- Capitalism and Alternatives -

It hasn't worked.

Posted by: Darcy Carter ( UK ) on September 16, 1999 at 20:37:43:

In Reply to: ....and then think for a moment or two posted by Nikhil Jaikumar on September 14, 1999 at 20:17:05:

: I've visited India before, as all my relatives are from there. You probably know that three of India's states, totaling about 110 million people, live under communist governments that they elected (and re-elected many times.) The conclusion seems obvious, that these people are smart enough to see that communism offers the only hope of actually bettering their lives.

India. Yes. What a thoroughly well organised and prosperous state, the socialist dream has eradicated poverty, children are all well clothed, healthy and educated, there is universal education and health care and everyone glows with a sense of general well being. Get a grip.

: : You would observe that we who are lucky enough to live in Western democracies, even if we are poor by the standards of these societies, live a life of paradise compared to the vast majority of those from the rest of the world.

: Really? Were you perchance aware that a Cuban on average lives longer than an American, a Shanghainese longer than a New Yorker, and a black man from Sao Tome longer than a black man from Harlem. Or that starvation and destitution are rare in any genuine socialist / communist society?

That says more about the American diet and Harlem drug / gang culture amongst young males than it does about socialism. Have you ever been to Cuba? THE PEOPLE IN CUBA HAVE NOTHING. They are very, very poor. And China - well, overalls and political repression. Wonderful. If I lived there, I don't think i'd want to live that long. These silly examples are to do with diet etc. Of course someone who lives on rice and fish is likely to live to a ripe old age even without top-class medical care. So what?

Where are these "genuine communist societies" that offer such living conditions? I might go and live there.

: : Communism has been tried in case you have been living in a box all of your life:

: Most of those experiments weren't genuine communism, the ones that did make an effort at democratic communism generally succeeded.

Like where? Like so many socialists, it's the "but it wasn't genuine communism" line. Doesn't this tell you anything? - "genuine communism" as you probably imagine it is impossible. There's been enough attempts. If it was going to work, it would have worked by now. You don't hear capitalists bemoaning the ruin of a string of countries by their system and then saying "oh, but that wasn't genuine capitalism."

: Look at what social indicators like life expectancy, infant mortality, education, as well as things like inequality and satisfaction with the government, did during genuine democratic-communist or socialist revolutions. Such as the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, the parliamentary communism in Kerala or Bengal, the Sankaraist Revolution in Burkina Faso, or the Marxists in Namibia or Zimbabwe. Invariably conditions becme better in every regard. Even some states which are not fully democratic, like Cuba and Laos, still have made immense steps forward that put teh rest of teh world to shame.

Cuba? Laos? Namimbia? Burkina Faso? Are you mad? The latter is the poorest country in the world. Namibia is currently a very frightening war zone patrolled by very unfriendly men with big guns. The people of Cuba are extremely poor, even if they are educated to a sufficient standard to read state propoganda and Loas - well, if that's an improvement I'd hate to have seen what it was like before. If that's the best you can come up with I really do think you're badly struggling.

: : - it caused more misery than any other human construct in history (apart from religion).

: Great, an atheist anti-communist, the worst of both worlds.

A communist zealot. You're a reall believer in the freedom of the individual, aren't you?

: : It might interest you to know that 170 million people have been killed, this century, by their own governments. The majority of these are in countries that were, or still are, communist.

: Please, don't make me laugh. Was it communism that causes 40 million people a year to starve to death, by making your access to food dependent on the amount of money you wield? Was it communism that was responsible for the three bloodiest slaughters of the century, measured by % of population killed. (Germans in Namibia, Belgians in the Congo, and Indonesia in East Timor.) Was it communism that is responsible for the misery and inequality found in much of teh 3rd world today. Think about this for a moment, and you will see that the anwwers are "no, no, no."

I was talking about what people's own governments had done to them. I am not blaming all of the world's ills on communism. In terms of A human construct, I stand by what I'd said. External wars are hardly an institution in the way that communism is. War has been with us through human history. The reason it will not happen again between 2 capitalist states is that those states / citizens have too much to loose under capitalism.

In terms of internal repression, which is what I was talking about, the fact is that communist China and Russia killed, between them, nearly 100 million OF THEIR OWN CITIZENS this century. Communism has not been responsible for all the misery in the world, but it certainly hasn't helped. The reason much of the world is so poor today is that the political systems governing many countries are too corrupt to initiate a proper capitalist democracy. This will come with time - it is capitalism that will end poverty and, as discussed above, war.

It certainly won't be communism. I don't remember many nations, or people, fighting to get into the Eastern block during the Cold War to escape capitalist tryanny, do you? (although they did have to buid that big wall thingy in Berlin to prevent capitalist stooges from decadent Berlin escaping into the workers' paradise of East Germany, didn't they...)

: Yes, a few communist leeaders committed genocides in the name of communism. Such atrocities as the extermination of Native Americans, Tasmanians, and others were committed to further capitalism. But of course in neither case do these tell us anything about the ideology involved. People will kill in the name of virtually everything. Stalinism is not Communism, just as the Inquisition was not Catholicism.

Of Couse! Stalinism is not communism. Just like Thatcherism is not capitalism and by 2001 we'll all be living in cities on the moon! How convenient. What the inquisition has to do with it I don't know, but the agressive form of doctrinal enforcement practosed by it certainly was part of Catholicism. Or was Torcomada just in it for a laugh?

: The valid comparison between communism and capitalism is that states which go from capitalism to social tend to do better in terms of standard of living while those that go from socialism to capitalism invariably see the standard of living fall.

I'd like to see your fugures on that. States which have recently become capitalist seem to be doing very nicely on the whole (Japan / Singapore and Taiwan compared to China? Chile got rid of their communist lunatics in the 1970s and the standard of living has increased dramatically. Or perhaps you are thinking of that great Eutopia, North Korea, whose people are probably starving but don't have the political freedom to tell anyone.

: : Go and live in Cambodia for 12 months (which had the benefit of a great "socialist" revolution a few years ago) and let us all know how you got on. I'm msure you'd find grinding poverty, disease, starvation, early death and the threat arbitrary arrest and / or violence a welcome change from the rigors political freedom and affluence.

: 1. Cambodia was not socialist. Pol Pot killed people if they didn't harvest enough rice. That takes the capitalist ideal of paying for performance to its disgustsing extreme, and is logically incompatible with communism.

: 2. Pol Pot said "I am not a communist".

: 3. There is such a thing as democratic communism, in case you weren't aware. It is logically disingenuous to use Cambodia as an example of communism, and not to mention Nicaragua, Kerala, etc. Cambodia represented, at ebst, one face; Nicaragua represented another.

OK. So even if we exclude Cambodia from our little Communist hall of fame, if you're already on Namibia and Burkina Faso after 4 countries, it's not looking good, is it? And Nicaragua - hardly a by word for political stability and prosperity. would you want to live there? I bloody know I wouldn't. Just face it - communism as it works in the real world (not in some text book) causes does not function to creat comfort or freedom for its people. There is no point saying that this or that country wasn't really communist or that it could work if this, that or the other were the case.

It hasn't worked. I don't think we need another Soviet Union and the human suffering that goes with it to prove that.

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