Communism and its Collapse (The Making of the Contemporary World)


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Besides contributing to production, each individual also participates in cultural and scientific life, and not just as a consumer of other people's products but as a creator. We have met communist men and women as workers, farmers, hunters, and critics, and Marx now introduces us to the same persons as artists: "The exclusive concentration of artistic talent in some individuals and its suppression in the grand mass which springs from this, is a consequence of the division of labor In a communist society, there are no painters, but men who among other things do painting. Every person in communist society is relieved of the burden of narrowness which plagued his or her ancestors, weavers and painters alike, and given the opportunity to express him or herself in all possible ways.

What applies to painting also applies to science. People in communism relate to other activities ranging from athletics to courting to musing on one's own in the same way. Marx not only ascribes a world of activities to the communist person, but believes they will be very proficient in their performance.

To achieve this is the aim of communist education. As regards painting, for example, he admits that only a few will rise to the level of Raphael. On the other hand, the quality of other people's work will be extremely high; and he maintains, all paintings will be original. Marx would probably be willing to make a similar distinction between average and exceptional ability in science, farming, material production, etc.

Even in communism, people do not have the time to become equally skilled in all tasks. There is just too much to do. Hence, those who spend more time learning surgery will be better surgeons in any social system. Furthermore, people will always posses different intellectual and physical capacities. Yet, despite these admissions, the least gifted people in communism are spoken of as if they are more accomplished than Lemontey's heroes, and do each of their tasks with a high degree of skill. To those who argue that skill is invariably a function of specialization, Marx would probably reply that, in so far as specialization involves learning a body of data and technique, communist people are specialists in many tasks.

The exclusive quality which we associate with specialization is viewed as a social side effect that is destined to disappear. The difference is that the many-sided people living in communism are able to learn a great variety of skills quickly and, hence, to develop a wide range of powers. Another major characteristic of communist society is the high degree of cooperation and mutual concern which is discernable in most human activities.

One indication of this development is simply the increase in the number of things people do in common. Reference has already been made to the "industrial armies" which to the work formerly done by peasants on their own plots. We are not told which activities have a "character that requires they be done communally. Nor do we learn what types of consumption have a "nature that requires communal consumption. Consequently, we don't really know how far Marx would extend his principle in practice. All we can be certain of is that cooperation will cover far more than it does today.

Marx speaks, for example, of new "social organs" coming into existence which are the institutional forms of new social activities as well as new forms adapted for old ones. Of greater significance than the spread of cooperation is the fact that it is qualitatively superior to what goes by the same name in earlier periods. Marx believed that production is social in any society since it is always carried on inside some relationship with other people. However, the cooperation involved varies from tenuous, unconscious and forced, to close, conscious and free.

In communism, interdependence becomes the recognized means to transform the limitations set by what was until now unrecognized interdependence. Because people at this time are "brought into practical connection with the material and intellectual production of the whole world," interdependence is world-wide and grasped as such.

Perhaps nothing in the communist society helps explain the extraordinary cooperation which characterizes this period as much as the individual's new conception of self, which, in turn, could only emerge full blown as a product of such cooperation. In discussing the first stage of communism, we saw that the satisfaction of social needs had become the accepted goal of material production. By full communism, this goal has sunk into the consciousness of each individual, determining how he or she views all the products of his or her work.

Besides the sense of devotedness which comes from feeling oneself a part of a productive unit and the productive unit a part of oneself , each person gives his best because he is aware of the needs of those who use his products and because he conceives of those needs as his own. He realizes that the better he does the more satisfaction he gives. This desire to please is not associated with any sense of duty, but with the satisfaction one gets at this time in helping others. Assuming the role of communist, Marx proclaims, "in your joy or in your use of my product, I would have the direct joy from my good conscience of having, by my work, satisfied a human need This should not be so hard to conceive when we think of how close friends and relatives often get pleasure from the happiness they give each other.

