The Failure of Communism and Socialism
At a time when elimination of capitalism as a totally failed system is being seriously discussed for the first time in nearly a hundred years, it's essential we understand that communism and socialism are NOT viable options. Both have failed miserably and are unworkable systems of societal coordination.
In this essay, we'll expose the failure of communism and socialism, exploring the features that render them unworkable systems.
Communism as a theory of sharing and living in common dates back to prehistoric times, even being mentioned in the Christian New Testament as a way in which some of the early Christian communities ordered their lives.
It's first essential to distinguish clearly between a commonwealth movement and communism and socialism.
This chart makes it clear that a commonwealth movement is to be clearly dissociated from both communism and socialism. Communism is an ideology fraught with negative connotations--as in these communist slogans and perpetration of mass murder:
These examples of armed insurrection and genocide separate communism completely from a commonwealth movement's non-violent methods.
Socialism as a historic movement also contains a great deal of negative baggage, such as the fact that many American and European socialists continued to embrace Russian communism even after it had clearly been seen to have devolved into a murderous totalitarian dictatorship under Stalin.
Around 1835 the word "socialism" made its first appearance in France. According to the historian G.D.H. Cole, "the 'socialists'
were those who, in opposition to the prevailing stress on the claims of the individual, emphasized the social element in human relations and sought to bring the social question to the front in the great debate about the rights of man let loose by the French Revolution and by the accompanying revolution in the economic field." 3Critical examination of the predatory capitalist system by such thinkers as Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Rosa Luxemburg, and Leon Trotsky help us see its glaring defects.
Writing my Ph.D. dissertation at Yale University on Karl Marx's early thought, 4
I came to see that he and other socialist thinkers saw clearly how the ideology of capitalism reduces humans to "commodities" within a mechanistic system. Marx's theory of a communist society and Bellamy's fictional account of a socialist Boston--in which human welfare would be the primary value--offer interesting visions in contrast to vulture capitalism's horrors.
However, when it comes to the implementation of such a "new society," there the communists and socialists trail off into vague nostrums ("withering away of the state") or propound absolutistic dogmas ("inevitability of revolution") that have no real merit. Granted that neither communist nor socialist theory has ever been genuinely implemented--certainly not in the Soviet Union or any other European countries such as Britain, France, or Italy. But its doctrines as put into practice by its advocates have proven unworkable on any account. We must identify an economic system--or movement--primarily in reference to how it becomes manifested, not simply as it is advocated in "pure" theory.
The movement away from predatory capitalism to a new, humanistic economic system will not occur "automatically" as if the workers of the world were to magically unite, telling themselves they have nothing to lose but their chains.
However, even though socialists and communists have no viable, concrete patterns for a beneficent society, certainly none of the current capitalist fascist rulers have any workable archetypal paradigms either--they merely carry out whatever transient expedient produces the most profit for them, and the most destruction and death for workers.
Soviet Communism can be identified by its bloody beginning under Lenin, Stalin, and Trotsky. These criminal, homicidal propensities led inevitably to the revision of Marxist communism into Stalin's murderous totalitarian dictatorship. Lenin and Stalin began as bank-robbers and killers. Lenin had been hardened by the execution of his elder brother after a botched conspiracy to kill the Czar. Stalin was essentially a brutal thug, engaging in protection rackets, ransom kidnappings, counterfeiting operations, assassinations, extortions, and robberies.
There was no Russian revolution as the communists claim--only the seizing of power by one criminal gang murdering other gangs. The German Army, with its invincible might, had slowly purged Russia of its military and economic strength. The so-called "Russian revolution" was not an epic contest of vast forces but skirmishes between weak factions operating in a power vacuum, with the Bolshevik gang of thugs, thanks to Lenin and Trotsky, the most adept at filling that vacuum. The Bolsheviks were the only left wing group to organize their own military force. The power vacuum had become so complete that it took them only five days to seize power. "It had all been 'as easy as picking up a feather,'" Lenin commented later. "Lenin took power in a coup, not a popular uprising." 5
Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin were financed by capitalists who wanted to scare the world into thinking that communism was a world scourge threatening to take over the universe. The capitalists used the "cold war" scare to make billions of dollars in armaments manufacture to win the "missile gap" and the other fake "gaps."
