"Communism sounds great on paper - it just doesn't work in reality!" = most tedious line of conversation EVER?

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I can remember as early as fifth grade finding this statement annoying and I have heard it re-used, word for word, by dull, history-ignorant schmoes at parties throughout my life to date. Where do they get this from? Is this something Dennis Miller said on TV once or something? As a statement about "communism" it's inane and one-dimensional, and as a rhetorical example to defeat some other proposed idea that "sounds great on paper," it approaches comparisons to Hitler in terms of unconvincing-ness. Does this bug the hell out of anybody else? Annoyed pedants of the world, unite!!

Doctor Casino, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 14:29 (twelve years ago) link

piggyback an atheists-are-inherently-evil charge on the back of that for bonus fun

DG, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 14:37 (twelve years ago) link

Homer: Marge, I agree with you -- in theory. In theory, communism works.... in THEORY!

Dan Peterson, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 14:42 (twelve years ago) link

Perhaps wise Doctor Casino will furnish us with examples of Communism having worked in practice.

Dingbod Kesterson, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 14:48 (twelve years ago) link

communism was perfected in albania - ALL HAIL ENVER HOXHA!!

velko, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 14:49 (twelve years ago) link

You want your Second Amendment, here's where you keep right on paying for it.

max, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 14:50 (twelve years ago) link

it doesn't even work in theory

goole, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 14:51 (twelve years ago) link

I can't remember the last time I heard someone under the age of 65 say the word "communism"

m coleman, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 14:54 (twelve years ago) link

The other variation on this, which I myself started parroting very soon after quitting socialist worker meetings, is "The problem with communism is that it doesn't take account of human nature".

Frogman Henry, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 14:56 (twelve years ago) link

maybe it would be better phrased as 'Communism is more difficult than it's alternative' which may be defeatist but at least not dismissive

blueski, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 14:58 (twelve years ago) link

i think you guys are all missing the point

max, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 14:59 (twelve years ago) link

im pretty sure that casino isnt offering an opinion about communism but rather pointing out that this phrase is stupid, boring and one-dimensional

max, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:00 (twelve years ago) link

Yeah, I think part of the reason why this rankles is a sort of jingoistic refusal to deal with the possibility that capitalism also sounds great on paper, doesn't work in reality blah blah.

Dingbod: Not saying communism has ever worked out in reality, just that it's a dull-witted observation as far as political tavern conversation goes. (xpost thanks max)

Doctor Casino, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:01 (twelve years ago) link

Stupid, boring, one-dimensional phrases (i.e. clichés) are sometimes accurate.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:01 (twelve years ago) link

personal favourite is "religion is the cause of all wars!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

DG, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:03 (twelve years ago) link

I can't remember the last time I heard someone under the age of 65 say the word "communism"

-- m coleman, Wednesday, July 30, 2008 10:54 AM (6 minutes ago) Bookmark Link

that's pretty OTM. i must not be going to the same kind of parties Casino goes to.

carne asada, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:04 (twelve years ago) link

money is the root of all evil...because paedos don't operate for free

blueski, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:05 (twelve years ago) link

i mean you can pretend that this is accurate but to me this phrase is so vague as to be sort of meaningless! i mean, when you say "communism sounds great on paper," what do you mean? marxism? trotskyism? maoism? and which papers? the manifesto? kapital? what is to be done? and what does it mean to say that it "doesn't work in reality"?

moreover, what political/economic systems/theories don't sound great on paper, especially when being sold by intelligent, erudite people like adam smith or karl marx? and which ones do work in reality, if what you mean is that people are happy, healthy, unoppressed?

max, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:05 (twelve years ago) link

i have a friend who's big on "when you think about it, ALL religions are cults"

impudent harlot, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:05 (twelve years ago) link

"You credulous fools."

http://www.observer.com/files/imagecache/article-teaser/files/OTR-ChristopherHitchens1V.jpg

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:07 (twelve years ago) link

when you think about it, ALL religions are cults

heh, guilty...

blueski, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:09 (twelve years ago) link

Even Marx had servants, when he could afford them.

