Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Two Problems for Would-Be Communists

Under communism, the slogan is "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." There are two problems if you are going to go that way. The first is, how are you going to get people to work without the profit motive. You are going to get what you need regardless of whether you work hard, or goldbrick. The second problem has to do with how you decide who needs what. In communist countries, the Communist Party (the vanguard of the Proletariat), decided what people needed, and, unsurprisingly, they decided the Communist Party needed more than non-Party members.


B. Prokop said...

And that, among other reasons, is why the Soviet Union ultimately failed. For a time (in the 1930's mostly) they believed that love of country and enthusiasm for building a New Society would replace the profit motive, but despite really massive attempts at social engineering aimed at creating homo soveticus, the effort was demonstrably a dismal failure.

The only brief period in which such methods worked at all were the war years, where the entire nation worked like crazy to defeat the Nazi invaders.

shiningwhiffle said...

I don't think the failure of communist countries is an indictment of communism so much as Marx and Engel's faith in the "dictatorship of the proletariat." Having so much power in so few hands is precisely what communists are ultimately trying to get rid of. What failed was the transitional state.

The profit motive critique is much better, but even there I think there's room for a communist to respond provided they back down from the insistence on ideological purity and accepts that some barter within and between communes is inevitable and harmless.

tl;dr: Libertarian communism might not have those problems.

mattghg said...

Four legs good, two legs better!