Saturday, June 28, 2008

Communism: A Pipe Dream (for now)

While we all someday dream of a perfect system that will fix a lot of the problems in the world, the reality is that its not that simple. Communism is one such system that spans from discontent with the current and overwhelmingly popular system.

Communism stems from that issue of class struggle and the accumulation of wealth by a minority that usually gets grouped under the title 'The Elite' or the landowners. While I may have a limited knowledge on Communism one thing I do know is that Soviet Communism isn't real Communism and that there are many interpretations of what it truly is.

Communism in my mind features a system whereby companies are owned by the employees who run them with everyone having an equal stake. From what I've also read, Communism doesn't involve a state as such. This way everyone who works gets their fair share of the profits that can be taken or chosen to reinvest in their own business. I'm sure it's a lot more complicated than this but lets keep it simple for the moment.

The problem to me lies in the fact that humans are actually animals (yes really) and have base instincts that involve competition and as Mr Bawa said, Survival of the Fittest. Because of this someone somewhere will always try to get more power or wealth, thereby breaking the system down. Ideally this won't happen, but it most likely will unless people rise beyond their normal behaviour.

I back this up with an example of sorts. In an ideal scenario a totalitarian regime ruled by one honest man is the ideal system. This one individual can decide what is best for everyone and carry it out without opposition. This too rarely happens, and corruption of the person eventually takes places, or failing that, the individual dies leaving a vacuum. The person or entity that fills the vacuum rarely shares the same exact ideology.

To me it all lies with the people. If they're willing to rise above their base instincts then an ideal system can be implemented. The problem is not the system itself, but the people in the system, which is basically each and everyone of us. We like to lay blame on politicians for wrecking everything, but we too play a part by our own actions in some small way that accumulates as each individual performs similar actions.

Almost every socialist orientated person I've ever met counters all kinds of problem with some kind of state control to stop people from taking counter productive actions to the system. But then there's the problem again, what keeps the state in line? If we were all self governed and truly set on a proper course, then practically any system would work without being abused; the problem is we aren't there yet. Thus every 'noble' and 'fair' system tends to fall apart somewhere down the line.

Power lies in the masses... the problem is, they are not enlightened people in the majority of the World. We always have movements, but lead by one person. The body of the movement, the masses cannot think for themselves. There lies the problem...

Imagine a world where every individual was a powerful, self functioning and fully knowledgeable person... would we stand for the hypocrisies of or leaders then? Would we stand around while a system was being abused? You tell me...


  1. Hmmm..i think you we made a point there foxhound,i dont want to counter your argument whole heartedly but when you asks //who keeps the sate inline// dnt you think the state itslef represents people? (unless you are speakin on a context of dictatorship/monarchy) We have elected representatives of the people who makes governing decisions of the state, so isnt it ultimately keeping the state in line? btw i really need to see what bawa has to say about this...

  2. What we all long for is a Philosopher King; one who rules wisely and justly - these are as rare as gold dust. Some may site Lee Kuan Yew or Seretse Khama as examples - neither were really absolute rulers but they were good.

    The problem is that power corrupts and without strong institutions to check the power of the ruler, power will almost certainly be abused.

    This is how democracy actually arose - with the Magna Carta (Great Charter) of 1215. It laid down the powers of the king and that of the barons. The king was required to call a meeting (known as "parliament") before he could raise taxes, go to war etc.

    It was not perfect and it took some 500-600 years of fighting before the present day institutions: the Parliament, the Courts and the Press were established.

    The Executive must be accountable to parliament and the judiciary can rule against laws that are unjust. The press brings various abuses to the notice of the public who can then take action through various channels to prevent abuse.

    In the West these institutions which guarantee freedoms were hard fought for and are jealously guarded. In many other places they were put in place by the departing but the people did not realise their value and various regimes have been dismantling the institutions.

    Even in the West democracy is not a perfect but as Churchill said 'democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried'.

    The problem is that Sri Lanka's institutions have been neutered as have been those in many African and Asian countries.

    In the first place there is far too much power concentrated in the Executive Presidency.

    Second, Parliament can simply be bought: this is why we have a cabinet of 109 - they are given positions so that they vote with the government. The judiciary is corrupt and under the influence of the executive.

    The press is the only one left and now that has been attacked and brought under control.

    Most people don't seem to realise the dangers of untrammeled power. Without checks and balances on power mayhem can reign which is why I think there is no hope left in Sri Lanka.

  3. I forgot to add; under the permanent emergency rule that we are subject to even the few checks and balances that remain have been suspended.

  4. Interesting post... I like what you said about people and their instincts breaking the system etc.

    This is exactly why communism requires such rigidity when enforced, though as a philosophy it speaks of freedom. For example what's happening in Cuba and China is testament to this, they are slowly opening up after years of iron fisted rule, the idea being that a 'level playing field' is created so that humans can liberate themselves from their economic and spiritual shackles...

    Communism goes beyond a mere economic doctrine its the path to liberation and ultimately freedom to live as we were meant to live!

  5. Bawa, I think what you mean is that Marxism is the ideal. Communism is what was practised in the Soviet Union, China and some other places for a while.