According to Bertram Wolfe, in his book An Ideology in Power: Reflection on the Russian Revolution, Lenin "[seized] power not in a land 'ripe for socialism' but in a land ripe for the seizing of power." Communism and socialism were ideological "covers" that Lenin, Stalin, and Trotsky used as propaganda for despotism. The "Russian masses leading its revolution" was pure fantasy. Lenin and his gang never allowed the "masses" any voice whatsoever; when the Bolsheviks could gain only a small minority in the elected Constituent Assembly, Lenin simply disbanded it and appointed himself Dictator.
Lenin's "dictatorship of the proletariat" revealed itself as dictatorship over the proletariat and over other party members. Lenin entrusted the prevention of "factionalism" within the party to Stalin, since he had proved quite adept at murdering anyone who stood in their way. This included burning villages in order to intimidate the peasantry into submission and discourage food bandit raids. In May 1919, in order to stem mass desertions in the "glorious revolution," Stalin had deserters and renegades publicly executed as traitors.
Murderous insurrection as a necessary means of seizing power was an integral doctrine within the Marxist ideology. Marx and Engels believed that an extensive period of violence, civil conflict, and international conflict was inevitable and essential to ultimate communist victory.
Unfortunately, many American and European pseudo-intellectuals sympathisized with the Lenin-Trotsky-Stalin Soviet dictatorship, deluding themselves--in the face of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary--that the mythical "Russian Revolution" represented a genuine victory for the working class.
"The lives and work of many western intellectuals in the twentieth century were intimately bound up with Stalinism. But the French writer Romain Rolland (1866-1944) belongs to an especially interesting club: he joined the most celebrated interwar 'friends of the Soviet Union', illustrious western visitors who came to be lionized in an unprecedented way during the rise of Stalinist culture in the USSR in the 1930s. Like Bernard Shaw, Henri Barbusse, Andre Gide, and Lion Feuchtwanger, he was granted an audience by Stalin himself; his 1935 Moscow tour was treated as a milestone of cultural propaganda inside the USSR as well as a state visit of the highest level. The elderly Rolland--musicologist, grand ecrivain, playwright, biographer, popular enlightener, pacifist, anti-fascist, earnest man of conscience, outspoken defender of French-German, pan-European, and East-West reconciliation--remained silent during the purges and was perhaps the most famous European intellectual to become an uncritical apologist for Stalinism in the 1930s."
Lenin's manifestation of Marxism in blood-thirsty revolutionary slaughter provided a model for a rogues gallery of deranged thugs such as Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, Mao, Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, Sun Yat-sen, and Chiang Kai-shek.
The only reason Stalinist and Maoist brands of communism were allowed to persist beyond the second world war, was that capitalism needed fantasy enemies against which to fight the new "cold war," in keeping with the cabal's primary strategy of controlling the masses through the terror of war.
Finally, in 1991 when the pretence of Soviet communism's viability could no longer be propped up by CIA lies, the failed "command economy" was allowed to collapse--so capitalists of all stripes could rush in to plunder Soviet wealth.
Chinese style communism has been allowed to persist because "China is the cheap-labor foundation upon which the survival of world capitalism presently depends. Subtract China from the equations of modern world economy and what would be the present position of American capitalism?" 6
The meteoric rise of American socialism can best be described by conditions within the American Socialist Party in 1912:
At the same time, we must remember that Debs ran for US president from his prison cell in 1920 and won nearly one million votes, the largest vote total ever received by a socialist candidate in the United States.
Upton Sinclair, a well-known novelist, ran in the 1934 California gubernatorial election as a Democrat. He received 879,000 votes, his most successful run for office, though he was overwhelmingly defeated. Sinclair's platform, known as the End Poverty in California movement (EPIC), failed to gain any widespread support after 1934.
At the end of World War II, conditions in European countries were so volatile--the myth of the Russian revolution still fresh in the minds of workers worldwide--the capitalist cabal determined that a modicum of "democratic socialism" would be instituted in Europe.
The pretence that "democratic socialism" might be a viable political-economic strategy was the seeming success of the American and European governments to organize wartime economic resources through modified "command economies." Under the direction of the capitalist cabal, all nations that instituted "democratic socialism" did so as part of a "mixed economy:" socialism and capitalism combined. It was inevitable that such a mongrel admixture of contradictory ingredients would prove unworkable.
