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Tue Oct 18, 2011 7:47 pm
Sandvich says...



I was having a discussion with my friend today. It was about communism, more specifically our beliefs about it. We both raised some interesting points, and I'd like to hear what you guys have to say about it.

My opinion is that communism is an excellent idea in theory: however, it simply doesn't work in the world as it is at the moment.
Communism is really the only "fair" (and I use that word loosely) system of "government" in my opinion. If everybody was truly equal and there was no cultural elite or dictatorial leader, then it would be just about perfect. Karl Marx, who essentially fathered communism, detailed a society where everybody is paid the same amount, no matter what their job. This would quickly make money worthless, which would effectively cause a break from the system of commerce. There would be hard times before this, but I think a world without money where everybody just shared would be fantastic.
Unfortunately, this is little more than a utopian fantasy when you look at the state the world is in at the moment. When I was talking to my friend on Facebook, I used the analogy of somebody thinking of entering the medical profession. Now, the medical profession is pretty much vital to the quality of life we have at the moment, which I suppose we would quite like to maintain. A lot of people think they would simply join such a essential profession out of the goodness of their heart. However, the stark reality is that if the pay was awful, you wouldn't really consider it unless you were some sort of saint.
Communism in it's early stages is also too easy to take over - people like being led, after all, and until they get used to just functioning independently, they will normally be happy to follow a person who makes lofty promises. Once a leader takes over, a leader such as Stalin, Mao or Pol Pot, the country ceases to be communist in my opinion. It is my belief that saying Soviet Russia was actually communist at it's core is like saying that the UK is a theocracy because it has a state religion.

I realise that my arguments are probably awful and can easily be picked apart by pretty much anybody, but I had an exam today and I'm pretty dried up of brain power here. :(
Anyway, I'm very interested to hear your opinions on communism. Fire away.
Oh, and please don't ban me or anything if this crosses any lines? :3
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Tue Oct 18, 2011 8:11 pm
Elena_Ravenhill says...



As for me I think it’s fair, at the same time it isn’t?
Reason why people might thing that Communism is like you have stated yourself “fair”, everyone could have the same thing as everyone else does. Whom which I find very unfair, I mean if a Doctor is working twice as hard as a man working in front of a computer, does that mean that they both get paid the same? Of course! And, I find that very imprudent.

Even so like you said if someone would like to be a saint and take that money and live off at what you can. What of the bills? They go up no matter what. And, the pay is still the same; it’s like being stuck on mud. What’s the point on living in that kind of lifestyle?

Furthermore, as you said about dictatorship. Then someone would stand up and become a leader whom which is going tell the people that he/she is going to promise them things. And, that can cause a mayhem and destruction.
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Tue Oct 18, 2011 8:25 pm
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Sandvich says...



You make some good points. I suppose I'm thinking more of the sort of communism that has gotten past all of that - and I'm not particularly experienced in the economy. I never considered bills.
I think the type of communism I am thinking of is a communism where nothing has gone wrong. I suppose this is kind of impossible, but I still think it would be fantastic if it happened. :3
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Tue Oct 18, 2011 8:30 pm
Elena_Ravenhill says...



For me that’s just crazy, I mean a society that is purely in peace and everyone gets along.
That sound like a cult, for me I worry about bills every day. For that to be possible, at 1970’s there was a small communist but also a religious cult. Some people thought it was a perfect utopia, then something was going wrong some of the people that their leader was starting to get paranoid. Soon after some people from congress went to check it out because they were hearing things that it wasn’t safe. Some people left with the congress representatives, but they were shot down after that the leader killed everyone (poisoned). So I don’t think that is nearly possible.
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Tue Oct 18, 2011 8:45 pm
Blink says...



Well, I'm no economist - but you've really misrepresented Marxism. I don't refer to myself as a Marxist because it would be an insult to those who really are. ;P But! Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Chavez, R/F Castro etc etc - these aren't Marxists. But I'll call them communists simply because it's what they called themselves. But realise that in today's usage, communism and Marxism are not the same thing.