Dingbod Kesterson, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:09 (twelve years ago) link

i think knee-jerk accusations of fascism are more common, and just as brainless

velko, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:10 (twelve years ago) link

when you say "communism sounds great on paper," what do you mean? marxism? trotskyism? maoism? and which papers? the manifesto? kapital?

any and all.

darraghmac, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:10 (twelve years ago) link

Ask someone a thousand years ago they'd probably say "Democracy sounds great on paper - it just doesn't work in reality!"

Also, it depends how you define 'work' - the Soviet Union was doing pretty well on its own terms till external forces (and its rather overenthusiastic expansionism) brought in down. And Cuba does a passable imitation of a fully functioning society less than a hundred miles from the undisputed idealogical centre of global capitalism!

chap, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:11 (twelve years ago) link

nothing works in reality

Shakey Mo Collier, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:12 (twelve years ago) link

reality bites

velko, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:12 (twelve years ago) link

he Soviet Union was doing pretty well on its own terms till external forces (and its rather overenthusiastic expansionism) brought in down.

There was this man called Joseph Stalin, see, and he LOVED gulags.

And Cuba does a passable imitation of a fully functioning society less than a hundred miles from the undisputed idealogical centre of global capitalism!

I know a few political prisoners I can tell you about.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:12 (twelve years ago) link

when you say "communism sounds great on paper," what do you mean? marxism? trotskyism? maoism? and which papers? the manifesto? kapital?

any and all.

-- darraghmac, Wednesday, July 30, 2008 11:10 AM (1 minute ago) Bookmark Link

lol dude i dont know about you but theres plenty of "communist papers" that dont sound so great to me

max, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:13 (twelve years ago) link

'there are only two kinds of music...' is more trivial but no less irritating

blueski, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:13 (twelve years ago) link

Even Marx had servants, when he could afford them.

-- Dingbod Kesterson, Wednesday, July 30, 2008 11:09 AM (5 minutes ago) Bookmark Link

^^ this is the same kind of "ZINGED YA, COMMUNISM" that the original phrase partakes in

max, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:16 (twelve years ago) link

I'm not saying the systems in those countries don't/didn't come with massive human cost (as does capitalism)! I'm just demonstrating how the statement being examined is pretty meaningless. Whether or not communism can be achieved without repression is a different matter.

xpost to Alfred

chap, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:17 (twelve years ago) link

xxp: "country and western"?

kingkongvsgodzilla, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:18 (twelve years ago) link

The statement may be annoying in its ubiquity, but it's defensible. Like much of the rationalist utopian thinking that followed in the wake of the age of enlightenment, OG Marxist communism grounds itself in a vast number of unjustified assumptions about what people want, what they will "naturally" do under this or that circumstance, and how human societies actually function. It's reductive, simplistic, elitist and even arrogant. Thus, it may seem practical/practicable "on paper", when one isn't actively challenging its assumptions, or dealing with individual and social complexities.

We can't really critique capitalism on the same grounds. Capitalism is sustainable (thus problematic) simply because it does work. I don't mean "work" in the sense that max does ("people are happy, healthy, unoppressed"), I mean that it functions as described in the sales brochure. Goods and services are traded for money, supply and demand determine value, etc. The day-to-day functionality of capitalism does not depend on dubious assumptions about humanity's higher nature, and requires no externally-imposed support system. If you'll forgive the word, it's a "natural" product of the way that human beings have organized their conception of the individual and society for thousands of years. Private property, trade, and money have existed as concepts, after all, for a long, long time.

That said, I don't know why the dumbed-down "communism is GREAT on paper" meme is so persistent.

"Republican, Democrat, they're both exactly the same thing, man!"

contenderizer, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:24 (twelve years ago) link

lol dude i dont know about you but theres plenty of "communist papers" that dont sound so great to me

-- max, 30 July 2008 15:13 (9 minutes ago) Bookmark Link

i meant that don't work in reality, and that's probably what's meant most of the time by this statement.

darraghmac, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:25 (twelve years ago) link

fwiw Russian style of government basically had absolutely nothing to do with communism as envisioned by Marx et al, especially after Lenin expelled Trostsky, etc. Stalin never even read Marx.

