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The myth of True Communism

By Thomas M. Sipos
web posted June 4, 2012

Since my anti-Communist satire, Vampire Nation, was published over a decade ago, it has drawn a surprisingly large number of complaints from self-styled Communists who voice an identical theme: That Communism as practiced to date is not "true Communism," which remains noble and viable and should not be judged by its past history.

A typical complaint comes from a Mr. P, who writes: 

"You're dead wrong. Let's say I went around telling people I was a doctor. Does that make me a doctor? Let's say I went around telling people that as a doctor I was allowed to break into their homes, steal their possessions, rape their children, and burn their livestock. Does that mean being a doctor is bad? Does that mean that Hypocrites [sic] and every physician from that time is to be cursed and left in the dustbin of history?

“No, of course not. Just because someone labels themselves as something doesn't mean they are what they say they are. You must look at the core of the ideology itself -- in this case, communism."

Mr. P commits the fallacy of the false analogy. He equates a murderous doctor with murderous Communists, arguing that neither represents the true nature of their respective categories.

P's analogy is false because the vast majority of doctors do follow the "core ideology" of the Hippocratic Oath, at least to the extent that they do not pillage and rape and kill.

But the opposite is true of Communism. Every society self-identified as Communist (and always initially approved by the Western Left) has practiced repression and murder -- often on a genocidal scale.

If every person claiming to be a doctor committed murder, we would indeed be correct in defining doctors as murderers, and we would be justified in disregarding the "core ideology" of the Hippocratic Oath.

However, a murderous doctor is an aberration -- whereas murderous Communism is the norm. Thus, the Hippocratic Oath is a valid (if idealized) expression of doctors' "core ideology" -- whereas any attempt to characterize Communism by a benevolent "core ideology" is a lie.

Mr. P's email posits the Myth of True Communism. Since the 1950s, this excuse has been dusted off whenever yet another revolutionary hero was exposed as a tyrant. It goes something like this:

"In judging Communism, you must disregard all past Communist atrocities, because they do not represent True Communism. And unlike Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Ceausescu, Castro, etc., I am a True Communist, and True Communists believe … blah, blah, blah."

Fortuitously for P's credibility, True Communism has yet to reveal itself in real life. It remains an elusive unicorn, a reputedly beautiful but mythical beast. Its numerous rumored sightings are as maddeningly evasive as those of the Virgin Mary, Elvis, and UFOs.

Western Leftists initially spotted True Communism in the Soviet Union. When in the 1950s the Soviet genocide could no longer be denied (although it was known to the West by the 1930s), the Western Left claimed to have found True Communism in Mao's China, then in Tito's Yugoslavia, Castro's Cuba, Ceausescu's Romania, Ortega's Nicaragua … yet always, the rainbow faded. Instead of a Pot of Gold, they found only more corpses.

Mr. P goes on to say:

"You make such uninformed blanket statements based not on any understanding of history, social relationship or even a study of Marxism. Instead you use your own limited experience with visiting a Stalinist eastern bloc country."

In other words, P suggests that I should develop an "understanding of history" by ... ignoring history. Rather than judge Communism as it exists, P recommends that I "study Marxism." P suggests that to gain enlightenment, one should ignore reality, ignore history, and instead concentrate on theory, as expounded in the voluminous writings of Marx, Engels, and thousands of academics.

I can see why True Communists would prefer to ignore reality and history -- and instead focus on theory. One can prove anything on paper. One can prove that Marxism will make everyone happy, healthy, and wise -- and that 115,878 angels can dance on the head of a pin. (It may surprise P to learn that some libertarians argue that because we've never had a True Free Market, one cannot fairly judge True Capitalism.)

P adds that I should not judge Communism by one Stalinist eastern bloc country (Romania). So then, which country should Communism be judged by? There are many to choose from. Can P point to any True Communist success story?

To date, Communism has always resulted in repression and murder. In Europe and Asia and Africa and Latin America. In industrial nations and agrarian nations. In nations ethnically homogenous and ethnically diverse. In former monarchies, and former colonies, and former democracies. Whatever the cultural, geographical, and historical preconditions, Communism has been consistently murderous. How many more chances is it entitled to? How many more victims?

Those enamored of True Communism's noble "core ideology" may wonder: Why should Communism always result in repression and murder?

Because Communism's noble "core ideology" is a lie -- a cover for envy and hate. Communism replaces individual rights with class rights, then dehumanizes the "rich exploiter class" into an object of hate. (Much as Hitler's National Socialism dehumanized Jews into hated "rich exploiters.")

Communism exploits envy and instills hate by claiming that the "haves" have it because they stole it. The "haves" are oppressors, even murderers. How do you deal with a thief, an oppressor, a murderer? You punish them. You may even be justified in killing them. Under Communism, this is not murder, but "revolutionary justice" against the "criminal exploiter class."

As if to acknowledge the envy underlying even True Communism, P writes:

"Your statement that 'communism is vampirism' is so foolish that it would be amusing were it not so stupid. Communism isn't vampirism, capitalism is. Workers/managment make all the money for business, yet they are paid what is minimum for survival, whereas property owners are given the king's share, simply by virtue of their ownership."

 Aside from exposing his own envy and hate, P betrays his economic ignorance. Property owners are "given" the king's share "simply by virtue of their ownership," he says. But how does ownership occur? P doesn't say.

Property owners (i.e., investors) provide startup capital to establish a business. Most new businesses fail within a few years. When that happens, the workers at least have their past salaries. The property owner has nothing. Less than nothing, since his investment is lost.

Thus, contrary to P's assertion, property owners are not "given the king's share, simply by virtue of their ownership." Instead, they'll often pay worker salaries, and walk away with no share at all. That is the risk they assume. And having assumed the "king's share" of risk, is it not fair that they enjoy the "king's share" of profits? (Or whatever remains after worker salaries, and employer benefit contributions, and government license fees, and property and corporate and sales and income taxes have been paid.)

P commits another error. He seems to think that roles are "fixed." One is born a worker or manager or property owner, and must remain so. This class outlook is common in Europe, but is contrary to the American idea. There is nothing "fixed" about whether one is a worker, manager, or investor.

In the US, everyone is free to be one or another, or all three. Many people work day jobs, while nurturing startup businesses on the side. I know a teacher who invested in a candy store. The store clerk earned a salary, but the store failed and the teacher lost his investment. (He still teaches.) I know another teacher who invested in a real estate brokerage, and was more fortunate. Thanks to the returns on his investment, he now practices law.

Such are the possibilities of the free market. If P is a worker and hates it, he is free to create another role for himself. But perhaps he is too busy studying Marxist theory. ESR

Thomas M. Sipos is the author of the anti-Communist satire, Vampire Nation. His website is http://www.communistvampires.com/.

 

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