(Cameron Gosley is a year 12 student at Melbourne High School.)
One of the strangest arguments that I hear in defence of Communism is the mistaken belief that it has never been tried. This is usually in response to someone pointing out the failings of the ideology in practise. With a death toll in the realm of the tens to a hundred million people, this makes Communism one of the most dangerous systems of government for its citizens to live under, several times worse than the short crack that the fascists had at their ideas. So, when Communism is being argued in favour of, there should be a certain degree of awareness of the consequences of the system.
Had anyone asked Mao, Stalin or Kim il-Sung what they were doing with their societies when brutal massacres of their own citizens were going on in the background, they’d have been sure to reply: “Communism!” This is quite evident in even the names of the political parties they ruled in the name of: Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Communist Party of China, Workers’ Party of Korea (member of the International Communist and Workers Party forum). It’s not exactly like these leaders were holding their cards close to their chests, they were openly progressing the idea of Communism in public life in their respective countries. The parties have had a pretty long while to try and implement their ideal form of governance, but none are apparently not good enough for modern-day Communists, who will insist that they didn’t achieve it the way Marx intended. Capitalism, perhaps hasn’t followed Adam Smith to the letter, but it’d be a very brave few who’d argue true capitalism hasn’t been attempted.
If we do, however, accept that Communism hasn’t been tried, then perhaps it would indicate a fundamental flaw with the ideology, not just the way it has been implemented. Once the dictatorship of the proletariat is established, it is nigh impossible to get them to stand down. This can be seen in the aftermath of communist revolutions throughout history. The proles get into government, and once tasting the power of the bourgeoisie, tend to nationalise, and hence seize all the means of production, leading the whole revolution back to square one. The proletariat becomes the new bourgeois, meaning that nothing was accomplished by the revolution, apart from several deaths and job losses, and a country that won’t function economically for a period of time. Perhaps this is just a sign of our naturally leader-driven society, but in any case, if the proletariats won’t step down, thus leading to ‘true communism’, then it surely indicates that it would be impossible to achieve in even the most perfect of circumstances. This could partly be blamed on the fact that Marx and Engels were intellectuals and idealists, writing about a fantasy world, instead of a realistic outline for an ideology.
Now I’m not saying that Communism in and of itself is bad. If you want to go ahead and seize those means of production, by all means go ahead, just count me out of your next revolution. I do, however, think that people who believe that it hasn’t been tried are speaking a bit of bull.