Shakey Mo Collier, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:25 (twelve years ago) link

I mean that it functions as described in the sales brochure.

I don't think this is strictly true at all, but I definitely lol'd at your chosen metaphor

Shakey Mo Collier, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:27 (twelve years ago) link

"Republican, Democrat, they're both exactly the same thing, man!"

fearless Pelosi/Reid leadership has put the lie to that. Welcome home, troops!

Dr Morbius, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:27 (twelve years ago) link

capitalism doesn't function as described in the sales brochure but it functions

Curt1s Stephens, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:27 (twelve years ago) link

anyway the most interesting/accurate aspect of Marxism is its analysis of capitalism - predictions of a post-capitalist society and how quickly and easily one could be achieved, eh not so much

Shakey Mo Collier, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:28 (twelve years ago) link

capitalism doesn't function as described in the sales brochure but it functions

you could say the same thing about communism if it had ever actually been put into practice (ie, autonomous worker-owned collectives running everything)

Shakey Mo Collier, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:29 (twelve years ago) link

Communism vs. Democracy is a better head-to-head than Communism vs. Capitalism. Democracy is another absurdly idealistic, "unnatural", rationalist utopian scheme that really shouldn't work. But unlike communism, it does seem to work (that is function as advertised, in a sustainable manner, with minimal social disruption). Perhaps this is because it promises/demands less, has often worked to disempower the state in favor of the individual, and permits the accumulation of personal wealth & power.

contenderizer, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:30 (twelve years ago) link

worker-owned collectives running everything = syndicalism?

Curt1s Stephens, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:30 (twelve years ago) link

Communism "doesn't work" in the sense that it has proven unable to keep up with capitalism as an economic engine. Capitalism wins at exploiting resources, growing the economic base, developing technology, etc. Capitalism has its own flaws that may or may not yet undo it as well, at which point Communism might actually "work." Communism did not "work" in a specific context, i.e. a global power struggle with a capitalist power.

Hurting 2, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:31 (twelve years ago) link

i think what shakey is saying is that communism sounds great on paper, it just doesn't work in reality.

s1ocki, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:31 (twelve years ago) link

no, shakey = "communism didn't fail, it was just executed wrong!"

Kerm, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:32 (twelve years ago) link

The day-to-day functionality of capitalism does not depend on dubious assumptions about humanity's higher nature, and requires no externally-imposed support system.

I am not sure this is true at all, especially the part after the comma. Cf. Gilded Age robber-baron capitalism to a system with an FTC, FDIC, SEC, etc. As for the part before the comma, it's only true to the extent that all actors are rational, self-interested and have equal access to information. (Which plays into the second part.)

Pancakes Hackman, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:32 (twelve years ago) link

Democracy.....does seem to work (that is function as advertised, in a sustainable manner, with minimal social disruption).

not as advertised, though?

darraghmac, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:32 (twelve years ago) link

How about single party Communist countries in which officials are elected by the people, such as Vietnam? Communist or no?

chap, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:35 (twelve years ago) link

China.

Mark G, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:37 (twelve years ago) link

"It’s no coincidence that people who demonstrate above average intelligence in the real world trend conservative. And I’m not talking about academic background. I’m talking about street smarts, savvy, and rich personal experiences. Smart people don’t walk around all the time explaining how smart they are. Ever notice how progressives are always going on about “intellectualism” and trying to impress you with big words for obviously idiotic things?"

