26 votes

Let's talk about communism and the left

Whenever i talk about my views in politics people say i'm a lefty.

I want to understand what is this boogeyman called communism that will "take over the world". I live in Brazil and, for the average american, our free health care system is communism. Even some brazilians think it's bad, which baffles me because it helps a lot of people, myself included. Everyone who needs cancer treatment go through it, it's one of the best in the world (for this particular disease at least) and affordable private health care plans won't cover expensive cancer treatment here.

People here often talk about communism being bad, but what really is communism?

I grabbed the Communist Manifesto and Why Marx Was Right to read, but did not start yet since i have to finish the book i'm currently reading.

I never tried to understand these things because they are all over the place and it's a little boring to me, so i'll ask some basic questions here before i go further in this endeavour.

Please, try to answer without anger and pointing fingers. Because every time i read about these topic online, there is fight and everyone says different things and accusations runs rampant.

  1. What exactly is communism in layman terms? Because for me it's all over the place. Everything that seems to care about people is put into the communist basket, but a lot of people call it a dictatorship. ELI5.

  2. Why almost every average citizen (americans and brazilians at least) says it's bad?

  3. My best friend is a school teacher and is a marxist. He says Joe Biden is still a terrible choice, but the only alternative to Trump and he is not a communist at all, but i keep hearing people call him a commie. WTF is he? If possible, ELI5 what he is and what he stands for.

  4. Why there is right x left and no place for something in between? Is there a need to everything be one side or another to work? There is no middle ground in politics? Grabbing aspects from the left and from the right and co-existing in the same government is a problem?

  5. A lot of people really think letting companies run wild and free is good. That the market will regulate itself. I think this is naive, because even now they do some really shady stuff. Just look at Nestle.
    Why people say that and is there some truth to this that i can't see? Is regulating companies a communist thing?

  6. People say that communism didn't work when implemented and the other side says that it was not really communism. What is the truth here? It didn't work? if not, why it didn't? If it was not true communism, what it was and why it was not true communism?

  7. Is there a country that is communist today?

  8. What books about the left and the right i should read? Nothing too dense.

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29 comments

  1. [9]
    novov
    (edited )
    Link
    Communists envision a worker-controlled society without money, classes, or large-scale ownership of assets. It's an extension of socialism, where workers control the means of production (in...
    1. Communists envision a worker-controlled society without money, classes, or large-scale ownership of assets. It's an extension of socialism, where workers control the means of production (in layman's terms, democratically control business). According to Marxist theory, a country first becomes capitalist, then state socialist, then communist. As you might realise, no country has ever reached the third, and its debatable if any have ever reached the second. They were "communist" ideologically, not in mode of governance.
    2. A combination of general anti-socialist sentiment and warranted concern about the USSR's historical crimes. There is a dispute between three sides on this issue:
      • Those who say that those atrocities are inevitable when aiming for socialism/communism - therefore those ideologies are bad
      • Those who think the crimes can be avoided via a different mode of socialism. That's me. The USSR and most socialist countries largely came from one socialist school of thought, but there are many others: anarcho-communism, syndicalism, democratic socialism, market socialism, left communism, etc.
      • And those who think the atrocities were good actually. You definitely don't want to be this one.
    3. Most Marxists are communists, as that is what Marx advocated for. Your friend is most likely one; most communists or socialists would agree with that about Biden, though some would still not vote for him. As for Biden, he's a centre-left liberal, and is most definitely not loved by the radical left.
    4. Centrism is a thing. However, defining yourself by what you've not can lead to problems.
    5. I personally don't think that claim is borne by empirical evidence. And regulation is definitely not communist by itself - an actual commie would want to abolish Nestlé or put it under worker control, not regulate it. Some social democrats,* for instance, would support heavy regulation of industry, but communists claim that their efforts are futile and will be undone.
    6. See my answer to question (1.) They were definitely ideologically communist, but hadn't reached the ideal communist society they purportedly were fighting for. However, some communists and socialists would claim that they were ideologically perverted by corruption and malign interests, and therefore not very communist in practice.
    7. China claims to be ideologically communist and striving towards a socialist society. However, it has pretty weak corporate regulations and and poor health-care; which conflicts with its stated leftist ideals. They claim that they will eventually switch to socialism once they are economically developed; there is little evidence to support this IMO, especially when it's not in the ruling party elite's interest to do so. There is also Cuba, which does have some of the equality many socialists etc. fight for, but is marred by authoritarianism and suppression of dissent.
    8. Not sure what to recommend here. If you want to hear the Communist point of view, the Manifesto is a quick, easy read, though a bit outdated in a few regards and obviously biased. But I'm guessing you want a more neutral introduction to the topic; unfortunately, I don't know any that are reasonably approachable.