Marx described the natural progression from feudalism to capitalism, then from capitalism to socialism, and then from socialism to communism (Marxism). But you can't look at the world as it is today because capitalism is not yet complete; globalisation is effectively the economic form of imperialism, and until all countries have founded unbreakable economic bonds, capitalism will still be growing. Just look at China. And that's what happened in Russia - when Lenin was growing up, he believed that Russia need not bother with capitalism because of it's unique systems of village communes to organise its feudal society. But by 1917, it was clear that it was too late - industrialisation had already come, and it had to be orchestrated by a revolutionary bourgeois government (a la 1789), which is why War Communism didn't work - the economy was imbalanced. But then he died and Stalin took over and it went a bit crazy.

Effectively, Marxism is not a utopian fantasy; it's about the progression of materialism and the changing economy. Marx criticised people like Robert Owen for being a "utopian socialist", who basically believed that we should all just be nice to one another and share money and stuff. SO the question is, to be terribly pretentious, not whether communism is a good idea but if materialism is accurate.

As a side, note:

the UK is a theocracy because it has a state religion.

Yup - it's a de jure theocracy. Did you know that only two countries in the world have clerics in their Parliament? Iran and the UK. But anyway. xD
Last edited by Blink on Tue Oct 18, 2011 8:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Tue Oct 18, 2011 8:47 pm
Sandvich says...



I'm not saying it is possible at the moment - I'm just saying that if, hypothetically, it ever was, it'd be my choice way of living.
And anyway, I don't think the comparison to the religious cult is quite fair. A religious cult and true communism are very different. To start with, a true communist country would not have a leader to shoot down intruders/kill all his subjects. Secondly, I think (and I don't want to offend anybody here) that an extreme religious cult would be more likely to go through with mass suicide than a communist group - after all, a religious cult is often built around a strong figure, who quite often allegedly has some relation to the deity the group centres around. People who believe that there is something afterwards are more likely to follow a "messianic" figure telling them to kill themselves than those who don't believe there is something afterwards or don't have such a messianic figure.
Anyway, let's not turn this into a debate about religion. There are countless threads about that already. :3
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Tue Oct 18, 2011 8:50 pm
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Sandvich says...



Blink - Sorry if I didn't make myself clear on the Pol Pot/Mao thing - I have a habit of doing that - I meant to say that they weren't truly Marxist, not that they were. :3
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Tue Oct 18, 2011 9:22 pm
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Kamas says...



Any political system is excellent in theory (depending on your viewpoint). In application, all extremes are unstable whether it be fascism or communism.

As reference:
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As a personal opinion, I believe an extreme anything is never good, or too good to be true (however you see it), whether it's political system or religion or your stance on eating cake. Let's look at socialism for now to keep it in context of today:

Socialism emphasizes for the distribution of wealth. And it's easy for us as teenagers to be eager to embrace this idea of equality with eagerness and open arms. We all need to prop each other up, push ourselves forward as a society. But let me take off those rose coloured glasses for a moment.

Consider for a moment you've settled down with a steady job you worked hard to get and to maintain. Now imagine, as a person capable of sustaining themselves that your local high school dropout begins clamoring for a cut at the wealth. That even if they themselves perhaps didn't pursue their education to university or community college and opted to do something else with their time and now find themselves at a loss of what to do with their lack of degrees or professional education. After all your hard work to maintain your job and family, would you want to give an even larger piece of your salary to the government after all the taxes? In Canada (I know nothing about the US) it varies but something like 22% of your paycheck is put towards taxes.

Eliminating hierarchy in economic and even political affairs is peachy keen, but it isn't quite so easy to attain. When there are ingrained class systems that it seeks to flatten, there is bound to be a frail government. Public opinion will be the extremes of much support and completely against.

Now take communism. In theory, the only way to establish communism in a state of capitalism is to have the working class, whoa are "exploited and marginalized by the bourgeoisie", to begin a social revolution in which the system in place is overthrown. This constitutes an armed revolution (ie. The October Revolution in Russia which was successful in the sense that all other members of the other side deserted from the sheer numbers of the revolutionaries OR the Vietnamese August Revolution which is characterized by guerilla warfare.) Also, though not quite so related keep in mind that the successful overtaking of Russia led to the execution of millions of people in the Great Purge (between 1937 and 1938 an estimated average of 1,000 people were executed every single day.)

Yes, left-wing politics has its ideals but it's a very slippery slope. Right wing politics equally have such a slope into fascism as known best through Hitler & Mussolini in the mid 1900s. Extremes are never good and don't seem to work out that great most of the time. I'm not a fan of the left wing politics personally, but a balance between left and right suits me just fine.

tl;dr - nay.
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Wed Oct 19, 2011 3:10 am
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tr3x says...



