The Instigator
Evannnn
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Material_Girl
Con (against)
Winning
8 Points

Communism is Slavery.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Material_Girl
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/15/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,646 times Debate No: 60483
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (10)
Votes (2)

 

Evannnn

Pro

Hello Material Girl, my name Is Evan, and I'll be honest, you seem like quite the interesting person. For a 13 year old, you have very developed opinions about an assortment of things, and I would like to debate with you against of your strongest; Communism. Hopefully you accept, and put up a good fight, as I'm in a debating mood. Thanks!

Before I get into my core opening statements, I would like to lay out the terms.

By accepting this debate, you:
-Accept this definition of slavery: A person who is legally forced to obey another person, as well as work for them, in return for nothing.
-Accept that there will be no direct regulations on what you use your text space for: (You may rebuttal when you like, etc.).

I'll let you open your statements first, as I am curious to see what you have to say, and how you will defend Communism from the start. Thanks!
Material_Girl

Con

Thanks for the challenge, Evan, I look forward to this debate! Although I would personally define a state of slavery as one of being a human commodity, for the sake of the debate I'll use the definition you provided. I just want to add that in this debate I won't be defending the actions of the Soviet Union or any other Stalinist state that attempted to achieve communist ends. This is firstly because no tendency of communism claims that these countries were/are communist (Stalinists make a distinction between socialism and communism and consider them socialist, Trotskyists call them degenerated workers' states and all other communists, myself included, consider them state capitalist) and secondly because I'm a libertarian Marxist and will be arguing from that perspective, not a Stalinist one.

I will define communism as "a stateless, classless society in which wage labour has been abolished and the means of production are collectively owned and managed by the workers," which is a definition I think all tendencies will agree on.

With the absence of the concentration of power of the state and transfer of power to the whole population, the ability of the public to organise themselves is hugely increased. A communist society would be a decentralised network of freely associated, co-operatively linked communes, which would share a basic structure but each be autonomous. The people within each collective would meet frequently to all discuss democratically selected issues together, consider various options and pass laws according to what the largest majority possible agreed with. Then, each individual commune would send a delegate to a meeting with other local communes to discuss bigger issues that affect a wider group of people, and pass laws using the same process. The local commune federation would likewise send delegates to a meeting of all local commune federations in a certain region, and this would continue right up to national levels, with delegates rotating so that no hierarchy would be caused. Workplaces would function in a similar way. Although this is a democratic system and therefore legislation passed through it would reflect the views of the majority, the process of consensus democracy which these meetings would go through to reach their decisions would allow for the minority to explain and justify their view, change a proposal or suggest a new one until the largest possible majority is created - so there would be no case of a "tyranny of the majority," and as many people as possible would be happy with the social and economic organisation of where they lived and worked. If anyone was unhappy with the way their community or workplace is organised and it couldn't be fixed with more collaborative discussion and searching for a solution, they'd be welcome to leave and find a new place. Using this system, people would be allowed to truly take control of their lives. No one would be legally forced to comply with the wishes of anyone else, and everyone would have a say in how their communities and workplaces were run and how the issues that applied to them would be solved. The government wouldn't be made up of self-serving toffs in suits who claimed to represent the public but continuously lied to them and invaded their personal liberty, but by the public themselves, through a decentralised system in which organisation and policy would be specifically tailored to a small area to increase efficiency and represent the public will more accurately. What could be less enslaving than that?