    * A much milder leftist position.

    28 votes
    1. [6]
      vord
      Link Parent
      In mild defense of the USSR...it was born of a revolution bookended by huge wartime casualties. It was gonna be ugly for a while. The USA is still shedding a lot of blood (if mostly outside it's...

      Those who think the crimes can be avoided via a different mode of socialism. That's me. The USSR and most socialist countries largely came from one socialist school of thought.

      In mild defense of the USSR...it was born of a revolution bookended by huge wartime casualties. It was gonna be ugly for a while. The USA is still shedding a lot of blood (if mostly outside it's borders) over 200 years later. It seems that things started to get better in the 60's, and if not for the US war machine continually escalating tensions, perhaps things would have turned out differently.

      That's actually a bit of a recurring problem, and why we should take the 'socialism always fails' claims with a giant grain of salt. Perhaps if we didn't sanction and fund coups against socialist nations they would stabilize and sort out their problems a bit instead of crippling them from the get-go.

      But anyhow, I think the violence is somewhat inevitable. Socialism is going to require taking from the haves, and giving to the have-nots. And that rarely goes smoothly without resistance..moreso the quicker the timeline.

      Eventually you gotta imprison the wealthy who hire mercenaries to take out your leaders. And is there a better punishment than "you will live at the same conditions you forced the lowest ring of the society you ruled live?"

      18 votes
      1. thundergolfer
        Link Parent
        That's a great way of putting it.

        "you will live at the same conditions you forced the lowest ring of the society you ruled live?"

        That's a great way of putting it.

        6 votes
      2. [4]
        bkimmel
        Link Parent
        At first, sure... But it's really more insidious than that. If you get the same things your neighbor does, no matter how hard you work... How hard are you going to work? There will always be some...

        But anyhow, I think the violence is somewhat inevitable. Socialism is going to require taking from the haves, and giving to the have-nots. And that rarely goes smoothly without resistance..moreso the quicker the timeline.

        At first, sure... But it's really more insidious than that. If you get the same things your neighbor does, no matter how hard you work... How hard are you going to work? There will always be some minority of people that answer "pretty hard"... But most people won't. I, for example, would spend all day playing with my kids and playing video games. Does that make me a bad person? Maybe, maybe not. But it definitely makes me rational. So everything starts breaking down: you had a great idea! All the workers would unite against their evil corporate overlords! But now you can't feed people or build things fast enough, because of these dirty traitors playing video games instead of working for your glorious revolution all day... Now what? You can see where this leads.

        1. [3]
          bloup
          Link Parent
          Socialism isn't "everyone gets the same thing". The defining characteristic of socialism is "to each according to their contribution". In other words, if you put in more hours or contribute more...

          Socialism isn't "everyone gets the same thing". The defining characteristic of socialism is "to each according to their contribution". In other words, if you put in more hours or contribute more resources, you are entitled to a larger slice of the pie. This is not how capitalism works, where those with ownership stake are entitled to the profits yet have no obligation to contribute a single drop of sweat or a single penny out of their own pocket in order to maintain that entitlement, and those that actually are required to contribute to production have no such entitlement at all, unless they just so happen to have an ownership stake in the business themselves.

          I honestly think one of the greatest "successes" of capitalist propaganda was somehow convincing the commonfolk that socialism somehow isn't the philosophy that literally says that you should be rewarded in direct proportion to your contribution. In a socialist business, if you work two times as many hours as everyone else, you are entitled to two times the amount of profits your fellow workers receive... Meanwhile in a capitalist business, you might get a raise or a bonus, if you're lucky.

