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the fallacy of communism

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Upper West Side Jacobin
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Communism is the mating of two philosphical theories

1) Hegel's dialectic method. The summarize a robust, complicated, well entrenched, and overly accepted philosphical theory: Progress arises because of conflict. Conflict is inevitable.

2) Marx's adopted theory of materialism: The greatest force behind all human society is the economic.

The product: Progress arises through economic conflict. Economic conflict is the struggle over the means of production. Struggle over the means of production is Class Conflict.

And so...

Class Conflict is the force of human progress.

The Marxist View of History:

Feudalism was overthrown by capitalism because of Class Conflict, the usurping of the means of production from the nobles by the bourgiousie.

Capitalism will be be overthorwn by socialism because of Class Conflict, the usurping of the means of production from the bourgiousie by the proletariot.

If Marx stopped here i'd have no problem with his ideology. It'd be logically sound. But he continues...

The Final Phase

After Socialism Communism will arise which will end class conflict, and will therefore be permenant. Ending dialectic progress. See the logical inconsistancy? THE DIALECTIC METHOD IS THE ONLY THING THE MAKES YOUR ****ING THEORY WORK MARX!!! YOU CAN'T ABANDON IT WHEN YOU DONT WANT IT ANYMORE!!!

The revolution itself invalidates communism! Marx stated that socialist revolution would be the product of economic and industrial evolution. yet Russia was NOT industrialized and therefore NOT ready (in Marx's view) for socialist revolution.
 

nkgupta80

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Marx's ideas of social communism was a prediction. He says so himself in his texts. Communism won't work because current human nature doesn't allow it. We live to survive and gain over others.


BTW His analysis on economic drive, class conflict, capitalism, and money, are the works of genius. Read Das Kapitals (if u havent already), it really makes you understand what drives the capitalist system.
 

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read my post, human nature doesnt enter into it. it has philosophical contradictions at its most fundamental levels.

you cannot found your thoery in the dialectic method and then casually deny it when it no longer suits your philosophical aims.
 

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new coup for you said:
The Marxist View of History:

Feudalism was overthrown by capitalism because of Class Conflict, the usurping of the means of production from the nobles by the bourgiousie.

Capitalism will be be overthorwn by socialism because of Class Conflict, the usurping of the means of production from the bourgiousie by the proletariot.

If Marx stopped here i'd have no problem with his ideology. It'd be logically sound. But he continues...

The Final Phase

After Socialism Communism will arise which will end class conflict, and will therefore be permenant. Ending dialectic progress. See the logical inconsistancy? THE DIALECTIC METHOD IS THE ONLY THING THE MAKES YOUR ****ING THEORY WORK MARX!!! YOU CAN'T ABANDON IT WHEN YOU DONT WANT IT ANYMORE!!!
You've made a number of interesting points here, but I've chosen to focus on just the "dialectical method" for my comments.

Dialectic, according to Hegel, is supposed to describe the movement of history as generated by forces which contradict each other, but which also grow from each other. In this way, capitalism generates the bourgeoisie and the proletariat which grow in response to each other and have a symbiotic relationship yet remain in an irreconcilable conflict until a new order (a kind of synthesis) emerges from their revolutionary ruin.

Such a dialectical process could be endless. Marx seems to have believed that class conflict would be resolved in the final proletarian revolution. This would bring communism to the entire world, but it would not remove all contradictions from the material powers that structure it, so the "laws" of the dialectical method would continue to govern cultural, economic, political, and social change.

I don't think this way of explaining the propositions of dialectical method necessarily involves a Marxist thinker having to abandon them as you suggest.
 

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The proletariot and socialism are initially the product of capitalism, in Marx's view. But Marx thought that the contradictions of the capitalist system would cause inevitable collapse. the proletariot collective state would rise from this collapse. I cant' remember the exact ins and outs of theory but i think somthing about how industrialization and technology would increasingly lead to unemployment, and eventually the market would collapse, unable to consume the products created by the bourgiouse.

Marx believed that class conflict was the dialectic force behind societies evolution. after the means of production are under the benevolent dictatorship of the world proletariat what conflict remains? how can you have the dialectic without conflict?
 
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Alan Ryan

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new coup for you said:
Marx believed that class conflict was the dialectic force behind societies evolution. after the means of production are under the benevolent dictatorship of the world proletariat what conflict remains? how can you have the dialectic without conflict?
The contradictions that Hegel "identified" are ideals - which is why the terms "thesis", "antithesis" and "synthesis" are used to denote them. But Marx believed the contradictions are encountered in material reality and in thought only as a consequence of that reality. Material reality continues after the final stage of the communist utopia has been achieved, so the dialectic still has the conflict resulting from human activities which involve the transformation of nature.
 