Well this paragraph basically tells you everything you might need to know about the insecurities driving author Leigh Scott's life

Mordy, Wednesday, 3 August 2011 01:41 (nine years ago) link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0om2ApQPvqI

goole, Wednesday, 3 August 2011 02:09 (nine years ago) link

hmm dunno what the prob is

http://youtu.be/0om2ApQPvqI

goole, Wednesday, 3 August 2011 02:10 (nine years ago) link

oh right

max, Wednesday, 3 August 2011 02:14 (nine years ago) link

haha well if THE TROOPS are involved she MUST be a randian libertarian

max, Wednesday, 3 August 2011 02:14 (nine years ago) link

so ignoring the last four thousand posts i really agree with OP! it has nothing to do with the politics of it. there's just no situation where you can say that line and have it add to any discussion, because by the age of 12 everyone has heard it ~a billion times. and everyone always says it as if they're the first to! i hate it.

anyway back to your scheduled mila kunis etc

Peepee Soaked Heckhole (zachlyon), Wednesday, 3 August 2011 02:51 (nine years ago) link

i'd liberate her terrain, if you catch my drift

Notinnymane (k3vin k.), Wednesday, 3 August 2011 02:54 (nine years ago) link

damn contenderizer owned the hell out of this thread

hey max, other commies - how's it feel living in ~*THA OWN ZONE*~

― the most brazen explosion of clitoral lust in folk-metal history (cankles), Wednesday, April 1, 2009 12:30 AM (2 years ago)

goole, Wednesday, 3 August 2011 03:51 (nine years ago) link

tha own zone sounds great on paper, it just doesnt work in reality

max, Wednesday, 3 August 2011 04:00 (nine years ago) link

so you're unhappy there is what you're saying.

king of torts (strongo hulkington's ghost dad), Wednesday, 3 August 2011 04:04 (nine years ago) link

im trying to emigrate but its really difficult to get a visa

max, Wednesday, 3 August 2011 04:07 (nine years ago) link

money sounds great on paper. for everything else, there's visa.

lizard tails, a self-regenerating food source for survival (wk), Wednesday, 3 August 2011 04:26 (nine years ago) link

i'd rapidly industrialize her, if you know what i mean

sarahel hath no fury (history mayne), Wednesday, 3 August 2011 07:28 (nine years ago) link

Children, quit complaining that you don't get home from the button factory until midnight. At least you don't have to read giant books.

lizard tails, a self-regenerating food source for survival (wk), Wednesday, 3 August 2011 07:52 (nine years ago) link

The original draft of the Communist Manifesto called for the dissolution of all marriages but Marx pulled it at the last second because he thought it would be a political liability.

"To each according to his own friend, to everybody according to his own benefit," has a certain ring to it.

Maybe Kunis was on to something. Friends With Benefits, No Strings Attached, m4w casual encounter -- whatever you want to call it, it's socialism in the bedroom.

Cunga, Wednesday, 3 August 2011 09:14 (nine years ago) link

still not the craziest from that 70s show thnx to the scientologist dj mom jeans

Gatsby was a success, in the end, wasn't he? (D-40), Wednesday, 3 August 2011 14:53 (nine years ago) link

one month passes...

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/09/my-father-was-a-communist/245104/

In addition, my parents' and their friends' notion of what Communism actually consisted of was not especially highly evolved. When we were teenagers, my great friend Zachary Leader asked my father if he had ever read Das Kapital. Frank replied, "Are you kidding? No one could read that shit. We invented our own Communism." The Communism they invented was a system where everything was fair, everyone was nice to everyone else, and nobody suffered deprivation. That it contradicted human nature, ignored history, and defied the laws of economics were considerations they chose to ignore. They meant well.

banana mogul (goole), Monday, 26 September 2011 14:54 (nine years ago) link

two years pass...

Just realized I haven't heard this line in a while. Am I in a bubble (or encountering fewer undergrads at parties as I age), or is it possible its lifespan was tethered to the fall of the Eastern Bloc?

Doctor Casino, Monday, 15 September 2014 12:42 (six years ago) link

i heard it almost verbatim a little while back, from a young (mid-20s?) person at that. a good indicator that the best thing to do was to quietly back away from wherever the conversation was going to go.

Merdeyeux, Monday, 15 September 2014 12:50 (six years ago) link

Communism works great in practice- I just don't like the theory!

