The Instigator
Kefka
Pro (for)
Losing
3 Points
The Contender
alto2osu
Con (against)
Winning
38 Points

Communism is possible

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/15/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,399 times Debate No: 8654
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (9)

 

Kefka

Pro

The idea of Communism in this debate, is a society in which Bourgeoisie and Proletariat no longer exist, and only people, no longer identified through monetary or social value, are left. The idea of government (Government defined as a selective ruling body that decides how people should live; no matter how involved the citizens, it is defined as this) has been abolished. People dictate their own lives.
alto2osu

Con

Communism, in theory, espouses noble ideals for humanity. It encourages, essentially, blind equality and shared resources, and discourages the stratification that seems to plague the planet's human societies. However, though we may learn many tidbits of wisdom with which we may perfect human existence, a truly unadulterated Communist society we shall never see.

While I normally would not write a case in this fashion, today's arguments will be primarily in essay form, as my advocacy requires it. My apologies.

My primary assertion today is that it is genetically and instinctually impossible to achieve a society in which stratification and self-interest are not a part of the political or ideological equation. Everything that humanity does may be attributed, either directly or indirectly, to its instincts. We are animals. We make the supreme & egotistical mistake time and time again of forgetting our membership in this kingdom of beasts. Yes, we have an ability to rationalize that extends far beyond our animal brethren, but we, like they, are still slaves to our genetic urges. The only difference is that we have more chance of overcoming some of them than other animals do.
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We'll start with stratification.

Marx, in his manifesto, makes some very damning claims against the bourgeois class at the time, and blames Capitalism for a number of things:

"The bourgeoisie…has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his "natural superiors," and has left no other bond between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous "cash payment." It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom--Free Trade." (http://www.marxists.org...)

Unfortunately for Marx, this is largely unwarranted, since feudal, monarchical, dictatorial, and even "communist" systems have exhibited the same evils as a society that is operated by a free market. Materialism, therefore, cannot be blamed for the cold calculations of the wealthy against everyone else. Stratification, light or severe, can be found in every society on the planet, without exception. Something so universal, and something that existed long before the concept of Capitalism, must be to blame.

Stratification, therefore, is much more likely due to human nature, even if it is a "misfiring" upper class amongst a sea of altruism. Even in the most peaceful societies in existence, some sort of social hierarchy is present. Just as in the rest of the animal kingdom, a chain of being exists naturally amongst humans. We can be compared to packs, prides, or flocks. A social theory that seeks to break apart our natural understanding of the world will inevitably fail, because people will inevitably gravitate toward this hierarchy.

Now, it does not compute that this hierarchy must be bad. This is, perhaps, where humanity could learn something from men like Marx & Freire. A readjustment of how we perceive the hierarchy would probably lead to a far more peaceful existence than the power struggles we witness today. However, that's not what Communism wants. It wants a full restructuring in that it wants an elimination of social structure, which would go against every societal instinct within the human condition.
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Now, onto self-interest.

I do not want my opponent to mischaracterize self-interest negatively right off the bat as selfishness. The two are distinct in that self-interest has a clear instinctual foundation. Every animal in the animal kingdom is concerned with its own survival. Granted, instinctually, we are all also concerned on some level with helping our species thrive, as well. This would be the altruistic side of our genetics. But, self-interest is undeniable.

While we, unlike other animals, have the unique ability to interpret, weigh out, and even deny some instincts, we won't categorically do this. Hence, any political theory that seeks to paint the human animal as something that it cannot physically be will fail monumentally, as it cannot account for even the smallest variations from the concept of blind equality.
Adam Smith, expositor of capitalist theory and moral philosopher, characterizes a positive system of societal order as one which uses the instinct of self-interest to the benefit of the society. He says, in Wealth of Nations:

"It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages."

While this may seem callous, it is not. It is merely a metacognitive examination of rhetoric which speaks to instincts, and seeks to manipulate our natural desire for self-preservation in order to benefit society as a whole. Adam Smith, of course, did not categorically apply this to all of society's transactions. This quotation, as I said before, is merely an examination of more extreme rationale. Though not every member of society provides goods and services in order to self-serve, it is the butcher, baker, or brewer that is overly concerned with self-interest that Communism has no place for, but that would exist in the world even if it weren't for Capitalist theory.
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The gist of this analysis leads me to two final theoretical concerns regarding Communism: the tragedy of the commons and the oppressed turning oppressor.

