The term “communism” often brings images of dictators and suppression of freedoms to people’s minds. For many, that conjures up feelings of fear and hatred. But why? Why do people seem to always see Communism as something so bad, something to be avoided at all costs? To understand the answer to this question, it’s important to look at the history of Communism as well as the reasons why people have come to despise it.
1. What is Communism?
Communism is an economic and political ideology based on collective ownership of the world’s means of production and the common sharing of its wealth. It is a system that seeks to replace capitalism and private property with a form of collective ownership and government control. At its core, communism is about creating a society where everyone has access to the basics they need to live happy and healthy lives, regardless of class or status.
In the purest form of communism, egalitarian-minded governments own the means of production and all workers are part of the collective. This allows everyone to share in the wealth, and all decisions are made by the collective. In a communist society, all forms of wealth including money, property, assets, and labor, are shared amongst the people. This differs significantly from capitalism which is based on the individual’s/company’s wealth and property.
Communism in the modern world looks markedly different than its utopian roots. China, Cuba, and Vietnam all operate under communist regimes where private companies exist, unemployment is a reality, and the wealth gap between the middle and upper classes is still prevalent. These governments still use the collective ownership of production to control their economies, however, they are showing signs of moderating their approach to capitalism in some cases.
It is important to recognize that communism is a complex concept and cannot be simplified down to a single idea or phrase. Despite its failed attempts to reform existing societies, communism still holds merit for its core ideals of collective ownership, shared wealth, and egalitarian governance. Whether in its pure form or a more complex variation, communism continues to evolve and could have an important role to play in the future of the world.
2. The History of Communism
Communism is a system of social organization and economic production which is based on collective ownership of the means of production, and where the primary means of production are concentrated in the hands of the community or the state.
dates back to the nineteenth century when Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels first developed the concept as an alternative to capitalism. Their writings, most notably the Communist Manifesto, describe the relationship between the oppressed proletariat and the capitalist bourgeoisie, and argue for a humane alternative to the harsh conditions of industrialization. The ideas of Marx and Engels were later developed by the Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin who led a successful revolution in 1917 and created the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
Under the Communist system, a number of different policies and systems were implemented. For example, collectivization of land was used to create a system of state-controlled agriculture and state-mandated factories were used to create a guaranteed industrial base. Additionally, economic planning was used to ensure all economic decisions were made in the interest of the collective. A key component of the Communist system was its emphasis on state-controlled media, education, and culture.
Today, the influence of communism has largely waned, although certain aspects of it remain in some countries around the world. In China, for example, the Communist Party has implemented a series of market-oriented reforms that are intended to increase the country’s economic competitiveness. On the other hand, there are still many countries that subscribe to a form of communism, such as Cuba, North Korea, and Laos.
3. Why People Have Such a Negative View of Communism
The idea of communism is founded in the battle between the have and have-nots. As a political system, it seeks to equalize the playing field between the wealthy and the poverty-stricken. But despite this ideology being well-intentioned, it has gotten a bad reputation among many people for a few key reasons.
Ideological Differences: Communism is founded on the belief of collectivism – that one should serve the many rather than the few. This is primarily a philosophical concept opposed to individualism, the latter believing in self-reliance and personal motivation. Those who are naturally individualistic are therefore more likely to be against such a system.
Fear of Governmental Control: Much of communism involves governmental control, the idea being that a single entity like the state can make decisions for the greater good. This involves the subjugation of anybody deemed ‘enemies of the state’, leading to discrimination and censorship. As such, many will fear the use of unchecked power over their lives.
Real-Life Examples: On a more practical level, the actual implementations of communism have left a sour taste in the mouths of much of the population.
- Stalin’s fascist regime in USSR.
- Mao Zedong’s rule led to the deaths of an estimated 40-70 million people.
- Informs of a starvation crisis in North Korea.
- The economic crisis of Cuba.
These real-life instances have ended in a cycle of suffering, giving communism an undeserved rotten image.
4. The Impact of Communism on the Economy
is fundamental and far-reaching. Historically, communism has favoured a socialist economy, in which the means of production are state owned, and private ownership is not allowed. As such, the wealth of a nation is controlled and distributed by the government, which can influence economic growth and decision making. This has important impacts on the economy, from the exchange rate of currency, to taxation levels.
The government ownership of most resources in a socialist economy can create an uncertain climate for foreign investment, limiting the potential to bring in wealth from abroad. Without access to foreign capital, economies may suffer in comparison to those with lower restrictions on investment.
Communist governments are able to manipulate prices in several ways. Through public ownership of most resources, the government can dictate the costs of production in order to benefit itself or the population. This degree of control helps to reduce the disparity between the most and least wealthy, as well as the price of key goods or services.
