You know, I’m not a communist, but I have to admit the idea has a fair amount of appeal. Too bad it hasn’t worked, but then, it’s not like the form of capitalism we have in this country is really working either. That’s why, even though I wasn’t a fan of the Soviet Union, I think the a lot of the anti-communist propaganda of the Cold War went too far. It’s one thing to criticize communism as an economic and political system, but another to dismiss even the parts of the theory that might actually work. It’s sad that, even today, the rich and powerful can utilize fear of communism to make sure the rich stay rich and the poor poor. It’s like the elite basically said, “Hey, that hippie sharing crap just led to dictatorships in the Soviet Bloc, so that means being greedy and ruthless must be the way to go!” And a lot of people who really don’t benefit from this kind of system buy into it. Hey, dude with the misspelled sign, you’re not in the top two percent of wage earners, and socialized medicine would probably lower your costs! But the Haves can still keep the Have-Nots down by convincing them that a single-payer health care system and a minimum wage you can actually live on are the same as electing Josef Stalin as President. And hey, I’m for free enterprise, but I don’t think people should be forced into it. If you want to run your own business, more power to you. But some of us have no knowledge or skills in business, and just don’t want to play that game. A major problem with our system is that it doesn’t just allow competition, but forces people into it.
Anyway, the Norman Cohn book that I just recently finished referred to Marxism a few times, and I think there’s a strong connection between Karl Marx’s beliefs and the millennial cults of Germany in the Middle Ages. There was a time before private property, and this time would inevitably come again, but it would require the poor to take control from the rich. This is the same kind of stuff the apocalyptic believers were always on about. The main difference that I see is that the millennial cults tied the abolition of private property in with the second coming of Jesus, while Marx was an atheist. His was essentially an apocalyptic vision without the religion, so it’s no wonder that communism kind of comes across as a movement with a religious following, except without the god part. It’s interesting that, during the Cold War, some people viewed the struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union as that of good Christians against godless communists, when one of the greatest things about this country is that you DON’T have to follow any one particular religion. And as much as the Soviets claimed that communism was an atheistic movement, they still maintained ties to the Russian Orthodox Church. And really, a philosophy that taught helping the poor, giving up your possessions, a future paradise, and that the meek would inherit the Earth…I’m not sure you could much closer to what Jesus preached! Jesus, however, thought that this would be accomplished largely through divine magic, while Marx left it in the hands of humans. Still, when both Christianity and communism were incorporated into government structure, they were changed quite radically. In fact, what happened in countries that adopted communism was that those in charge altered it so that they’d stay in charge, and the poor and powerless would stay that way.
You know, almost the opposite of what Marx actually endorsed. Not that I think pure Marxism would have worked either, but it would have been ineffective for different reasons.