Human togetherness has become its own justification. A third characteristic distinctive of the communist society is the replacement of private property by social ownership in personal as well as public effects. Small businesses, however, still existed at least at the beginning of the first stage, and articles subject to direct consumption were still owned as private property.

Most people attached great value to the particular objects they used for these were not easy to replace, and, in any case, cost money labor vouchers which could be spent on something else. Under such conditions, cooperation did not extend to sharing all that one had with others, and the grasping attitude so prevalent today still had to be reckoned with, though probably less among the proletariat who had fewer material possessions to begin with, than among the small-holding peasants and the remnants of the bourgeoisie. Private property, by its very nature, secures the owner special rights over and against all non-owners.

This is the situation in communism; the clash of competing interests has disappeared and with it the need to claim rights of any sort. We have just seen how aware each communist person is of the effect his actions have on others and how concerned he is with their obtaining satisfaction, both because his own personal needs require it and because he has conceptualized himself as a social being of which they are integral parts.

It is this which allows him to say, "The sense and enjoyment of other men have become my own appropriation. Of private property in land, Marx says, "From the standpoint of a higher economic form of society, private ownership of the globe by single individuals will appear quite as absurd as private ownership of one man by another.

It should be clear that it is never a matter of people depriving themselves for the sake of others. Consumption for all citizens is that which "the full development of the individual requires. Private property has always been based, in a fundamental sense, on the existence of material scarcity. This applies to the dictatorship of the proletariat as well as to earlier periods.

What one man or a few had could not be acquired by the many, because there simply was not enough to go around. Demand exceeds supply; those who Have use the idea of private property and the coercive power of the state to reinforce their position; those who Have Not compete for the social product with every means at their disposal from beggary to revolution.

But, when supply is so plentiful that everyone can have as much of anything as he wants just for the asking and where the things wanted in earlier class societies because of the power and status they represent are no longer wanted , the social relationships that rest on existing scarcity are turned upside down. Who today would begrudge another person a drink of water, or, for that matter, all the water he wants? If water were scarce, however, those who had it would board it, or would charge a price for what they let others use. Water would become an item of private property.

In communism all material goods have become as abundant as water is today. Only on this foundation, can people view whatever they happen to be using at the moment as social objects, as products made by everyone for everyone. There is no longer "mine," "yours," "his," and "hers" but only "ours. Another unique attribute of communist society is the masterly control which human beings exercise over all the forces and objects of nature.

Previously, people were chiefly objects of nature, and their happiness and often their lives depended on their mechanical power and skills, the demand for their work or products, and many other events and processes whose effects were equally uncertain. In communism, Marx declares the task "is to put in place of the supremacy of exterior conditions and of chance over individuals, the supremacy of the individuals over chance and objective conditions.

For Marx, the "laws of nature" which are said to govern us are "founded on the want of knowledge of those whose action is the subject to it. People understand their total environment, how it functions and what its possibilities are. Implicit in Marx's view is the belief that when communist people fully comprehend nature they will not desire anything which stands outside their effective reach. This belief, in turn, is based on his conception of how far people's reach actually extends in communism and accompanying assumptions regarding the creative potential of their cooperation.

Marx is saying, in effect, that much of what people today want to do but cannot will be done under the ideal conditions of communism, that what remains are things which the extraordinary people of this time will not want to do, and most important, that what they will want to do which we do not we caught a glimpse of what this might be in presenting the material prerequisites of communism they will easily accomplish. Yet, so complete is their grasp of the interconnected parts which constitute communist reality that Marx foresees natural science and human science will become one.

In learning about either society or nature, the individual will recognize that he is learning about both. Communist people cannot change the climate or can they?

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As for the rest, Marx seems to believe that a united and cooperating humankind can dominate nature directly, and his conception o the productive potential of industry seems closer to the reality we expect for tomorrow than the one we have today. We are told that "The reality which communism is creating is precisely the real basis for rendering it impossible that anything exist independently of individuals, in so far as things are only a product of the preceding intercourse of individuals themselves.

