Monday, August 27, 2007

Why Communism Can't Work

"Communism is like prohibition, it's a good idea but it won't work." ~ Will Rogers

Communism is Karl Marx's concept of a Utopian Governmental system. It has been suggested that the only reason why it hasn't worked everywhere it's been tried so far, is because it hasn't been done right yet. Not true. Here is why it would not and cannot work:

When I was a pre-pubescent young man, I used to daydream about having great wealth and all the things I could do with such wealth. I remember once entertaining the idea of owning my own private island and creating a Utopian type government there, with me having total and complete authority.

But, unlike Communist governments around the world at the time, mine would be a kind, generous government. A benevolent dictatorship, if you will.

This is the concept I created in my own mind:

First, I would make absolutely sure that everyone in my country would have exactly the same amount of property and money as everyone else. Then, I would set the wage for every person in my country at exactly the same amount per year. The janitors and the bag boy at the supermarkets and the fast food counter person would make exactly the same amount of money as the doctors and lawyers and stock brokers and corporate officers.

Everyone could choose whatever occupation they wanted to go into, and I, the benevolent dictator, would use my incredible wealth to supply them with all the necessary tools and education they needed to accomplish their goals. In the beginning, no one would be allowed to have unfair advantage over another. All would be equal in every way. Then, I would let them do whatever they felt they needed to by whatever means they deemed necessary to achieve success by their own standards, within reason.

Breaking the law, questionable, or unethical conduct would not be allowed. No one would be allowed to use trickery to sell goods or services to anyone else.

But, being a benevolent dictator, I would not prevent anyone in my country from earning as much money as they could as long as how they managed it were legal.

People would have to start from nothing, and make something out of themselves or not, as the case may be.

"What a wonderful country!", I reasoned, with no one having any kind of advantage over anyone else. This country would be the ultimate example of perfect government.

Of course, in my childish, simplistic fantasy, everything worked perfectly. There was no crime, and everyone was wealthy enough that all would be content. There was simply no greed at all.

Now that I'm an old curmudgeon, and in my old age, become cynical, I have long since abandoned the notion that Utopia would ever be possible.
Here is what would happen in reality if someone ever did create such a society:

Within a year, some people would be wealthy. Some would be penniless. There would be a lot of resentment from the ones who frittered their money away towards the ones that managed to use their natural good thinking, instincts, and sheer determination to parlay their start-up funds into fortunes.

Within five years, there would be an upper class, a middle class, and a lower class. The rich would continue to get richer, and the poor would continue to get poorer.

Some people would find loopholes enabling them to cheat the cheatable. Some people would be so gullible they would find themselves easy targets for those who would take advantage of them. Some people would have scruples, others would not.

Some people would begin to steal, and murder, and whatever else they think will allow them to circumvent the legal process to success.

You see, Utopia isn't possible this side of Heaven. There is too much diversity in people.

Some people are ambitious, some are not. Some people are industrious, some are not. Some people are inventive, some are not. Some people take pride in good workmanship, others are just content to get the job done, whether it is done well or not. Some people are workaholics, some are just plain lazy.

Some people buy anything, Some people buy nothing. Some buy what they want. Some buy only what they need. Some people are foolish with money, some are miserly.

It takes all kinds to make a world. It takes one kind to make a Utopia.


Lone Ranger said...

And some people are just downright contrary and would try to dispute your policies and undermine you at every turn out of pure cussedness.

But all communist countries have institutions to deal with those people -- gulags, insane asylums, prison camps, reeducation through work camps, etc. That's a factor that's common to all communist countries.

Dan Trabue said...

A few thoughts:

1. I'm not sure if there have ever been any "communist countries."

2. Not all socialist-leaning countries have been fascist socialist countries. Think Nicaragua in the 80s. Think Denmark.

3. Communism has its problems - perhaps foremost is its idealism, as you noted, Mark. For that reason, most US citizens - "liberal" or "conservative" - are not communists, but capitalists.

Timothy said...

Hi Mark,
I used to have this fantasy as well, but then realized the problem was one of a sinful nature. That encompasses all the problems.

BTW, they made a movie like that I think. The man on the island owned it all, had complete control over all the subjects, who were loyal. Owned everything on his island. Think Tom Hanks and Cast Away! :)

The one thing he wanted, was off his island.

Lone Ranger said...


Gayle said...

I believe Russia was a Communist country, and China is a Communist country. Let's not forget Cuba and Vietnam. I'm sure there's more and I'm fairly sure Dan will not agree. :)

The Lone Ranger is right... some would try to undermine you out of pure cussedness. It's a good and thoughtful post, Mark (as usual). Since we are not perfect people we are never going to have a perfect society. We can only do the best we know how. No country has done as well as the United States. We have our faults, but they are small compared to other countries. We spend more money trying to improve the lives of people who live in other lands than any other country does, but we get darned little credit for it, even from many of our own people.

I've almost gotten to the point where I want to roll up the sidewalks, border up America and tell the rest of the world where it can go, but that's not a feasable option either. We simply have to keep doing the best we know how.

Anonymous said...

Hi again Sheila here,

Mark, its been a year. I just got caught up in my job and my life. I haven't even visited ER (HI ER!!!!) or Wordsmith. I'll check back every now and again. I'm just plain busy.heres a good paper on Democracy vs Republic though that will turn you head upside down in some areas.

But correct. Just a good example of how we've carved out our own Democracy.

Erudite Redneck said...

Hidy, Sheila!

Francis Lynn said...

An observation from a USSR worker about it's system: "They pretend to pay us & we pretend to work". I thought it was funny & right on.

Abouna said...

Mark, This has nothing to do with your posting, but I just want to inform you that yesterdays posting may be my last. For some reason, Blogspot has all of a sudden declared by blog as spam (they claim that someone reported it as such), so as a result they are requiring me to type in word identification every time I want to post, and when I do, it makes me type it in about five times and then screws up my post so that I have to re do it and then go through the hassle of retyping the word identification all over again. I have been trying to contact blogspot directly get that word identification removed. If it isn't removed by Friday, I will be deleting my blog entirely and will no longer do any bloging.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Hi, Sheila!

Jason H. Bowden said...

"Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread." -- Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography

Brandon said...

my thoughts on the whole China = communism thing is that China really isn't a communist country.
While its government may be communist, its economy is definitely capitalist. And so you can not really say that China is completely communist.
I'm thinking that the only true communist country would have been Russia.

Jimbo said...

Good blog, just a few thoughts though. Your absolutely right. Communism can't work, and Socialism can barely work. Remember Great Britain in 1979. Terrible time. You see, not everyone can run a country because not everyone is smart enough too. Socialism in the UK tried to let the Unions have more say, but that resulted in a total standstill in everything in the country because a bunch of workers who thought that money could come from air went on strike. With that in mind, I think economics should become something mandatory to learn so people don't vote for idiots. Also, communism has failed entirely one way or another. Either the countries have had a revolt, they abuse human rights so badly it makes people who even watched Saw want to puke, or they have fallen to capitalism. My running shoes were made in Vietnam, does that tell you something?

Anonymous said...

Heres the thing;
Communism is meant for an agrarian system.

Joshua said...

Well, at original communism isn't supposed to have a government, but after a while when the problems began to surface, like crime, paid for nothing......So they created a government to watch people. But people are in charge, so they became as corrupt as the people they were supposed to cure, and they lived like kings. Look at Kim Jong Jong il, 3 generations king of the throne. Party leaders always act like that. Those so called Communist are eventually evolving into capitalist, but a controlled form of it, a more kingly form...