What is Socialism & Communism? A (Very Basic) Rundown

The idea of society placing human needs above the profit motive is certainly an old one. Critics say that it cannot be done, yet in our current society the goal of meeting human needs is still there- but the accumulation of capital takes a priority. The priority of the accumulation of profit over human needs squanders the value of human life to the point where exploitation and even death of the individual is acceptable so long as it generates capital. It turns man against himself so much so that two hostile classes emerge in the capitalist mode of production (the history of all hitherto existing society is of course- the history of class struggle). There is the class which owns the means of creating wealth- the bourgeoisie, yet they themselves create nothing and live off the fruits of the labor of those who do. Then there is the class which makes up the overwhelming majority of society- the proletariat, or the working class who have nothing but their own labor power to sell off. This class creates all the commodities of modern society, it creates not only the commodities, but the machines that create the commodities. It is the provider of all, nothing gets done without the proletariat. Socialism takes this order of one class owning everything and creating nothing and the other class owning nothing and creating everything and flips it upside-down. It declares that no longer will one be able to live off of- let alone make a fortune off of the hard work of other people. No longer are the producers of society impoverished and all will enjoy the fruits of their common labor- not a handful of rich men. The means of production which were previously owned by a small minority of society become the ownership not of the state (state-capitalism, as what happened in the USSR) but of the workers themselves. Socialism (and especially Communism) ,like capitalism have nothing to do with the government. It means the abolition of private (not personal) property. It means that the land belongs to those who till it, the homes to those who dwell within them, and the factories and businesses to those who work within them. A radical new concept is introduced into the workplace: democracy. Wage labor is abolished as the worker reaps the whole of the fruit of his labor (excluding of course taxes, costs of maintaining the business, etc) instead of having the lions share taken by the capitalist who did nothing to earn it but ‘own’ the means of generating wealth. The ruling class in such a society becomes the workers themselves- for the first time in human history the ruling class becomes the class of the majority and not a small elite. This allows real (both political and economic) democracy to flourish. Democracy for the majority instead of merely the minority (even with universal suffrage our ‘democracy’ still serves the rich) as the majority is the ruling class. Instead of society allowing someone to get rich off the labor of others without they themselves working, society declares that ‘those who do not work (excluding the disabled), do not eat’. This is, of course but a step towards eliminating social classes (the privileged relations to the means of production, not differences in wealth per se) altogether. Just 62 people own as much wealth as the bottom 3.5 billion, under socialism labor is directly proportional to capital received. Under communism it (taking a surplus from society) is directly proportional to the NEEDS of the individual. In this regard socialism is a step up from capitalism in that labor is actually proportional to wealth- instead of a flat wage given out regardless of work done. But an independent man earns as much as a single mother of 4 assuming they have the same job and work the same amount. This is still an injustice- even under socialism. Communism swipes this injustice away by inscribing upon the banner of society, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his NEEDS”. Thus the single mother of 4 does what she can and takes from society what she NEEDS. All basic human needs are met and luxuries are also provided to the masses. Of course, even under socialism the well being of the individual is placed much higher than under capitalism. The very basic human needs for all people will be met under socialism, but the injustice of ‘he who does not work, does not eat’ still continues until communism is achieved. Regardless, socialist society puts people and the planet before profit. Instead of setting human empathy and morality aside in the name of greed is no more. Freedom for all (something that is only an illusion in our own society) certainly seems more realized under socialism than under capitalism, but it is only truly realized under communism- once the state itself has withered away and class struggle is no more. Under capitalism there is the illusion of ‘volunteerism’. This however is false. When the economy is privately owned the worker has no choice to sell but what he owns- his labor. As Peter Kropotkin said, “We cry shame on the feudal baron who forbade the peasant to turn a clod of earth unless he surrendered his lord a fourth of his crop. We called those barbarous times. But if the forms have changed, the relations have remained the same, and the worker is forced, under the name of free contract, to accept feudal obligations. For, turn where he will, he can find no better conditions. Everything has become private property, and he must accept, or die of hunger.” The worker under capitalism can accept the conditions of capitalist society- to be oppressed or to he himself oppress, or die of hunger. A better world IS possible. These are not pipe-dreams. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains.

This entry was posted in Marxism.

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