As for those objects and processes not already a part of human intercourse, Marx declares man, "for the first time, consciously treats all natural premises as the creatures of men, strips them of their natural character and subjugates them to the power of individuals united. Viewing people's ties with nature as logically internal relations over which each person in conjunction with his or her fellows has now gained conscious mastery, Marx can claim that in communism "nature becomes man.

Marx does not supply us with a map of communist topography, so we are left with the notion that physical changes are enormous without knowing in much detail what they are. We have already come across some of them, such as the spatial reorganization of town and countryside. Probably nothing shows the extent to which Marx foresaw human domination over nature better, however, than his comment that language will "submit to the perfect control of individuals.

The key to the individual's newly arrived at domination over nature lies in the peculiar quality of communist cooperation. Marx labels cooperation in any historical period a "productive force," which is a way of saying that the form of social interaction as such is partly responsible for the quantity and quality of its products.

According to Marx, "It is just this combination of individuals assuming the advanced stage of modern productive forces, of course which puts the conditions of the free development and movement of individuals under their control. A fifth striking feature of communism is the absence of external rules and with it of all forms of coercion and discipline.

Aside from work in factories and on farms, none of the activities people engage in at this time are organized by others, from outside; that is to say, there is nothing they must do and no predetermined manner or time restrictions they must follow in doing it. On the other hand, coordination is the minimal demand which social production, per se makes on all its participants. Hence, some organization, headed by someone whose job it is to coordinate productive tasks, is required of every society. According to Marx, "in all kinds of work where there is cooperation of many individuals, the connection and the unity of the process are necessarily represented in a will which commands and in functions which, as for the leader of an orchestra, are not concerned with partial efforts, but with the collective activity.

It is therefore a productive work which must be accomplished in any mode of combined production. However, even in production, the organization which Marx foresees in communism is a far cry from what exists today. Though factories and farms still possess managers, their duties are simply to coordinate the efforts of those who work under them; they act as leaders of an orchestra.

Since people in communism are frequently changing jobs, we can assume that at one time or another almost everyone will serve as a manager. The orchestra which is being directed is always willing and enthusiastic, since its goals and those of the manager are the same, viz. In capitalism, workers do as little and as shoddy a job as they can get away with and their bosses are constantly after them to work even more and harder than they could if they were really trying.

In communism, laziness, which Marx views as an historically conditioned phenomenon, would die a natural death. Marx claims fines, dismissals, threats, etc. Marx claims such discipline "will become superfluous under a social system in which laborers work for their own account, as it has already become practically superfluous in piece-work. What have we learned about work in communism? Without coercion and full of mutual concern, in pleasant surroundings and for relatively short periods each day week?

Frequently changing tasks, they find both joy and fulfillment in their cooperation ands its momentous achievements. Unlike Fourier, however, who compares work in communism to play, Marx says it will be earnest and intense effort as befits any truly creative activity.

If this qualification places work in the realm of necessity, however, it doesn't follow that work is an un-free activity. In his most forthright statement on this subject, Marx calls human freedom "the positive power to assert his true individuality. Consequently, Marx can speak of work in this period as the "activity of real freedom.

If people in communism are so cooperative that the only productive organization is that minimum required by economic efficiency, then, we may expect that even this minimum will disappear in the non-work areas of life. In one listing, we learn that soldiers, policemen, hangmen, legislators, and judges are equally unnecessary "under proper conditions of society.

With the sole exception of production, all forms of organization adopted in the dictatorship of the proletariat serve in the role of Wittgenstein's ladder for communist people; they enable them to climb into communism, only to be discarded then they get there. Perfect success is too much to ask from the full-time job Marx gives each communist person of being his brother's keeper.

