Communism and capitalism are natural enemies, intrinsically linked through their intolerance of the other. Communism as defined by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels is a pervasive and powerful political reality. Though perhaps someday it will fail as an economic institution, society will never be left absent of the ideas or the values associated with communism. To ignore or censor it would be both ill advised and reckless; rather the idea must be discussed openly and as often as its proponents merit a challenge. As capitalists, we must either constantly defend our current way of life against communism, or adopt it as a greater template for our own economic system. Though written soundly and argued for deftly in The Communist Manifesto, communism falls inferior to capitalism on a personal, governmental, and economic level.
Governmental corruption is a major problem for communistic countries. Marx and Engels believe incorrectly that when wage-laborers, the proletariat, revolt against those who control their means of production, the bourgeois, the latter class will be utterly destroyed. If all goes as called for by The Communist Manifesto, and private property is abolished while industry is centralized, then the revolution will have simply created one supreme bourgeoisie - the government. So this revolution would be a farce. Just as the bourgeois recruited the serfs to fight against the kings nobles and aristocrats of old, the new government will have recruited the proletariat to fight against the bourgeois. While the revolution led by the bourgeois gave the serfs education, the revolution led against the bourgeois would simply give the wage-laborers the façade of change; that this was now their government. Meanwhile, the proletariat would still go to work for the bourgeois, now called the government; they would still do as the bourgeois asked, and they would still make far less than the newly crowned bourgeoisie. Except now the bourgeois could not simply ask the proletariat to go to work, but tell them to go to war. Where before the bourgeois could simply fire members of the proletariat, it could now utterly exterminate them. Where the bourgeois before went out of business, it would now starve and destroy its people. What ever it decided was in the common interest of the “workers of the world” would now be law. The common wage laborers would simply be serfs to a new lord, and proletariat to a new bourgeoisie. The bourgeois can be corrupt because they have power and the desire to keep that power. The “new bourgeoisie” is absolutely corrupt because it has absolute power and the desire to accept nothing less.
While corruption is a problem for our capitalistic system, there are various means of curbing that danger. While the Marxian idea that all other facets of society stem from economics may be partially true, it is not a whole truth. While certain portions of our representative governmental system are directly influenced by the practice of our capitalistic economic system, our society and government both directly influence our economics as well. Governmental policies and social concerns can both easily affect the state of the economy, for example. So when social concern about the state of corruption in the economy reaches a breaking point, companies must either adapt to meet these concerns or face the consequences. Since people in capitalisms have a choice of products, they are not linked to a single company like they would be in a communistic state. By using this choice, people can either make or break a company. Since companies primary purpose is profit, they must oblige. However, because the primary concern of companies is profit, they may over-step their boundaries. In our capitalistic system, the government may intervene on behalf of the people. In a communistic system, since the government runs business, it is less likely to oblige the concerns of the populace. The government exists separately from companies in a capitalistic state, and thus the two may keep an eye on each other, this relationship does not exist in communisms. There is no watchdog.
Communistic economic systems do not foster individuality. Marx and Engels believe that since the proletariat all work for various bourgeois, they are all the same. They assert that if workers strive for “the common good,” under one bourgeoisie, as established earlier, this makes them different. In reality, communism will tear individuality from the common wage-laborer. The only future he has is to work for the government. The government will lend him land, so long as he uses it for “the common good.” He will never own this land, nor any other land, anymore than his neighbor does. The fruits of his labors are not his, and will never be his. Regardless of how high he dreams, or how hard he works, he will always be a worker living on and making use of state property. Any individuality he has that the governments deems “dangerous”, can be absolutely and utterly destroyed since the government has supreme power. This is all for “the common good” of course. Common good, not his good…not the individual’s good, but for the good of society as a whole.
Capitalism however is a breeding pool for individuality. In a capitalistic system, money is made with new products, and new ideas. These ideas come from individuals who have taken on their own risk, and these individuals benefit from their risks. In a capitalistic state, an individual can dream high, and achieve those dreams. A job and an income are not guaranteed under a capitalism. The individual earns these things through his own hard work and his own daring. There are few limitations on what or how great a person can be.
Communisms produce inefficient economic systems. The centralization of countless different industries creates administrative problems. For companies to create products, resources must be consumed. This creates a necessary relationship between industries. Since the government controls production in communism, it alone must account for all the fluxes of every industry. Since there are countless industries, this is an administrative nightmare. Under a capitalism, however, each company accounts for these fluctuations on its own. This allows for a very flexible and adaptable economic system. Next, since the government controls the means of production under a communism, it can do with those means as it pleases. The government will often use industry for its own good, not necessarily for the good of each individual industry. This uncertainty makes outside investment risky, and, consequentially, communisms draw less outside money. Under a capitalism, each company will act in its own best interest. When an investment is made in a company, some control of the company is given to the investor. This relationship between the investor and the company, coupled with the company’s desire to benefit itself, creates a more stable investment platform. Lastly, Marx and Engels claim that communisms do not stifle individual initiative; instead, it is capitalisms that produce this behavior. When examined, this is exposed as utterly ludicrous. This claim relies on one Marxian delusion: the wage-laborer creates no private property through his own work. This is not true, and in reality The Communist Manifesto destroys itself in this claim. By definition, workers can never create private property under a communism. It is only under a capitalism that private property can be accrued. So if under a communism, a man is not entitled to the work of his hands, but under a capitalism he is, why would he work harder for the former, than he would for the latter?
In all matters of society discussed, capitalism has proven itself to be a superior economic engine to communism. As both the nation and the world move ever closer to the centralization of economic power and the dissolution of private property, we must keep these arguments in mind. As a capitalistic society, while we may accept the choices of foreign states, we must always keep close the rationale for our own decisions. The path of history cannot be forgotten, nor its lessons ignored. Communism is a rarity in today’s world, and for good reason. As the Berlin wall fell, so too did the illusion that was put forth so long ago, and refined in the pages of The Communist Manifesto. Governments are ill-prepared to dictate our lives, and mankind will only be happy when he can do with his labor as he so chooses.
Marx, Karl, Frederick Engels, and Martin Puchner. The Communist Manifesto and Other. New York: Barnes and Noble Classics, 2005.
Manage Your Items