The Swedish welfare state was founded in 1933. It was initially successful because of its small homogeneous population and its commodity exports of lumber and iron ores. During World War II, Sweden was ideally placed as a neutral exporting nation needed for German rearmament.
The Labor Party in England won a sweeping electoral victory in 1944. Clement Atlee pretended to put "democratic socialism" into practice in the birthplace of capitalism. It began with nationalization of "the main factors in the economic system:" the Bank of England, coal mines, civil aviation, cable and wireless communications, railroads and trucking, and electricity and gas.
Some 58 third world states established somewhat-socialistic governing structures in the years of post Word War II decolonization and Cold War. Many political-economic leaders in the developing nations had been indoctrinated in socialist concepts in Western universities--especially in the London School of Economics established by Sidney and Beatrice Webb to spread socialist dogma.
In Britain, the unworkable combination of "democratic socialism" and capitalism soon forced an end to further nationalizations and even a retrenchment in social welfare: reductions in subsidies for food and imposition of a modest charge for medical prescriptions.
By 1951, the Conservatives under Churchill were back in power. Wage controls and limitations on the right to strike had undermined worker support for the Labor Party. The Conservatives reversed only the nationalization of iron and steel, so the bulk of the socialist experiment remained in place in the British economy until the 1980s.
For three decades, neither Labor nor Conservatives could make England's socialist-capitalist system work--and voters kept expressing their displeasure at the ballot box until the Conservatives found a straight-out capitalist hireling--Margaret Thatcher--who would make a clean break from socialism and rejuvenate predatory capitalism. Her mirror image in the United States was Ronnie Reagan, controlled by George H. W. Bush (the defacto President after the failed assassination attempt on Reagan's life).
Retrenchment from "democratic socialism-capitalism" to full-out vulture capitalism was instituted in France under François Mitterand. In the face of stagnant output, trade balance collapse and soaring inflation, Mitterand ordered "an abrupt about-face" from earlier socialist-capitalist policies. "The private sector is recognized as the creator of social wealth," proclaimed Mitterand.
The cabal began as early as the 1970s to obliterate gains for American workers realized under Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration. Union elites were bribed into becoming capitalist running-dogs, leaving the workers--as in the auto industry debacle--without benefits or jobs. Structural gains such as the Glass-Steagall Act prohibiting a bank holding company from owning other financial companies was repealed in 1999 by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. The American Democratic Party played essentially the same role as European social democratic parties.
"The Democratic Party has been the principal instrument employed by the American capitalists for more than a century to block the development of an independent working class party, preserve the hegemony of the capitalist two-party system, and maintain the capitalist class' monopoly of political power." 7
Over the past half century, European "democratic socialism" parties have increasingly compromised with predatory capitalism or, in certain cases have completely capitulated to capitalist demands. Certain "socialist" features such as nationalized healthcare and welfare have made these nations more supportive of workers than a totally capitalistic system, as in the United States. However, these "socialist" elements are being rapidly debased or, in some instances, outright destroyed. Socialism's congenital defect of compromising with capitalism inevitably leads to its ultimate demise. This is clearly evident in the current capitalist bailout of big banks and financial institutions on the backs of taxpayer-workers worldwide.
The decline of social democratic parties throughout Europe is nowhere more clearly illustrated than in the June 2009 elections debacle. Across Europe, social democratic parties received only 22 percent of the vote, six percent less than in the 2004 European election. Only 43 percent of the voters turned out, so this means that less than one person in ten voted for socialist party candidates.
Historically, Soviet and Chinese Communist regimes have been nothing more than totalitarian dictatorships. They've used Marxist and communist rhetoric as a cover for sheer despotism: criminal gangs seizing power through armed insurrection. Marxist and communist theory has been used as a propaganda tool to hoodwink and brainwash the masses.
"Democratic socialism" has predominantly gained power through peaceful means rather than armed revolution, but its failure has been inevitable nonetheless. Its primary practical defect has been in compromising with capitalism in almost every regard, even to the point of renouncing solidarity with workers in other countries when war has broken out (as in World Wars I and II).
