1. “Communism doesn’t work because it goes against human nature”
Here, I will not only prove why this line of thought is silly and nonsensical, but also the best way to disprove it. I understand that posting this here is kinda preaching to the choir, but I’m hoping that the following stuff below can be as of much use to others as it has been to me and can help people in similar discussions be able to better articulate a rebuttal. Anyways, let’s get right to it:
First off, human nature is an idea. It is a concept, an interpretation, if you will—of how people interact with one another and themselves on both a social and private level. But when discussing Communism or even Socialism with those who have either a deeply flawed misunderstanding of what it is or how it works, human nature is not treated with that in mind. In fact, it is treated as something completely different; almost as a sort of all imposing metaphysical force, constantly looming above all people at all times for all eternity—a line of thinking more appropriate to that of religion or a cult and not one that has any real understanding of reality. “Human Nature” is not a real physical entity or thing, but rather an intellectual construct that we as people indulge in and explore the meaning of.
Furthermore, when you ask someone for proof of why they believe that something like Capitalism is more in line with human nature than Communism, “look around,” they’ll probably give some iteration of. “Don’t you see all the greed, all the self-interest, all the competition, all the acquisitiveness, all the egoism, all the war, all the lying, all the stealing, and all the cheating that’s going on? That’s human nature.” They’ll tell you.
“That is us.”
But in my many conversations both on and offline, it never really seems to dawn on these same people to think these attributes and characteristics that they go on and on about and how they are more the results of the current material organization of society than some built in characteristic we all have. I’ll even give you a historical example: Hunter-Gatherer groups mostly survived through cooperation, and this was because the material conditions of their existence excluded the possibility of acquisitiveness. I think it’s more than fair enough to say that this was their “human nature.” Alternatively, we could take a look at medieval peasants. They were certainly not industrious like how we are today. And when peasants were thrown off their lands and into the towns, the mass majority worked just enough to meet their basic needs. Their idea of “human nature” was once again shifted.
Long story short, what human nature truly “is” at the moment really depends on the social, material, and economic organization of a society. If social arrangements were naturally determined by our biology, “human nature” and whatever else your opponents may try and lump in there would’ve naturally repressed the great diversity of behaviour patterns we’ve seen in humans over time, as well as relationships and cultures that we’ve forged as well.
When someone tries to mash together human nature with human behavior, they often cannot tell which is which and after awhile they even fail to understand why we behave differently in differing circumstances with one another. Thank you for reading, and I hope to be posting here again soon.
2. It seems clear to me that we as Marxists have to do something to bring the revolution about. We cannot just expect the revolution to fall into our laps. It seems somewhat unrealistic to just sit around waiting for capitalism to become so untenable that it self-destructs. But how then are we supposed to convince people of the rightness of communism, to support us and become part of the struggle against capitalism, if the discourse doesn’t work? How are we supposed to correct wrong ideas (particularly among other leftists, but in general as well), if the discourse doesn’t work?
I for one have despaired of the usefulness of debating people in person or on message boards. As certain as I am of the rightness of my views, they seem even more certain of the rightness of the opposite set of views. This has happened most frequently to me in arguments over the war in Syria (though it could easily happen in other areas as well). Arguing with such people seems a hopeless business, a waste of time, and a source only of frustration for me.
3. I’m an American; always have been. I’ve never even left the country, but I’ve seen the cracks in system since I was little.
So many people slipping through, entirely unnoticed and uncared for.
I work for one of the largest corporations in the country; I won’t say which one, but it’s one of the poster-children for American money-grubbing horse shit.
I’m a janitor… I clean, and I have always cleaned, and I will probably always clean. I do my job the best I can; I’ll be the first to admit that it’s neither the most skilled nor the most difficult, nor the most demanding job, but dammit someone has to do it.
And that someone is me. I keep this place looking nice so that people will want to come in here and spend their money, and make shareholders and executives rich.
I make enough, I guess… I still have some financial support from my parents, and I’m still on their insurance, but that’ll be over soon and potentially even sooner if the gov has its say.
I don’t know what I’m going to do once I get to that point. I can hardly afford food and bills, let alone health insurance.
I see my family members spouting bigoted, self-centered, greedy bullshit masquerading as freedom, and I want to scream at them, to show them that they’re perpetuating the same meat grinder that’s chewing me and them and the homeless guy down the street to pieces before it spits us out.
