Monday, November 16, 2009

My feelings on the modern equivocation of socialism and communism...

In response to an individual's feelings that perceived encroaching U.S. "socialism" (with a small 'c') is merely communism with a small 'c', my feelings:

I don’t think Marx even thought that true Communism would be possible without a violent revolution. The whole point was that the exploited proletariat would eventually realize that they were being exploited and rise up against their salmon eatin’ managers. Marx and other classical Communists wouldn’t agree with income redistribution, social programs and the like, because it neglects the formal thesis of Marxism. Which was that the workers ought to control the means of production as well as doing the actual, y’know, producing.

“Fabian” socialism would never lead to actual Communism, the classless society that true adherents to the philosophy wished for. From this perspective, giving a couple of bucks to beggars outside of the supermarket is one of the most selfish things I can do – it assuages my conscience a little without dealing with the social structure that created beggars and college students with flat screen TVs in the first place while people are starving in Sierra Leone.

All of this is just to say that whatever “socialism” we have in the United States is merely weighted capitalism. There is little common ground between attempting to compensate for privilege in a market-based society and “common ownership.” Whether or not compensating for perceived economic, racial, or other injustices does anything to fix social problems and inequality, “small ‘c’ communism” and socialism are two different philosophies. They’re no more similar than capitalism is to authoritarianism, though radical leftists often see them as one and the same. Orwell was a stalwart socialist and a rabid anticommunist – it’s only in modern times that many of us have begun to think of them as one and the same.


  1. Orwell's not a good example for this argument. He certainly wasn't "rabid-anti-communist" -- he associated with communists all his life. He was more just anti-Stalin.

    A better example would be the Tiananmen square protests, which though inevitably portrayed in the west as pro-capitalism, were really pro social democracy. I once found old BBC footage on youtube of the protesters singing "The Internationale", which tells you something.

  2. Well, he was certainly strongly against Communism. "Rabidly anti-totalitarian" might have been a better choice of wording.


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