Can We Please Put an Anti-Communist Lie to Rest?

The capitalist West’s war against Communism has been pretty vicious. There are few lies that they have not bothered to toss about. Most here in the West simply uncritically swallowed all of this stuff no questions asked.

I would like to take to task at least bit one anti-Communist dogma: That Communism (and by analogy socialism) has failed, and one of the reasons for that failure was that people hate it.

We really need to ask, “Failed how, and in what way?” If you ask your average person how it is that it failed, you won’t get much of an answer.

One of the ways we can determine if a system failed or not is if the people themselves accepted it or enjoyed. Anti-Communist dogma long held that the people living under Communism were miserable. But this is now coming under question. An earlier post laid out well that after 20 years, large sectors of Eastern Europe, in some cases a majority, prefer Communism to the capitalism that replaced it. Keep in mind that these are folks who experienced both.

More evidence is forthcoming from a new poll from Tajikistan, indicating that 70% of the population wants to go back to Communism. This is 20 years after the transition. In the 20 years since the transition, industrial production has collapsed by 70% and 2 million Tajiks are unemployed. The place is, in a word, fucked.

Another poll says that 60% of Russians regret the fall of the USSR. Face it, whatever replaced it is pretty ugly.

Ok, so if it failed, it wasn’t because the people hated it, right? In many cases, large sectors of the population, even majorities, preferred it to capitalism. So we can’t say it was a failure based on lack of popular support.

How about another argument? This argument says that no one has ever immigrated from a capitalist country to a Communist country, with the exception of a few Western Communists. But this is not the case. After Germany split into West and East halves, many West German Communists left their half and immigrated to East Germany. I’m not sure how long they stayed. This info comes from a German friend of mine from Hessen. She told me that most of her Communist relatives in the West took off for the East.

In Cuba, we have yet another case. Eastern Cuba is now full of Blacks from Jamaica and Haiti who have fled capitalist Haiti and Jamaica (largely failed states) for Cuba. They reportedly like Cuba much better than Haiti and Jamaica.

A better way to look at it is that Communism and capitalism (as economic systems) are different systems, both of which can and often do have immense problems and also immense benefits. Some humans prefer to live under Communism while others prefer to live in a capitalist system. The type of person who prefers to live under one system or the other probably depends on personality and life experience.

A rightwing friend of mine told me that it’s true many people prefer Communism, but he said that they are the “lazy failures” of society. I’m ok with his objection. I just wish that the capitalist media of the West would agree that a lot of humans prefer Communism over capitalism. Then we can argue about who they are and why, whether or not they are “lazy failures,” etc.

As for the larger question of whether Communism failed or not, that goes beyond the preferences of those who lived under it and deserves another post.

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20 thoughts on “Can We Please Put an Anti-Communist Lie to Rest?”

  1. Well, regardless of who likes Communism or why, all I can say is that we all know which system is more successful.

    You cannot argue with results.

      1. Security and stability are what people mainly want. If they can get it through communism because capitalism in their particular nation has failed, then they’ll take it, though most would rather have it through capitalism all things being equal. Many Iraqis in the aftermath of Saddam’s toppling wished they could go back to life under Saddam. Does that mean totalitarian dictatorship is a good system?

        1. Are you sure majorities will prefer capitalism?

          In Slovakia, Hungary, Tajikistan and Romania, majorities say that Communism was better.

          In Russia, only 28% prefer Communism.

        2. Many Iraqis in the aftermath of Saddam’s toppling wished they could go back to life under Saddam. Does that mean totalitarian dictatorship is a good system?

          Excellent point.

          People can praise Mao’s achievements in the early 50s all they want, but you have to place his achievements in the context of Chinese history.

          By the time Mao took over, China had just endured a century of humiliation at the hands of foreigners, devastating internal revolts/conflicts, years of warlord exploitation, WWII, and the Civil War.

          I think one can argue that China was near an all time low by the time Mao took over. Just because Mao made improvements (which he later helped destroy through the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution) doesn’t mean that Communism is a great system.

          Yes, Mao did foster tremendous change (mainly in the early 50s), but again, you have to analyze those changes in context.

          When Mao did decide to impose more radical Communist practices on the nation, disaster ensued (ie. Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution).

          But anyway, I digress (I’ve been studying Chinese history, so this topic interests me).

          The point I’m trying to make is that if Communism were so great, it would enjoy much greater success.

          While some may be nostalgic for Communism, that’s only because everything else was much worse. That doesn’t make Communism great.

        3. Mao did not undo his changes in the 1950’s with the Great Leap and the Cultural Revolution. Those two things were bad in a lot of ways, but economic growth kept charging right ahead through both of those periods. Also health figures, longevity, education, etc. saw steady improvement all the way to the end of the Maoist era.

