The REDSTAR2000 Papers

Listen to the worm of doubt, for it speaks truth. - Leftist Discussion

Communist Society -- Some Brief Reflections March 6, 2004 by RedStar2000

While it could be 50 years or more into the future before major proletarian revolutions (most probably in western Europe) actually begin to build communist societies, we still love to speculate about the possible features of such societies.

I yield to temptation just as readily as the next person, so here is a small collection of posts on this endlessly fascinating subject.

What will things be like when we are free at last?



My U.S. Govt. teacher brought something up that caught my attention. He said that communism won't work because their belief is that everyone will pitch in their money and then this money will be equally distributed to the people. What happens about the lazy people and the people who don't work? They get the same as someone who works his ass off?

In capitalism, it's all about self-improvement and being on the top and that creates motivation to try hard and do well.

Have you ever noticed that when capitalists/pro-capitalists talk about "self-improvement", they always mean getting more money?

How does it "improve" a human being to "get more money"? Is Rupert Murdoch or Bill Gates a "better" human than you or me or even your rather ignorant "teacher"?

Be that as it may, let's talk about the folks "who work their ass off" and the "lazy parasites" who sit around with their thumbs up their ass. Is this really a meaningful distinction?

I do not think it is...I think it's yet another one of those "fake dichotomies" that bourgeois ideology generates to justify the existence of class society.

In capitalism, most people who "work their ass off" actually do so not from a motive of "self-improvement" but out of a fear of degradation...of being shoved down into the ranks of the desperately poor. No matter how much they accumulate--indeed even when they have wealth that they could not spend in a lifetime--they feel the "mental lash" of insecurity. They work as hard as they can until they drop dead.

Now, let's look at those "lazy parasites". The reason they "don't want to work" is obvious and rational under capitalism: no amount of hard work will suffice to ever lift them out of the ranks of the desperately poor.

Did you know that most of the people who buy lottery tickets are poor? Why? Because a small chance of escaping the shit zone is better than no chance.

What about those people, however small their numbers really are, who "work their way up out of the shit"?

I think you will find upon examination that there are two explanations: 1. they used the unpaid labor of their own family members to accumulate capital...the little ethnic grocery store on the corner is a fairly common phenomenon under capitalism; or 2. they "won" the approval of someone substantially higher-up in the class system who proceeded to take this "deserving poor person" "under their wing", providing necessary financial support and an introduction into the personal networks of at least the lower levels of the ruling class. One such individual is currently a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court...a world class suck-cess.

Category 2, by the way, definitely includes people of genuine talent and ability...not everyone who escapes from the shit is a simple-minded sycophant. But talent and ability are secondary; even a total mediocrity "can make it" provided they have carefully selected their "sponsor" and are really skilled at the arts of flattery. And provided they are lucky...for every one who suck-ceeds, many fail and end up back in the shit.

The ruling class has a very limited number of apprenticeships available.

Now consider the situation in the era of proletarian revolution in the advanced capitalist countries. Most people will be in the shit...and with no practical means of escape. Class struggle will be constant; the old order will be visibly collapsing.

When the revolution occurs, there will be a tremendous incentive for everyone to work...just to restore the norms of a technological society. People will want the electricity back on, the water back on, public transportation restored, food gathered and distributed...and those things won't happen unless people take the initiative to make them happen. So, at first, there will be no "lazy parasites" (except some predatory criminals...who will be summarily shot) because there is no "surplus" to support them.

If, as I expect, people proceed more or less at once to the establishment of a classless society (perhaps over five years or so), those who "want" to be "lazy" will have the chance to do so...and the only people who will "work their ass off" will be those who enjoy what they do so much that it's not really "work" to them at all.

I've seen suggestions to the effect that with the present long-term growth in the means of production, it will be possible by 2020 to introduce the 8-hour week. Yes, a "work-week" of 8 hours!

I won't go into the assumptions behind this number or the additional assumptions that would be required to make it practical. The point is that what we consider "hard-working" and "lazy" now will be very different by the time proletarian revolution and communist society is "on history's immediate agenda".

This is the kind of "phase-change" that is quite beyond the imagination of Leninists and bourgeois socialists alike. They see the future as a simple linear extension of the present; the word "revolution" may or may not be in their vocabulary, the concept literally "makes no sense" to them.

Like the capitalists, they see "self-improvement" as accumulation and regard the common folk as worthless without an occasional or even frequent taste of the whip or chain.

Will people be "lazy" under communism? The answer is almost certainly yes!

With high technology at their service, with no ruling class to support, with no need to produce enormous amounts of junk or supply "personal services" to their "betters", people will "work" at what they most enjoy...and much of that enjoyment will actually come from the knowledge that they are doing something genuinely useful and worthwhile, and doing it well.

As an aside, may I offer the capitalist definition of "a lazy sod"? "That's a guy who doesn't work hard at what I want him to do."

That's me!
First posted at Che-Lives on October 8, 2003


"What if I wanted an X-box or some kind of entertainment the government doesn't supply, where do I get it?"

Like many "simple" questions, the answers are pretty complicated.

In communist society, the "government" doesn't supply people with anything...there is no government in the sense that socialists use the word.

Where do "X-boxes" come from? From collectives that have decided that making X-boxes is a useful and enjoyable activity. How do you get one? You ask them to give you one. They will.

Suppose you want something that nobody makes. Then you ask around for some collective that makes something "like" what you want, and you ask them to make what you really want. And they might say yes and they might say no.

And if all you get is negative responses, then you may just have to make it yourself...along with others who also want it. And it may turn out to be fun. And it may even turn out to be thought useful and desirable by which case people will ask you to make them one.