I'm teaching More's "Utopia" tomorrow and this cliché runs like a seam of fool's gold through a lot of embarrassed Cold War era lit crit about this author/text; there's no way around More's call for the abolition of private property and yet people try their damnedest to ironize and "yes, but..."

Perhaps the "works great on paper" half of this cliché could be cross-faded into another relevant, nearby cliché: namely, that "Utopia" is "a nice place to read about but I wouldn't wanna live there"

Gold chamber pots sound p chill to me

the tune was space, Monday, 15 September 2014 13:39 (six years ago) link

Utopia and Utopian texts generally get better and better as the details get filled out, aha, in the perfect society the cities are *exactly* three miles on a side - that's where we've been going wrong!

Doctor Casino, Monday, 15 September 2014 13:41 (six years ago) link

"If you like Russia so much, why don't you go and live there" is another (Cold War) cliche that's re-entered my brain recently due to this ongoing mess in Ukraine.

FYI Macedonia (Tom D.), Monday, 15 September 2014 13:42 (six years ago) link

nu Russia comes to u

fedora, wherever it may find her (darraghmac), Monday, 15 September 2014 13:55 (six years ago) link

one year passes...

and it's opposite: "none of those communist regimes were authentically marxist."

Mordy, Tuesday, 19 April 2016 13:27 (four years ago) link

three years pass...

"the truth lies somewhere in the middle"

papa stank (Neanderthal), Wednesday, 15 January 2020 02:38 (eight months ago) link

The non-tiresome question is "where is there room for the most improvement and what are we going to do to make things better?"

A is for (Aimless), Wednesday, 15 January 2020 02:44 (eight months ago) link

"don't bring me problems, bring me solutions!"

papa stank (Neanderthal), Wednesday, 15 January 2020 02:45 (eight months ago) link

wish i could remember the specific conversation that prompted this thread

Doctor Casino, Wednesday, 15 January 2020 05:05 (eight months ago) link

it wasn't even executed at all. Mao, Stalin, Castro et al - in every single instance these guys were just bullies who used the most convenient ideological tool at their disposal (ie, the appealling idealism of "communism") to consolidate power and run shit...

I think Marx would disagree. what would be required is control from the BOTTOM - ie, the "workers"...

Transition to communism, though, requires a radical and comprehensive rejiggering of society at every level. Whether or not Marx admits it, this in turn requires a great deal of top-down organization and control, at least during the transition period (thus Lenin's Dictatorship of the Proletariat). In terms of practical application, that was one of the primary problems with communism in the 20th century: the failure of newly-imposed revolutionary goverments to cede power/wealth to the workers as a whole, eventually resulting in something much like despotism (Soviet Union, China, Cuba, etc.). This failure wasn't due to "bad people" or to external pressure, but rather to Marx & Lenin's seeming ignorance of basic human nature.

Rereading the Manifesto a little while ago, I was struck by how openly it seemed like Marx did essentially advocate totalitarianism and top-down state control (i.e. I think he did admit it). I'm not sure the gap between theory and practice was as great as people sometimes like to claim (NB as with Peterson, this is the only major Marx piece I am especially familiar with):

The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degree, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the State, i.e., of the proletariat organised as the ruling class; and to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible.

Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production; by means of measures, therefore, which appear economically insufficient and untenable, but which, in the course of the movement, outstrip themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the old social order, and are unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionising the mode of production.

The third highlighted passage actually seems like it might have anticipated (and excused in leaders' minds) the economic disasters of collectivized agriculture in the USSR, China, and Cambodia.

Nevertheless, in most advanced countries, the following will be pretty generally applicable:

1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralisation of credit in the banks of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal liability of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, &c, &c.

#10 is obv good, #2 definitely could be, #3 might be defensible. #5-7 absolutely call for top-down state control of the economy. #8-9 basically anticipate the Khmer Rouge imo, considering that the "equal liability to work" in "industrial armies" and "equitable distribution of the populace over the country" will be implement by the new consolidated despotic state.