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what would be the result of that material conflict? it it didnt act as a catalyst for further development of society then what would be its effect? and why would dialecitc conflict destroy (or evolve) feudalism, capitalism AND socialism but leave communism unchanged?
 

anomaly

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Marx has proven to be wrong on many of his so-called 'predictions'. He thought, for example, that Western Europe would begin 'going' socialist not long after his death (if not before his death). We see now that this is not true. Perhaps the idea that communism is man's final goal is untrue. There is a quote I know from an anarchist (collective anarchists are communists, they simply wish to skip the 'transitional' stage of socialism) which goes something like ''I am not an anarchist because anarchism (communism) is man's final goal; I am an anarchist because there is no final goal". This apparently is in sharp contrast to Marx's thought.

If we drop dialectics (many anarchists don't much like the idea), we can say, however more abstractly, that mankind historically has bettered itself with economic transition. That is, we have become, essentially, more equal with each new economic epoch. If we consider the fall of the roam empire a dramatic stall in human development (which it was atleast for Western man), we can see that man essentially has gone from feudalism to capitalism. In feudalism, one is trapped, if you will, in their status from birht til death. For example, if I was born a serf, I shall die a serf. Capitalism has greatly increased mankind's social mobility, and, though we are still decidedly unequal financially, we have the opportunity to change this. Socialism, if we go that path, will make mankind more equal by imposing either equal wage (an idea whose popularity has dropped dramatically) or a minimum living wage for all. But socialism will still include a state, which makes equality impossible. And so, in communism, the state, along with capital, is crushed. So another way of looking at such transitions is that they will gradually better man's social existence, from completely unequal to completely equal. I admit, that is far too abstract for most, but it is anothe view.

If you do choose to stubbornly view only Marx's dialectical materialism, then I suggest read Alan's posts a few more times. Marx never said what the result of dialectical conflict in communism would be. Perhaps he felt that this would be, even for him, looking to far into the future.
 

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new coup for you said:
what would be the result of that material conflict? it it didnt act as a catalyst for further development of society then what would be its effect? and why would dialecitc conflict destroy (or evolve) feudalism, capitalism AND socialism but leave communism unchanged?
When you started this thread with the intention of exposing the "fallacy" of communism, you chose to proceed by a route involving the discussion of certain abstractions and theoretical constructs that originated in the philosophy of Hegel. Later, as I believe you know, Marx "borrowed" and associated Hegel's dialectic with social and economic theories that appear to mimic the laws of natural science.

If we continue to focus the discussion on dialectical materialism, I don't think we shall exchange much interesting information about anything substantive. Let me put it this way: a student asked his professor what he knew about dialectical materialism; the professor answered, "What is there to know about such nonsense except the patter".

Can I suggest other avenues of discussion that I believe would be more productive ? You could, for example, discuss the fallacy of communism by examining the underlying theories of human nature, history, and economics through which Marx developed his doctrine. Any of these alternatives would provide more "meat" in the discussion - which otherwise will vanish in an airy mixture of bafflegab and pure wind.
 

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I'd agree that perhaps my understanding of the dialectic method is insufficient to continue in that direction. in my defense, I've never studied Hegel outside of the context of Marx. I'm unable to understand the dialectic method from a non Marxian view point, because that's all i know.

they way i see it, arguments against communism break down into four groups. Philosophical and ideological inconsistencies (which we discussed), economic theory, social theory and religion.

Economic theory is the argument for or against planned economies. I'm not an economist so i don't know why planned economies fail (I'm assuming that the collapse of the USSR is evidence that they do in fact fail).

Socially i think communism denies basic human instincts. To deny people the ability to pass on a legacy to their children is poor social policy.

Also I'm Roman Catholic...so I'm not a fan of the atheist "modern society". but that's not objective.
 

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new coup for you said:
the way i see it, arguments against communism break down into four groups. Philosophical and ideological inconsistencies (which we discussed), economic theory, social theory and religion.

Economic theory is the argument for or against planned economies. I'm not an economist so i don't know why planned economies fail (I'm assuming that the collapse of the USSR is evidence that they do in fact fail).

Socially i think communism denies basic human instincts. To deny people the ability to pass on a legacy to their children is poor social policy.