Tragedy of the commons, attributed to Garrett Hardin, claims that it only takes a handful of overly self-interested people to exploit the resources of a shared community, which then make it impossible for that community to survive. Hardin uses the example of a shared pasture for cattle grazing. A handful of farmers may agree to share this land, but if 1 of those farmers sneaks out into the middle of the night to graze his herd more out of self-interest, it will cost the community severely.
Let's pretend, for a moment, that self-interest is merely a fluke, an anomaly in the genetic world. Statistically, those who abuse others due to self-interest will find their way into these Communistic communities. After all, self-interest would compel you to reside with such altruistic people, for they are the easiest to exploit.

Secondly, Paulo Freire describes the problem of the relationship between the oppressed and the oppressor. Quite readily, self-interest manifested turns to vengeful and retributive behavior. When a people has suffered to such a great extent, the psychological need for justice, for what is equitable, will make equilibrium nearly impossible to achieve. This need for retribution expresses itself in every justice system in the world, though some are more severe than others. The US and other first world nations have tempered retribution with a delicate and convoluted system of proportionality. In places like Rwanda, retribution is manifested in genocide. Either way, the oppressed, the victim, will generally require some sort of psychological or philosophical satisfaction that moves beyond simply removing power from an oppressor. The need for penalty or punishment is another universal human interest that my opponent will need to deal with on a biological level in order to convince us that Communism will succeed.
Debate Round No. 1
Kefka

Pro

I thank my opponent for her well thought out and descriptive rebuttal.

My opponent asserts that Marx's criticism and damning of the system is very specifically aimed at Capitalism. This, slightly, draws attention from the main point of Marx's goal, and that is the elimination of the social conditionining of a need for a tangible reward for a service. This conditioning is seen in all systems of government my opponent has listed: traders in village markets in a Feudalistic society, etc.

My opponent also claims that humans will naturally form hierarchies because we are animals; and since the rest of the animal kingdom does so, we, naturally, should as well. It is true that we are animals, only more rational and cognitive. Though, this does not mean that we should be inclined to form hierarchies to satisfy our apparent 'instinct'. Though, to first address a big issue; is it an instinct? Or is it, just as greed is, a behavior learned from our environment? Humans, since the beginning of time, have used nature as a reference and resource to how to live and operate. Is it possible that somewhere along our timeline of social evolution, we observed the process of stratification in the Animal Kingdom and emulated the behavior? It wouldn't be the first time this would happen. Many 'human' behaviors and inventions have been inspired by nature: Business, Farming, Medicine, etc.
In resolution, we, as humans, should use our gift of logic and reason, and be able to willfully transcend any inherent, or learned need to set others either superior or inferior. There is no excuse that someone can surmount to contradict this; except a personal testimony of their physical and mental inability to willfully overcome any tendency to need to be socially and monetarily rewarded greater than another, only because society has perceived their profession as more 'important'. Is it so hard to restrain one's self from needing a controlled currency, and to contribute to society with their ability and be given necessities? A misconception is that this will prevent people from attaining possessions that they want; this is simply untrue. Marx's quote "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" doesn't merely mean that you are only given your bare necessities and left at that. The quote is only a way for people to see anew, a type of life that would be truly altruistic. The only way for this type of civlilization to actually happen, is for people to learn; and this is done through the long and enduring, but rewarding, process of education. Not fascist, brainwashing education, as seen 1984, but true, non-regimented, open-minded education.
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Now to address my opponent's argument for self-interest.

It is true that self-interest is not entirely selfish, as it is how we survive, and does not always lead to the misery of others to sustain our prosperity. But, where exactly does self interest exclude itself from a Communistic society? Look at it from this perspective. The butcher is good at his/her job and wishes to provide to society in the only way that he/she can, effectively. But, the butcher also wants to be able to have a home and the necessities, and pleasures, in life. Through self interest (as mentioned before, not selfishness), the butcher continues to do his/her job in order to be a positive member of the community, because they understand that if they do what they are skilled at doing, they will receive the desired necessities and simple pleasures of life. Self-interest needs not to be completely abolished in a Communistic society.

In regards to the issue of the few rotten apples spoiling the bunch...

Denying that there would be a presence of people unwilling to adapt to the philosophies in a Communistic society, would be ignorant. But as I said before when speaking about the issue of the learned behavior to stratify; education trumps all problems; maybe not completely, as perfection is impossible. But the waning of the greed ridden mindset that would trouble a Communistic society, wouldn't be out of the question. Now, I'm NOT advocating that any persons not wishing to 'assimilate' to this livelihood of the new society be discriminated against, or singled out for immediate attention (similar to what America has done with 'failures' in the IQ system haha) and be 'fixed', mentally. I'm only saying, that education, throughout a person's life, would allow them the chance to understand that the old mindset of "I work, and I receive the payment accredited, even if it is more than another's" is unnecessary and leads to nothing but conflict.