I’m moving halfway across the country to be with my girlfriend. I think I’ll have some modicum of happiness with her.
I don’t want to be rich, and I don’t want a mansion and a sports car. All I want in life is to have my girlfriend, and for us to have food, and insurance, and some free time, and for everyone else to have the same (Hell, I can’t even set my own schedule at this god-forsaken place), but I can’t even tell my parents that without having them lool at my like I just grew a second head.
I’m so tired of this greed-obssessed bullshit. Why is it wrong for me to want people to be taken care of? Why is it wrong for me to object to rich fuckers having the keys to the world, while I struggle to make sure I can go to the hospital without going bankrupt?
I’m new here… I don’t know much about Communism, but I know I hate Capitalism. I don’t feel like there’s anything that I can do to fix anything, but I’d like to know more about this stuff.
Socialized medicine, and making sure people are fed sounds like heaven on earth.
4. Person was asking if failures of past communist states mean that Communism is a failure…
Some people may not agree, but it is commonly held (and espoused by Marx) that only a country with a developed system of capitalist production will be fit to enter the transition stage towards Communism, that being Socialism. Marx believed in a Socialist system of Direct Democracy where the common man had direct influence in all matters (which was established in Russia before the betrayal of Lenin by Stalin & the bureaucratic elite). In this state many systems of governance and society would be administered by the public (thereby being held accountable to the people). such a Socialist system has already taken root in many successful nations and is proven extremely effective.
With many lower functions of society administered by the state (all citizens ensured public health, education, welfare and other rights of society) people; not having to worry about weather they will be able to feed their family that week or what have you, become more free to pursue higher goals and self fulfillment that end state is communism, in which the state ceases to exist as a coercive force and humans are free from bondage to seek higher goals.
Now getting back to the USSR and China, Imperial Russia at the time of the revolution was a feudal society and not ready for the transition to classic socialism, but Lenin and his compatriots sought to augment Marx’s theories to fit Russia’s unique situation. In the end they were marginally successful in setting up a proletarian democracy (the term “soviet” comes from the various democratic communes that made up the nation), but soon they where bombarded not only by Imperial forces but also Western invaders. following Lenin’s death, Stalin used his influence to pervert the soviet bloc model into a bureaucratic dictatorship with himself on top.
From this point on, the Stalinist USSR began suppressing all foreign communist movements that where not Stalinist in nature, leading to the rise of a number of “Communist states” influenced by the Soviet Union (more or less). As for Russia’s eventual fall there are a myriad of reasons, from overexertion Militarily, to bureaucrats making uneducated decisions ext…
I guess my point is that ideas cannot die, and like anything else we learn from what we have done right and wrong in order to improve the system (remember democracy was thought dead time and time again for thousands of years before the modern era)
In fact it is not communism that suffers from inevitable failure but Capitalism. Capitalism by its nature is ultimately unsustainable. The West only continues to trudge along the way it is because of the large scale exploitation of developing nations. Capitalism can continue to attempt to fudge the numbers and pull it self out of its periodic crashes (which have been getting larger & larger since the 70’s mind you, culminating with today) but this is getting more and more difficult, and will eventually become impossible. Not to mention rapidly declining resources as well.
5. Over the last week, I’ve personally experienced (or rather, maybe I’m just now noticing it?) an uptick of disrespect and unkindness from a number of coworkers and people in general. While it normally doesn’t bother me much, the rudeness toward myself lately has been particularly bitter, and it’s been kind of making me discouraged that socialism (and, by extension, communism) could ever be possible in the self-centered society in which I/we live (I’m currently in the U.$.).
Just today for example, I had to do some weekly grocery shopping, and decided to walk around a nearby shopping mall to buy my step-dad a Father’s Day card, and do some window-shopping to kill time. On my way out, a guy wanted me to hold his iPhone and record him walking toward me as part of some video he was making to promote himself; he was the type of person you’d imagine when thinking of a ‘temporarily embarrassed millionaire’ petite-bourgeosie. I opted not to do that, which was met with great disdain from him, with him having cursed me (basically told me to go [expletive] myself) and walking away angrily. It didn’t hit me until a bit later on, but he was upset that I wouldn’t help him promote himself and continue the cycle of excess consumption and such. I read some Lenin on the way back, and that kind of helped re-encourage me.