Communism has had a long history. It did not originate with Karl Marx, the most recent major thinker on the subject
Communism is often maligned as something that it is not, but that is what people wind up believing
Communism derives from the root word of community. It is in reality about sharing all things together, each according to their ability to contribute and benefited according to each and every persons need in the collective whole. Needs and responsibility is shared across the breadth of the whole of the race in balance. There is no vast collection of wealth into a few hands while the rest are in want, though they had produced it, but it is spread equitably. The community of communist humanity is an extended family. In the ideal family, those who are best able to contribute give to the benefit of all and everyone's needs are taken care of. Thus, the adults contribute to the baby and child (the future) as well as their own needs (the present). As the child matures, they contribute to the now aged parents as well as provide for their own needs and that of their own children in turn. Everyone is looked after, at least in theory and in most countries. In an alienated culture, this breaks down and there is little of no transmission of wisdom down the generations. Unfortunately, the vision of the ideal family has been clouded by the existing family under capitalism, which has been reduced to a mere money relation as Marx identified and explained. This surrogate, replacement and artificial family has been dysfunctional ever since. Under communism, egoism of privilege is minimized, except where special knowledge and talent may benefit the whole of humanity. Thus artists, scientists, poets, writers, mathematicians, engineers and inventors can exist to benefit the whole world, mediated by a true democratic consensus of real economy. For without economic democracy, there is no real equality. Today we mouth a lot of words that have lost all of their real original meaning. Bourgeois democracy is a shame and a shell game designed to benefit the few at the expense and upon the ignorance of the rest of the world. The vision of communism in the contemporary world rose when the laboring class began to struggle against the excesses of the bourgeoisie in the mid 19th century. Today we see new excesses on the part of the international bourgeoisie that are rekindling an interest in communism as we slide with the economy in a downward spiral on a ruined planet.
The best way to understand communism is to turn to the experts who devoted their lives to its theoretical development and practical implementation. Communism in all its historical forms has been a round for a long time. It has been the way of a lot of people around the world in various cultures for the extent of history. Even in modern times we have seen the historical rise and fall of communist emulating societies. Some people confuse socialism with communism, which we will not dwell on in this study of communism. Though the two are similar, there are differences. Let us take an objective look unencumbered with rhetoric, propaganda and interest seeking agendas.
Within the context of our own Christian world view, there are elements of early communism. It is something you will not be instructed about within the context of today's churches. This is notable in the New Testament and in particular in the Old Testament prophets. In the New Testament we read;
"And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things in common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. 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, And laid them down at the apostles feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.”(1)
This is a fundamental principle of communistic living. But this account of a period just after the time of Jesus is preceded by Isaiah of the Old Testament.
“They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; They shall not plant and another eat; For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of my people, and my elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth children for trouble; for they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.” (2)
There are many other references like this in the Bible that are not mentioned by contemporary fundamentalists and evangelicals. This then serves as a foundation of later communism, particularly that which erupted in Europe in the mid 19th century that grew out of Hegelian philosophy and was crystallized by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. The mid 19th century in Europe found many countries in turmoil including the crushed Paris Commune of 1871. All the turmoil here and elsewhere in Europe was the chief inspiration behind the writings and publishing of Karl Marx. Many adherents to communism had their foundations from the ideas in the Bible, a fact overlooked or kept out of view for political reasons. Marx acknowledged the class struggle as being the driving interest behind communism on part of the oppressed of history. Marx stated;
"The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." (3)
In Marx's day and ours, the world has been divided into two distinct classes that Marx defined as "the bourgeoisie is meant the class of modern capitalists, owners of the means of social production and employers of wage labor. By proletariat, the class of modern wage laborers who, having no means of production of their own, are reduced to selling their labor power in order to live.(4) Marx stated that the transition from the old aristocracy to the new bourgeoisie changed nothing for the working people except oppressors.
"The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, and new forms of struggle in place of the old ones."
