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Debate: Communism

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Is communism a sound political philosophy?

Background and context

Communism is a socioeconomic structure that promotes the establishment of a classless, stateless society based on common ownership of the means of production. It is usually considered to be a branch of socialism, a broad group of social and political ideologies, which draws on the various political and intellectual movements with origins in the work of theorists of the Industrial Revolution and the French Revolution, although socialist historians say they are older. Communism attempts to offer an alternative to the problems believed to be inherent with capitalist economies and the legacy of imperialism and nationalism. Communism states that the only way to solve these problems would be for the working class, or proletariat, to replace the wealthy bourgeoisie, which is currently the ruling class, in order to establish a peaceful, free society, without classes, or government. The dominant forms of communism, such as Leninism, Stalinism, Maoism, Trotskyism and Luxemburgism, are based on Marxism, but non-Marxist versions of communism (such as Christian communism and anarchist communism) also exist and are growing in importance since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Contents

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Property: Is the communist perspective on collective ownership of property appropriate?

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Yes

  • Liberal democracies should ensure a degree of "equality of outcome" A principal 20th century liberal theorists, John Rawls, originated the idea of a the "veil of ignorance". The idea is that, imagining we all had no idea how we would "come out of the womb" and whether we would be "advantaged or disadvantaged", what kind of social contract would we construct. We would want to construct one in which we minimized the risks to ourselves if we happened to get the "short-end of the stick". This is why a degree of "equality of outcome" is important. Communism and socialism recognize these ideas.
  • Society must collectively own many form of property through government - Benjamin Franklin - "All property, indeed, except the savage's temporary cabin, his bow, his matchcoat and other little Acquisitions absolutely necessary for his Subsistence, seems to me to be the creature of public Convention. Hence, the public has the rights of regulating Descents, and all other Conveyances of Property, and even of limiting the quantity and uses of it. All the property that is necessary to a man is his natural Right, which none may justly deprive him of, but all Property superfluous to such Purposes is the property of the Public who, by their Laws have created it and who may, by other Laws dispose of it."[1]
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No

  • People have full rights to their property that governments shouldn't deprive. Governments violate the rights of citizen when they force, or threaten to force, individuals to transfer their legitimately held wealth to the state in order to provide for pensions, to help the needy, or to pay for public goods (e.g., parks or roads). Individuals have a natural right to life, liberty, and property. Depriving any one of these rights diminishes the others. Therefore, these rights must be considered inviolable. They are important to uphold for their own ends, not merely for other expediencies. Therefore, no matter what the cost, the individual right to property must be upheld as an absolute. A socialist government would not uphold this right.
  • "Collective" Ownership is an ill defined concept Whatever rhetoric may be used, the fact of ownership of property is having control over the use and disposition of said property. When one speaks of "collective" ownership one is really speaking of government ownership. As a practical matter then the representatives of the state then grant usage of property to individuals who then effectively own it. The real question is whether individuals will gain the use of property through the exchange of their own productive labor or if they will gain its use through political influence. Communism is simply a newer atheistic form of feudalism with divine right of kings replaced with political right of the commissars.
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Economics: Is communism economically beneficial?

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Yes

"1935: Social security will break small business, become a huge tax burden on our citizens, and bankrupt our country!
1944: The G.I. Bill will break small business, become a huge tax burden on our citizens, and bankrupt our country!
1965: Medicare will break small business, become a huge tax burden on our citizens, and bankrupt our country!
1994: Health care will break small business, become a huge tax burden on our citizens, and bankrupt our country!"
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No

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Motivation: In a communist, society, would people by motivated to help others?

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Yes

  • Many could be motivated to work by a wish to aid their fellow man. Over time, as the benefits of this better way of life become obvious, all will. The impulse to share wealth and material amongst the community, to support all, leaving none behind, is one of the purest mankind can experience. It is not merely possible – it is a demonstration of the progress of our species to a finer, more humane state of being.
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No

  • The drive to succeed as an individual is the strongest motivating factor a human being can feel in their work. When work is uncoupled from reward, or when an artificial safety net provides a high standard of living for those who don’t work hard, society suffers. The fact that individuals are driven to succeed is in all our interests.
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Can communism help the less wealthy?

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Yes

  • Shared wealth will mean more wealth for the less wealthy. If wealth is shared the lower class will receive a fairer and high share of a nation's wealth.
  • Helping the less wealthy is the intention of communism. Communism was founded on the idea of helping the less wealthy so it seems obvious that communism can help the lower class.
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No

  • Communist states often oppress dissent. This would not be good for the emotional well-being of the population.
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Can communism help the wealthier in society?

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Yes

  • By sharing wealth, the wealthier will be more satisfied. As they are sharing there money with others, they will have the satisfaction of helping others.
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No

  • Communist states often oppress dissent. This would not be good for the emotional well-being of the population.
  • Helping the wealthier is the intention of communism. Communism was founded on the idea of helping the poorer so it seems obvious that communism will not help the wealthier.
  • Shared wealth will mean less wealth for the wealthier. If wealth is shared the poorer will receive a fairer and high share of a nation's wealth and the wealthier will receive less.
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Is a communist state possible?

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Yes

  • Communists are often dedicate to there political ideology and will do anything to promote it. As a result, it is likely that a communist country could be created.
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No

  • Communist states have a leader. The leader has more power than an average citizen. Everyone is not equal, so it is not a communist society.
  • A stateless society is impossible. When an individual refuses to forfeit the product of his labors to the collective but rather insists on a barter of value for value, some individual or group must enforce the "communist way". Simply organizing public works requires groups to coordinate and the means to decide who will accept and reject candidate proposals. Crimes must be punished, the criminally insane must be restrained and isolated, these functions require an organization of individual efforts with establishment of political authority and policy for the use of force. That is the essence of a state. One may do this informally but an informal state is non-the-less a state with all of its virtues and vises.
  • Common ownership of the means of production is impossible. Ownership is control. The means of production will not be plentiful enough that all who choose to utilize it will have it available. Someone will need to decide who is granted access to the means an who is not worthy. That someone is the true owner of the means of production. Note that the same is true in capitalistic corporations. Nominally the share-holders own the company collectively but it is the executive board who controls it.
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Would a Communist state receive popular support?

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Yes

  • The working class are the largest portion of societies in most countries. As Communism is usually considered beneficial for the working class, communism is likely to receive popular support.
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No

  • Communist states often oppress dissent. This would not be good for the emotional well-being of the population. People would realise this and avoid supporting a communist government.
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Is communism fair?

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Yes

  • "There is no other definition of communism valid for us than that of the abolition of the exploitation of man by man."–Che Guevara
  • "The political form of a society wherein the proletariat is victorious in overthrowing the bourgeoisie will be a democratic republic." –Vladimir Lenin
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No

  • Communist states often oppress dissent. If they need to oppress dissent it must be an unfair government.
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Pro/con videos

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Yes


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No


See also

External links and resources

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