- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Communism is, in a word, hope.

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, Massachusetts ) on December 30, 1999 at 11:13:47:

In Reply to: Something to think about posted by David on December 29, 1999 at 10:50:05:

: Tonight my father had invited our neighbours that live just across the street from us to have a little christmas drink. The father was from Boston and his wife was from China. Well, in the course of our conversation she mentioned that she was a little girl during the Chinese revolution. Her parents had been jailed because they worked for the university and she (at that time she was 11) lived on the streets of Shanghai with her older brother and sister. They were given nine yen (one american dollar) per month for food. All they could afford was cabbage. Well, two years later, her parents were released from jail and the family reunited and was forcibly moved to the mountains in the north of China. The father was paralyzed from the torture he had undergone; missing the skin from his buttocks because he was forced to sit on hot metal. All of his books were burned but he was still able to teach his son physics and engineering who then taught it to his sister. She went to University and got a degree in engineering because that is all she knew; she had only been in school until fourth grade. Last year her mother died from standing in line for eight hours in the rain at the American embassy in Shanghai trying to get a visa. Realy bloody shame. Of course, none of this matters because it is nothing more than anecdotal evidence and China, as many socialists here will tell you, is not "pure communism." Oh well.

Dear David,

I know the stories about insensate killing and bloodshed in Maoist China. I also know that Maoists can be bloody fanatics. My uncle-by-marriage, a Communist lawyer who was dedicated to communism, was assassinated by Maoists (Naxalites) as part of an internecine quarrel. That's actua;lly the reason why I reject Maoism even more strongly than Stalinism. (That, and the fact that they had the absolute nerve to portray India as an imperialist lackey- India, which voted against the US more than any other nation).

But none of that can alter the essence of what Communism really is. Communism is, in a word, hope. Communism is about, in the words of Tom Hayden, "replac[ing] power based on possession, privilege and circumstances with power rooted in love, reason, reflectiveness and creativity". {Hayden was, at the time, a non-communist, mostly because it wasn't clear at the time what communism could be. But his words remain valid as a description of the communism of Thomas More, Karl Marx, Thomas Sankara, Salvador Allende, EMS Namboodiripad, and the visionaries of hundreds of 'primmitive' societeies in Africa.)

That is what communism is. If the Maoists betrayed everything that communis was really about, then how can you use their failures to impugn the idea of communism? Even if teh Maoists can be subsu,med within the communist rubric, what about the communist regimes which acieved levels of democracy and human rights in some ways superior to those in America, and which achieved great social progress towarsd building a society of freedom and equality?

Don't confuse Maoist China with communism. At the very lest, don't conflate them.

BTW, just out of curiosity, how old are you? I'm 19.

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