          8 votes
          1. [2]
            bkimmel
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            That's literally begging for gamesmanship over measuring what my "contribution" is. Read about why they had so many baby shoes in the Soviet Union. (see also: Goodhart's Law) Capitalism, for all...

            That's literally begging for gamesmanship over measuring what my "contribution" is. Read about why they had so many baby shoes in the Soviet Union. (see also: Goodhart's Law) Capitalism, for all its faults, is just a democratized function of "contribution" meaurement. The things you make or produce are valuable because other people want them or value them. It is simultaneously one of (although not the worst) form of government, but the only form of measuring "contribution" that is not rooted in some kind of tyranny once you peel back the flowery rhetoric about "glorious revolution".

            3 votes
            1. vord
              Link Parent
              Explain how some of the most critical jobs in society are the lowest paying. The problems of the USSR production were, in part, due to a lack of data and processing power to adequately plan a...

              Capitalism, for all its faults, is just a democratized function of "contribution" meaurement.

              Explain how some of the most critical jobs in society are the lowest paying.

              The problems of the USSR production were, in part, due to a lack of data and processing power to adequately plan a large economy. We no longer have that problem.

              We've hit a point today where we could, with some degree of certainty, produce the exact number of shoes and computers all of society needs.

              10 votes
              1. Removed by admin: 3 comments by 2 users
                Link Parent
    2. [2]
      tempestoftruth
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I think you've done a great job at answering succinctly. I want to add a few things: actually existing societies that have implemented some form of socialism include the Zapatistas and the...

      I think you've done a great job at answering succinctly. I want to add a few things: actually existing societies that have implemented some form of socialism include the Zapatistas and the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria.

      If OP is looking for something to read, Jacobin's the ABCs of socialism (direct download link) is very accessible and a great place to start, anticipating many of the questions and skepticism readers may have about socialism.

      8 votes
      1. crdpa
        Link Parent
        Thanks for the link! I'm gonna put it on Kindle.

        Thanks for the link! I'm gonna put it on Kindle.

        2 votes
  2. [2]
    Don_Camillo
    Link
    all this talk about (failed) authoritarian communist regimes. You all forget why we never saw a "real" communist or properly socialist nation. The US of fucking A....

    all this talk about (failed) authoritarian communist regimes. You all forget why we never saw a "real" communist or properly socialist nation. The US of fucking A.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_involvement_in_regime_change_in_Latin_America

    Nearly every country in Latin America has a history of a horrible right wing or facist us-supported dictatorship which came to power with the help of the us, after socialist won elections, revolutions or coups.
    I'm not saying that these would or could have been "good" socialist states, but with a high probability they would have been better than what they got instead thanks to us-interventionism. Fuck the us administration.

    Remember Allende and all the possibilities we could have had.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvador_Allende

    22 votes
    1. vord
      Link Parent
      And don't forget Operation Northwood. Never forget...the CIA will seriously contemplate doing terrorist attacks against the USA itself if it will justify starting a war with an enemy (real or...

      And don't forget Operation Northwood.

      Never forget...the CIA will seriously contemplate doing terrorist attacks against the USA itself if it will justify starting a war with an enemy (real or perceived).

      2 votes
  3. [11]
    Adys
    Link
    A scapegoat. Like you said it's all over the place, that's because people (US politicians, specifically) just use that word when they want to point fingers and say "this is bad". Honestly,...

    what really is communism?

    A scapegoat. Like you said it's all over the place, that's because people (US politicians, specifically) just use that word when they want to point fingers and say "this is bad".

    Honestly, Wikipedia is a pretty good read if you want to learn some of the fundamentals. Then sure, books straight from the horse's mouth can help fill in the blanks, though those materials won't necessarily talk about the legitimate problems of communism (the big one being resilience against corruption).

    I'll answer some of your questions.

    Why almost every average citizen (americans and brazilians at least) says it's bad?

