The Logistics and practicality of Communism.
Debate Rounds (4)
I would like Con to start by pointing out their concerns about communism and structure an argument.
I have done many of these kind of debates before and most arguments have been complete straw-mans. You can argue against the marxist-leninist method of achieving communism if you like.
Communism: A stateless, classless, moneyless society where the means of production are socially owned and private property is abolished.
I have many concerns about communism.
1. It discourages innovation and is anti-technology. By this I mean there are no incentives for "American/Western Big Business" to come in and sell their technology. Since a communist country is mostly economically isolated, there is no incentive for "rich capitalists" to come in and sell their technology. There would be no one to sell it to.
2. As an addition to no.1, it discourages creativity as well. There is no room for inventors as a communist country would view them as "useless" unless they directly improve the country. Since communists discourage differing opinions, art and culture will not be developed as much as they would be in a capitalist country, where opinions are welcomed, much less allowed.
3. Labor output will sharply decline. People can simply "stop caring" about their work. The saying "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" can be a huge negative. Someone strong and hard-working who works for 8 hours a day can start to become jealous of a weaker person working 3 hours a day. People can simply stop working to their max and the whole country will suffer long-term.
These are only a few reasons, and I would be happy to clarify. Can you help by defining what exactly you mean by "practicality" and explain the system for what you believe to be a 'perfect' Communist country?
1.What you are assuming is that the only kind of incentive we have to do anything requires some kind of monetary incentive. This is completely false and everyday life makes this visible. We will work for mental or physical gains all the time regardless of money. We read books to educate us, learn to play instruments, plant gardens in our front yards, take care of pets all of these require work but we don't demand any money from them. Why? Becuase we enjoy them. And this is what communism will do for any kind of work. We no longer do work because we have to in order to sustain ourselves, we work because we want to and because it brings us joy in doing so. The capitalist system destroyed the beauty in working by demanding non-stop production and efficiency. Marx called this enfremtdung or alienation. Where we are alienated from our own creations. We are not given the time to admire our creations or "see ourselves" in them. We must produce what the capitalist demands and as fast as we can in the name of profit. This leads tasks that should be joyful and fulfilling to become dull and boring. Incentive doesn't vanish, it evolves.
2.There are plenty of room for inventors, During marx's analysis of capitalism he realized that very few of us actually needed to work. We could give everybody a house, food a car but we produce far more than we could ever be able to consume or need to consume. We could literally only have to work a fraction of what the average working day is today in the united states to sustain ourselves and others. Peter Kropotkin and other communist thinkers suggested we would only need to have a 4 hour working day and cut off the unneeded overproduction. This time after work would leave plenty of time to innovate if that is what the individual enjoys doing. Weather you believe me or not about this it's going to happen, automation is making communism extremely viable and the vast majority of available jobs right now could be automated. people will have to find something to do without a monetary incentive and automation will aid in this greatly. CPG gray did an excellent video on this subject which I will link to you.
3. I don't really see your argument here. If the person is weak and can only work 3 hours at X activity, he would be moved to a job which he can do better at. And as i stated above, 8 hours of working is an unlikely working day in a communist society. And again, people aren't going to work because they have to, they will work because they want to. Communism isn't only an economical and social revolution, it's also a psychological and sociological revolution as well.
CPG Gray video: https://www.youtube.com...
1. Your first part of no.1 is pretty much an umbrella statement and can be applied to capitalism as well. However, "[work] brings us joy [in communism]" might not be the case. What if no one wanted to clean sewers, or build houses, or maintain public services, etc. With capitalism it will be alleviated with higher pay and more incentives, but in communism that cannot be the case, since everyone is equal and no job is higher than another if the same hours and labor are used.
"we must produce what the capitalist demands"- you are implying that people are forced to work in a capitalist society, which is completely untrue. You can quit jobs or not work at all, both with different outcomes.
2. Who says capitalism is over-producing? Supply and demand is a huge factor in both production and end consumption, and there are thousands of analysts working for companies to try to calculate exactly how much to make for the highest profit. And that isn't a bad thing. More profit=larger company=more workers. Now I know trickle-down economics is a joke, but it CAN create jobs, which is a good thing for capitalism.
