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Communism is necessarily oppressive. (In practice AND theory)

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Started: 11/14/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 377 times Debate No: 96993
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It has been said by the apologists of Communism, that the Soviet and Maoist dictatorships, and other forms of despotism that has claimed basis in Communist doctrine, are nothing but distortions or betrayals of "true Communism". In order to make my argument, then, I will use as evidence only the writings of Marx and Engles themselves, so that it cannot be dismissed as a distortion.

If a society is free, meaning that the principles of individual Liberty are prioritised, the members of that society will, by definition, be granted the right to denounce the government, verbally or by any other non-violent and non-intrusive means, as to uphold the same right for all other members of that society. Communism cannot work this way. Firstly, it theorises society as a collective, or several sets of collectives (classes) which are said to be in perpetual conflict with each other. This theory of classes, with attributed intentions, is quite easily put to rest when you consider that the members of each of these classes are in no way permanent members. A rich man can become poor and a poor man can become rich. You simply do not become something as a result of your perpetual conflict with and resistance against it. This is instead a clear indication that individuals, and individuals only, can hold intent. In order, then, that a Communist regime might maintain confidence in its doctrine, those individuals who do not conform to the regime's conjecture about what the "proletariat" thinks about this or that matter (most advocates of communism surprisingly have never been part of the working class, and so their attempts to speak on its behalf is unfounded) are branded "traitors" and are outcasted from that class.

The question is , what to do with those who do not conform to the expectations of Communism under such a regime; those people, of all economic "classes", who don't buy this idea of perpetual conflict between themselves? The answer is given by Marx in The Communist Manifesto: After the establishment of what Marx calls "the dictatorship of the proletariat, where the proletariat rules, any and all viable resistance must be "surpressed" either by indoctrination or force. This is why it is so important for a Communist state to "centralise" military power (for me this is the cheapest way for Marx to avoid using the term "monopoly".)

Any and all resistance. This means, from any person, in any economic class, and by any method. There is no emphasis on the method of resistance, it could be physical, or verbal, or literary. And resistance is left undefined, so that the slightest utterance of an idea which may question any of the hundreds of implicit doctrines of Communism is equivalent to an armed resistance.

This is despotism by definition. It is completely impossible to produce a Free state from the application of Communism. Communism by definition is totalitarian.


I accept this debate with my opponent and look forward to debating with them.

The first mistake I see you making is you use only Marx and Engels as communist thinkers, when, in fact, there have been other communist thinkers before, during their lives, and after them. Communism as outlined by Marx and Engels, I would agree naturally leads to an oppressive state and that is how every single society that tried to follow Marxism ended up doing, whether it was the USSR, Cuba, China, or North Korea.

However, just like there are multiple forms of capitalism, such as laissez-faire capitalism, state capitalism, crony capitalism, social democracy, feudalism(to an extent) etc, there are also many forms of communism. Some require the proletariat to be an oppressive force against all others, others are all voluntary and allow opposition.

I shall focus on anarcho-communism for this debate. Joseph Dejacque is perhaps considered the father of anarcho-communism. He defined anarcho-communism as "the state of affairs where each would be free to produce and consume at will and according to their fantasy, without having to exercise or submit to any control whatsoever over anything whatever; where the balance between production and consumption would establish itself, no longer by preventive and arbitrary detention at the hands of some group or other, but by the free circulation of the faculties and needs of each." [1]

"for anarchists, a democracy which does not involve individual rights to dissent, to disagree and to practice civil disobedience would violate freedom and equality... Anarchists....because they support self-management also recognise the importance of dissent and individuality " in essence, because they are in favour of self-management ("democracy" does not do the concept justice) they also favour the individual freedom that is its rationale. We support the liberty of private individuals because we believe in self-management ("democracy") so passionately. "[2]

In the few instances where anarcho-communism was established in nations, it did not result in an oppressive proletariat. For example, the free territory of Ukraine, or "Makhnovia", rebelled against both White Russia and Red Russia during the Russian Civil war soon after the October revolution resulting in the Bolsheviks to come to power. One of the reasons they rebelled, as in opposition to both the tyranny of the monarchy that White Russia was trying to bring back, and the tyranny of Marxist communism that Red Russia was trying to promote. For example, the declaration of the Insurgent Army of Ukraine read:
"Brother toilers! The revolutionary insurgent army of Ukraine(Mahknovist) was set up as a reaction against the oppression of workers and peasants by the power of the bourgeoisie and of big-estate owners and by the Communist-bolshevik dictatorship" [3]
The declaration continues to outline the goals and rights the people of Ukraine has. Notably, number 6 reads "Freedom of speech, press, association, organization, etc., is the inalienable right of every worker and all limitation on that right would appear as a counter-revolutionary right." [3] In all of my readings of the free territory of Ukraine, there is no evidence I'm aware of that they were oppressive in any way, and still allowed people to freely associate.

As you'd expect, the red army eventually crushed the black army(this is what the free territory of Ukraine's army was called) and silenced their opposition. As you said, Marxism is naturally oppressive.

A second notable example of anarcho-communism occurred with 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. [4] 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 was taken over by the fascists and Franco. [5]

A third example, and a modern example, of an anarcho-communist government would include the Federation of Northern Syria , or Rojava. They have a democratic autonomous structure, both for government and for economy, which is the root of what anarcho-communism is about. [6][7] They guarantee rights to free speech, freedom of assembly, and many rights we see in modern countries today. [7] Rojava has an education system modeled after Libertarian socialist/anarcho-communist ideals where the students themselves are the ones who set what is to be taught and learned, while teachers merely guide them. [8] There is also no evidence, that I'm aware of, showing that Rojava has any type of oppressive regime.

To summarize what I argue: Marxist communism does in fact lead to an oppressive rule, however communism in general does not necessarily because there many forms of communism. The examples of the Free territory of Ukraine, Revolutionary Catalonia, and Rojava, show this to be the case in practice. The words of anarcho-communist theorists, such as Joseph Deacque, prove it is not oppressive in theory either.

[3] See pages 163-164:
[4] See chapter 19:
[5] See page 429
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