        4. Okay, I guess I shouldn’t say that he completely undid those positive changes in the 50s.

          However, he certainly didn’t help.

          And yes, he did improve peoples’ standard of living, in spite of his blunders.

          However, keep in mind that China had just gone through great hardship, and was at an all time low.

          Also, if you study the history of Communists in China, you’ll discover that they tempered their more radical social demands in order to not alienate the peasants, most of whom were socially conservative.

          Mao’s greatest success in the 50s and before came from cooperation, moderation, and tempering Communism’s radical element.

          In the late 50s, 60s, and 70s, when Mao began to push for a more radical, egalitarian/utopian that he made huge mistakes.

          He should have quit while he was ahead.

          But anyway, the point is that Communism hasn’t worked, and it never will. It simply goes against human nature.

          Capitalism, on the other hand, fits perfectly with human nature. People are selfish, self-interested, ambitious, and opportunistic beings by nature.

      2. And Robert, looking at those nations you mentioned (ie. Tajikistan, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary), and you’re not exactly making a good case for Communism.

        Whatever those nations like and wish to do, I plan on doing the exact opposite.

  2. Most of the of people who died under communist regimes (20-40 million under Stalin and up to possibly 70 million under Mao) would most likely favor living in countries with other forms of governments but they’re opinions aren’t reflected in the polls you mention — granted those numbers are still too small to skew the percentages enough in favor of capitalism.

    I would suspect that the migration of West Germans to East Germany are probably exceptions to the rule (i.e. it is/was probably more common to have East Germans moving to former W. Germany both before and after unification).

    I think it’s unfair to use the example of Haiti and Jamaican nationals fleeing to Cuba as a testament to the superiority of the Communist system. In my opinion it is more likely that if Cuba has better living standards than Haiti and Jamaica then I think this difference is better explained with IQ differences between these nations than with the economic systems they employ. Likewise, Using the same logic you used, one could conclude that the number of Cuban immigrants seeking life in a capitalist country like the US is a testament of superiority of capitalism over communism.

    I think that Russia’s, Tajikistan’s, and Eastern Europe’s capitalist economies could produce better standards of living for their people than communist economies could if these systems would be given enough time to succeed.

    1. First of all, Stalin did not kill 20-40 million people. A good argument can be made for at least 2.5 million. We can probably add some onto that, to get to about 4-4.5 million. Nevertheless, under Communism, the death rate in the USSR collapsed by 70%. That is, year in and year out, 70% fewer people were dying under the USSR than under the Czar. So this is a good argument why so many folks approved of those systems.

      Same thing in China. Millions, even tens of millions, fewer were dying every year from 1950 onward. Only in one year during the famine did the death rate exceed that of pre-1949, and that was by 4-5 million.

      Hence, it is very problematic to say that Maoism killed X number of people, when Chiang’s regime was killing so many more per capita and if it had continued, it surely would have killed many more than Maoism. We are going by strict death rates alone here. So here we can why so many supported Maoism. Sure, people were dying, but so many fewer were dying year in and year out that surely it must have seemed much better.

      20 years is not long enough to succeed? Good God, how long is it going to take, man?

      1. I would say that capitalism has already succeeded in several Eastern European countries, though it still has some ways to go to catch up to other parts of the world.

        I disagree with you on the death count but you’re certainly entitled to your opinion. Even only a couple million deaths initiated by the government is too much for me to bare anyways.

    1. That’s a pretty extreme example. North Korea, a place a lot of even Communists want nothing to do with anymore.

      Lights at night are not that great of a metric.

      This photo implies that India is the best country in the region, better than Saudi Arabia even. Anyone buy that?

      We can use these pics to trash Africa, including your esteemed Gabon. Any takers?

      Here, Jamaica and Haiti appear to be better off than Cuba. More lights, you know. Who believes that?

      Belarus look any different than the surrounding region?

      1. You also have to consider population density. India will have a lot of lights because it has 1/6 the world’s population stuff in one country. And Australia will look dark because there’s more people in the NYC metro area than in the entire continent of Australia.

        I think the lights though, when factoring in population density of course are a good indicator of economic development. Europe, the U.S. and Japan practically glow as one solid mass, Bolivia and Mali do not.

  3. Dear Robert
    Angela Merkel, the German Prime Minister, was born in Hamburg in 1954. When she was one year old, her parents moved to East Germany, where she stayed till 1989. It wasn’t at all uncommon for Germans to move from the West to the East in the 1950’s. Angela’s father, by the way, was a Lutheran pastor, so he moved to a country run by godless atheists.