I would have to agree with Kamas here. It isn't as cut and dry as yay or nay. All political ideologies sound brilliant in theory.
Karl Marx may have been a brilliant political philosopher but he was a terrible social architect. What I feel he failed to take into account was human nature and competitiveness. Where he saw a fair and equitable system that would improve the conditions of the working masses, others saw an opportunity for power. If all people were Perfectly Logical Beings, perhaps it would work.
In Canada, our system seems to be a mix of democracy and socialism. Healthcare would be a socialistic aspect.
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Wed Oct 19, 2011 3:16 am
Kyllorac says...



Personally, I'm of the opinion that benefit should be directly proportional to effort and effectiveness. Someone who puts greater effort into accomplishing a task and succeeds should reap more benefits than one who puts in a lot of effort but fails, who in turn should reap more benefits than one who puts in minimal/no effort at all. Just to clarify, I'm using effort in the sense of the amount of quantifiable work put into accomplishing a goal rather than the amount of difficulty overcome in attaining that goal.

To use an analogy, think of one's wealth as a final grade. You study hard throughout the semester, putting in a lot of time and effort into learning the material and passing the tests. At the end of the semester, your grade is calculated and you find out you've aced the course. However, some lazy bums known as the majority of your classmates were out partying all semester long instead of studying, and so they bombed the course. They raise a huge stink about failing, and this results in a policy change where everyone's grades are pooled into a class average, which then becomes every individual's final grade.

Is this new policy equitable? Considering that everyone now has equal grades, yes. Is it fair? Considering that it dramatically lowers your final grade, which you worked hard for, you'll probably agree it's not. Do you, under this new policy, have an incentive to put effort into studying? Not really. After all, even if you did put effort into doing well in the course, it's not like you, yourself, would actually benefit from it seeing as how everyone gets the same grade in the end, regardless of personal effort. Only an idiot would invest a disproportionate amount of effort into achieving the same result.

This lack of motivation is one of the reasons why Communism as an economic system failed so miserably. It's human nature to want to be rewarded proportionately to one's results and efforts; in the Communistic economic system, however, the focus is/was on equity of distribution rather than fairness. Because workers had no incentive to produce quality goods (outside the goodness of their own hearts), they produced shoddy ones; it wasn't as if they were risking anything for putting in only minimal effort, and they definitely weren't getting anything substantial out of putting in more-than minimal effort.

There were other economic factors that plagued the Communistic model of economics, such as grossly inefficient infrastructure, which lead to a grossly inefficient distribution of resources among producers, which in turn lead to shortages; as well as a severe disconnect between output produced versus the actual consumption of goods, especially in the consumer markets, which lead to extreme shortages or surpluses.

Now, ideally, socialism and capitalism have the exact same results efficiency-wise: the amount of goods and services produced is exactly equal to the amount of goods and services demanded/consumed. Equity-wise, the goods and services available to a consumer is limited mainly in a capitalistic economy by the amount of wealth the consumer possesses; in a socialistic economy, the limitation mainly would be tied to physical/temporal availability of the good/service.

In current reality, while socialism is more equitable in the distribution and quality of goods/services, capitalism is more efficient in the production, quality, and distribution of goods and services. Capitalism also tends to provide a wider variety of similar goods than socialism. Depending on whether you value equity or efficiency more, you'll find one of the two more appealing.

I personally lean towards capitalism.

Aside: There's a common misconception that capitalism is inherently an exploitative system; it's no less inherently exploitative than socialism. As mentioned earlier, capitalism and socialism ideally achieve the exact same economic goals; however, where corruption is introduced in both systems, exploitation (as well as inefficiency) occurs. Communism as an economic system, which happens to be extremely exploitative in practice, is a corruption of Marxism, which employed socialism as a stepping stone.

Under ideal circumstances (and even in less-than), prices are set by how much a consumer is willing/able to pay for a certain good/service and the costs of production. After all, if the consumer is unwilling/able to pay the price, they are under no obligation to buy that good/service if they deem the benefit not worth the cost. Likewise, a producer is not obligated to produce a good/service if it will not profit them. The end result of a purchase is that the consumer gets the good/service they desired at a price they were willing/able to pay while the producer earns a profit: i.e. both parties in the exchange benefit. It is only when an obligation to purchase/produce a particular good/service overrides the participants' will to not purchase/produce that capitalism becomes exploitative.
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Sat Oct 22, 2011 6:09 am
Aet Lindling says...



