The Instigator
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The Contender
Con (against)

Communism is a failed form of government that should not be tried again.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/5/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 495 times Debate No: 97677
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Communism, throughout history, has always been a symbol of failure, oppression, and misery. Yet many countries today, such as China, continue to practice Communism, with little to no objection from other countries. Communism has been the single most oppresive form of government in history, being responsible for the deaths of millions of innocents. The free world should take whatever steps it can to dissuade governments from turning to Communist forms of government, and, if necessary and possible, overthrow Communist governments.

Some may argue that real Communism has never been properly tried, and that this is the reason for its failure. I ask them this: what is the proper form of Communism? What hasn't been tried that could be the reason for its failures? And if there are proposed solutions for why communism has failed/was lacking, why haven't they been tried? (When I mean this, I am not insinuating that a country should be taken over with a Communist government for the sole purpose of trying one or two new methods of governing, but it'd be simpler to enact new ideas on a much smaller scale, such as a social experiment) The fact of the matter is, however, that a few small, barely significant changes to a system of government will have little to no effect on its outcome, despite what many supports of communism claim.

Some may point to China as a relative success of Communism, and, at first glance, it is easy to see why. China has one of the largest, if not the largest, economy in the world. China's GDP is at 7%, compared to the USA's 1%, and this is considered a slow economy for China. But I ask those people: have you read firsthand accounts of daily life in China? Have you seen images and videos of the conditions of the country? The first thing one may notice about China is it's massive amount of air pollution due to no enviornmental regulation, creating a thick smog that causes extreme health problems if excessively inhaled. The working conditions in the country are squalor, with the very infrastructure of China collapsing under the people's feet. (Various examples of which include people getting wedged in escalator machinery, collapsing subway platforms, and getting thrown between the spindles in paper mills) The primary reason China is doing so well is nothing but pure irony. China tried multiple times to catch up with modern times (the most prominent of which was the Great Leap Foward in the 1950s), and failed miserably, wrecking their economy and nation further in the process. Only after adopting free market capitalist principles was China able to get back on its feet. They were able to do this much quicker not because of genius and ingenuity, but rather a near infinite supply of expendable labor, in this case, China's population of 1.1 billion that the government controls completely. These factors are the primary reason why China is such a massive economic competitor today, rather than a near third-world country like most other Communist countries became.

The final point I'd like to make is that Communism does not benefit the people in the slightest. A universal tactic that communists use to persuade the people are it's many "free" benefits, such as food, housing, and healthcare, to name a few. But once in power, the people quickly find that these promised benefits were lies told to them, and if by chance areimplemented, are sub-par and not enough to get by. The funding that is used for these programs comes from a massive taxation on the people, which leads them to working longer for more pay, only to have that pay taken away by the government in exchange for low-quality benefits. In short, more work, less rewards. By the time people realize that communism was nothing but false promises, they cannot go back to their old form of government, whatever that may have been. Once communists seize power, it becomes extremely difficult for the people to rise up against them. A primary part of communists' agenda is to seize anything that could help a resistance against them, including weaponry. Without any form of fighting back against the regime, the people are forced to suffer their everyday lives with no way of going back to their old way of life. It would take a massive uprising from a majority of the people, or international intervention to overthrow their oppresive government. Communism is not for the people, but instead, uses the people to benefit the government, with little to no returns.

In summary, Communism is a failed form of government that will require more than just a few "tweaks" to repair, and a complete overhaul of the system would result in something that barely resembles Communism anymore. Communism is against the people, using them as nothing but puppets to further the government's control and oppression. China may be a communist country and an example of Communist success, but the truth is, if it weren't for free market principles, China would be nothing more than a wrecked shell of a nation as it was in the 1950s.


