The Instigator
Pro (for)
4 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Socialism Is Not Necessarily Authoritarian

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/31/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 842 times Debate No: 78302
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (8)
Votes (1)




My opponent can either choose to post his argument first and forfeit the last round or accept in the first round and I will post my argument first.


Socialism: "A political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole."

Authoritarian: "Favoring or enforcing strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom."


As suggested by pro I will take up the view that communist socialism is necessarily authoritarian leaving other forms of socialism to one side.
I treat authoritarian here to mean using physical and legal constraint upon the membership of society to enforce the following of a line. Of course all countries do this the US more severely than many, too an extant governance in and of itself even if it is governance by lot is authoritarian. Libertarians tend to seek a license for something or some freedom that current government imposes would like to impose upon them.
Any government may be seen as arbitrary from one point of view or another.
Communism differs other forms of government in that it cleaves to a model where concepts so basic as right or wrong, freedom of the individual, are seen as among the locii of class struggle. With the best communist intentions it becomes possible for one to be guilty of recidivism through ones decisions or actions. At worst it collapses into pure authoritarianism.
This is a consequence of it dialectic-materialist roots.
Debate Round No. 1


(As mentioned by my opponent we agreed to only discus communist socialism in this debate rather than socialism as a whole so for any voters please read this debate as "Communism Is Not Necessarily Authoritarian".)

A couple of people in the comments made the point that it was somehow obvious that socialism is not necessarily authoritarian, the problem with this is that it isn't to many people. I often see arguments online where socialism is spoken of as if it is somehow a totalitarian ideology or this ridiculous new trend where the right wing is described as advocating "economic freedom". This is essentially my attempt to both counter this (in whatever limited way I can) and have something I can point people to when they accuse socialists of being authoritarian.

Communism is an ideology that really advocates one thing and that is the abolition of private property (to quote from the Communist Manifesto: "In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.") however communism (once fully realized) also has other characteristic features those being:

Abolition of classes
Abolition of the state
Collectivization of the means of production, exchange and distribution

So my task is essentially to show that a collectivized society lacking property, a state or classes is not necessarily authoritarian. I am not going to argue that certain strains of communism (such as Leninism) have not produced horrific forms of tyranny but simply that this is not a property inherit to communism.

My challenge to con is to show that these 4 qualifiers of communism are authoritarian.

Authoritarianism In Non Communist Society

Those with considerable amounts of property have authority over those who do not. If you are paid to do something you are much more likely to do it even if it's something you would be very unlikely to do otherwise. This is almost the basis for many professions such as prostitution which are often considered to be demeaning.

This is also the basis for the entire wage system which I might expand on in the next argument if necessary.

Anti Authoritarian Communist Ideologies

There exist many forms of communism which it would be ridiculous to describe as authoritarian. Most (though not all) of these are forms of anarchist communism which seek to liberate humanity from both the oppression of an authoritarian state and an authoritarian capitalist corporate structure rather than impose any authoritarian structures on society.


Feyerabend forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Communism is a heart authoritarian because it needs the use of socialism is used to disassociate less authoritarian forms from the authoritarianism inherent in communism. The message of communism is not return the capital to the masses please if you don't mind the language is that of war against class enemies.
Debate Round No. 3
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by Feyerabend 2 years ago
Lost that all on my own notifications seem to take as long to come through as response time allowed. Clear win for pro though, I would ask a question where is the benefit to be had in associating the socialism of today with the Authoritarian regimes of the past. Marx had assumed that the UK would be the first country to transform its political structure and it could have gone that way but for Great War. Communism might have developed a less grim form without US and British sponsorship and half-hearted involvement in the White Revolution. Unfettered capitalism of the kind we have now is a very different from that Aristo Bourgoise alliance of the nineteenth and 20th centuries.
Posted by Feyerabend 2 years ago
Sorry a bit garbled there if you are to return control of the forces of production to the masses you need to take control people will not just give it back.
I take no anticommunist nor anti-socialist position nor am i pro or anticapitalist. Biodome sums it up well.
The guy with the pencil crack forgets that in the scheme of things communism is merely a recent fad. But there is no reason why a communist system should not make a pencil they probably make more in Japan than they do in the united states.
Posted by A341 2 years ago
@Feyerabend I could change it to communism if you want to debate that.
Posted by Feyerabend 2 years ago
In the communist notion socialism is necessarily authortitarian. The term is however generally used to describe left of centre non-authoritarian and democratic government. Parties calling themeselves socialistic tend not to be communistic.
Posted by Mike_10-4 2 years ago
"Owned or regulated by the community" is "at the expense of personal freedom" when one desires to freely innovate in a free market.

How does such a community own and regulate the world to simply make a pencil?
Posted by ax123man 2 years ago
right, and its the "others" A341 is after and your blowing his cover.
Posted by A341 2 years ago
It may be obvious to some however it's certainly not to others.
Posted by Biodome 2 years ago
This is obvious. We even have stuff like anarcho-socialism. The word "socialism" implies only the left side of the political right-left spectrum, not the authoritarian-libertarian spectrum.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Midnight1131 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: FF. Arguments to Pro also because they gave a well thought out argument, delving into the ideology of communism, and also mentioning that there are forms of communism that can't be described as authoritarian. Con responds with a one sentence answer, saying that socialist gov't's refusal to return capital to the masses counts as authoritarianism, but Con failed to show why.