Obviously, slavery requires hierarchy. There must be a slave-owner - whether it's an actual owner, a government or simply a person of higher social standing - to force the slave to obey them and work for them, and by definition, if this slave-owner has the freedom to do what they want and the slave can only do what their owner tells them to do, there is inequality, which is inconsistent with communism. All hierarchy in communism would be abolished, whether it's caused by private property relations or the state's coercive power. No one would even have the amount of power necessary to enslave anyone else because power, like wealth, would be distributed equitably. Also, since the workplace would be organised in the non-hierarchical way detailed in the previous paragraph and balanced job complexes would ensure that all people do an equal amount of empowering and non-empowering tasks in the workplace, workers wouldn't work for anyone else (in the sense that working "for," someone has in the current system) but with everyone else, and the boss-worker relationship would certainly be abolished. Although there could be authoritarian relations created between people in the cases of someone democratically chosen to lead a certain project, or someone teaching something to another person, whoever is subject to the authority in these relationships would still have the ability to pull out of them and have control over their own lives and a great deal of say in the project/lesson. This state of absolute equality wouldn't be imposed on the population from the top down, but created from the bottom up - it would only happen if the people truly wanted it (and I and other communists do have ideas of how the people could make it happen, but that's a different question). By maximising equality and ensuring that there is no imbalance of power, communist society would also maximise freedom for everyone. In contrast, in hierarchical society, those lower down on the hierarchy are subject to the authority of those higher up and it is much easier for people who are higher up to gather the authority needed to force those lower down to obey and work for them and dodge and manipulate laws. As it does with a lot of things, capitalism commodifies social autonomy: people with a lot of economic power have excessive freedoms which include the ability to exploit those who have less, while people without economic power have the choice of working and being exploited or starving - or, in more developed countries, working and being exploited or sitting in social housing and filling their minds with TV, drugs, alcohol and other opiates. Surely, a society in which no one is the oppressor and no one is oppressed is preferable to a society in which one has to choose to oppress or be oppressed.

Labour is a commodity under capitalism. When someone is employed, they sell their labour to the employer - but labour is not a separate entity from the labourer. Employers have a huge amount of control over the lives of their employees both directly and indirectly: directly through setting the rules of the workplace almost single-handedly, being able to fire employees while employees can't fire them and controlling employees' working hours and what they do during these hours, to the point at which people like my parents are essentially dividing their lives in half between work and sleep, and indirectly through their greater political influence due to their greater economic power. If you don't believe that being rich gives one more political influence, look at how Berlusconi still has huge power in Italy even though he was convicted of multiple crimes, the slaughter of innocent Palestinians is being commissioned by wealthy businesspeople who are sending even more money to Israel and donations to political parties keep the same old parties dominating the system and stop any fresh thinking from coming in. When selling their labour, employees also have to accept that they'll receive less in wages than the value they create for their employers, so that the employer can make a profit through their exploitation. People can only live where they can afford to, work where they will be employed and, if they choose not to work (and don't have working partners either) - which they do because money, the only incentive there is to work under capitalism, isn't incentive enough for them - they live in meagre conditions and most of them waste their lives blindly consuming and putting synthetic junk in their bodies that slowly kills them. Wages aren't even fair. Manual labour can take a lot of work and no company would survive without those at the bottom of its hierarchy, yet because there is a greater supply of manual labourers and workers at the bottom of company hierarchies, their price goes down like any commodity's, while company executives have the power to give themselves huge pay rises. The wage system traps everyone, whether they like it or not.

Communism would abolish any labour in which the worker doesn't control their own activity. This is diametrically opposed to slavery right from the outset, as there has to be someone controlling the worker and giving them orders for them to be enslaved - obviously, self-management isn't enslavement. Because authoritarian, hierarchical relationships in the workplace would be abolished and pay would be completely unrelated to work - everyone would be paid according to need - the very nature of work would change. Instead of being the completion of dull tasks for the sole purposes of earning enough to live on and making profit for a boss, work would be done for pleasure and for the sake of contributing to the community. Individuals would pick activities which interested them as their main means of self-expression. Most people want to do things that stimulate them and that they enjoy and are good at, and rather than replacing this desire with a desire to collect and multiply capital, communism would encourage people to find what they love doing and take it up, as well as giving them the freedom to collectively manage their own workplaces. On top of this, they would all do a small amount of manual, or unskilled, work. Because these less empowering tasks would be shared amongst the whole population of a community, an individual would do very little of it. And surely it's better for a whole community to share the responsibility of garbage-collecting than for a few individuals to be stuck with completing this task over and over again for a long period of time.