    Because of the cold war. Americans, in recent history, basically were at war with "The Communists", and for a pretty long time. I don't know about Brazil, I suspect it's continental spillover. In Europe, "communism" is not a dirty word, it's just an ideology we consider not worth pursuing.

    My best friend is a school teacher and is a marxist. He says Joe Biden is still a terrible choice, but the only alternative to Trump and he is not a communist at all, but i keep hearing people call him a commie. WTF is he? If possible, ELI5 what he is and what he stands for.

    Biden is solidly a US democrat. On the US scale, he is on the left but very close to the center. He's not fiscally conservative, but as close to a classical republican otherwise as a democrat could get.

    People call him a commie because "commies bad, and democrats bad, ergo democrats commies". Just ignore those people, they lack some fundamental thinking skills.

    Why there is right x left and no place for something in between? Is there a need to everything be one side or another to work? There is no middle ground in politics? Grabbing aspects from the left and from the right and co-existing in the same government is a problem?

    There absolutely is a center. I'm a centrist myself, though a European one (which means very far left on the US scale, with some different ideas about spending). It's also worth bringing up the Political Compass, which establishes an additional dimension to the 1-dimensional right-left scale. It's not perfect, I wouldn't even call it "good", but I'd definitely say it's better than the right/left system.

    There's another hidden side to your question which is "why are there always two, and only two, parties". This isn't true of every country or every political system. And to answer that, say hello to the following playlist of CGPGrey videos:

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLNCHVwtpeBY4mybPkHEnRxSOb7FQ2vF9c

    A lot of people really think letting companies run wild and free is good. That the market will regulate itself. I think this is naive, because even now they do some really shady stuff. Just look at Nestle.
    Why people say that and is there some truth to this that i can't see? Is regulating companies a communist thing?

    This is a very big question to answer. "The market regulates itself" is a belief in a property of a "free market". The core idea is that in a "truly free market", companies will compete with each other, and optimizing for success means optimizing for the customers, and ultimately the "bad companies" will be out-competed by the better ones. The free market definition is supposed to be specifically about pricing, but it's often used to talk about non-price regulations in a more general sense like you brought up.

    I'm not explaining it very well, but every absolute is flawed anyway. There is some soundness to it though, and an argument a lot of republicans bring up is that too many regulations kill the incentives to enter the market, and raise the barrier of entry to compete with established companies (which will have an easier time to comply, because they have more money). There's also the argument that regulations are a circumvention game. There's a lot to it - once again, a good place to start is Wikipedia.

    What books about the left and the right i should read? Nothing too dense.

    The Dictator's Handbook, by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita. If you only read one book about politics in your life, make it this one.

    17 votes
    1. [4]
      vord
      Link Parent
      Arguably bad regulation: You need health inspections to sell food out of your home. Decent regulation: You are subject to food safety inspections after X complaints Good regulation:. Don't dump...

      There is some soundness to it though, and an argument a lot of republicans bring up is that too many regulations kill the incentives to enter the market, and raise the barrier of entry to compete with established companies (which will have an easier time to comply, because they have more money).

      Arguably bad regulation: You need health inspections to sell food out of your home.

      Decent regulation: You are subject to food safety inspections after X complaints

      Good regulation:. Don't dump toxic waste in water supplies.

      Republicans tend to claim these are all the same.

      7 votes
      1. [2]
        Adys
        Link Parent
        That claim is vague and not really backed by any evidence. Politicians in general are big fans of the slippery slope fallacy but that's not a republican thing.

        Republicans tend to claim these are all the same.

        That claim is vague and not really backed by any evidence.

        Politicians in general are big fans of the slippery slope fallacy but that's not a republican thing.

        6 votes
        1. vord
          Link Parent
          I'll admit it's vague and a bit hyperbolic, but it's born out of reality. It's not a slippery slope thing. It's that politicians (not just Republicans, but especially them) talk about how X...

          I'll admit it's vague and a bit hyperbolic, but it's born out of reality.

          It's not a slippery slope thing. It's that politicians (not just Republicans, but especially them) talk about how X regulation hurts small business and competition (the first two examples), and then uses that same justification against environmental and anti-trust regulations in the same breath.