Marx declares that, "under human conditions, punishment will really be nothing but the sentence passed by the culprit on himself. There will be no attempt to persuade him that violence from without, exerted on him by others, is violence on himself by himself. On the contrary, he will see in other men his natural saviors from the sentence which he has pronounced on himself; in other words the relation will be reversed. Guilt is a burden that can only be removed by others. In communism, society's role has changed from punishing wrong-doers to reassuring and soothing them to help relieve their self-inflicted anguish.

We should not be surprised to learn that in these conditions there is no place for a state. Simply put, the state withers away because there is nothing further for it to do. The main work of the dictatorship of the proletariat was to destroy all remnants of capitalism and to construct the foundations for full communism. Laws, organization, discipline, coercion, etc. But now communism is the reality, and capitalism is history. Marx says, "When, in the course of development, class distinctions have disappeared, and all production has been concentrated in the hands of associated individuals, the public power will lose its political character.

Political power, properly so called, is merely the organized power of one class for oppressing another.

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Marx rephrases this question to read, "What social functions will remain in existence there that are analogous to present functions of the state? The three main functions of any state are legislation, adjudication, and administration. Of legislation, Marx says, in communism all forms of parliamentarism will be "ranged under the category of nuisances. They are battlefields of the class struggle, battlefields on which the ruling economic class, obtaining its majority by means fair and foul, legislates repeated defeats for the opposition.

But the people of communism are agreed on all the subjects which could possibly come before a parliament. Where interests merge and decisions are unanimous it is not necessary to go through the formality of counting hands.

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Further-more, all really major decisions, those bearing on the structure of communism itself, have already been taken by this time. People have what they want, that is, communism, and there is nothing for a legislature, whose main function is to make changes, to change. Whatever minor adjustments are required are at best undertaken by the people on the spot, directly. The judicial arm of government, too, is based on an assumption of necessary conflict between people. From the quasi-sanctification of a raised bench, the ruling class, in the person of some of its more pompous representatives, renders biased interpretations of one-sided laws.

But if this conflict doesn't exist? A typical case which comes before courts everywhere is a suit for injuries. Rather than insisting on revenge or compensation, our victim would probably join with co-workers and neighbors to east the guilt of the person who injured him. All "claims for damages" will be dispensed with in this way, by the people concerned directly. The other cases which come before our courts today, those involving murder, robbery, kidnapping, forgery, etc. They have been made either impossible, since everything people want is free and legal papers which secure special rights and powers don't exist, or unnecessary, since there is nothing people want that requires such anti-social measures.

What, then, is the need for the courts? The case of the administration is a bit more complicated. One main function of the administrative branch of government is to enforce the laws. In communist society, where there are no laws and where social norms are accepted and heeded by all, this function no longer exists. But another task remains which is comparable to the coordination provided by factory managers.

In the area of production, communist society as a whole, like its individual enterprises, will require the general supervision of managers. Duplication was well as gaps in production and services have to be prevented. Coordinating efforts, therefore, will be needed at all the major crossroads of social life, wherever, in fact, a traffic director is useful in helping people get where they want to go. Some might argue that this coordinating function conceals acts of legislation and adjudication, and that administrators are the new law-givers and judges of this period, but communism is unique in having administrators and administered who are striving to achieve the same ends.

Their mutual trust and concern with one another are likewise complete. Consequently, the minor alterations and judgements required are accepted as expression of a common will. Recall, too, that each individual has come to conceive of his fellows as parts of himself, as extensions of his nature as a social being, so even when he is not directly involved in administration he feels himself involved through his relations with those who are. Furthermore, since the activity of coordinating social life at its various levels is something everyone will undertake at some time or another, there is no special strata of administrators.

To describe this state of affairs in terms of "legislature," laws," courts," etc. This work of administration, more properly of coordination, is the only function in communism which is analogous to the duties of a modern state. Distributing these administrative tasks takes place through an election which Marx describes as a "business matter.