Since my opponent failed to provide a definition of communism, I shall do so now:

"In political and social sciences, communism (from Latin communis, "common, universal")... is the radical social, political, and economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of the communist society, which is a socioeconomic order structured upon the common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money,... and the state."[1]

Next, I shall provide the definition for Totalitarianism, as I believe this to be relevant. "Totalitarianism is a political system in which the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible.[2]

So, there is a big difference between these two ideologies, and they should never be mixed up together. Communism is a stateless society, whereas totalitarianism is a society where the state has not limits to its authority. Since the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, and many other nations people improperly consider communist, still have a state, they were never communist. In fact, I would argue that these countries were totalitarian, thus they cannot be used as examples for proving communism is a failed form of government.

Finally, I shall provide the definition for State Capitalism, as this is also relevant since the aforementioned countries had this form of economics, and not communism.

"State capitalism is usually described as an economic system in which commercial (i.e., for-profit) economic activity is undertaken by the state, where the means of production are organized and managed as state-owned business enterprises (including the processes of capital accumulation, wage labor, and centralized management), or where there is otherwise a dominance of corporatized government agencies (agencies organized along business management practices) or publicly listed corporations of which the state has controlling shares." [3]

My opponent, therefore, has yet to provide an example of communism that has failed due to being communist.

I will thus provide an example of a communist society, which was the Free Territory of Ukraine(Makhnovia) during the Russian Civil war between the black army, red army, and white army. The black army was the Free Territory of Ukraine's army. This Ukraine was communist since it had a stateless society, communes/an economy that were communally owned, and money was stamped out. [4] It's often called an anarchist society, but essentially it is the same as a communist society since it was a very far leftist anarchist society. Communism is essentially a left-wing form of anarchism after all since it is a stateless society, and that is what anarchy is.

The free territory eventually met its demise not because it had communism, but rather because it was beaten by the red, bolshevik army. There is not much known about the free territory, and I can't find much in regards to how successful it was economically.

At any rate, I'm not arguing that communism is successful, rather I am just arguing that what my opponent claims is false which is that communism is a failed form of government. There is no evidence to suggest it is, and thus no reason to believe it is.

Debate Round No. 1


As I quote from my opponent:

"Communism is a stateless society, whereas totalitarianism is a society where the state has no limits to its authority. Since the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, and many other nations people improperly consider communist, still have a state, they were never communist. In fact, I would argue that these countries were totalitarian, thus they cannot be used as examples for proving communism is a failed form of government."

One thing that each of the countries my opponent mentioned had in common was that their initial leaders (that is to say, the ones who founded the government) were communist, and therefore, set up a communist state.[2][3][4] After the initial leader of each of these countries passed, the government would become totalitarian, sometimes with the country's second leader (this was the case with the Soviet Union, with Stalin gradually establishing Totalitarian rule under Lenin, so that by the time he passed, the USSR was Totalitarian[1]) If a country starts out communist and turns to totalitarianism, can you say that it was always totalitarian and was never communist? Of course not, just because something X turned to Y, you cannot say that it was always Y and never X. This is a prime example of the no true scotsman fallacy. You can't make any judgment about whether something is or isn't Communist, you must accept every possible interpretation of your position and defend it.

Now that I believe I have established that these countries were, indeed, communist, at one point or another, it can safely be said that, at the very least, the Soviet Union was a failed example of communism/totalitarianism. The points made in my first argument were very similar to what happened with the USSR, including the revocation of all weaponry, subsidization of all industries, and the poor, miserable conditions that 99% of the population lived under. And seeing as how it is no longer existent today, it can be safely assumed that the USSR failed in one way or another.

One final example of Communism failing was before it was even called Communism. The original Jamestown colony had a system of governing where everyone would do an equal amount of work for an equal amount of reward. Eventually, however, some settlers became dependent on other settlers to do their work for them, resulting in more work burdens on some for less rewards. This, obviously, led to starvation. The men and boys that came to the colony were not well-trained in farming, supply ships from England were too intermittent, and poor relations with the Natives meant no trading could be done.[5] By the time a new form of leadership was instituted, only 60 of the 500 initial residents survived.