          Fostering small business and competition (from all politicians, but especially Republicans) is a shield used to gain mass support for policy that mostly helps gigantic corporations. That's how you end up with COVID stimulus with giant bags of unaccounted cash going to megacorps.

          Republicans are almost exclusively the ones who talk about having a small government. That's often a synonym for "we want inept government regulations that only help incumbant megacorps."

          Edit: I do apologise for not digging up some sources.

          6 votes
      2. bloup
        Link Parent
        Crazy thought: if the toxic waste came from a factory owned and controlled by the people who got their water from the nearby reservoir, would you even need to be worried about the water supply...

        Crazy thought: if the toxic waste came from a factory owned and controlled by the people who got their water from the nearby reservoir, would you even need to be worried about the water supply being poisoned without some kind of regulatory oversight? It's almost like socialism would actually be the easiest way to achieve "small government"...

        5 votes
    2. [5]
      Good_Apollo
      Link Parent
      I have a problem with the mainstay criticism of communism being its weakness to corruption. What human social construct isn’t weak to corruption?

      I have a problem with the mainstay criticism of communism being its weakness to corruption. What human social construct isn’t weak to corruption?

      3 votes
      1. [4]
        Adys
        Link Parent
        Democracy is far more resilient to corruption. See what happened in the US recently for a blatant example.

        Democracy is far more resilient to corruption. See what happened in the US recently for a blatant example.

        1. [3]
          Good_Apollo
          Link Parent
          Since when are communism and democracy mutually exclusive?

          Since when are communism and democracy mutually exclusive?

          8 votes
          1. bloup
            Link Parent
            In fact, I'd say that communism requires democracy.

            In fact, I'd say that communism requires democracy.

            3 votes
          2. vord
            Link Parent
            Because the propaganda says so. The PRK that started forming out of disassembling imperial Japan in the aftermath of WWII was supported by the USSR and disavowed and made illegal by the USA. It...

            Because the propaganda says so.

            The PRK that started forming out of disassembling imperial Japan in the aftermath of WWII was supported by the USSR and disavowed and made illegal by the USA.

            It was a community-driven congressional-congress sort of thing (think each zip code sending a representative). It could have laid the model for a democratic, unified Korea. But USA was so consumed with preventing the spread of non-capitalism that they instead forced the North/South split, laying the framework for the Korean war and the resulting DPRK (North Korea) of today.

            2 votes
    3. crdpa
      Link Parent
      Thanks for the reply. It cleared some things up. I will look for this book.

      Thanks for the reply. It cleared some things up.

      I will look for this book.

      2 votes
  4. [2]
    vektor
    Link
    In brevity, answering 1-3: Communism is a political philosophy which emphasizes a communal approach to problems. It's also associated with social security, worker owned means of production and...

    In brevity, answering 1-3: Communism is a political philosophy which emphasizes a communal approach to problems. It's also associated with social security, worker owned means of production and lots more. It gets a bit muddy because many past governments were called or called themselves communist or it's little cousin, socialism. Examples include cuba, PR China, Soviet Union, North Korea, even Nazi Germany. These all have in common that they're dictatorships, hence people call communism bad. If you go back to the guy (Marx) though, he'd argue that these dictatorships are just bourgeois by a different name. Contrast that with the northern european social democracies. Definitely not dictatorships and they're doing very well for their citizens. Something being called communism doesn't make it bad, or antidemocratic, or even communist. Note that there is also anarcho-communism and democratic socialism. Nevermind that china e.g. isn't very communist at all anymore.

    Now, ever since communism has been around, everything that is bad and is to the left of the point of view is therefore called communist. You can see that the term communist loses it's utility. I'd recommend treating any use of the word with scepticism. Instead, what's instructive is to look at the way a policy treats democracy and how it deals with social inequality. If someone yells "communist dictatorship", but you can't see democracy being eroded, then that's hogwash. If someone yells "these communists just wanna laze around and have actual working people pay for their expenses" - look at how and why money changes hands: Is the proposal about making billionaires pay more such that we can fund welfare for those who have been made redundant in their workplace by automation? Maybe not such a bad idea.