Incentives and Rewards
Communism does away with traditional incentives which seek to reward ambition and exceptionalism – replacing it with a focus on bettering society as a whole. This can help to level the playing field, but it may also mean that people who work hard or who have talent do not receive recognition or economic reward. Additionally, the absence of rewards can create a demoralised workforce, which could lead to decreased GDP.
5. The Suppression of Human Rights Under Communism
The resounding legacy of human rights violations under communism is one that has long been oft discussed. History alludes to the suppression of basic rights through strict adherence to and enforcement of oppressive policies, resulting in the mistreatment of large swaths of a population.
True stories of life for citizens under communist rule quickly lose the romanticism of world-renowned leaders like Lenin and Mao, both of whom set their sights on creating a utopian society for all, and reveal a different, often darker side of public policy. Here are five of the primary transgressions of human rights violations under communism:
- Designation of class and society roles
- Censorship of speech and thought
- Restrictions on travel
- Properties seized from citizens
- Lack of humane prison conditions
Class designation put citizens in either a productive or non-productive designations that directly influenced their ability to access scarce resources, effectively creating a two-dimensional caste system.
Moreover, political control of the world of ideas, taken to the extreme, took censorship to unprecedented levels, as thought became subject to state scrutiny in a manner untenable by the more liberal democracy-based governments of the West. Travel was a dream few individuals were able to realize, due to residency restrictions, checkpoints, must-carry documents, etc.
The takings of property created dissension in the population, as citizens experienced a dispossession of their rights with no guarantee or recompense from the state. Finally were the prison camps, a domain of little-existent respect for prisoners, subject to over-crowding, lack of sanitation, inadequate nutrition and more.
6. The Ideological Dichotomy of Communism
The ideological dichotomy of Communism is a complex issue that has divided scholars for centuries. It is a subject that has caused great debates and inspired significant literature. At the core of this debate lie two distinct sides – those in the camp of Communism, and those opposing it.
Supporters of Communism believe that it is incompatible with capitalist societies. It is seen as a source of freedom from perceived inequalities in capitalist societies. Through public ownership of all things, this ideology looks to break down the boundaries of social classes and economic power dynamics. Supporters of this ideology believe that it is a necessary step to bring about higher social justice and redistribute resources in a more equitable manner.
On the flip side, opponents of Communism view it as a way to further oppress populations. This view rests on both the historical record of tyrannical Communist leaders as well as fears that this ideological structure would potentially lead to totalitarianism. Opponents also believe that the inherent nature of Communism, with its belief in public ownership, is incompatible with individual liberties and beliefs.
One thing is undeniable – has generated and continues to generate impassioned debates. On one hand, there is the view that it is a step toward a more equitable society, and on the other, the fear that it could lead to greater tyranny. These different views will continue to clash in the years to come.
7. Is Hate for Communism Always Justified?
Hate for communism has been an ongoing controversy for centuries. Its supporters and detractors both have strong positions on it, but is this always justified? The following points will discuss the nuances of this argument.
Societal Effects of Communism
Communism remains a debated topic as it has repeatedly led to negative sociocultural effects, such as:
- Limited economic freedom
- Restrictions on personal lifestyle choices
- Diminishment of political rights
These issues deserve to be addressed and fought against, but these can be done so without blanket condemnation of communism. It is important to understand the potential of communism alongside its drawbacks and to work to improve the structural aspects of it before resorting to hate.
Historical Repressive Actions
Multiple regimes in the past have abused the principles of communism in order to legally repress people and groups. This includes the Soviet Union, China and Cuba, leading to a stigmatization of the ideology itself. It’s understandable why many people associate communism with oppressive governments and have a natural aversion to it – however, this prejudice should not be used to question the legitimacy of the ideology itself.
Benefits of Communism
Communism also inspires a hopeful vision of social justice and economic equality. In the past, it has promoted some success in creating collective ownership, allowing a level of parity in access to resources. This holds historical precedence in some contexts, such as the Kibbutzim in Israel, and could still be applicable in decentralized communities.
When examining the topic of communism, it’s important to look not just at the negative aspects, but to also appreciate the potential benefits. Whether hate for it is justified would still stand upon the individual’s perspective on the effects of communism, both historically and in modern contexts.
Even today, when the Cold War continues to be seen as a relic of the past, debates about the merits of communism remain heated and volatile. Despite the drawbacks of this political system, it can still serve an important role in wider discourse and provide valuable lessons about how we can build a better world. We should all strive to keep an open mind to emotions and ideas, both those we agree with and those we don’t.