Randy McDonald (rfmcdpei) wrote,
Randy McDonald

[BRIEF NOTE] On Communism

I'd not intended to insult anyone with my post yesterday about Communism. Truth be told, I hadn't that my conclusion of Communism's unacceptability would be that controversial considering the parties involved. The Communist Party of Canada followed Stalin's line closely, with its purge of Trotskyists and opposition to Canadian participation in the Second World War until the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), for its part, supported Maoist China and Hoxha's Albania before going on, in the post-Cold War era, to boost North Korea and China. None of these polities and none of these policies are especially respectable, whether one talks of the CPC's implicit support for the Soviet invasions of eastern Poland, the Baltic States, and Finland, or the lionizing of a Maoist regime in the era of a Cultural Revolution that even the Chinese Communist Party denounces.

Probably the most successful Communist society sensu strictu was Yugoslavia, which despite the current trend to spin ethnic warfare as a pre-modern trait was a modern society indeed, complete with mass culture, mass consumption, and mass migration (from rural to urban areas, from Yugoslavia to western Europe). I'd go so far as to say that Titoist Yugoslavia came as close to western European standards of living and norms of constitutional government as Francoist Spain. Yugoslavia's dissolution was promptly partly Communism's economic policies, that a Yugoslavia seventy years old was simply a less durable construction than a Spain dating five centuries by the time that Franco died. Yugoslavia did work; Yugoslavia was also comparable to Europe's last Fascist dictatorship, with its history of post-war massacres and prison camps, its stern repressions, its monopolization of political power.

Communism, with its long history of failures and its even longer list of names, really doesn't work. It can be at least as efficient as Fascism, and its promises of human rights and actual involvement has--as Amartya Sen noted--played a key role in accelerating human development and the passage to various forms of democratic policy-making, much more so than most of the various fascisms we've seen, in Germany and Japan and Mediterranean Europe and Videla's Argentina. That said, it has such a long list of crimes--as I noted, the murder through forced collectivization of a quarter of the Kazakh population, to name a single example from a single but most central Communist regime--that it doesn't strike me as workable. That doesn't mean that certain elements of Communism aren't shared by other democratic ideologies, or even that key elements of certain variations upon Communism shouldn't be revised--perhaps Kardelj's theory of workers' self-management might be effectively revised for a 21st century world concerned with the weakening of workers' positions?--but the ideology as such doesn't work and does so badly indeed.

This isn't a brief for unfettered capitalism of any kind. It shouldn't be forgotten that the Congo Free State was a capitalist paradise, at least for monopoly capitalists. Ideology as such, it seems to me, tend to divert people from the more-or-less benevolent hedonism that seems to be the least harmful/most beneficial way to maximize the happiness of the maximum number of people. The problem with ideologies taken strictly is that they tend to be resistant to subversive readings and criticism, to play in its truest sense, and that their proponents demand that these ideologies be tested.

Perhaps it's best to rid ourselves of them before we get deeper into the 21st century. I don't think I'm a moral authority of any kind, but the early signs of the impending arrival of some kind of global conflict on the scale of the world wars trouble me. I'd like to make it to the 22nd century.
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.