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In any case, victory does not "result in any domination. In these conditions, Marx is able to claim, "The whole people will govern; there will be no one to be governed. Could a complex industrial society by run in this manner? Marx believed it could not be run as effectively in any other. After all, many of the worst administrative complexities are byproducts of present social organization and its accompanying attitudes. The extensive red-tape bureaucracies for which modern day "socialist" countries are noted do not offer any indication of what to expect when the special conditions Marx lays down for communism have been fulfilled.

Likewise, a great deal of administrative calculation in government as elsewhere is devoted to getting people to obey rules they don't like, deciding what incentives to offer and how to punish slackers; manipulations connected with improving the position of privileged segments of the ruling class or trying to harmonize competing social interests are other components of existing complexity.

With new aims and standards, and, above all, new communist people, most of what makes social administration an unfathomable labyrinth will disappear. Simple cooperation within each functional social unit together with single purpose coordination between them provides communism as an advanced industrial society with all the "administration" it requires.

Sixth and last, communist society is also unique in the kind of human groups it has and doesn't have. No doubt, for many people a world where these distinctions cannot be made is inconceivable. Yet, this is just the situation Marx introduces us to in communism. First of all, our glove is no longer divided into countries. One should recognize, however, that the term "nation" has been imported from the vocabulary of another time. The world as a nation performs none of the functions associated with the nations of old. Both as a producer and as a consumer, the individual is profoundly affected by the disappearance of the sate.

If art can free itself of the limiting effect of customs, so can material production and indeed everything else people do once the constraints of nationhood and nationalism are removed. I have already noted Marx's belief that everyone will eventually speak a single language.

Latin and Latin culture have enriched the lives of millions long after the decline of the Roman empire, and I expect the same fate awaits most other tongues and traditions which are now widespread. The cosmopolitanism of people as producers is matched by their new cosmopolitanism as consumers. People are able to use and fully appreciate all manner of products. Of this period, Marx says, "Only then will the separate individuals be liberated from the various national and local barriers, be brought into practical connection with the material and intellectual production of the whole world and be put in a position to acquire the capacity to enjoy this all-sided production of the whole earth the creations of man.

Religious divisions between people have also ceased to exist in communism with the demise of all mystical beliefs. Superstition has given way to science, and individual fear and weakness to the power of the community. What Marx calls "the witchery of religion" is no more. The truth is that religion has stopped being a matter of concern. People are neither for nor against it; they are disinterested.

As with the state, religion simply withers away as its functions, particularly of explanation and compensation, disappear. The distinction between city-bred and country-bred people also falls by the wayside in communism where the whole countryside is spotted with cities and cities are equally invaded by the countryside. Divisions between people on the basis of class were practically non-existent in the first stage of communism, where everyone was already a worker.

In one place, Marx goes so far as to claim that with everyone engaged in productive work classes cease to exist. As for setting people apart because of their occupations, this went out with permanent occupations. Each person in communism engages in a variety of productive tasks.

Probably the least known of Marx's projections for communism has to do with the end of racial divisions. Marx did not enjoy floundering so deeply in the unknown; nevertheless, his single expression of opinion on this subject is very forthright. While discussing the effect of environment, Marx says, "The capacity for development of infants depends on the development of parents and all the mutilations of individuals, which are an historical product of ancient social conditions, are equally capable of being historically avoided.

Even the natural diversity of species, as for example the differences of race, etc. Marx spoke of the "earthly family" being destroyed "both in theory and practice" in communism. Marx is guilty of none of these sins. To begin with, the form of the family that he claims will disappear is the bourgeois family.

According to him, this is a form based on capital and private gain, in which economic advantage is the main reason for entering marriage, in which the male has practically all the rights, in which parents have almost totally power over their children, and in which the stifling closeness between members of the family excludes most kinds of intimacy with other people.