My opponent then asserts that in the event that a Proletarian revolution occurs, the Proletariat will want blood in exchange for the oppression that they suffered at the hands of the Bourgeoisie. Although this has been seen many times in history whenever a major anarchical event has happened, this would not be the French Revolution. Although Marx did predict that some, if not most, of the worker's revolutions would involve violence; he predicted this not for the reason of the worker's hate for the Bourgeoisie, but, possibly, as a necessary measure to break free from the chains instituted by the elite class. Now, I may have initiated a mindset of "He's an anarchist and wants to overthrow everything! etc.."; but this is not my goal. I unequivocally believe that, like Dr. King's peaceful civil rights movement, we can achieve an extreme change in our society, without violence and turmoil (By the Proletariat, the same cannot be said for the challenged Bourgeoisie). If a violent, vindictive revolution were to occur, it would be the antithesis of the entire point of a Marxist revolution; the point of which, is the equalization of all. Wouldn't it be a complete and utter contradiction of the belief to punish others for their past 'deeds', therefore placing them below those involved with the revolution, merely switching the roles of superiority, hence contradicting the main philosophy of the revolution?

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" - Karl Marx
alto2osu

Con

I will address the arguments with tags, in order of the RD 2 posting. I thank my opponent for his response, and look forward to the final round :) I ran out of characters in RD 1 for the proper thank yous and whatnot.
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On instinct (clarification of my position):

My opponent fundamentally misunderstands the argument I'm making in terms of instinct, especially in terms of stratification. We didn't emulate the behavior of other animals—we are an animal, and animals all have the instinct to stratify. Stratification is a part of survival, as is socialization. My opponent also disregards all of my analysis that actually validates the stratification argument. Allow me to reiterate:

1. Stratification does not have to be negative. Animals other than human beings don't tend to oppress. They simply establish an order, with survival-related duties, and are able to work cooperatively to achieve a desired end, which is the survival of the entire community. Stratification does not have to be a servant to self-love, as my opponent asserts. Greed and superiority are not the same as natural herd stratification. Don't allow him to equate the two.

2. I never wanted us to disregard the teachings of men like Marx. In fact, I specifically stated in RD 1 that there are pieces of profound truth to communist theory that we should be integrating into our political and social realities. However, I still maintain that a society without any sort of stratification is an impossibility, simply because stratification is a survival tool utilized by all members of the animal kingdom.
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On stratification and its characterization (important extension here):

My opponent severely overestimates my conception of stratification. I don't believe I was unclear prior, but if I was, I apologize. Capitalism, in and of itself, does not encourage any of the harms that my opponent or Marx accuse it of. In fact, as I stated in RD 1, all governments are liable to these shortcomings, as all governments are made of a mixed bag of people. Until humans are homogeneously altruistic, Communism can't work. This is a key point that I want the voters to extend, as my opponent and Marx fail to take human differentiation into account. Capitalism operates within the realm of observed human behavior while giving humanity room to grow into more altruistic tendencies (as Capitalism uses these behaviors and instincts to benefit the entire community—see Adam Smith). Communism requires that all of its followers be uniformly virtuous from the beginning, which is purely unrealistic.
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On self-interest (my opponent's same tag line):

Self-love, as Adam Smith calls it, keeps the butcher being a butcher. My opponent has yet to clearly articulate how goods and services would be exchanged within a Communist system while not creating the stratification that I say is necessary to keep a society functioning at equilibrium. If the butcher can do something easier and still receive the same amount of goods or services in return, then the butcher will choose the easier profession. This is not a categorically true scenario, but it is highly realistic. While societies have made some misjudgments and mistakes regarding which professions deserve more merit than others, this is yet another moment where pieces of communist theory might temper the functioning of a Capitalist system. However, if I am to receive no merit for spending 10 years in medical school, racking up debts and killing myself for the benefit of society, why should I be a brain surgeon? Again, my opponent assumes that all people can or will be homogeneous in their altruism, which is simply untrue.
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On "rotten apples":

My opponent is making categorical assertions about Capitalism based on some of its misapplication in the world. Not every capitalist society operates in this fashion. Capitalism is a spectrum of application, and this is just more evidence as to why Communism can't work. Capitalism at least accounts for human differentiation and arms people with tools to fight back against the "rotten apples." Since my opponent enjoys making generalizations about existing governments, I'll make one in turn: all manifestations of Communism have degenerated into Socialism. Why? The reason is because the naivete of the theory makes it supremely simple to dupe an entire population into dictatorship. The fact that multiple forms of Capitalism have succeeded in the world while Communism has not, after multiple attempts, suggests that education cannot overcome all.
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On proletariat revolution & oppressor vs. oppressed (key extension here):

1. Marx really does advocate the entire overthrow of the current social system. He says this directly in his manifesto. I can quote it if my opponent would like me to do so.