Also I'm Roman Catholic...so I'm not a fan of the atheist "modern society". but that's not objective.
Just picking up on your reference to planned economies (or command economies):

In a nutshell we can say that a communist planned economy is "impossible" because there is no way for the central planners to acquire the vital information—"produce this, but not that"— which is needed for a coherent economy. This information emerges spontaneously in a market system from the rise and fall of prices. A "command" economic system is bound to fail precisely because it lacks such a signaling mechanism.

The economic fiasco in Soviet Russia resulted from a failure to understand that a "planned market" is an oxymoron. It's significant that China is rapidly getting rid of its centralised economic apparatus.
 

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anomaly said:
Marx has proven to be wrong on many of his so-called 'predictions'. He thought, for example, that Western Europe would begin 'going' socialist not long after his death (if not before his death). We see now that this is not true. Perhaps the idea that communism is man's final goal is untrue. There is a quote I know from an anarchist (collective anarchists are communists, they simply wish to skip the 'transitional' stage of socialism) which goes something like ''I am not an anarchist because anarchism (communism) is man's final goal; I am an anarchist because there is no final goal". This apparently is in sharp contrast to Marx's thought.

If we drop dialectics (many anarchists don't much like the idea), we can say, however more abstractly, that mankind historically has bettered itself with economic transition. That is, we have become, essentially, more equal with each new economic epoch. If we consider the fall of the roam empire a dramatic stall in human development (which it was atleast for Western man), we can see that man essentially has gone from feudalism to capitalism. In feudalism, one is trapped, if you will, in their status from birht til death. For example, if I was born a serf, I shall die a serf. Capitalism has greatly increased mankind's social mobility, and, though we are still decidedly unequal financially, we have the opportunity to change this. Socialism, if we go that path, will make mankind more equal by imposing either equal wage (an idea whose popularity has dropped dramatically) or a minimum living wage for all. But socialism will still include a state, which makes equality impossible. And so, in communism, the state, along with capital, is crushed. So another way of looking at such transitions is that they will gradually better man's social existence, from completely unequal to completely equal. I admit, that is far too abstract for most, but it is anothe view.

If you do choose to stubbornly view only Marx's dialectical materialism, then I suggest read Alan's posts a few more times. Marx never said what the result of dialectical conflict in communism would be. Perhaps he felt that this would be, even for him, looking to far into the future.
Europe is going soialist and did. just not when he was alive.
 

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Alan Ryan said:
Just picking up on your reference to planned economies (or command economies):

In a nutshell we can say that a communist planned economy is "impossible" because there is no way for the central planners to acquire the vital information—"produce this, but not that"— which is needed for a coherent economy. This information emerges spontaneously in a market system from the rise and fall of prices. A "command" economic system is bound to fail precisely because it lacks such a signaling mechanism.

The economic fiasco in Soviet Russia resulted from a failure to understand that a "planned market" is an oxymoron. It's significant that China is rapidly getting rid of its centralised economic apparatus.
I consider myself a communist, and yet I find the planning aspect of the economy most unimportant. For the rigid socialist system (which I view only as a 'lesser evil' to capitalism...I suppose I can be considered an anarchist), planning (though not central planning, as you wrongfully assume...local planning is primarily dealt with today by most socialists) is immensely important. But, in the localized system of communism, each commune produces only that which may be useful for its citizens. Since a commune is likely to be small relative to the large nation-states of capitalism, such an economy is entirely possible (I suppose you could consider that a planned economy, couldn't you). The commune's size makes relationships far more personal, so useful production will be much easier than most capitalists anticipate.

Rather, we may think of the communist economy as extremely simplistic. When considering production, workers must consider primarily its use-value, not whether it will make them a profit. We won't build a house, for example, just for the sake of profit, we will only build it if citizens desire it. Can such practice really be considered planning?

In the beginning, however, all such questions and considerations will likely be thrown out. As I've written on a communist site, I suspect that the 'first' commune (obviously, communes or commune-like societies have existed in the past) will likely be a peasant-commune, that is, one that is agrarian based and primitve relative to Western society. In such a society, survival shall be the only consideration. Structures may be built anarchicly, food grown and animals raised anarchicly, not to prevent but in hopes of assuring a surplus of food (a deficit would mean death).
 

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anomaly said:
I But, in the localized system of communism, each commune produces only that which may be useful for its citizens. Since a commune is likely to be small relative to the large nation-states of capitalism, such an economy is entirely possible (I suppose you could consider that a planned economy, couldn't you). The commune's size makes relationships far more personal, so useful production will be much easier than most capitalists anticipate.