The nineteenth century exposé of the actual workings of capitalism by Marx and Engels was brilliant in its daring to cut through the euphemisms, delusions, and subterfuges that theorists such as Adam Smith and Hobbes used to mask capitalist corruption and depravity. For the first time in human history, we were able to see beneath the veil of propriety that capitalists kept over their transactions: how profit derived, for example, from the surplus labor value implanted into commodities by workers and looted by capitalists.
However, within the theories of Marx and Engels--and those of Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, and later communist thinkers--there are inherent defects that lead to their unworkability and failure. The downfall of communism and socialism could be predicted from the fundamental flaws in their theoretical foundations. Disciples and advocates of these conceptual systems also become complicit "carriers" of these ideational and practical flaws.
A small number of Marxists and socialists 8 prove to be some of the most intelligent thinkers now studying political-economic structures and events. Their ability to steer through labyrinthine subterfuge and complexity is truly outstanding at times. We're fortunate to have their writings and organizations available to us in these times of pandemic falsifying and sophistic propagandizing. My criticism of their excesses and mistakes in specific instances is in no way meant to indicate that their thinking in general should be rejected out of hand.
At times, however, these discerning Marxist-socialist scholars evince in their thinking and writing all three of the defects we've outlined above. In his 2005 essay, "Marxism, history and the science of perspective," David North, chief analyst for the World Socialist Web Site, waxes ecstatic on the transcendental brilliance of Marx's and Engels' Communist Manifesto:
"There is no more powerful refutation of the denial of the possibility of historical prediction than the text of the Communist Manifesto, the first truly scientific and still unsurpassed work of historical, socio-economic and political perspective. In a few pages, Marx and Engels identified in the class struggle an essential driving force of history, outlined the economic and political processes out of which the modern, bourgeois, world emerged, and explained the world-historical revolutionary implications of the development of capitalist industry and finance."
Anyone who seriously studies the Communist Manifesto recognizes it as an important original and innovative exposé of capitalist theory and practice, but describing it as "the first truly scientific and still unsurpassed work of historical, socio-economic and political perspective," is nothing more than ideological zealotry similar to that of Lenin in the quotation below.
Within the Communist Manifesto, there appeared the defect of presuming that with the proper Marxist theory one could unerringly predict the course of history.
"The weapons with which the capitalist class [bourgeoisie] felled feudalism to the ground are now turned against the capitalist class itself.
Taking their lead from Marx and Engels, contemporary disciples presume that they alone can explicate the hidden meanings of current events.
"How are these seemingly opposite phenomena [of 1991 to 2001] to be explained? I think it is fair to say that outside of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) and the World Socialist Web Site, nobody has been able to provide a cogent answer." 9
Bary Grey is correct that few other thinkers at the present time have the demonstrated capability of explicating complex events in a manner that reveals their hidden implications and meanings. But, there is a small number of non-Marxists and non-socialists who are able to discern the covert significance of contemporary events. I would suggest that a serious study of the material on the site where this essay appears would prove this to be the case.
True believer disciples become so enamored of and dedicated to Marxist-socialist theories and analyses that they distort historical facts. In this example, a socialist scholar proves to be such a biased defender of his master, Leon Trotsky, that he misinterprets historical events.
"Certainly after the Russian Revolution, the role of Stalinism was decisive in aborting the development of the world socialist revolution. Trotsky was obliged to expose the mistakes, and later the crimes, of the Stalin clique, trace them to their political and ultimately their social roots, and elaborate a perspective and a strategic and tactical orientation for the working class to overcome the obstacles thrown in its path by both capitalism and capitalism's bureaucratic agencies within the labor movement." 10
As we saw above, there was no "Russian revolution;" only a criminal gang led by Lenin, Stalin, and Trotsky murdering other criminal gangs. The "world socialist revolution," similarly, is a figment of Grey's and other socialists' imagination. Trotsky felt "obliged" to expose the crimes of the Stalinist clique only after they had him expelled from the party and then exiled him from the Soviet Union in 1929. Until that time he had felt obliged to say that the murders, rapes, kidnappings, and extortions Stalin committed were perfectly acceptable as necessary for the glorious "Russian revolution."