It is in this sense that Marx maintains the family had practically ceased to exist among the proletariat. The communist alternative to the family is never stated very clearly, but it can be pieced together from Marx's scattered comments on this subject. Its main features appear to be group living, monogamous sexual relationships, and the communal raising of children. The group living aspect is apparent from Marx's contrast of the family with what he calls a "communal domestic economy.

Whether people eat in communal dining rooms, sleep in the same building, share household tasks, etc. A great deal of the abuse leveled against communism has been directed at what is really a phantom of the bourgeois imagination. The abolition of the family and free love, that is indiscriminate sexual activity by both sexes, are almost always joined together in the minds of those who criticize communism.

Marx, however, opposes sexual promiscuity at least for adults both for the society in which he lives and for communism. His hostility to the sexual antics of the bourgeoisie and the sarcasm with which he treats charges of the same in communism are clear evidence of this. The universal love which was alluded to in our discussion of cooperation in communism odes not include engaging indiscriminately in the sexual act, for Marx acknowledges there will continue to be something like unrequited love and calls it a misfortune.

To grasp Marx's views on this subject, it is necessary to see that he is wholly on the side of love and lovers, that he demands a full quality for both partners, and that he views sexual love in communism as the highest expression of the new kind of relationship which exists between all people in this period. In The Holy Family , that extended review of Eugene Sue's novel Mysteries of Paris , Marx sides time and time again with the most sensual characters, with those who can and want to love. The communal raising of children is never mentioned explicitly, but can be deduced from other aspects of communist life which seem to require it.

For Marx, aside from minor differences due to heredity, a child's development is determined by his or her environment, an important part of which is the parental home. In capitalism, parents have considerable control over their children's health, education, work, marriage, etc. In communism, parents will no longer be allowed to exercise a destructive influence on their children. This does not mean that they will be forcibly separated form their young. Given communist sociality, that is without the pervading selfishness and emotional insecurity which characterize current parent-child relations, communist parents will want a community no less perfect for their children than the one they construct for themselves.

Not only children, of course, but adults as well require special conditions to realize their full human potential. We have already seen the importance Marx attaches to free time. Though he never deals with the drain children are on their parents, particularly on mothers, he surely was aware of it. Already living in the "communal domestic economy," the arrangement which seems best suited to permit self-realization of young and old alike is some kind of communal raising of children.

Parents and children simply spend as much time together and apart as their respective development requires. Unlike today, however, the time together is no longer rooted in necessary work and customary duties, but in the same desire to satisfy common needs which characterizes all social contact in the communist society. It should be clear by now that Marx is far more precise about the social and other division which will disappear in communism than about what will replace them.

Nations, religions, geographical sections, classes, occupations, races and families are to disappear, but what new social categories will emerge? Before attempting an answer it is important to specify that Marx viewed all such division as barriers to the direct contact between people and, therefore, to the fulfillment of human potential in so far as it requires this contact.

With the overturning of these barriers, people can see, appreciate, and react to each other as individuals, rather than as members of the groups into which they were either born or educated.

People can no longer be treated as instances of a kind when the kinds of which they are instances themselves disappear. Erasing social lines per se , then, is a major task of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and fusion of the once separate and distinct social categories is one of the surest signs that communism has arrived. However, even communism contains boundary lines of a sort which allow some distinctions between people to be made. From what has been said, it would appear that these new subdivisions, like the social organs they contain, are consciously designed functional units which merely express the most efficient and human ways of getting things done.

The factory, the communal domestic economy, and the industrial army for agriculture are examples of the functional units into which communist society is divided. With people changing jobs as often as they do, however, it is unlikely that a person will carry one work place label for very long.

I suspect that distinctions based on membership in communal domestic economies are of a more durable nature, since home groups are likely to be more permanent than work groups. These boundary lines in communist society are never barriers to direct human contact. For though they aid us in making passing distinctions between individuals, they do not really substitute for our understanding of them as people, as the corresponding attributes do in earlier periods.

