Will communism ever happen?

lssmith at glam.ac.uk lssmith at glam.ac.uk
Fri Nov 17 05:24:07 MST 1995


>         Are we ever going to get a communist society as Marx saw it?
>         Are we ever going to have communism at all?

My answer to those questions is that I don't know. I've never been a great
believer in the 'inevitability' of revolution. However I have seen it as a
worthwhile goal for which to strive.

>     We all know that what existed in the Soviet Union was not
> communism, and had little to do with what Marx had his writings.
> What's important though is that they tried initially to follow Marx,
> to develop into a communist state, rather than the fascist
> dictatorship it became.

  Personally I would never describe the formaer Soviet Union as a fascist
dictatorship. Certainly it was undemocratic (despite the potentially sound
mechanisms of the Soviets), coercive to the point of barbarism and ultimately
exploited its own workers through state capitalism. But to say that all
violent, undemocratic states are fascist is missing those traits specific to
the fascist phenomena.

> As Russia had it's revolution, so was the
> whole world ment to. Together communism should have been developed,
> but the whole world didn't have a revolution and still over a hundred
> years on from Marx's writings, we still seem no closer to a
> revolution. Despite everything is in the right state in the developed
> world for Marx's socialist society to be built, but the main stream
> working class are not talking of revolution. Most people in the
> industral world seem quite content with capitalism. There are
> complaints, but not enough discontent for revolution. Does Marx's so-
> called "vision" of communism really have any relevance for today?

I'd be interested to know who the 'mainstream working class' are?
However the more general point that we are no closer revolution is a valid one.
One may even argue that we are perhaps further away, but to discount Marx and
those writings which have evolved around his work in that period is to miss the
point. His central contribution was to offer a framework which allowed us to
critique contemporary capitalism as he did more than a hundred years ago. Our
conclusions may not necessarily be the same (though for many of us they
certainly will be).

>     The world has changed since Marx started writeing, how can we
> apply what he wrote then to today? We live in a world that Marx could
> never imagine. I don't believe that the lack of revolution is due to
> the mind manipulation of the bougious class, if people really wanted
> revolution they'd seek it.

If you describe the effect of the dominant ideology as 'mind manipulation' then
I'm not surprised you don't believe it, neither do I. The effects of ideology
are far more subtle and purvasive than anything as clumsy as mind control. The
creation of an ideology is not a deliberate. manipulative act rather :-

  'the mode of production of material life conditions the social,
   political and intellectual life process in general. It is not
   the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on
   the contrary, their social being that determines their consc-
   iousness.'
   K. Marx.


> Besides, the working class in Britain is
> as large as the middle class, what would Marx say about that?

I don't know what Marx would say, but I'd say that you should not confuse the
illusions of home-ownership and some consumer power with being middle class.

> We've
> come to the point where wealth is not taken by a few privaliged in
> one country, but by a few countries in the world. A person living in
> the developed world has far more freedom, wealth, etc. than in the
> majority of the people living in developing countries. I can't see
> communism today, and unlikely tomorrow, can you?

The relative wealth of the industrialised world cannot disguise the
fundamentally oppressive nature of capitalism forever. I believe that people
can only be bought off at the expense of others for so long.

L.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
= Leon Smith                                                                   =
= lssmith at glam.ac.uk                                                           =
= University of Glamorgan.                                                     =
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