which they do not deserve. Also, the leaders will neglect serving the people and starting serving personal interested and the interests of those they love. Since the leaders have nothing to put them in a higher class, they will opt to accept bribes and other favors to give services to some people at the extent of others. It is clear that instead of reducing social inequalities, the system would widen the gap. The idea that communism is inevitable beats logic considering the negative implications that are clearly inevitable in communism systems. While capitalism promotes hard works, communism does just the opposite (Fandel, 2016).

Elimination of Free Market

Free market plays a critical role in the growth of the economy and consumer satisfaction. Instead of planners determining the prices, in a communist system, the central government does. Additionally, it is incredibly hard for the planners to understand what people need and what is in surplus, this results in some things being surplus and others being scarce. This imbalance and the lack of a free market make it hard to trust pure communism. One would reason that although capitalism may not be the best system, it should be replaced with another system but definitely not communism. Therefore, the argument that communism is historically inevitable is not sound, for instance, the situation in China (Marquis and Qiao, 2018).

Strengths of Communism

There have been many arguments to support the claim that communism is historically inevitable and that it is the only system that is worth replacing capitalism. Firstly, the system has a centralized management of resources. The fact that the economy is centrally planned makes it easy to mobilize economic resources. If society suffers an economic crisis, mobilizing the resources and recovering would be easy. Additionally, communist society are able to implement many and big projects and establish a strong economic power. Secondly, communism goes beyond personal interests and this makes it more efficiently. It emphasizes on the general welfare of the member in the society. Capitalism, on the other hand, focuses on the wellness of those who are high in society. No person would hate a society where there are no homeless people, there is no poverty or a society where there are no people who have enough money that they can end poverty if they want but they cannot because they do not want. Thirdly, communist systems can transform the society and everyone in the society to conform and to everything with accordance with the planner’s vision. This makes it easy for a society to achieve bigger economic goals that they could have achieved in a capitalistic system. The best examples include China, Maoist, Castro’s Cuba and Russia. The system enables Russia to build a military strength to overpower the Nazi. Also, the system made it easy for Russia to recover so easily after the World War II (Smith, n.d.). An objective reflection on the concept shows that if the proletariats do not come into the state of social awareness, then a revolution will never happen and thus, Communism is not historically inevitable. Furthermore, the gap has been widening and in the 21st century, there is a high level of social inequality. The working class in the society can easily welcome the idea of having a society where the economic resources are shared by everyone in the society regardless of whether they work or not. They would like a society where every individual is equal to each other. According to Rawls (2005), citizens tend to be reasonable when they perceive each other as equals in the social setup. Nevertheless, the system would and be highly infective such that even though people support it. Subsequently, they will start to doubt that it is the best decision to make. If there is scarcity, capitalism will always be strong. If society could achieve a post-scarcity period, where people do not lack what they need, then capitalism would not make any sense. Unfortunately, that will not happen because actually, scarcity of resources is actually increasing. One can also argue that the grown in technology has resulted in the increased production and thus the scarcity period is attainable. However, the technology relies heavily on human labor, which means that the more things are changing the more things remain the same.

Conclusion

Marx and Engels argued that a revolution which would fuel the transformation of capitalism to socialism and finalism into a pure communism would transpire if and only if the false consciousness is replaced with class consciousness. The fact that there have communist systems that have been tried and failed in the past clearly indicates that it is not the best system to replace the current system. Additionally, the system has many assumptions and loopholes. Although it has its strengths, it also has many disadvantages, which proves it is not any better than capitalism. The most convincing reason that communism is not historically inevitable, however, it that the state where the working class develops social conscious and thus facilitating a revolution is not likely to happen. It can only happen if there is no scarcity of resources, which is becoming more over time.

References

  1. Marx, K., Engels, F. and Riazanov, D. (1972). The Communist Manifesto of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Calcutta: Radical Books Club.
  2. Hayes, C. (2008). Popper, Hayek and the Open Society. Routledge Frontiers of Political Economy, Volume 112. Taylor & Francis, p.76.
  3. Rawls, J. (2005). Political liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press.
  4. Marx, K. (2014). Economic and philosophic manuscripts of 1844. [Place of publication not identified]: Digireads.com Publishing.
  5. Fandel, J. (2016). Communism. Mankato, MN: Creative Company, p.26.
  6. Smith, S. (n.d.). The Oxford Handbook of the History of Communism. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
  7. McKee, M. (2007). Cochrane on Communism: The Influence of Ideology on the Search for Evidence. International Journal of Epidemiology, [online] 36(2), pp.269-273. Available at: https://academic.oup.com/ije/article/36/2/269/721395.
  8. Marquis, C. and Qiao, K. (2018). Waking from Mao’s Dream: Communist Ideological Imprinting and the Internationalization of Entrepreneurial Ventures in China. Administrative Science Quarterly, p.000183921879283.
  9. Wieviorka, M. (2013). Social Conflict. Current Sociology, 61(5-6), pp.696-713.
  10. U’REN, R. (1997). Psychiatry and Capitalism. The Journal of Mind and Behavior. 18, 1-11.
  11. Kemp, S. (n.d.). Was Communism Doomed? p.106.
  12. Smith, A. (2009). Wealth of Nations. New York: Classic House.
  13. Hayek, F., Bartley, W. and Hamowy, R. (2011). The constitution of liberty. Chicago, Ill: Univ. of Chicago Press.
  14. Pons, S. and Service, R. (2010). In: A Dictionary of 20th-century Communism. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

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