The difference is that everyone at this time possesses or could easily acquire the credentials for membership in any group. Thus, when discussing communism, Marx dismisses its particular associations and directs all his remarks to the species, to human beings who are forever dividing and re-dividing society in pursuit of human goals. Our reconstruction of communism is now complete, or as complete as Marx's diverse comments permit.

As a way of life, communism develops in people extraordinary qualities which are themselves necessary for this way of life to operate. What are these qualities? She he is, in short, a brilliant, highly rational and socialized, humane and successful creator. In a terminology preferred by a younger Marx, this is the accomplished figure who "brings his species powers out of himself" and "grasps the human nature of need," the same who "appropriates his total essence Each part of this description of people in communism can serve as the full account once its relations with the whole are recognized.

An individual could only engage successfully in so many activities if he cooperates with his fellows at every turn, treats all material objects as belonging to the group, enjoys the requisite power over natures, etc. In the same way, he can only exercise communist sociality if he is able to do a variety of tasks with the ease of an expert, treat objects as "ours," and the rest.

Just as no aspect of communist life can arise independently, none of the qualities ascribed to communist people can emerge alone. As internally related parts of an organic whole, each assumes and is based on the presence of all. The qualities and life Marx ascribes to the people of communism represent a complete victory over the alienation that has characterized humanity's existence throughout class society, reaching its culmination in the relations between workers and capitalists in modern capitalism.

At the core of alienation is the separation of the individual from the conditions of human existence, chiefly his activities particularly production , their real and potential products, and other people. As a result of class divisions and accompanying antagonisms, people have lost control over all social expressions of their humanity, grossly misunderstanding them in the process, coming eventually to service the "needs" of their own creations. Viewing whatever people do and use to satisfy their needs and realize their powers as elements of human nature, the progressive dismemberment of human nature alienation becomes identical with the stunting and distortion of potential in each real individual.

The bringing together or reunification on a higher technological plane of the elements of human nature that earlier societies had torn asunder begins with the revolution, gains momentum in the dictatorship of the proletariat, and is only completed in full communism. To the extent that social life remains split up separated by barriers of occupation, religion, family, etc. As opposites, alienation and communism serve as necessary points of reference for each other. A theoretically adequate description of communism, therefore, would have to include an extended account of alienation.

I have offered such an account elsewhere. The question that remains is how to evaluate Marx's vision of communism. Experience is not a relevant criterion, though the history of the species should make us sensitive to the enormous flexibility of human needs and powers. It is no use to say though people continue to say it that such a society has never existed and that the people Marx depicts have never lived.

The communist society is the ultimate achievement of a long series of developments which begin with the socialist appropriation of the capitalist mode of production. Its distinctive characteristics evolve gradually out of the programs adopted in the dictatorship of the proletariat and the new relationships and possibilities established. Likewise, the extraordinary qualities Marx ascribes to the people of communism could never exist outside of the unique conditions which give rise to them, and given these conditions the development of other qualities, certainly of opposing qualities, simply makes no sense.

One can only state the unproven assumptions on which this expected flowering of human nature rests. These are that the individual's potential is so varied and great; that people possess an inner drive to realize all this potential; that the whole range of powers in each person can be fully realized together; and that the overall fulfillment of each individual is compatible with that of all others.

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Given how often and drastically the development and discovery of new social forms has extended accepted view of what is human, I think it would be unwise at this time to foreclose on the possibility that Marx's assumptions are correct. There is really only one way to evaluate Marx's vision of communism and that is to examine his analysis of capitalism to see if the communist society is indeed present within it as an unrealized potential.