A huge misconception about communism is that it would force people to work. In fact, voluntary association and voluntary labour are central tenets of both libertarian socialism and the full communism that is the eventual goal of authoritarian socialism. If a "communist," society forced someone to work, it wouldn't be allowing them self-organisation, and thus wouldn't be communist. I imagine most people would want to work in communist society because work would be creative, self-managed production and more like a hobby than the boring rote tasks that most jobs are today, but if anyone (who wasn't disabled, pregnant, injured, too old or had any other condition that meant they couldn't work) didn't and kept refusing to, they would not be forced to, but simply denied access to the full benefits of communal living. Everyone would get a basic amount of "purchasing power," regardless of productive activity. If some people were happy with this minimum of resources then they wouldn't need to work, but to have access to more than this, they would. Since working conditions would be improved, there would be no overwork, places of work would be democratically self-managed and production would be done for pleasure, people wouldn't need to be forced to work.

In conclusion, communism not only isn't slavery, but lacks the coercive power needed for any slavery to occur. No one would be forced to obey anyone else because no one would have the authority over anyone else necessary for this to happen, no one would be forced to work for anyone else because work would be self-managed and co-operative and done in horizontally structured workplaces, and since resources would be distributed equitably according to need, labour and pay would be unrelated. What's more like slavery is the system under which inequality and the state allow a lot of power to lie in the hands of a few people, the bourgeoisie live off the overwork and exploitation of the proletariat, employees are entirely at their employers' mercy and the wage system is forced on people whether they like it or not. In other words, capitalism.
Debate Round No. 1
Evannnn

Pro

Evannnn forfeited this round.
Material_Girl

Con

I extend my arguments and will also add sources.

Communist society was defined earliest by Marx in "National Economy and Philosophy," which I can't find on the internet but is quoted here: https://www.marxists.org... , by Engels in sections 14 and 20 of this work: https://www.marxists.org... and expanded upon by Bukharin here: http://www.marxists.org...

In these two sections of An Anarchist FAQ (bear in mind that the end goal of any tendency of communism is shared with that of non-market anarchism) the decentralised and directly democratic economic and social structures of stateless, classless society that I briefly described are detailed. The parts that talk about anarcho-communism are talking about the system I described in my argument:
Economic structure: http://theanarchistlibrary.org...
Social structure: http://theanarchistlibrary.org...

Since communism, by the definitions of Marx and Engels, has never existed, I am talking about a purely theoretical concept in this debate. The arguments I gave for why communism isn't slavery, therefore, were obtained through a process of logical reasoning using the definition of communism and that of slavery, which I detailed in the argument, so I'm not sure how I can give a source for anything except the definition I provided.

If there's no free Wi-Fi in the hotel I'm staying in, I'll be offline until Saturday 30th and unable to continue this debate.
Debate Round No. 2
Evannnn

Pro

Evannnn forfeited this round.
Material_Girl

Con

Material_Girl forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
Evannnn

Pro

We will be continuing to debate this on a separate page, I have already challenged you.
Material_Girl