And you'll do it...because making good things for people gives you a good feeling. And people will like and respect you more.

And since you don't have to worry about money (there isn't any) or your own basic needs (free for the asking), then what really counts is the pleasure you take in your work and the applause of those who use what you make.

Communism is very different from anything that you've ever heard of before.
First posted at Che-Lives on October 8, 2003

I think the most striking difference between today's system and a post-revolutionary system would be the non-existence of a "legal profession" permanent lawyers, judges, etc.

Instead, it would be ordinary people who would undertake these functions as they were needed and on a temporary basis.

They would have help, of course. A data-base of crimes and punishments would give them a list of similar crimes and punishments to the case they were they'd have something to go by.

But ultimately they'd decide matters on the merits of the case before them.


A and B lived as partners but one day they got in to an argument that turned physical leaving B in hospital with severe bruising and two broken ribs. Now his case is brought before the jury and he confesses and tells you that he had had too much to drink and had lost control. So all that remains fore the jury(you) to decide is the punishment.What shall it be?

1. Is B female? Or a much smaller and weaker male? In general, the greater the disparity in size between A and B, the harsher the punishment of A is likely to be.

2. Has A done this before? Gotten drunk and beaten people up? Or threatened to?

3. Is there a medical treatment available (a patch, for example) that makes it bio-chemically impossible to become drunk no matter how much alcohol you consume?

4. Are there any good things that can be said about A...or is he just generally thought to be an asshole and this is just the latest example?

5. What kinds of punishments does this community customarily inflict for various offenses...and do any of them "fit" this particular situation? What do other communities do with their drunken assholes?

You can see there are a lot of factors to be taken into consideration -- you couldn't just automatically say "Class C Assault -- 60 days! Next case."

That's one of the things that's fucked up about what we have now.
First posted at Che-Lives on February 23, 2004

Tough question!

In some ways, I think "change" would slow down a lot. There would be no pressure to come up with a "new product" every six months or every year in order to "boost sales". (There wouldn't be anything for sale.)

You know that most of the time, these "new products" represent only tiny improvements or even simply style changes in already existing products.

On the other hand, when a change was introduced, it would be pretty significant...a huge number of existing products and techniques might be rendered obsolete "overnight".

Imagine people had been using MS-DOS for a decade and suddenly Windows XP is introduced.

Big difference!

But that's only one possible scenario and there are certainly others.

For example, with a good deal of "de-centralization" could come an explosion of human creativity...and the pace of change could be even faster under communism than it is now.

One thing that won't happen: people going back to some sort of idyllic pastoral existence. History suggests rather strongly that people won't retreat from a "high-tech" to a "low-tech" society unless they are bombed into it. And even if that happens, they'll do the best they can to restore the "high-tech" society as quickly as they can.

"Low-tech" life really sucks!
First posted at Che-Lives on February 26, 2004

I'm not exactly sure if this meets your criteria, but one of the "long-range" plans that I'd like to see communist society follow would be the "de-suburbanization" of the population.

I think this could be most easily accomplished by the building of very large numbers of what would be considered today to be luxury apartment houses -- large, well-constructed, spacious and comfortable, really well sound-proofed walls, swimming pools, etc.

With something like this to offer, we could attract people back to the cities, reduce the use of private cars, let the land either go back to nature or farm it, etc.

It might take 50 years or so, but I think it would contribute to the well-being of the population and also to the well-being of the environment.
First posted at Che-Lives on February 26, 2004

Naturally, I think we would treat people differently based on their actions under the old system.

Leading political figures from the old regime would be obvious candidates for execution...particularly if they were implicated in repressive actions directed against the working class. Under no circumstances should we accept any promises from them to "co-operate" with the revolution.

This would also be true for leading figures from the corporate world -- including those who "managed the assets" of rich people who were not actively involved in business themselves. Anyone on the board of directors or in "top management" of a "Fortune 500" company is certainly a major criminal of some kind and deserves a date with a firing squad.

If Petrograd (February 1917) is any guide, those who violently fight against the revolution "to the bitter end" will be the may be an act of simple prudence to shoot them all.

Naturally, the wealthy should be promptly stripped of all their wealth insofar as that is possible. Their mansions should be closed down and they themselves relocated to ordinary housing. Their vehicles should be confiscated by the nearest commune for public use...perhaps as taxis.

After these essential measures, things get a little fuzzier. A large number of people will be "guilty" of no "crime" other than being born into a ruling class or even petty-bourgeois family -- I see little point in repressive measures directed against them after they've been despoiled of their wealth...unless, of course, we actually catch them actively plotting a counter-revolution.

The Bolsheviks often actively discriminated against the sons and daughters and even the grandsons and granddaughters of the old aristocracy or the old bourgeoisie...I don't think that was a terribly useful thing to do. You might want to keep a careful eye on them for a generation or two...because some of them will resent their "class demotion" and "retaliate" by engaging in counter-revolutionary activity. But if they engage in productive activity and stay clear of the vermin, I think they should be treated equally. We shouldn't punish kids for "the sins of their fathers".

A special category is that of well-known public apologists for capitalism, racism, religion, fascism, etc. They must be completely deprived of any further role in "public life" (access to the media, access to the internet, public appearances, etc.). If they can't stay off the "stage", then they should be exiled or shot. (One good place to exile an asshole that no other country is willing to take: drive the bastard to the front gate of a foreign embassy, pitch him inside, and refuse to let him out.)

There are other complications, of course, but you get the general idea.
First posted at Che-Lives on February 26, 2004
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