Sidenote on the CPG gray video: I have watched it many times, and automation will play a huge part in the advancement of capitalism----->socialism ---> communism. However we are not there yet so this is all speculation. Sounds good in theory to have 'robot slaves' to do all our work for us, but it will take many years to achieve that. Right now, capitalism is superior. Many jobs require a "human element"- i.e. some form of human interaction.
3. We both agree that it is human to be lazy if the opportunity presents itself. "people will work because they want to"- what if they don't? What if I don't enjoy any job at all? I would be perfectly fine sitting at home watching TV. In a capitalist society I would not be able to provide for my basic needs, thus requiring me to work. In a communist society where everyone is equal, there cannot be someone above me to force me to work, and I must be sustained, so what happens?
"8 hours is unlikely"- that was merely a hypothetical/placeholder.
You bring up some valid points however the fact that you are thinking of a "theoretical/Utopian" version of communism means you need to define/explain some things- you make many assumptions about the people in a communist society.
1.Now i have encountered this argument several times and while it is true there are some less desirable jobs it doesn't change the premise of my original argument. People will work for others as well and realize that some jobs must be done. These less desirable jobs become less undesirable when you are in control of doing it and are not pressured by your employer. Not to mention you receive the praise from your peers and the society as a whole and your job would feel like it has intrinsic meaning and importance. I don't really think I need to address this argument any further because automation would take care of the ones you listed and much more and this isn't exactly speculation either.
2.Supply and demand go up and down but depending on their elasticity a surplus is usually created and sold at a low price to rid the excess supply. People will consume many different commodities but is this really what they want or what makes them happy? This leads into the philosophical part of this debate. Marx got much of his ideas from the philosopher Epicurus who spent his life trying to find out what made us happy and through his empirical studies he found out that it is not material wealth that makes us happy but our friends and family (I know sounds generic). I will leave a video further explaining his philosophy.
3. This is a very opinionated argument. You would almost certainly get bored of doing nothing at all after awhile. I don't really see how this argument be resolved since it will be very opinionated either way. Again, you work because you want to in communism. The point of communism is to make you want to work. Of course you would like to just lay around and do nothing right now in your current job but this is because of the worker alienation you are experiencing at your job.
1. One major issue with communism is the fact that it has never worked out in history. Can you point to any examples of a successful communist society?
2. Many supporters of communism say "USSR and China weren't TRUE communism", but they were the closest we have seen. If the only examples of a theoretical system failed, that really isn't a good sign. In fact there is ONE example of 'communism' today- open source software. Everyone is free to contribute to it but many don't and just download it for their own use without improving it. That leads to...
3. Human nature i.e. selfishness always prevails and people can and will stop working. You keep saying that people will "work because they want to." Humans are intrinsically lazy and will choose to not work if the result is the same.
"communism makes you want to work"- in what way? You can't change human nature without forcing it- but that won't make people equal if they are forced to work by another person.
"these less desirable jobs become less undesirable when you are in control of doing it and are not pressured by your employer." Then what would make me want to do that job? Let's say no one likes working in sanitation. What will make people want to work there? Certainly not more money, because that would imply their job is more important = not equal to others.
"of course you would like to just lay around and do nothing right now in your current job but this is because of the worker alienation you are experiencing at your job." I don't understand what you mean by this- because in my hypothetical scenario I don't have a job nor do I want one. I am perfectly content sitting at home until I die. I have hobbies but none contribute to society (such as video games and movies). What then?
4. Communism only works in small groups, where societal pressures drive people to work. If they don't, the peer pressure around them will make them work. This encourages all to work to benefit each other. The problem arises when this is scaled to a whole country. Now there isn't one tight-knit community- there are millions of people. The pressures disappear and now people have no drive. This is why every time communism has failed at large scales. A power vacuum is created with someone calling the shots to replace the "natural" pressures by a tight-knit community.
2. Although the ussr and china weren't "real communism" they were running a corrupted version of the "dictatorship of the proleteriat" phase which was meant to protect the revolution from reactionaries. But they ascended into authoritarianism and autocracy.