    As for 4: There's generally a second axis: Authoritarian vs Libertarian. I'd argue there's more axes you could set up as needed, but generally, most claims of communism towards a Lib-Left position are somewhat moronic.

    For question 5: Yes. If you need more ammo in discussions or a more formal way of talking about this, might I suggest the term "externality" from economics? It refers to costs that an action incurs that are not applied to the person doing the action. Pollution is the prime example: If regulation is inadequate, my company can pour heavy metal salts into the rivers without punishment. This is advantageous to me, as it is cheaper than other disposal. So when I make a product, the calculation is cost = material + labor + capital. In actuality it is cost = material + labor + capital + cleanup. But if you don't pay for the cleanup, you can offer your product cheaper or make more profit. In such a situation it is economically infeasible to do the cleanup, because then the competition will be cheaper. And someone will have to do the cleanup, usually the government and therefore the taxpayer. By regulating the ways waste can be disposed of, we are internalising the externality, i.e. putting it back into the calculation of the company. That way, we get prices to where they should be.

    Regulating companies where the market fails to do so is not communism, it's just slightly tamed capitalism. Who owns the means of production, i.e. the machines and factories? The workers or the billionaire class? Thought so.

    As for 6 and 7, this entirely depends on the type of communism you refer to. Did we try maoism or stalinism? Yeah. Did we try marxism where the people own the means of production in an actual democracy? Not to my knowledge. You could argue that a cooperative in a social democracy is the best we got here.

    9 votes
    1. vord
      Link Parent
      Here's the other thing: A dictatorship is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. The problems tend to arise with corruption and the handoff of power. Heck, taken through a certain lens, the USA is a...

      These all have in common that they're dictatorships, hence people call communism bad.

      Here's the other thing: A dictatorship is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. The problems tend to arise with corruption and the handoff of power. Heck, taken through a certain lens, the USA is a party-based dictatorship. Sure, you can choose your party, and individuals within that party...but you can't rock the boat too much or the party will demonize you.

      After all, Cuba did something right...the produce a lot of doctors.

      4 votes
  5. knocklessmonster
    Link
    Lots of people gave great answers, I'll give this a crack. At risk of going in with the knowledge level of Jordan Peterson (I've literally only read The Communist Manifesto and the first chapter...

    Lots of people gave great answers, I'll give this a crack. At risk of going in with the knowledge level of Jordan Peterson (I've literally only read The Communist Manifesto and the first chapter of "The Conquest of Bread"), I'll attempt to throw my entire single semester of comparative economics at this.

    What exactly is communism in layman terms? Because for me it's all over the place. Everything that seems to care about people is put into the communist basket, but a lot of people call it a dictatorship. ELI5.

    There is no lay definition, which is why it's a boogeyman. The simplest explanation is "workers own the means of production," but in practice that generally tends to be the state owns the means of production as a representation of the people, which is what largely causes the charge of regulation being communist to come up. This may be the issue of relying on a vanguard party, but we're leaving lay discourse here.

    Why almost every average citizen (americans and brazilians at least) says it's bad?

    The Cold War. We had American communists, there was a large party of them, but a lot of the west's response to communism is directly in response to how communism has existed, usually in a totalitarian regime that never shed its authoritarian government to reach Marx's idea of a communist society.

    My best friend is a school teacher and is a marxist. He says Joe Biden is still a terrible choice, but the only alternative to Trump and he is not a communist at all, but i keep hearing people call him a commie. WTF is he? If possible, ELI5 what he is and what he stands for.

    Marx was, by and large, a philosopher. He felt communism was inevitable, and wrote heavily about that (the Communist Manifesto, Das Kaptial I-IV, and most of his body of work that wasn't about sociology or theology, the latter being what he got his doctorate in). He was also something of a "failed" economist, if only in the sense that he was never good at math, and his analysis was based on theory that later Marxian economists later formalized mathematically. There were socialist economists before him, and especially during his time, and he had falling-outs with most of them at one point or another because he felt they weren't radical enough, as they typically called for a socialized free market structure that protected workers from exploitation while protecting their rights as provided by liberal philosophy.