[1] From Wikipedia on the Soviet Union: "Lenin had appointed Stalin the head of the Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate, which gave Stalin considerable power. By gradually consolidating his influence and isolating and outmaneuvering his rivals within the party, Stalin became the undisputed leader of the Soviet Union and, by the end of the 1920s, established totalitarian rule."
[2] Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union, was a self-proclaimed communist, and led the country's communist party.
[3] Mao Zedong, founder of the People's Republic of China, was a self-proclaimed communist, and led the country's communist party.
[4] Fidel Castro, leader of the Republic of Cuba, was a Marxist-Leninist who governed the country with Communist ideas, and led the country's communist party.
[5] Starving Time in the Jamestown Colony

I look forward to your rebuttal.


While it may be true that the leaders in those countries were communist, that doesn't make the government they set up communist. Nearly all of them followed Marxist theory, which is that socialism would be used as a transitional state to communism. What they actually set up were socialist states. The letters, USSR literally stands for Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Once again, communism would have anarchy, no states and no leaders. The fact that Lenin, Castro, and others were leaders of a nation, that means they had governments still, and were in fact not ever communist.

Now, while I could argue for why Jamestown wasn't communist, I'll instead focus on how they got to the situation they did. As your wikipedia source says:
"The colonists, the first group of whom had originally arrived at Jamestown on May 13, 1607, had never planned to grow all of their own food. Their plans depended upon trade with the local Powhatan to supply them with food between the arrivals of periodic supply ships from England.

Lack of access to water and a relatively dry rain season crippled the agricultural production of the colonists. Also, the water that the colonists drank was brackish and potable for only half of the year. A fleet from England, damaged by a hurricane, arrived months behind schedule with new colonists, but without expected food supplies." [1]

Their failure had nothing to do with the fact that they gave equal amount of reward to everyone who did equal amounts of work, it had to do with that they were dependent on outside sources for their food, and the bad weather. This problem likely wouldn't be present in a modern attempt at what Jamestown had since today, we have modern transportation. One could easily move to another location where it will be better to grow crops today.

Even under a capitalist system, Jamestown probably would have had the same problem: they couldn't grow their own food. That's not a failure of an economic system at all. Regardless if they were more capitalistic, they wouldn't have been able to produce more food.

Now, so that I'm not just on the defensive, I'll offer another instance of communism where it was tried, and this one I can argue was successful

The example I bring is Revolutionary Catalonia during the Spanish civil war from 1936-1939. The Confederaci"n Nacional del Trabajo, which was the most powerful labor union in revolutionary Catalonia at the time, constantly expressed opposition to authoritarian institutions, and worked to maintain control of the economy for the workers. [2] Similar to what happened to the free territory of Ukraine, Marxist revolutionaries opposed the anarcho-communism that Revolutionary Catalonia was instituting. They once again, worked to overturn it and institute Marxist communism, but failed and eventually Revolutionary Catalonia was taken over by the fascists and Franco. [3] None of the failure of Revolutionary Catalonia was due to anarcho-communism itself, but rather they just didn't have the population and military to defeat the Fascists and Marxists.

Now, the success comes from the fact the GDP growth of Revolutionary Catalonia was significant, averaging over 6% the 3 years they were in existence.[4] While inflation was an issue, I think they were still a success because of that GDP growth as well as the declining poverty rate which went down 10% during those years. [4]

You see, what Revolutionary Catalonia and the Free territory that I talked about earlier show, is that communism can be implemented in various ways. Marxist communists have traditionally been the enemies of anarcho-communists, as you can see since the Red army took over the Free territory, and Marxists tried to overthrow Revolutionary Catalonia as well.

While I would argue that Marxist Communism has issues, I would say anarcho-communism is generally successful, and would have continued to be successful if the areas that tried them weren't taken over by stronger forces.

So, my opponent is arguing that all communism is a failed system, but in order to do that, they must prove all forms of communism fails. So far, they have only offered evidence on Marxist communism, and whatever form of communism Jamestown might have had, but I wouldn't consider them communist. However, I still maintain the facts that I pointed out that for the Marxist communist attempts, they never actually got to the stage of communism, and Jamestown failed due to other reasons.

[2] See chapter 19
[3] See page 429
[4] (note: this book is not available to look through online, but I have the book.)
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