Initially, the bourgeoisie were revolutionary in overturning or the aristocracy, but they placed themselves in the position of the original oppressors. In the time of world expansion and imperialism, the bourgeoisie gained immense power. All of this was on the backs of the real producers. The bourgeoisie levelled the field as far as the oppressed were concerned.
"The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage labourers. The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation."
There is of course, a lot more to develop in this direction, but we are interested in Marx's answer to this situation, which is the foundation of modern communism.
"In what relation do the Communists stand to the proletarians as a whole?
The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to the other working-class parties.
They have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole.
They do not set up any sectarian principles of their own, by which to shape and mould the proletarian movement.
The Communists are distinguished from the other working-class parties by this only: 1. In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries, they point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality. 2. In the various stages of development which the struggle of the working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole."
Communism is a socioeconomic structure and political ideal that promotes the establishment of an egalitarian, classless and ultimately stateless society based on common ownership and control of the means of production and property in general managed directly by the proletariat.
In the world today, communism has to be born in the midst of existing society, which as it exists now, is imperialist capitalism in the period of decay leading to its death agony. In its mad search for profit, capitalism has sought to increase wealth at the expense of everyone and everything else. The planet is now in peril and capitalism has run out of room and devices to expand. There has been a capitalist “evolution” of economy, from the gold standard, to floating currency, fractional reserve banking, credit-debit and finally the casino economy. All of it has been designed in order to preserve “sacred” profit. For without profit, there is no expansion and growth and without growth, no new profit can emerge. In a closed system like the earth's ecosystem, there is a ceiling beyond which expansion cannot go unless capitalism grows into outer space and takes over the cosmos. Thus far, capitalism has restricted itself to taking over the entire planet, as not all parts are yet under capitalist domination.
Capitalism itself is divided on its various expression, such as the now largely defunct laissie-faire capitalism (still sold to would be entrepreneurs), corporatist capitalism, monopoly capitalism, imperialist capitalism and the Chicago School's concept of absolute capitalism. Pure capitalism of the Chicago School type requires a complete lack of regulation so that the market will drive everything without restrictions or regulations. Profit is the only guide. Their concept is that we do not live under pure capitalism as business is highly regulated by the governments. When Reagan deregulated the economy, he was moving in the direction of the Friedman Chicago School of capitalist economy. That has led to the current world economic collapse starting in 2008 as the entire planet is being reconfigured for higher profits in pursuit of the goals of absolute capitalism.
It follows then that communist society will be constructed where the means of production will be owned collectively by the very proletarian producers themselves, whether miners, farmers, factory workers, fishers, infrastructure and domestic builders and so on. There will be no landlords, bankers, bosses and private owners as such, though there will be an international means of exchange moderated by communist society without charging interest or manipulating the money supply. It will be based on real value only. From each craft will be appointed from the rank and file, a representative, who will meet with others from other crafts to form a local branch of a centralized democratic government. From each of these craft collectives, a representative will be appointed for the next level of government from the local to the international. Nationalism as we know it now will be abolished. Thus the highest level of government will be constructed from the bottom level to the top, based soundly upon the collected proletariat and all subject to immediate recall. The proletariat will be the working class party. The government thus will be made from true proletarians. It will be direct representation and not top down elective representation as we have from bourgeois systems of government.
Marx stated “Of all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat alone is a genuinely revolutionary class. The other classes decay and finally disappear in the face of Modern Industry; the proletariat is its special and essential product.” And “What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.”
Marx went on further to stated;
“The distinguishing feature of communism is not the abolition of property generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property. But modern bourgeois private property is the final and most complete expression of the system of producing and appropriating products that is based on class antagonisms, on the exploitation of the many by the few.
In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.
We Communists have been reproached with the desire of abolishing the right of personally acquiring property as the fruit of a man's own labor, which property is alleged to be the groundwork of all personal freedom, activity and independence.
Hard-won, self-acquired, self-earned property! Do you mean the property of petty artisan and of the small peasant, a form of property that preceded the bourgeois form? There is no need to abolish that; the development of industry has to a great extent already destroyed it, and is still destroying it daily.
