One problem of Communism was that workers did not work very hard. This occurs to this day in Cuba.
As the workers in the USSR used to say, “We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us.”
It’s true that wages were low under Communism, but so was rent and prices, so it was not such a big deal. Education, health care, transportation, culture, etc. was free, and rent was very low. Wages had to be low because the state spent so much money.
The state was responsible for all of education, health care, transportation, infrastructure, housing, and the building and maintenance of all structures in society. Everything was owned by the state. If the state did not keep it up with continuous repair and construction, everything would fall apart.
If workers were paid more, the state would not have enough money to fund health care, education, transportation, infrastructure, to buy raw materials and manufacture things with them, etc. Everything would start to fall apart.
But low wages were not the real reason that workers do not work hard under Communism. Workers need to be disciplined, otherwise, according to human nature, they will tend to screw off. Under Communism, workers quit at half day, call in sick, don’t show up at all, fulfill their quota and go home for the month, etc. This sounds like a lot of fun, but unfortunately, productivity suffers and workers screwing off is a big reason for a lot of the problems of Communism – shortages, poor products, lines, etc.
The problem is that under Communism it was hard to get rid of slackers. Say you have ten slackers in your plant. Sure, you can fire ten of them, but then what? Communist countries had full employment. If you fire ten slackers, you may well not be able to fill those positions with more workers, so you will have ten unfilled vacancies in your plant. Hence, slackers were usually just kept on the labor force.
Under capitalism, workers are typically horribly abused. The only places where they are not is when they have labor unions. Cheerleaders for capitalism need to own up to the fact that under capitalism, workers are the enemy. The capitalist state is dead set against the workers, as is the capitalist media, and in many cases, the capitalist army and police. Even capitalist society opposes its own workers, as it portrays workers as failures and losers.
Workers need to own up to the fact that capitalism is a purely worker-hostile system. Under capitalism, bosses (and their management lackeys) and workers are essentially enemies. The bosses hold all the cards, not only that, but they have the entire machinery of the state backing them up.
The only way that workers can even the score is via their own organizations, labor unions. But capitalist societies hate labor unions. The state, the media, and often the army and cops are dead set against labor unions, who are seen as the enemy of society.
Even society itself is typically against unions. Here in the US, many workers have been brainwashed into hating unions, which are only their own organizations to represent their interests.
The middle classes are typically not unionized, and they see unions as overpaid organizations of working class inferiors – the blue jeans and lunch pail crowd. For this reason, many middle class members of society do not wish to join unions, since to do so transforms you into a redneck with a high school education, a beer belly, work boots and a lunch pail. The middle class sees themselves as superior to the working class, so to join a union is to lower oneself in society.
Middle class rage at striking workers was important in the ushering in of Margaret Thatcher under the Tories in the UK in 1980. The public got behind efforts to break strikes of the trash collectors and to privatize the coal mines, which broke the coal miners’ unions. There was a strong class element to Thatcher’s election.
To the middle classes, Thatcher was sticking it to the overpriveleged working class unions. The British workers have always voted for Labor – they never voted for Thatcher. But the UK is now like the US in that most of the population identifies as “middle class,” whether they are or not.
Even in Communist states like Vietnam and China, workers are horrifically abused in the parts of society that have been handed over to foreign firms. There seems to be no way around the terrible abuse of workers under capitalism, in particular under developing capitalist states. Can the defenders of capitalism on this site show me any possible universe in which capitalism in developing states does not involve monstrous abuse of workers? And if it’s inevitable, what good is the system?
The Communist societies really were workers’ paradises in a way. The workers ran the show. Probably never in modern history have workers been treated as well as they were in the Communist countries.
Nevertheless, when workers ran the show, they fucked off and ran the system into the ground.
And under capitalism, workers are terribly abused.
Truth is that neither system works very well.