    Back to "Marxist but not Communist." Marx was a philosopher. Even I'm philosophically aligned with Marx, thing some form of socialism is a solid goal and in general agreeing with many of his opinions, but I don't think communism is a good pursuit. My issues are external to Marx's philosophy, largely to do with issues of history and sociology.

    Why there is right x left and no place for something in between? Is there a need to everything be one side or another to work? There is no middle ground in politics? Grabbing aspects from the left and from the right and co-existing in the same government is a problem?

    This happens all the time. In Sweden, even the fascists like the socialized parts of their government, but want to protect these institutions for true Swedes. Nazi Germany was built around a concept sometimes referred to as "Herrenvolk Socialism," basically socialism for the right groups of people. Neither of these are middle-grounds, though, they're still far-right.

    The other issue is socialsim, liberalism (in the Enlightenment/European sense) and conservatism are all at some odds with each other. I think you could leverage socialism for something of a truly liberal society, but conservatism is where liberal philosophy goes to die, either by being taken to an extreme (libertarianism) or simply murder (passing laws to restrict people because you disagree with their right to do the thing). Even the liberal philosophers saw some need for behavioral restriction to protect the rights and sovereignty of others.

    My answer here isn't great, but it's mostly to do with the fact that we aren't all (me, especially) philosophers. We don't give a lot of time to thinking about these issues, so we often parrot what we hear.

    A lot of people really think letting companies run wild and free is good. That the market will regulate itself. I think this is naive, because even now they do some really shady stuff. Just look at Nestle.

    This is a bastardization of early capitalist economic philosophy. Adam Smith wrote about many mechanics of capitalism, and the requirements for it to work properly, which are about as stringent as Marx's rules for true communism. The expectation is that when these rules are all met, it'll work out. The common assumption today is there was a time when this worked out. Even Smith saw value in government regulation for protecting workers.. While I've never read Smith, the general vibe I get is he was attempting to describe the rules as he understood them, not say "this is how it should be." Like any philosophical work, there is a lot of nuance that is very easily stripped away, if not warped to match a conflicting agenda.

    These rules require such specific conditions as full, equal information for a transaction, a completely unrestricted market, and perfect competition. Even in his day this didn't happen, and he was very critical of how capitalists behaved, particularly with regard to how they treated their workers.

    Why people say that and is there some truth to this that i can't see? Is regulating companies a communist thing?

    I'll just summarize what I said for brevity: People don't actually read Smith and pull pithy quotes. Regulation is not communist. Arguably anything short of bloody revolution to precede economic restructuring isn't communist.

    People say that communism didn't work when implemented and the other side says that it was not really communism. What is the truth here? It didn't work? if not, why it didn't? If it was not true communism, what it was and why it was not true communism?

    There is this notion of "state capitalism," that some would charge the Soviet Union of. The state controls the economy, and handles free trade with other nations. Arguably, this is what caused the decades of famine in the SU, when crops were sold off for reinvestment in urban industry, causing mass starvation in rural areas.

    China operates many state-run companies, but is fairly unique in that it opened to private enterprise in its port cities in the 80s IIRC. They're more of approaching a free-market economy with an authoritarian government, however. In terms of full communism, I'd say both of these reflect the failure and corruptibility of a vanguard party, which is also something of a necessity, because you need to have people to organize the new economy.

    Is there a country that is communist today?

    Cuba and Vietnam are as close as you can get to communist states that don't resemble fully authoritarian state capitalist countries. There is some inherent restriction of freedoms, like not speaking out against the government and whatnot, but from what I've heard Vietnam isn't too bad about that, even, being better than many so-called "liberal democracies."

    What books about the left and the right i should read? Nothing too dense.