One must put up barriers to keep oneself intact (Sund4r), Wednesday, 15 January 2020 11:43 (eight months ago) link

hugely relieved to scroll up itt and not find myself. now i will rob future-me of the same peace.

in general you are i think right to say that yes, marx did know what the transition he was implying was going to have to be like. here are some spitballed caveats

#5-7 absolutely call for top-down state control of the economy.

as you quote from upthread the idea is that the state will be functionally democratic, and collective worker decision-making will happen fractally, all the way from the factory floor to the ministries. now this would be quite a feat (democracy invariably sounds like bullshit) and also it would be extremely peculiar and pointless for someone in 2020 (or 1920) to wed themselves to the specific economic prescriptions of the communist manifesto. but imo accomplishing the general vision of popular economic+political control is less the problem of Human Nature it's supposed to be and more a problem of simultaneously needing to grow an organic democratic infrastructure and fight an inevitable war to the death with the old order, which is v bad for the grass. (you'll recall the prototypical bourgeois republic had similar difficulties, lurching from republicanism to militarized authoritarianism to reactionary restorationism and back while history's engine struggled to turn over. in 1848, every 60-year-old you met had lived through all of this.) anyway, our present evolved form of capitalism doesn't seem particularly to mind for instance "centralisation of the means of communication" in the hands of pretty much anyone except the state, though of course whoever it is will be happy to work v closely w the state, just as long as there's no democracy involved.

Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production; by means of measures, therefore, which appear economically insufficient and untenable, but which, in the course of the movement, outstrip themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the old social order, and are unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionising the mode of production.

show me the lie tbh. again, this is not too different from what had already happened as capitalism rotted feudalism from the inside, sometimes slowly and sometimes suddenly (despotically)-- the enclosure of the commons, the requisition of church lands, the execution of kings and princes, the multi-decade money sink of the railroads in countries full of starving people, entire populations sent down the mines, entire agricultural bases changed, sometimes disastrously (the irish know what a capitalist holodomor looks like). yr point about collectivized agriculture is nevertheless not wrong but it's also worth mentioning that all of the countries you name were attempting the stalinist agrarian-to-communist leap, not exactly the vision of "most advanced countries" in 1848. i don't think even the 30yo marx of the manifesto would have been optimistic about them.

don't see where full employment anticipates the khmer rouge-- "liability" i suppose implies that everyone is forced to work (whereas capitalism kindly lets a few people off) so okay let's amend that to "opportunity" now that our robots are so good-- but agree that "equitable distribution of the populace" is an unfortunate phrase in light of the 20th century. i think "gradual" is the key word there tho-- i don't know that he's thinking of forcible population transfer but imagining the eventual shape of a communist population. capitalism certainly had a shape of its own, one no one had planned but which it nevertheless assumed violently and rapidly. remember that all the changes capitalism had wrought-- contemptuous of human life almost (tho decreasingly) beyond the imaginations of we who live in the bourgeois, half-socialized hemisphere today-- were, to marx, necessary and inevitable.

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 15 January 2020 17:24 (eight months ago) link

Hm, well, the distinction between liability and opportunity doesn't seem insignificant to me.

the idea is that the state will be functionally democratic, and collective worker decision-making will happen fractally, all the way from the factory floor to the ministries.

Where did Marx state this?

Good points about early capitalism. I agree that the agrarian-to-communist leap was not what Marx had in mind but the fact that communism did not catch on in the most advanced countries itself seems to disprove the theory - surely the immiserating cycle of capitalist production and alienation of labour should have organically led to revolution?

One must put up barriers to keep oneself intact (Sund4r), Wednesday, 15 January 2020 17:47 (eight months ago) link

it did! the manifesto is written from the middle of it; that's why it sounds so confident. then it was defeated. turned out capitalism wasn't old, but young. no doubt many hard lessons to be learned from 1848 but "this will continue forever" is not one of them, especially in our world where it seems yet another longstanding liberal safeguard against an event like 1848 is trashed every day.

my description of the worker-council model there is probably slipping forward into 1871 (or into 1905), whoops-- tho i'd be surprised if you couldn't find marx talking about something like it somewhere. in general tho you already know this is always the argument, even under a totalitarianism like stalin's where it is a transparent fiction: that you and your fellow workers are the ones who control the state.

