By JARD LEREBOURS | June 27, 2017
This article is neither explicitly anti-communist nor pro-communist. Rather, it aims to shed light on the flawed models used to justify communism’s taboo status within American political circles. Communism is often used as an epithet or rallying call to make someone appear unpatriotic, treasonous and against American values. Modern politicians have been labeled the c-word, including Barack Obama, Keith Ellison and Corrine Brown.
At the height of the Cold War and Mccarthyism, the United States of America saw a witch hunt that sought to rid the country of thought-criminals. Those affected included figures such as famed civil rights leader and nonviolent activist Martin Luther King Jr., Black Panther Party leader Huey P. Newton and silent film legend Charlie Chaplin. Even decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, similar sentiments still haunt the American political sphere. During the 2016 election, senator Bernie Sanders proudly ran under the banner of the Democratic party. Detractors soon began alluding to his alleged communist views, treachery towards the democratic party and ties to Soviet Russia.
Arguments against communism often revolve around Soviet Russia and Maoist China, used as examples to underscore communism as misguided and impractical. This trend contributes to the overall argument that communism is the antithesis of human nature.Yet, it is pertinent to define communism according to the studies of modern economists. Economics professors Richard Wolff and Stephen Resnick advocate for the simple definition of communism as a system in which the people receive the profits.
Some economists argue that Soviet Russia was never communist in the first place and instead practiced state capitalism in opposition to the United State’s private capitalism. Communism aims at a society where classes are abolished as a result of common ownership, workers control all aspects of production and decide how any surpluses are used. Soviet Russia’s form of communism consisted of a government where the decisions were made exclusively by government officials and members of the revolutionary vanguard party. In fact, the Soviet Union did not even organize collectives after Stalin took power, which is an integral facet of communist economics.
In stark contrast to Soviet Russia, finance expert Noah Smith makes the case that China is a communist success story. After taking a look at China’s state-owned enterprises (SEOs), Smith found that by allowing outside investors to own stock in SOEs while maintaining a stake in them, the Chinese government has experienced significant economic growth. SOEs are an example of central planning, which was adopted by Marxist leaders such as Mao and Lenin. Thus, central planning appears to have worked, at least for a while; the total factor of productivity, a measure of company's overall efficiency, rising faster at SOEs than at private companies.
Are you reading this on an iphone or an android phone? Did you stumble upon this article on your Facebook feed? If so, you may be indirectly supporting a communist regime without realizing it. Economist Wolff draws attention to Silicon Valley. He alleges that disaffected engineers, who leave large companies to form their own software firms, are following the communist model through the lack of a distinct hierarchy and discussions with workers on profit allocation. Next time, you and your friends get into an argument about communism, remember that the phone you are holding may have been produced by a de facto worker’s co-op. There’s no need to be afraid of the c-word.