3. Now this is an argument that I, and many other communist apologists encounter over and over again. The dreaded "Human Nature" argument. The entire premise of the argument is a logical fallacy known as an Appeal to Nature fallacy. There is no scientifical evidence that points to any innate kind of social behavior in humans. Why? because human nature is such a vague term no scientifical hypothesis can really be projected or tested. The whole appeal to human nature argument is nothing more than the creation of false axioms.
Again, i could be quoting Peter Kropotkin on this issue but the less desirable jobs can and will be automated anyways. You will want to do you job because it would have intrinisc meaning. You are greatly contributing to the functionality of society and you would be appreciated. Unlike in a capitalist economy you aren't thanked you aren't given a pat on the back money is just a way of telling you "no one cares and no one knows so take this money".
I will provide a link explaining worker alienation. The capitalist system completely alienates the worker from themsleves, other workers, their work and from them working.
4. I would call that an assumption. It is true most tested communes such as the epicurean communes consisted of small scale communism but i don't exactly see why making the population larger would really change the functionality. Again, you don't work because you have to, But because you want to. this goes back to my first argument about how people enjoy maintaining their garden, their dog, learning guitar or learning new things in general. People do this voluntarily because they enjoy it and they feel they get something back from it even when it's not very self evident on what exactly they get out of it. The problem with your arguments and the arguments from other's i've encountered is that they argue from a capitalist sociological and psychological standpoint. Of course if you maintained the capitalistic mindset communism would never work and this is one of the large reasons the ussr failed. It didn't rid the rampant consumerism and commodity fetishism.
"While some joined voluntarily, others, especially in the beginning of the revolution, were forced to join the collectives by anarchist militias."
Forcing people to work and give up their land is not a good model at all and goes against what you claimed, that people join because they "want to." There will be opposition, and in a capitalist society social Darwinism is in play i.e. "if you don't contribute you don't get to reap our benefits". In communism, it is more of a "give up your property or die/become jailed"
Now Rojava is another story. They need time to be completely independent and news about them are very conflicting as of now. I took a look at their population statistics and it shows 4.6 million with it being almost all Kurdish. Once it grows and accepts other demographics I expect a huge change in its structure.
Still, both examples did not fulfill stable communism thus my argument still stands, that as of now there has never been a full successful communist state.
2. That is what I mean by a power vacuum. With a huge population, the citizens cannot all be expected to unite by themselves. A few bad apples ruins the crop and a dictator can easily take over. This is what happened in both Russia and China, both of which had huge populations.
3. What I mean by human nature is their tendency to conserve for themselves. By this I mean people ARE lazy when given the choice. If the result is the same, why work harder? You keep arguing that people would work because they would want to. That in itself is a fallacy, because it has been proven that people only work to benefit themselves. It has been proven time and time again that people do not enjoy working for something that does not directly benefit them, or something that benefits others more. The form of government will not change that.
I agree with the automation argument. But can't that be an argument for capitalism as well? If robots take over blue-collar jobs, it will improve their quality of life as well since prices will go down and people will be working better jobs (over a timeline).
4. The small groups you referred to in no.1 are perfect examples of how people can unite for a cause. With a large diverse population this has never worked out in the past.
I want to end this by citing a Reddit argument about the same thing:
"If it costs me nothing to acquire something, I'm probably going to acquire indiscriminately. Not because I'm selfish necessarily, but just because there really isn't any reason for me not to. I'll take extra food just for the sake of not having to go back to the store for a little bit longer. I will pick up a tablet computer simply because I think it would be fun to play with for a little bit. Again, if they were in a limitless supply, this wouldn't cause any problems. But they aren't, and this does cause a problem. I would wind up with a tablet computer (that I don't value very highly) simply because I got to it first. Some one else, who puts a much higher value on it, would not be able to get one because of limited supply. In a market economy, the price gives me a trade off, and stops me from picking stuff up just because. It makes me evaluate what I need and want, and therefore I acquire things much more efficiently. Since I don't value tablet computers very highly, I don't own one, and therefore there is more available for people who value them more than I do.
There's a lot of appealing things about communism, to be sure, but I can't understand how they justify the inefficient allocation of resources."
In the end, communism is very viable for a small community where resources and pressures to work are there, but for large-scale countries it will fail due to a power vacuum and differing opinions, values, and cultures.
Voters, consider both of our arguments and reasoning. Thank you for this debate.
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