    Honestly, if I could answer that, I'd have read them. I'd say just go to the source material. Marx lays out his ideas of communism in the Communist Manifesto, which is short. It provides an interesting ideological crash course. I would recommend Comparative Economics in a Transforming World Economy, which was the textbook I used in my comparative economics course. You can find the second revision on libgen. It's well-written and mostly fair (they're not too keen on communism and it shows, just be aware of that, but they tried to be fair). Unfortunately, to really understand this stuff beyond the point of pulling random quotes and platitudes, you've got to read some old or at least very dense stuff.

    8 votes
  6. [2]
    Hidegger
    Link
    Communism hasn't been a great model for society because anyone that attempted it found that it leads to massive corruption and stagnant business practices. And every flaw that gets introduced to...

    Communism hasn't been a great model for society because anyone that attempted it found that it leads to massive corruption and stagnant business practices. And every flaw that gets introduced to the system seems to compound over time until the point of failure. Another aspect of communist failure is it's outward comparison to other systems. The USSR's failures were created by things like the Cold War and how it compared to the US or China at the time, they were racing to compete with each other which led to lies, corruption and cutting corners, still happening today. Chernobyl was the result of trying to arrogantly compete with others and having a failure in the systematic processes that businesses operate.

    As others have said, calling things communist/commie is used as a broad range insult to the world powers we suppose as enemies. It gets attached to everything like Socialism in this derogatory fashion simply because the masses are largely a bunch of idiots who regurgitate what others say without thinking for themselves about the actual differences involved. Poor education in the US for history and government is very prevalent. I don't think we have anything to fear from most of the policies that are being called communist or socialist turning US democracy into an actual communist or socialist state. And I wouldn't view Democratic Socialism as a bad thing so long as it doesn't over extend into every aspect of our free market system. I don't think a perfect Communist or Socialist state would work or be ideal at this point, and that should be simple to understand that everyone has different ambitions in life and some can't help but succumb to greed or desire power, 2 things that don't work in the perfect models. Do you really think you can eradicate that from humanity?

    3 votes
    1. novov
      Link Parent
      Someone in the Middle Ages could say the same of democratic governance and be reasonably convincing. History is too long to write off ideas forever, or decree things failed since they have only...

      Someone in the Middle Ages could say the same of democratic governance and be reasonably convincing. History is too long to write off ideas forever, or decree things failed since they have only been tried once.

      The USSR's failures were created by things like the Cold War and how it compared to the US or China at the time, they were racing to compete with each other which led to lies, corruption and cutting corners, still happening today.

      I would argue that the corruption was created by the monopoly and unaccountability of the vanguard party. Otherwise, the US would fail as well, since it was trying to speed things up and cut corners as well. And competition by itself doesn't create ethnic cleansing and oppression.

      9 votes
  7. [2]
    Good_Apollo
    Link
    Communism doesn’t work for nation states, that’s all. I’ve yet to see the theory on how communism manages global economic policy or how it manages a military large enough to control its borders or...

    Communism doesn’t work for nation states, that’s all. I’ve yet to see the theory on how communism manages global economic policy or how it manages a military large enough to control its borders or influence protecting trade the way the US blue water Navy can.

    Small scale communities? Yeah I think it works fine in that respect. It just makes sense.

    I’m more interested in a tightly controlled but capitalist economy with a hell of a lot of social programs; especially UBI when increasing automation makes it wholly necessary.

    I also 100% believe communism has never been seriously attempted at a national scale. Authoritarian state dictatorships a plenty though risen under the banner of worker rights, sure.

    3 votes
    1. spctrvl
      Link Parent
      I'd go a step further and say that anything a capitalist economy can accomplish can be done better under a market socialist one, i.e. where the workers own the means of production, but operate...

      I’m more interested in a tightly controlled but capitalist economy with a hell of a lot of social programs; especially UBI when increasing automation makes it wholly necessary.

      I'd go a step further and say that anything a capitalist economy can accomplish can be done better under a market socialist one, i.e. where the workers own the means of production, but operate within a market framework, like with co-ops. While the economic calculation debate is still, IMO, an open one (and one I personally fall on the planning side of), I don't know that I've ever even seen any real arguments that all the purported benefits of capitalism and markets can't be had under market socialism.

      7 votes