Sandvich wrote:My opinion is that communism is an excellent idea in theory: however, it simply doesn't work in the world as it is at the moment.

Aw, and here I was all ready to share my opinion.

Well, actually, not quite, something more like
Aet Lindling wrote:My opinion is that communism is an excellent idea in theory: however, it simply doesn't work in the world as it is at the moment.

Maybe I'm pessimistic, but humans are humans. I have entertained thoughts, though, about systems where for example a loaf of bread could be .01% of your net worth, a good used car could be 8%, and so on.

This would in practice mean that you would have infinite money, but would be a way to transition from money as it stands to a system where everything is shared without immediately doing away with current net values. The logistics, of course, would be nightmarish and overall systems like these can't really exist, in my opinion. An exception would be where the percentage is meant to deter people rather than make life easier, (which will always open itself up to exploitation more than deterrents, unfortunately) such as Switzerland's speeding tickets, which is a pretty brilliant idea.
12-18-12 7:43 PM
AmelieoftheValley: ...Aet and Bog sometimes sound like a comedy duo.
12-18-12 7:43 PM
AmelieoftheValley: Just pointing it out.

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Sat Oct 22, 2011 6:29 am
tr3x says...



I recently debated fines proportional to wealth - pretty much what Switzerland has enacted - and I'm vehemently opposed to them. I don't really think proportional fines act as a greater deterrent at all.
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Sun Oct 23, 2011 7:23 am
inkwell says...



I never found Marx worthy of reading strictly for his economic ideas. That said, I do however think Das Kapital is profoundly relevant economically. Am I a communist? In one sense yes, because I admire that communist ideas only tried to reach an end that capitalism doesn't seem to supply—fair and effective allocation of resources. I much prefer John Maynard Keynes when it comes to practically* applying economics to our policies, though.

Relevant Lecture (from Marxist perspective): Crises of Capitalism Animation

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Wed Oct 26, 2011 9:36 am
Fizz says...



There are a number of things about this discussion that trouble me so so so SO greatly. Mostly, it is this thing about wages all being the same, and how unfair that would be. I do agree that wages all being the same would not necessarily be fair, but at least in a Communist society, those people who work jobs that in our society are not as highly regarded or appreciated, such as being a cleaner in comparison to being a doctor, aren't paid greatly less. When you think about it, Western society works on a system of keeping the poor poor. The majority of high paying careers require high levels of education. You can't be a lawyer without Law School, or the CEO of any company without a degree. However, higher education is not available to everybody in the same way. Typically, students raised in higher income families perform better at all levels of schooling, and go on to complete degrees in much higher proportions. I refuse to believe that this has anything to do with a 'natural intelligence' but rather the environments in which they were raised.

The point of all that is, yes, it is bad that in a communist society everyone is paid the same, but this isn't because some people deserve to be paid more. It is because it makes job advancement, or in fact any kind of career or education ambition pointless. Communism takes away the best part of modern society, competition. In contemporary society we are wired to want to be better than the other guy, and that is a good thing. We should always want to have more, and be more, than we do/are. That is how we invent awesome stuff, and get really good at doing things. And being good at things is good.




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Wed Oct 26, 2011 7:11 pm
tr3x says...



I agree with a lot of what you say (particularly the last paragraph), however I think some people do deserve to be paid more. An ER doctor requires almost a decade of education (which he or she pays for themselves, by the way) and they save lives, heal people and provide a huge benefit to society. Compare that to the position of a janitor - now I'm not putting down the job of a janitor in any way, I agree that they deserve respect in the workplace and so forth, but practically their jobs aren't as essential as that of a doctor's. Of course a doctor deserves to be paid more. That said, I agree that there is often an unfairness in the distribution of wages with relation to net contributions, but communism essentially makes that unfairness part of the social structure. Of course you can't be a lawyer without post-secondary education, and it's true that education is expensive, but complex jobs do require expertise which can't be gained any other way. What's wrong with this discussion being mainly about wages? That's what people care about the most - what they have to survive on. Communism doesn't reward success, it doles out cash on the basis of necessity, and that goes against fundamental human nature and motivation.
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