Rather, we may think of the communist economy as extremely simplistic. When considering production, workers must consider primarily its use-value, not whether it will make them a profit. We won't build a house, for example, just for the sake of profit, we will only build it if citizens desire it. Can such practice really be considered planning?
Whether you wish to restrict centralised planning of the economy to a local level or scale it up to a national level makes no difference to the principled objection that I tried to outline in my previous post. The questions of what to produce and how much of it remain unanswerable outside a free market system.

Monetary calculation is the indispensable mental tool for choosing the optimum among the vast array of intricately-related production plans that could be available for employing the factors of production within the framework of a social division of labor. Without recourse to calculating and comparing the benefits and costs of production using the structure of monetary prices that are determined at each moment on the market, the human mind is only capable of surveying, evaluating, and directing production processes whose scope is drastically restricted to the size of the primitive household economy.
 

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new coup for you said:
The European welfare state is not socialist
Not true. Most nations in europe are socialist. You can varify this by going to the cia world factbook and looking at the economic descriptions, most of them have governments that own the means of production.
 

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Christofer said:
Not true. Most nations in europe are socialist. You can varify this by going to the cia world factbook and looking at the economic descriptions, most of them have governments that own the means of production.
You've either misunderstood the CIA Factbook or you have some special meaning attached to the idea of "owning the means of production". Perhaps you should amplify what you have claimed, and give examples.
 

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Alan Ryan said:
Whether you wish to restrict centralised planning of the economy to a local level or scale it up to a national level makes no difference to the principled objection that I tried to outline in my previous post. The questions of what to produce and how much of it remain unanswerable outside a free market system.

Monetary calculation is the indispensable mental tool for choosing the optimum among the vast array of intricately-related production plans that could be available for employing the factors of production within the framework of a social division of labor. Without recourse to calculating and comparing the benefits and costs of production using the structure of monetary prices that are determined at each moment on the market, the human mind is only capable of surveying, evaluating, and directing production processes whose scope is drastically restricted to the size of the primitive household economy.
In other words, you argue that only free market 'forces' can accurately 'predict' supply and demand? This idea presupposes centralized, impersonal planning. It cannot be used to critique localized planning which is far different. Demand is all that needs to be looked at. With localized planning, beginning at the workplace level, the sales of the previous month, for example, can easily be analysed, and tendencies can be recognized between months. Depending on these tendencies, the factory, after its lead planner meets with local and regional leaders, will alter production. Centralized planning, and the heavy bureacracy of the Soviet Union, made accurate planning nearly impossible. All planning was done by a state; planning was extremely centralized. In socialism, economic planning should be as decentralized (localized) as possible.
 

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anomaly said:
In other words, you argue that only free market 'forces' can accurately 'predict' supply and demand? This idea presupposes centralized, impersonal planning. It cannot be used to critique localized planning which is far different. Demand is all that needs to be looked at. With localized planning, beginning at the workplace level, the sales of the previous month, for example, can easily be analysed, and tendencies can be recognized between months. Depending on these tendencies, the factory, after its lead planner meets with local and regional leaders, will alter production. Centralized planning, and the heavy bureacracy of the Soviet Union, made accurate planning nearly impossible. All planning was done by a state; planning was extremely centralized. In socialism, economic planning should be as decentralized (localized) as possible.
On the market:
The market responds to the balance between supply and demand: economists have theories that are supposed to predict how that balance will be struck in a given set of parameters. Markets not only signal where the balance of buyers and sellers lies at any particular time, they also shift money in the direction it's needed to maintain equilibrium. The price of any given commodity may not make sense to the particular individual, but the collective actions of millions of consumers via the market will determine (as a rule) the most efficient or the most intelligent price.

On planning:
To plan even a small scale localised economy, you need need information about what should be produced and in what quantity. This information is not available on an efficient basis outside the free market.
Another crucial missing element in a planned economy is not so much the lack of "information," : it is the want of the motivation to act on information.- i.e. lack of incentive because of the "bureaucratization" of economic life.
 
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new coup for you said:
Marx stated that socialist revolution would be the product of economic and industrial evolution. yet Russia was NOT industrialized and therefore NOT ready (in Marx's view) for socialist revolution.
and you'll note that russia never became a communist state.
 