2. The French Revolution is precisely the sort of thing that Freire was talking about, so I'm not sure how my opponent, who is a student of Communist theory, can simply shrug off my comparison. While the French Revolution wasn't ever meant to instill Communism, it is a direct, historical example of the oppressed becoming extreme oppressors. Rather than simply eliminating the current social order via the head of state, the middle & lower class uprising felt it necessary to murder thousands of nobles, as well, most of whom merely held a title higher than the revolutionaries'. Even Freire, a passionate Communist and Marxist, admits that this is an incredibly dangerous result of Proletariat uprisings. And the French Revolution isn't the only time we've seen this result. Look to Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as much of South America.

3. While violence and the switching of superiority may contradict Communism's ultimate goal, that doesn't mean it won't happen. My opponent entirely drops all arguments I make for the necessity of retribution within humanity's schema of justice, which is huge to my advocacy. The reason the roles tend to switch is because of our need for retributive justice, which is another human trait seen unadulteratedly around the world.
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In summation, my opponent has still not been able to prove that Communism, as Marx envisioned it, can actually exist for any amount of time. I remind voters that he must prove that human beings can be uniformly altruistic, and that human beings do not need natural stratification in order to survive. Also, I want to especially highlight the problems Communism has with retributive justice. Since my opponent did not address this, I encourage you to weigh this heavily in the round.
Debate Round No. 2
Kefka

Pro

I would like to thank my opponent for a very fun debate; though, sadly, I won't be able to put a final response.
I misjudged how much I could handle, and spent too much time on one debate. And so, as a result, I will have to forfeit this debate, as well as another one in the process as well. Hopefully in the next few days, when I'm less busy, we can re open this debate, or even change sides for fun :D Please vote for my opponent, as I haven't been able to fully articulate my argument., and she has put a lot of effort into this debate, and deserves the win.

Thank you :D
alto2osu

Con

I appreciate my opponent's candor in RD 3, and hope to debate him again many times in the future. Enjoy the first 2 rounds, voters!
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by ciphermind 6 years ago
ciphermind
Even though the Pro forfeited, I'm still voting for him because he convinced me of his position, regardless of his willingness to.
Posted by Kefka 7 years ago
Kefka
Thanks Lex. To hear that what I'm trying to educate, seems POSSIBLE, in the eyes of even ONE person, is all I can ask for. And I'm glad that I can do it in a remotely intelligent fashion, considering how inexperienced I am. I just gotta keep learning. And also Lex, thank you for actually reading it through and giving it attention; it's all a crazy commie can ask for :D
Posted by Lexicaholic 7 years ago
Lexicaholic
Guys, you were both awesome. +1 to your debate skillz. Kefka, you've gotten far better at articulating your point of view, and I think you're well on your way to developing a better approach to communist philosophy. Alto, you were just plain awesome. Here we go:

(1) Before the debate I agreed with Con. Communism I have always felt is too idealistic.
(2) After the debate, I agreed with Con, although I think it is getting closer to the point where Kefka's definition of communism would work -- the argument that society must see to each individual's needs was the beginning of a better approach to rationalizing communism, and I think you should look into valuation a bit, Kefka. You're onto something.
(3) Conduct was great all around. Tie.
(4) Spelling and grammar was fine all around. Kefka used 'although' to start subsequent sentences, which is something I would not do ordinarily, but it is more a matter of logic than of grammar. Tie.
(5) Alto had the more convincing argument, although if Kefka redefines communism along the lines he was working towards, he may have a valid socioeconomic theory. Point to Con.
(6) Con used the only source. Point to Con.

Once again guys (er, guy and gal) great debate!
Posted by Lexicaholic 7 years ago
Lexicaholic
Keep up the good fight, Kefka. ;)

One sec, I'll review the debate ...
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Vote Placed by ciphermind 6 years ago
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Vote Placed by alto2osu 7 years ago
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