If Marx sought, as he tells us, "to find the new world through the criticism of the old," then any judgment of his views on communism rests in the last analysis on the validity of his critique of capitalism. This is not the place for the extensive examination that is required but I would like to offer three guidelines to those who would undertake it: 1 capitalism must be conceptualized in terms of social relations, Marx's way of incorporating the actual past and future possibilities of his subject into his study of its present forms this is the logical basis of Marx's study of history, including future history, as a process ; 2 a Marxist analysis of today's capitalism should be integrated into Marx's analysis of late 19th century capitalism the social relations from which projections are made must be brought up to date ; and 3 one should not try to show that communism is inevitable, only that it is possible, that it is based on conditions inherent in the further development of our present ones.

After all, communism is hardly ever opposed because one holds other values, but because it is said to be an unrealizable ideal. In these circumstances, making a case for communism as a possible successor to capitalism is generally enough to convince people that they must help to bring it about. Letters to the Editor. Class Struggle Board Game. Curriculum Vitae. Printable version of this page. Marx's Vision of Communism Marx's Vision of Communism By Bertell Ollman I Marcuse argues that, in the middle of the twentieth century, utopia remains an impossible dream only to those theorists who use "the concept of 'utopia' to denounce certain socio-historical possibilities.

II Marx divides the communist future into halves, a first stage generally referred to as the "dictatorship of the proletariat" and a second stage usually called "full communism. IV Marx's description of economic life in the new society is as general in incomplete as his discussion of its political forms. V With the intensification and completion of the various aspects of life and organization associated with the first stage, the second stage of communism gradually makes its appearance.

IX Sixth and last, communist society is also unique in the kind of human groups it has and doesn't have. Shapiro and S. Webber Boston, , p. And ed. Easton and K. Guddat N. Though Marx considered revolution the most likely possibility, he lists England, the United States and Holland as countries where socialism might be attained by "peaceful means," H.

Gerth, ed. Pascal London, , p. Engels, in a letter written shortly before his death goes so far as to say that it is impossible to provide details on communism "without falling into utopianism or empty phrasemaking," Marx and Engels, Werke XXXIX Berlin, , p. Such a view of attempts to describe the future was also a part of Marx's Hegelian heritage. Hegel had said, "since philosophy is the exploration of the rational, it is for that reason the apprehension of the present and actual, not the erection of a beyond, supposed to exist, God knows where, or rather which exists, and we can perfectly well say where, namely in the error of a one-sided empty ratioacination.

Hegel, Philosophy of Right , trans. Knox Oxford, , p. Marx and Engels, Briefwechsel I Berlin, , p. Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto , trans. Moore Chicago, , pp. According to Marx capitalism created a "vast number of employments, at present indispensable, but in themselves superfluous. Moore and E. Aveling Moscow, , p. German Ideology. Marx goes on to explain that "The town in actual fact is the concentration of the population, of the instruments of production, of capital, of pleasures, of needs, while the country demonstrates just the opposite fact, their isolation and separation.

German Ideology , p. Capital I , p. Labor being as proper for the body's health as eating is for its living; A childish silly employ He also says that "technical instruction, both theoretical and practical, will take its proper place in working class schools. Capital III , p. Marx strongly approved of the factory laws passed by the Paris Commune. Capital , p. Kautsky Stuttgart, , pp. Capital II , p. Reform' from Within and its read communism and its collapse making of. The' Luther-Affair' and its Context8.

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Communism and its Collapse (The Making of the Contemporary World) Communism and its Collapse (The Making of the Contemporary World)
Communism and its Collapse (The Making of the Contemporary World) Communism and its Collapse (The Making of the Contemporary World)
Communism and its Collapse (The Making of the Contemporary World) Communism and its Collapse (The Making of the Contemporary World)
Communism and its Collapse (The Making of the Contemporary World) Communism and its Collapse (The Making of the Contemporary World)
Communism and its Collapse (The Making of the Contemporary World) Communism and its Collapse (The Making of the Contemporary World)
Communism and its Collapse (The Making of the Contemporary World) Communism and its Collapse (The Making of the Contemporary World)
Communism and its Collapse (The Making of the Contemporary World) Communism and its Collapse (The Making of the Contemporary World)

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