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new coup for you said:
The revolution itself invalidates communism! Marx stated that socialist revolution would be the product of economic and industrial evolution. yet Russia was NOT industrialized and therefore NOT ready (in Marx's view) for socialist revolution.
Marx was not writing about Russia. He was predicting what might happen in Britain, which had indeed undergone 100 or so years of industrial revolution. There are complex historical reasons why a communist revolution happened in Russia and not in Britain. Communist theorists have evolved and recognise that in today's world it is not so easy to identify the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, and that our increasingly complex world involves a fine tuning of the application of Marxist theory. Highly important too, to make a distinction between pure Marxism and Marxism-Leninism, which is the theory many of the former soviet sattelites (and others) attempted, or at least claimed to have based themslves on.

Too often anti-communists misquote, or take chunks of theory out of context, as above. Worse still, they make constant reference to the (communist in name only) Soviet Union, as though this were the bernchmark by which to measure all communist experiments. These same people never take capitalist failures (of which there are many) and hold them up as an example that capitalism doesn't work, but their inherent prejudice allows them to apply this standard to communism. It is unfortunate that many in the US are never exposed to communist theory, but simply learn systematically that it must be bad, because "look at the USSR" and they don't bother to actually analyse Marxist theory or teach their children about success stories like Kerala (India's only communist run state - its most prosperous and the one which does best on literacy rates, health outcomes etc.) Similarly, these same people are taught that capitalism must be good, I mean, it's so United Statesian, but they are clueless as to the theories which actually underpin their precious capitalism.

new(hardly)coupforyou, are you familiar with the works of Arlette Laguiller? If so what would be your analysis of her perspective? And if not, which contemporary communist theorists are you actually reading?
 

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Alan Ryan said:
You've either misunderstood the CIA Factbook or you have some special meaning attached to the idea of "owning the means of production". Perhaps you should amplify what you have claimed, and give examples.
Frances government owns all businesses. England is a half socialism. you should go thier yourself.
 

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Alan Ryan said:
On the market:
The market responds to the balance between supply and demand: economists have theories that are supposed to predict how that balance will be struck in a given set of parameters. Markets not only signal where the balance of buyers and sellers lies at any particular time, they also shift money in the direction it's needed to maintain equilibrium. The price of any given commodity may not make sense to the particular individual, but the collective actions of millions of consumers via the market will determine (as a rule) the most efficient or the most intelligent price.

On planning:
To plan even a small scale localised economy, you need need information about what should be produced and in what quantity. This information is not available on an efficient basis outside the free market.
Another crucial missing element in a planned economy is not so much the lack of "information," : it is the want of the motivation to act on information.- i.e. lack of incentive because of the "bureaucratization" of economic life.
You only describe a very basic market. A market itself, a place in which to buy and sell goods, will exist in most any economic system. The free market, however, inevitably becomes an anarchic rush of production to gain profit (which is what the system is run by: the drive, need for profit). If we carry this through, Marx noticed a startling truth: If the capitalist gains, the worker may not do so (thanks largely to the drive or profit...if a capitalist makes a profit, he is then only concerned at either increaing or maintaining this profit...and this may be done by cutting his workforce or paying them less), but if the capitalist loses, the worker always follows him.

I think you are quite wrong when saying the 'information' needed for economic planning is not available outside the 'free market'. This information can be attained without the 'magic' of the free market. It is simply based on sales, and tendencies of them over periods of time. You put forward the argument that the 'bureacracy' would make people lose incentive to 'use' information gathered. I simply do not see how this is so. Planning will mean that laborers will work less, generally, since the drive for profit is not the main drive any longer (the 'rule' of capital is overthrown). Replacing it is the drive for efficiency (which a 'free' market noticeably lacks). The way to prevent the 'bureacratization' of economic life is to simply limit the levels of the bureacracy. Back when I used to strongly want only socialism, I narrowed these levels to: workplace, local, regional, and federal/national. And the only two levels that would plan things extensively would be the bottom two, working together with the upper levels to do so.
 

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Christofer said:
Frances government owns all businesses. England is a half socialism. you should go thier yourself.
There is no truth to this statement. I highly doubt Britain's economy is' half' planned, and I know for a fact that France's government does not own all businesses. Are you telling me that France has no fast food restaurants (which would be private businesses)?
 

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Originally Posted by new coup for you

The revolution itself invalidates communism! Marx stated that socialist revolution would be the product of economic and industrial evolution. yet Russia was NOT industrialized and therefore NOT ready (in Marx's view) for socialist revolution.
Exactly therefore we haven't seen the real results. Do you know how big some of the communist parties in Germany or England were? One of the reasons governments passed worker's rights was to ward off the Communist threat. If these measures weren't taken it is very possible that Communists could have won the government.
 
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