Con

Material_Girl forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
Evannnn

Pro

Evannnn forfeited this round.
Material_Girl

Con

Material_Girl forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by debate_power 2 years ago
debate_power
I think communism is supposed to be the OPPOSITE of slavery. Slavery is a system of labor in which the laborers receive pure sustenance (definitely not the worth of their labor because the slavers reap the products produced through slave labor, which is worth more than is spent on sustaining the slaves). Communism is a system of economics in which the workers receive a reward worth exactly the same in value as the goods produced, relative to what the good is sold for- the workers effectively own the means of production through direct democracy, and "the workers" are EVERYONE due to the homogenization of the social classes into one. (Obviously one who produces grain might not want the grain produced; as long as they're getting paid what their labor is worth, then they are working under a communist economic system).
Capitalism is more like slavery, come to think of it.
Posted by Evannnn 2 years ago
Evannnn
Would you like to have a debate about this separately? No offence, but I don't want to waste my time here otherwise.
Posted by Osiris_Rosenthorne 2 years ago
Osiris_Rosenthorne
In which case, you haven't any understanding of what capitalism is, and this debate is effectively defunct, as you can only just come back with, well, that's what I call capitalism. No society on the face of the earth operates, ever, a barter economy, just so you know, becuase individuals don't think in the way of cold, hard, personal gain. It's a nice obfuscation, though. Maybe you didn't read my post. I didn't say we operate a capitalistic society, I said society is inherently communistic. If it doesn't the trader you buy your soda from in the street market in bogota rip you off when he knows full well he's never going to see you again? Or other countless examples I could give where people don't operate off "cold, hard personal gain." Now, to all these examples you've said "...because they feel happy," which really is a nonsensical argument, as if the primary motivator was personal gain, then why would they feel happier from the gain of the other person? Surely, if you cared solely about yourself, you wouldn't care how the other person feels, why waste your time giving directions to a stranger, being the most evident question that comes to mind. Youre never going to see that person again, if you live in a big city, for example, yet people do it.
Posted by Evannnn 2 years ago
Evannnn
You misunderstand. I do believe that every economic model is capitalism. I believe this because society is naturally capitalist, and you cannot have an economy without society, can you? When it comes down to it, nobody is going to do something for no return, no matter how much you deny it. Why do I buy a soda from a store? Why do I invest in a company? Why do I switch to an employer who offers higher wages? Etc, Etc. It all comes down to cold, hard personal gain. Capitalism. As an aside, profit doesn't have to come in a solid number, or a unit, as different people value certain things differently. For example, one person may not accept a deal where you trade a chocolate bar for jelly beans, as they hate jelly beans. I however, because I personally value jelly beans more then a chocolate bar, would accept that deal.
Posted by Osiris_Rosenthorne 2 years ago
Osiris_Rosenthorne
So, what's the value of friendship per util of happiness/satisfaction, or the exchange rate between friendship and favours, and while you do favours for each other in turn, do you have a ledger keeping track of all these exchanges, keeping tabs on who owes three favours for 30 utils of happiness? If somebody asks you to pass the salt at the dinner table, do you mark that down in your mental ledger, or decide, no, It isn't worth the 15 utils of happiness? Sorry, but no, for some reason, I doubt you do, otherwise, I think you would be highly flustered!:) As for there always being something one gains in return for a favour, people gain things in exchanges in every economic system, there's nothing unique in that to capitalism. Hell, if it were, every economic model is capitalism, and you are just using it as a synonym for economics.
Posted by Evannnn 2 years ago
Evannnn
Interesting thought, yet I disagree. I am not giving my friend something in return for nothing when I give a favor, I am giving him a favor in return for friendship, and my own happiness. Capitalism is what society is based on, and this is why Capitalism works.

There is always something someone gains in return for a favor.
Posted by Osiris_Rosenthorne 2 years ago
Osiris_Rosenthorne
Everybody is a communist, as society operates on the fundamental communistic principle. From each according to their own ability, to each according to their own need. If a friend asks you for a favour, you don't start haggling over how many favours your going to get in return. The irony is, the only reason capitalism works is because communism is what society is based on.
Posted by Evannnn 2 years ago
Evannnn
Matierial Girl, I see you worked quite hard in order to come up with these points. I apologize for not responding. Yes, I would still like to debate you. I will begin a new debate, and allow you to copy and paste what you posted here. Accept when you get back! :D
Posted by 9spaceking 2 years ago
9spaceking
IMPOSSIBLE
con posted absolutely no sources, and this is a political debate....o.0
Posted by Material_Girl 2 years ago
Material_Girl
Crap, I just remembered I'm leaving for an exchange trip on Friday...

Pro, should we start this debate again when I get back on the 29th? Sorry about that!
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Kc1999 2 years ago
Kc1999
EvannnnMaterial_GirlTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Its clear that communism is not slavery. Pro has failed to prove his BoP +FF.
Vote Placed by Ajabi 2 years ago
Ajabi
EvannnnMaterial_GirlTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture.