Communism works as a political ideology.
Debate Rounds (3)
I'm going to assume that round 1 is for acceptance (or else that would mean I get one more round than you, which is unfair).
My opponent holds two positions:
1) Communism could exist in an effective and efficient way.
2) Communism is the best way to govern a country.
In this debate, I will try to refute both of these positions by rebutting my opponent's arguments and by constructing arguments of my own. I'm no expert on communism, but I hope I will a good match for my opponent nonetheless.
I hope for a stimulating debate.
I believe Communism is the best way to govern a country for a number of reasons.
1. It is human nature to help others - indeed we would not be here had we not helped each other in the first place.
2. True Communism abolishes inequality. There would be no currency in true Communism, therefore people would not be more powerful than others. People within society would work hard to produce goods that can be distributed evenly throughout the system. Of course people will take more and people will take less, but generally the idea would be of equal opportunity.
3. Communism is the ideal economic structure. In capitalism if you work harder, you get paid more. You use this extra money to buy things that benefit yourself. Whereas, in Communism, if you work harder everyone benefits. Surely a society in which everyone is working together rather than individually would be ideal?
4. Communism gives people an incentive to work - laziness is effectively eliminated from society. If you do not work, society does not benefit and you are therefore not worth being part of it. People who do not contribute will not be accepted and helped either. On the contrary; someone who isn't willing to work for the greater good of the nation should not be a part of it.
Thanks again, good luck.
Thank you for your arguments. I will begin by addressing them in order.
1. You assert that it is in our nature to help each other. While I will concede that some people value their friends/family/other as much as they value themselves (or even more), I do not think that it is the case for everyone. I personally know some people that value themselves more than others, and you most likely know some too. And let me be clear, I'm not talking about people who ONLY care about themselves (though these people also exist); I'm talking about those who will PRIORITIZE their own well-being before that of others. In a communist country, society will be prioritized over yourself whether you want it or not, and some (I'd would even say 'most') people will not accept that.
2. I guess you're right, communism would indeed abolish inequality, and here is an interesting quote from Churchill regarding that:
“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” (that can obviously be extended to communism).
I will address the rest of this point in my own argument.
3. Having a better life as a result of working harder seems totally reasonable to me. Whenever someone works hard, they expect a result that matches the effort they put into it. When the results you get are inferior or equal to someone who worked considerably less hard, that makes you angry, and rightfully so. For example, aren't you pissed when someone who studied less than you gets a better grade? Or when someone who never goes to the gym has an awesome body and you have a beer belly, despite going to the gym? Imagine what that would be like if you extend it to your whole life.
4. I completely disagree with that and will expand in my own argument.
Now on to my own arguments. (I will name them A, B, C and D to avoid confusion)
A. According to you, the perfect communist society does not have any form of currency, which means that no one can buy anything, which I assume means that everyone possesses the same things. Is there a problem with that? Yes, there is. What if there aren't enough (insert basically anything here) for everyone? How can we decide who gets it and who doesn't? Or do we simply decide that no one will have it? While the former breaks communism, the second supports the idea of 'shared misery', which I'm sure is not what you want in your perfect society. No currency also means the downfall of the whole entertainment industry: I can't buy video games or movies or even books!
B. In communism, how do you deal with arts? Most people enjoy arts, be it music, movies, paintings, operas, etc. A lot of these people (including myself) also enjoy CREATING works of art, but most of us realize that our talent is not going to bring food to the table once we're adults, which is why we choose a different path. In communism, we do not have to worry about that, so a lot of people, who would normally consider something different for economic reasons, will become singers, or actors, etc. While this would be great in terms of culture, it would be terrible in terms of logistics, since we would lack manpower for more 'important' jobs. I'm pretty sure most garbagemen would prefer to be actors, and yet there job is essential in society.
C. You say that communism gives people 'an incentive to work', but I say it does the exact opposite. You have most likely heard of the teacher who decided to give all his students the average mark (see below). While this experiment may very well be a myth, it is a good illustration of my point. It goes back to this equivalence between effort and result: if a brain surgeon's quality of life is identical to a janitor's despite having studied for many years, he may be tempted to change occupation, perhaps choosing a less stressful job.
D. In communism, who controls the logistics? There obviously needs to be someone supervising the whole process; making sure that food is evenly divided, making sure that those who do not work don’t get any food (which is, according to you, what should happen), making sure that no one has more possession than someone else, etc. If such person (or committee) exists, doesn’t he have some kind of power? As they say, knowledge is power.
History has shown us that the world is not fit for communism; every attempt as failed because people are greedy and want power. Yes, some people are very selfless and value others more than they value themselves, but for communism to succeed, that needs to be the case for everyone, and it’s not. I’m eager to hear your rebuttals.
P.S. I need some clarifications on your view of communism:
Is trading allowed? For example, if I need two cars but I don’t need my TV, and my neighbor happens to want a second TV but doesn’t need his car because he works from his home, can we trade?
Is a disable person going to be fed despite not being able to work?
In your perfect world, is the entire planet a single mega-country or are there many countries? And if there are many countries, do you think a communist country can survive if all other countries are capitalists?
Teacher experiment: http://www.snopes.com...
A. The idea of there being no currency means that people work to produce raw goods that are distributed evenly throughout society. A crude analogy of this idea could be a huge warehouse in which people construct items, then place all the items they've made on a large table for others to take as and when they need them. As the people taking items they need would also be placing items of their own down, the system would work evenly and effectively. Your last point simply is not true. There would not be a downfall of any industry. On the contrary; workers would continue to produce and manufacture your video games and you would take these in return for producing something of your own for society: this could be the art you are interested in (I will answer that point separately below).
B. You would have no incentive to pursue a career in arts unless you were extremely talented. This is for the sole reason that everyone is rewarded equally and therefore people would complete jobs that they are good at in order to make more items for society to benefit from. If you are not good at these artistic career paths, nobody would be willing to see you perform and, as a result, you would not benefit society or, indeed, benefit from it.
C. Of course Communism gives people an incentive to work. If people do not work for society, society will not work for them. People would be fed up of the idea that someone who is physically able to work is not and instead deciding to be lazy and a burden on society. These people would not reap the benefits of society working and would therefore be required (in order to survive) to work. As for your brain surgeon - janitor example I believe these people deserve an equal wage. The janitor probably works longer hours and works harder during them. Just because a janitor hasn't trained for eight years to get his job does not mean his is of any less value when compared with the brain surgeon's. The doctor would enjoy the work he/she does otherwise they would not do it. They must also be good at the job they are doing because they are still doing it. Although the idea of saving a life is inexplicably valuable so, too, is the idea of keeping a city clean by being a bin collector, building houses as a manual labourer or cleaning toilets as a maid. All of the aforementioned jobs contribute to and benefit society in some way and they should all be rewarded equally. If someone is good at their job and enjoys it that is usually reward enough, but in Communism they would be rewarded further as inequality is abolished and they live in a state that allows them equal opportunity. A belief, might I add, that a lot of Capitalist countries seem to have forgotten.
D. There is a government that controls logistics of the country. The common (and misguided view) is that the idea of there being a government in communism is an oxymoron is false. A government is obviously needed to guide a country and, in terms of Communism, instigate collectivisation of goods and property and set the tenets of society. However, these people do not have more power - they are completing a job as anybody else within the state is and are therefore given the same wage and amount of goods as everybody else is entitled to. Offshoots of Communism have been used in countries in the past (USSR, PCC and the PRC to name a few), but these have failed due to greed, power or that the ideas have simply not been instigated in a good fashion. In true Communism, currency would not exist and therefore greed would be less common. People within society could be greedy about the goods they are offered, but why would they? If they did, people would no longer want to produce goods for them or receive their goods and they would, as a result, fail in society.
History has shown us nothing about the success or lack of success in regards to true Communism. No country has ever been truly Communist, but there have been offshoots of it (such as Leninism, Stalinism and Maoism) and these have failed. I believe the idea of true Communism would be an ideal and feasible political structure, whilst I accept the difficulty of setting such a system up and I accept it has its faults, but fewer than Capitalism and other political ideologies.
- Trading is allowed but there should be no need to. If you need another car you would take another car from society in return for your input. Likewise, if your neighbour needs a TV, society would be able to provide him with one as long as he gives them something that benefits them in return.
- Someone who is disabled would certainly not be punished for that by being excluded from society. The idea is for equal rights and opportunities for all and ostracizing a member of society for something that is not their fault would contradict this entirely. A family with a disabled person would be eligible to take more in order to feed and support their family. As I said earlier some will take more and some will take less, but in general an equilibrium is maintained through everyone (who is able to) working for a greater nation and society.
- The idea of a mega country seems ideal, yet unrealistic. A Communist country would be able to effectively stand against Capitalist nations quite easily. Take America as an example: Though America, one of the world's most renowned Capitalist countries, states that every man is equal, some people make next to nothing while others are on six figure salaries. The argument that the rich have worked harder is illogical and untrue; it is in fact the opposite. The people who labour 14 hours a day in a sweatshop in India for as little as $1 a day are truly working hard. In Communism, the state actually heeds to this idea and ensures everyone is treated equally. Every job is equally important, whether you are a brain surgeon or a janitor and all people should feel valued within society. Communism would have an almost 0% unemployment rate and therefore that nation's production levels would be sky high when compared with Capitalist countries that have high unemployment, benefit systems for lazy members of society and unequal opportunities.
Thank you for your rebuttals. Again, in order:
A. Your analogy seems to contradict what you said right before; you start by saying that the goods are evenly distributed throughout society, implying that the government is in charge of that task, but then your analogy points towards a system where people TAKE what they need, making each individual responsible for their own acquisitions. These two views are entirely contradictory; you and the government can not both be the ones who decide what you get. Plus your analogy assumes that everyone is only going to take what they NEED and not what they WANT, which is highly unlikely: I may only NEED a potato and a slice of ham to survive, but I WANT sushis. The whole system collapses even if only a minority of people act selfishly, since it is basically impossible to quantify each individual's needs.
You then go on to say that people who take something will also put something down, but if I take a chainsaw and put a nail down, is it fair? Then if you start attributing value to everything in order to make sure that it is fair, you transitioning towards capitalism.
And yes, the video game industry would crash, because nobody NEEDS a video game; video games exist for the sole purpose of entertaining the person that buys them. How would you go about 'evenly distributing' video games? I know some people who don't like video games and some people who really enjoy them, but wouldn't giving video games only to the latter category be uneven? And if your solution is simply to give anything one may want and you still think that communism is sustainable, you are living in a fantasy.
B. That is so false, I don't even know where to begin. Do you really expect people who lack artistic talent to give up their dream, especially if there is no downside? Can you even expect them to realize that they have no talent? I agree that a band that no one listens to is not contributing much to society, but would you really give the government the power to decide which band is worth existing and which isn't? Another problem with arts is the uniqueness of a work; if a painter makes a beautiful painting, who gets to have it? If no one, then he isn't really contributing to society, hence the downfall of painting.
C. 'If people do not work for society, society will not work for them'. So... no social safety net? If someone is, for whatever reason, unable to be employed, he is left to starve? And if you get fired, you won't receive any food? The problem with your view is that it is extremely simplistic and does not account for many practical issues.
The rest of the paragraph is based around the fact that every job is of equal necessity to society and of equal difficulty. Neither of these are true: the video game industry is FAR LESS useful to society than the medical industry and an emergency physician has a FAR MORE difficult job than a waiter, and yet they both get equal reward.
'The doctor would enjoy the work he/she does otherwise they would not do it' If you think that everyone enjoys what they do for a living, then you are clearly living in a fantasy.
You claim that communism offers equal opportunity, but how don't see how this is the case giving the fact that you simply asserted it without evidence.
D. I'm aware that a communist country has a government, I was simply disputing your assertion that no one has any form of power in that society. You say that the government only has a common job, but surely you realize that someone who deals with that kind of stuff (deciding who gets what) will be tempted by greed to corrupt the system and favor themselves and their friends.
'People within society could be greedy about the goods they are offered, but why would they?'. Because SOME PEOPLE ARE GREEDY BY NATURE. It's a brut fact, and I don't see how communism could resolve this issue. Saying that it is not good to be greedy because other people would then stop producing things for you is ridiculous, since no one can measure when NEEDING becomes WANTING and also because you can't simply stop producing for one particular person.
In summary, communism (or at least your version of it) fails for two major reasons:
1) NEED vs. WANT: It is absolutely impossible to reconcile the needs and desires of each individual and at the same time being fair to everyone. Not everybody needs and wants the same amount of things, and determining whether someone actually needs the amount (or type) of food they ask for is nearly impossible. Plus, providing everyone with what they need and never with what they want would make for an extremely sad and unpleasant society. In the case where we allow people to acquire things for the sole reason that they want it, greed will inescapably take over and excess and exaggeration will become an insurmountable problem, since everything would be 'free' and should theoretically be available for everyone (i.e. there would be no shortage of anything, which is impossible).
2) UNFAIRNESS in EQUALITY: Although communism promotes equality in the sense that it provides everyone with the same amount of things, it is unfair in the sense that it does not provide an amount of things that is proportionate to the difficulty and usefulness of an individual's work. According to you, enjoying what we do should be reward enough and money is only a bonus, but in reality not everyone enjoys what they do and those that are lucky enough to actually enjoy it would often still prefer to do something else if the pay was the same. Jobs are not all equally useful and they certainly are not equally hard. Things like driving a cab, cutting hair or being a cashier are extremely easy to do compared to being a firefighter, doctor or policeman. The entertainment industry (sports, arts, games, beauty, etc.) is far less important in society than education or medicine. Communism makes no distinction between all of these and that is utterly unfair. It is precisely that unfairness that makes the argument of 'incentive to work' so bad; equal rewards for superior efforts is extremely unsatisfying and is even quite annoying to most people.
Thank you this very interesting debate, I hope you had as much fun as I had!
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