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 15 January 2020 18:06 (eight months ago) link

Ha, OK, I wasn't remembering the context of the 1848 revolutions.

Yes, worker rule is always the argument, even, as you say, in the most authoritarian communist regimes, but nothing in the Manifesto really gives me an impression that Marx was mapping out some decentralized, democratic system, as opposed to the authoritarian versions that occurred irl. If anything, centralization seems pretty key.

The southeastern Indian state of Kerala is probably the most successful irl application of Marxist socialism. It actually puzzles me that it doesn't get more discussion among Western leftists.

One must put up barriers to keep oneself intact (Sund4r), Wednesday, 15 January 2020 20:31 (eight months ago) link

I've been trying to think if there's /any/ system or principle about which this couldn't be said. Doesn't everything ever sound good on paper but run into problemos in real life?

Never changed username before (cardamon), Thursday, 16 January 2020 20:47 (eight months ago) link

Lots of things don't sound good on paper!

One must put up barriers to keep oneself intact (Sund4r), Thursday, 16 January 2020 20:50 (eight months ago) link

hugely relieved to scroll up itt and not find myself. now i will rob future-me of the same peace.

i feel like this should be the prologue to every post on ilx

american bradass (BradNelson), Thursday, 16 January 2020 21:02 (eight months ago) link

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communism_in_Kerala

Sund4r otm - this is pretty astonishing and underrated. Well I've never seen it mentioned before.

calzino, Thursday, 16 January 2020 21:03 (eight months ago) link

*southwestern

One must put up barriers to keep oneself intact (Sund4r), Thursday, 16 January 2020 21:29 (eight months ago) link

Kerala is awesome

Οὖτις, Thursday, 16 January 2020 21:32 (eight months ago) link

also a long history of matriarchy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marumakkathayam

Οὖτις, Thursday, 16 January 2020 21:33 (eight months ago) link

I fear that the absolute control required for the dictatorship of the proletariat attracts fucked up authoritarian people like Stalin.

Bnad, Thursday, 16 January 2020 21:42 (eight months ago) link

It wasn't a case of attracting Stalin - the dictatorship within a dictatorship was his very own marvellous pièce de résistance!

calzino, Thursday, 16 January 2020 21:52 (eight months ago) link

although i know you on 2nd read of your post you aren't saying it wasn't tbf!

calzino, Thursday, 16 January 2020 21:53 (eight months ago) link

The southeastern Indian state of Kerala is probably the most successful irl application of Marxist socialism. It actually puzzles me that it doesn't get more discussion among Western leftists.

― One must put up barriers to keep oneself intact (Sund4r), Wednesday, January 15, 2020 3:31 PM (yesterday) bookmarkflaglink

their economy is not particularly socialist

flopson, Friday, 17 January 2020 03:47 (eight months ago) link

"Sarcasm doesn't really translate over the internet".

It's almost as if sarcasm has existed in written form for centuries and you're just shit at parsing it

... that's Traore! (Neanderthal), Friday, 24 January 2020 18:16 (eight months ago) link

five months pass...

tedious argument i've been seeing everywhere lately, any time someone brings up billionaires having billions of dollars: "net worth isn't the same thing as liquid capital though"

guess a lot of people just learned that jeff bezos doesn't literally have a hundred billion dollars in a capital one account

℺ ☽ ⋠ ⏎ (✖), Tuesday, 14 July 2020 01:29 (two months ago) link

a lot like the "communism sounds great on paper" and "the truth is somewhere in the middle" lines, half the time i think people just say these things because they heard other people say them and they want to say something, not because they're actually trying to make an argument

my fault for hanging around reddit/twitter

℺ ☽ ⋠ ⏎ (✖), Tuesday, 14 July 2020 01:31 (two months ago) link


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