One of the main disservices that Marxist and socialist scholars do to American workers is to give them the impression that something like the illusory "Russian revolution" could and should occur in the United States.
If an armed insurrection were to occur in America, it would be the workers who would suffer, not the Marxist-socialist theorists. But, in fact, no such "revolution," can or will occur in the United States; the criminal cabal is too thoroughly ensconced in power for such an event to occur, holding in its tentacles all the instruments and agencies of violence (police, military, propaganda, "intelligence").
Socialists are also misleading workers worldwide by perpetrating the misconception that the beginning of an overthrow of capitalism has begun with the "color revolutions" in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and now Syria and Iran.
Workers need to understand just what conditions are in America and throughout the world, so they can plan intelligently to respond to the capitalist pandemic of terror and tyranny. The situation in the United States at present is nothing like that in Russia in 1917. Yes, there has been a total collapse of the capitalist economic system, but there are no "countervailing powers" to oppose the cabal. The old capitalist system of a supply and demand market has been scrapped and a new totally fascistic structure put in its place: looting taxpayer money to give to financial institutions, with fat-cats receiving obscene multi-million dollar salaries and bonuses accompanied by a systematic genocide of workers.
Cannibalistic capitalism is currently employing these tactics (among others):
In light of these cabal tactics, workers are ill-advised by socialist propaganda that they must at some point begin their "revolution." Cabal "security forces" (read goon squads and agents provocateur) like nothing better than ignorant protestors escalating into violence, armed or unarmed. The arrest of hundreds of peaceful protestors--including professional persons such as physicians and nurses at 2009 rallies--indicates that cabal "security forces" don't hesitate to react with whatever level of violence they see fit. The attitude of capitalists toward worker protest was best expressed in 1886 by railroad and financial baron Jay Gould: "I can always hire one half of the working class to kill the other half."
Socialist indoctrination also does the disservice to workers of convincing them that change can occur only if the entire capitalist economic system is replaced with a socialist system. It will be impossible to change America's total system from capitalist private ownership to public ownership of the means of production in one fell swoop.
We can see clearly that both communism and socialism have failed and continue to fail. The capitalist cabal is so much in charge of the economic, political, and propaganda (press, TV, publishing) systems in the U.S. that it won't allow capitalism to appear to have failed--even though any clear-eyed, clear-minded observer can see that it has collapsed utterly. For example, to keep up the illusion that the U.S. economy is healthy, the Fed is now purchasing U.S. treasury bonds on the sly.
Current propagandists (liars) such as Ben Bernanke try to befuddle the minds of Americans by continuing to refer to "capitalism" as if it were the same as it was according to its classical definition: an economic system in which a "free market" allows for profit or loss according to the mechanics of supply and demand. From the beginning of the world capitalist system, persons with wealth have been able to manipulate the so-called "free market" through hidden, criminal means. What persons such as Bernanke and Timmy Geithner now call "capitalism" is actually "fascism:" the manipulation of the economy so that certain institutions (e.g. Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan/Chase) receive money looted from tax payers while others (e.g. Lehman Brothers, Washington Mutual) are destroyed. Their use of the term "capitalism" to describe the current fascist looting is a deliberate deception.
Contemporary socialists still do not have any viable program for moving away from predatory capitalism to a more humane and equalitarian society. They continue to mouth such vaguity 13 as:
"The defense of democratic rights and the defeat of American imperialism, along with the struggle against social inequality, depend on the emergence of a mass political movement of the working class on the basis of a socialist program." (from World Socialist Web Site, wsws.org)
The regimes of Fidel Castro in Cuba and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela have had some small measure of success in implementing socialist measures. However, neither regime is stable enough to persist beyond the lifetime or popularity of these two leaders. Capitalism is already insinuating its way back into Cuban society and Venezuela has always contained powerful capitalist forces working against any socialist progress.
Updates and Reference:
1 Dictatorship of the proletariat: A term employed by Marxists that refers to what they see as a temporary state between the capitalist society and the classless, stateless and moneyless communist society. During this transition period, "the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat." The term is said not to refer to a concentration of power by a single dictator, but to a situation where the proletariat (the working class) would hold power and replace the current political, economic and social system controlled by the bourgeoisie (the propertied class: capitalists).