    As to the economic collapse in Eastern Europe, it occurred not so much because of the transition from communism to capitalism but because of globalism. These East European economies were opened to foreign competition far too soon. They should have had at least two decades of protectionist national capitalism. It is one thing to privatize industry and quite another to privatize it and at the same time to expose it to foreign competition.
    By and large, national capitalism is better than global capitalism for less developed countries.

    Regards. James

  4. Bottom line is that it doesn’t matter which system some people prefer, the important thing is which system allows people to have varying opinions: capitalism. Communist states are all about regulation of life, liberty and thought.

  5. I don’t know how to judge the popularity of regimes that don’t have free speech, press or elections.

  6. I’ll acknowledge that this is a fair point despite being quite anti-communist myself. I sure as hell don’t ever want communism here in America though.

    Another thing to consider is emotional inertia. I’ll bet should North Korea magically become just like South Korea tomorrow you’d have plenty of people pining for the good ‘ol days. No matter how bad something is, people can get used to it. Whether pro-communists or capitalists have “gotten used to it,” or “really like it,” is another question, but needs to somehow be factored in.

    What about the fascism you hate so much?Mussolini is still pretty popular in Italy.

  7. Socialism includes democracy, and at a very much higher level than in the capitalist West or in the former Soviet bloc. By that criterion alone the Communist countries were not socialist, and they certainly weren’t Communist (communism being a stage after socialism, with a high level of self-management and a minimal, or no state structure).

    The problem with all your articles on Communism is the very low analytic level (this also applies to the CPUSA, which seems not to have recognised that China is a capitalist country!). What is needed is a class analysis of what the Soviet Union was and what Russia is becoming now. You will find this here… http://libcom.org/history/towards-political-economy-stalinism (book review) and here… http://libcom.org/history/political-economy-disintegrating-stalinism-hillel-ticktin – A Political Economy of Putin’s Russia.

    Hillel Ticktin was possibly the only marxist theorist to predict the fall of the Soviet Union. That is because he had a clear marxist analysis of its internal contradictions. Clearly international Capital also wanted to break the Soviet Union, and Afghanistan, where the the Soviet Union had 300,000 troops committed, was the tool. But even without the pressure of international Capital, the Soviet Union was heading for a fall. Clearly capitalist modernisation is failing in Russia, just as (for the moment) it is succeeding in China and failing in India and Pakistan. Actually existing Communism was not sustainable, it was not democratic (it didn’t even allow independent trade unions for God’s sake!), and it was very destructive of the environment, perhaps more so than a capitalist social democracy where at least there is a measure of social control. There were constant supply and demand problems, and the quality of goods was generally poor.

    Have you ever tried to drive an East German Trabbie, as they were affectionately known? When the wall came down in Berlin many of these cars broke down in West Berlin! The Soviet Union had its ecological disasters – the Aral sea, Chernobyl. The trouble is I am not the person to remedy the low analytic level of your articles on Communism. I used to be more interested in these things. The good things about actually existing Communism were the income differentials (no billionaires or millionaires, and no destitute), a very high level of literacy and public education (much higher than in the United States now), a high level of social security and low levels of homelessness and unemployment (lower than in the United States now). That alone explains the nostalgia for Communism in the Eastern bloc.

    On the other hand due to the lack of democracy there was political repression (including of workers’ strikes), and rampant corruption throughout the state apparatus, which separated itself from the needs of the masses. We saw this only too clearly when post-1991 members of the ex Nomenclatura of Communist hierarchy bought up public utilities under Yeltsin at bargain prices and became the new plutocrats. The good things about actually existing capitalism (in Western Europe and North America only) are a degree of formal democracy, independent trade unions, and cheap high quality goods from capitalist countries (slave empires like China, with 14 hour days and child labour) that have neither!

    The bad things include the destruction of nature, the never ending cycle of boom and bust, the laying waste of entire continents (Africa, and now China) so that a few (a very few globally) can prosper, the constant of carbon based economic growth based on the accumulation of capital, that is now driving global warming, and the existence of chronic deprivation in even the richest capitalist countries. 39 million people live in poverty in today’s US (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_in_the_United_States), a number that rises sharply when capitalism has one of its cyclical crises, as now. 58% of Americans spend at least one year in poverty between the ages of 25 and 75.

    Beyond Communism and Capitalism is ecosocialism. Try the website Climate and Capitalism for more on this http://www.climateandcapitalism.com, and Evo Morales’ speech to the G77 + China at the United Nations http://climateandcapitalism.com/?p=2438.

    The watchword for socialists is no longer Workers of the World Unite (though it certainly includes that), but Ecosocialism or Barbarism! See Hervé Kempf’s 100 page pamphlet “How the Rich Are Destroying the Earth, and Ecosocialism or Barbarism, by Michael Lowy.

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