Or do you mean the modern bourgeois private property? “
To clarify Marx’s point a little further, we need only look as far as the results of the recent sub-prime mortgage disaster of 2008-09. The outgrowth of this was a world wide economic collapse and a huge layoff of the proletariat. It proved that the banks ultimately own almost everything under capitalism. If you are paying down a mortgage, the bank owns the house, condo or building until it is paid off in full. If you default, the bank forecloses and takes the property back to itself and keeps all the former payments. Only when you pay if all off and get title or the deed will you obtain private ownership. Even after this, if you default on property taxes, ownership reverts to the government and even if your taxes are up to date, the private property can be expropriated for one reason or another. This is private property under the bourgeois order. So in the end, only a handful of people, have private property. Communism is not about eliminating the shirt off your back and forcing people to all use the same tooth brush. Productive forces of the proletariat will ensure that all have shirts and toothbrushes. Ownership will be in common, meaning that we will all share in the benefits of our efforts pure and simple.
The proletarians will work in a combined manner to prevent overproduction, but will oversee it all in order to prevent oversight. The anarchy of production that is typical of capitalism will be largely avoided under communism. The proletariat who are conscious of the needs of the world that supports society will act to keep all production in balance to prevent the destruction of their true and only home, the planet earth. As production is not used to generate profit from surplus value, the energy that would go into surplus production, will instead be turned to developing means and deploying production in such a manner as to keep the planet healthy. Everyone will benefit. The scientifically inclined among the proletariat will continually monitor the health of our collective environment and work out ways to keep things clean and in balance. For one thing, we can combine the best of things together and say goodbye to planned obsolescence, one of the worst banes of capitalist production.
Communism is an idea that is under constant attack by the bourgeoisie as it represents the end of the era of oppression, greed and profit and due to the fact that their established order will not willingly relinquish their power and control of the means of production. Thus communism must be born out of a proletarian revolution as identified by Marx. Communism is thus the ultimate goal of humanity and the final stage of evolving human society. Pure communism in the Marxian sense refers to a classless, stateless and oppression free society where decisions on what will be produced and what policies to pursue are made democratically, allowing every member of society to participate in the decision making process in both the political and economic spheres of life.
Some would say that this would be cumbersome and time consuming, but look at contemporary society and we can immediately find all kinds of encumbrances, censorship, bureaucracy and time consuming, pointless exercises of utter futility. What should be a given in many situations is often stalled, put on a back burner and endlessly squabbled about. The road to communism has thus far been rocky and fraught with detours. Marx himself did not write on how communism would be implemented, but people like Lenin, Trotsky, Cannon and others did propose ideas. Marx also though that communism would start in the most industrial areas of the planet, which it did not. Instead, it erupted at the weakest link in the bourgeois chain of exploitation in Russia in 1917.
References from the originals:
1. Acts 4:32-35
2. Isaiah 65:21-23
3. “That is, all written history. In 1847, the pre-history of society, the social organisation existing previous to recorded history, all but unknown. Since then, August von Haxthausen (1792-1866) discovered common ownership of land in Russia, Georg Ludwig von Maurer proved it to be the social foundation from which all Teutonic races started in history, and, by and by, village communities were found to be, or to have been, the primitive form of society everywhere from India to Ireland. The inner organisation of this primitive communistic society was laid bare, in its typical form, by Lewis Henry Morgan's (1818-1861) crowning discovery of the true nature of the gens and its relation to the tribe. With the dissolution of the primeval communities, society begins to be differentiated into separate and finally antagonistic classes. I have attempted to retrace this dissolution in The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State, 2nd edition, Stuttgart, 1886. [Engels, 1888 English Edition and 1890 German Edition”; from the original Communist Manifesto
4. [Engels, 1888 English edition]
Communism, what is communism, Communist Manifesto, Bourgeoisie, Proletariat, Class struggle, Capital and Marx, Engels and Marx, Primitive communism
This work is co-written by myself and W. F, Raymond, who provided the inspiration for this series.
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