Oh my, a serious one this week! Controversial! You socialist, lefty bastards! No one has entitlements to your money, right!?
Well, for once, why don’t we have a mature, considered look at what the Communist Manifesto (published in 1848) is all about? Good. Onward, comrade!
The Communist Manifesto
Those of you reading this no doubt know what communism is, so we won’t go into too many details about the short polemic.
Written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, it considers class struggle and the nature of capitalism. Making it rather relevant for modern life.
It’s a social, philosophical, political, and economic ideology. The main goal of which is to reduce the socioeconomic differences we see with capitalism.
In summary, it lays out the problems with free enterprise and its exploitation of the lower classes. And how to rectify that for a fairer society.
The debate about Marx and Engels’ work rages to this day. Seeing that debate fuming online, we generally come across two arguments.
Libertarians, centrists, and right-wingers argue communism is evil and always results in totalitarianism.
Although some of the people we saw stating that also claimed the Nazi party was left wing. “There was absolutely nothing right-wing about the Nazis” we say one bloke write on The Daily Mail site.
For us, it’s difficult to take anti-communists seriously if they’re busy happily voting for Trump or the Tories.
Away from that, someone will claim their hard work and personal brilliance deserves maximum rewards.
Why should you have to depart with your wealth for the sake of the other lazy, less accomplished individuals?
That outlook functions on the belief poor people are a bit lazy. Freeloaders. Which, of course, is total nonsense—for the large part.
There’s only a tiny sect of society that sods about doing nothing. And, frankly, leeching off the state for benefits won’t get you very far at all these days.
Meanwhile, if you’re born into a position of privilege, for example, then it’s easy to just ignore the element of luck and feel smug about your personal successes.
Whereas if that person happened to live in another country, or other less privileged region, then they may struggle in different circumstances.
In short, not everywhere in the world will reward hard work and effort. So capitalism is not, at all, about the best rising to the top.
Look at Donald Trump and his claim he received a “small” $1 million loan from his father. From which, he claims, he built an empire.
Well, it turns out, after New York Times research (or lefty propaganda, depending on who you believe), it was around the region of $60.7 million.
Pretty sure a lot of people could build an empire with that as well, Donald. But perhaps not if they’re on the $7.25 (£6.35) per hour minimum wage in America. But hey ho, if you’re poor you should work harder, right?
That individualistic outlook leads to unchecked greed in the fortunate event where someone hits the big time.
Although, returning to the against debate, you can argue the removal of the free market, from an economic stance, is potentially disastrous.
It could lead to unpredictability and black market shenanigans. Simply as everyone isn’t catered for as supply and demand is set by the government.
The left will typically argue the glaring flaws of big business capitalism, more in evidence than ever the decade following the 2008 financial crash.
A possible solution is democratic socialism, or some adjustment to capitalism to ensure greater wealth distribution.
The left will argue capitalism has led to the ongoing destruction of the environment, which may very well create future wars and unprecedented mass poverty.
In response to that, the right/centrists/libertarians would argue it’s a damn sight better than what communism/socialism would do.
At which point you can nod to Stalinism and various other nations apparently functioning under communism or socialism.
Although we’d argue Stalin’s ideologies were more in line with far-right fascism than Marxism.
Still, the overriding opinion with this camp is communism is pure evil and those who believe in the ideology are depraved.
You Communist Bastard!
In the latter he wrote earnestly:
"Fear of the mob is a superstitious fear. It is based on the idea that there is some mysterious, fundamental difference between the rich and poor, as though they were two different races. From this ignorance a superstitious fear of the mob results quite naturally. The educated man pictures a horde of submen, wanting only a day’s liberty to loot his house, burn his books, and set him to work minding a machine or sweeping out a lavatory. 'Anything,' he thinks, 'any injustice, sooner than let that mob loose.' He does not see that since there is no difference between the mass of rich and poor, there is no question of setting the mob loose. The mob is in fact loose now, and – in the shape of rich men – is using its power to set up enormous treadmills of boredom, such as 'smart' hotels."
Now Orwell was from a comfortable middle class environment. He could have easily sneered down at the working class like so many others do.
He could have rolled out the absurd old adage, “If you’re poor, you should work harder.”
But he went straight into the fray, seeing first hand the nature of poverty.
And in doing so, he alleviated himself of the staggering ignorance we often see regarding the less fortunate.
From our perspective, we look at modern capitalism and see a capricious and deeply unfair system.
One where luck, circumstance, and mental conditions such as narcissistic personality disorders play a major role in delivering success.
In that individualistic push, wealth has become the fairytale ending. As if it’s the answer to all of our dreams.
That outlook has led to quite savage competition, with big businesses ruling all, making it increasingly difficult (if not impossible) for other people to start small businesses. Especially since the 2008 financial crash.
Capitalism, for us, now represents the opportunity for mindless greed. The consequences of which we’ve seen in the UK over since 2010—a decade of austerity and an appalling housing crisis. Brexit.
And now an international pandemic that’s led to our extreme right Tory government adopting socialist practices to ensure there isn’t mass unemployment.
Which may have something to do with how 20 million people here live from paycheck to paycheck, as wages are so low and the cost of living so high.
And with what’s going on in the world, with a shift to the extreme right, nationalism, and more individualism, we see the situation getting worse and worse.
It reminds us of a line from Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Where Dale Harding tells Randle P. McMurphy:
"Never before did I realise that mental illness could have the aspect of power, power. Think of it: perhaps the more insane a man is, the more powerful he could become. Hitler an example. Fair makes the old brain reel, doesn't it?"
We’re democratic socialists, but don’t believe it’ll ever be a big thing. The right-wing tabloids have a habit of whipping readers into a frenzy about what it is.
Socialism is about distributing wealth more fairly in society, ensuring we stop inequality.
Rich people still get to hang onto their precious wealth. It’s just they’ll have a small amount less. Apparently, right now, that’s just far too much to ask.
But with big business capitalism, it’s at the cost of the environment, animal kingdom, and human worth—poverty rates are soaring.
Whatever emerges out of the coronavirus pandemic, we’re hoping it continues this (currently) brief trend towards greater equality. And caring for one another—and humanity’s future.
Communism and socialism may not be the answer. But capitalism sure isn’t working, either, when it’s destroying the environment and generating such mass inequality.
Will post coronavirus lead to a seismic shift towards equality? Well, we’ll find out over the coming years.