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Russia…Un-communist?

Red hammer and sicle on transparent background...

The hammed and cycle are two proletarian (laborer) symbols. The hammer symbolized the soviet unioin's industrial workers and the sickle symbolizes the state's farmers. If you consider the history of the soviet union the emphasis put on these symbols makes sense. Remember that the whole idea of the revolution that started what was called the soviet union was at least in principle, laborers (who organized into Soviets) taking over the government. Now ultimately Stalin and Lenin turned that idea on it's head, but that's where it started and that's the idea where the symbolism on the flag comes from.

Overwhelmingly, most people’s understanding of what Communism is, comes from an extremely propagandistic presentation of the Soviet Union, generally by US right-wing sources. This would give you the idea that communism is supposed to be very authoritarian, rigidly collectivistic and anti-democratic.

This misconception is unfortunately so wide-spread that it’s not infrequent to be called a mass murderer wannabe for simply bringing it up and even though it is trivial to find out what Communism really is and how it works, this exasperatingly wrong view of it nevertheless persists in even otherwise brilliant minds.

So let me say this first: Whatever view you may have of the USSR (and there are quite a few supporters of Stalinism out there), it was not Communism.

Now, before you hasten to leave me a comment about Scotsmen and the like, it is important to know that the original thoughts of Ma

A portrait of Karl Marx.

(My lord what a beard)

rx and Engels were indeed the absolute opposite of Stalinism, Maoism etc. The fact that one can create a system and label it “Communism” does not make it so, anymore than North Korea is a “Democracy” or a “Republic”. Perhaps one can label it “Socialism” but this term is by itself ambiguous and does not necessarily equate to Marxism.

That is not to say that Russia did not really attempt Communism. It did, and it managed to achieve socialism for a very short while immediately after the revolution. But this newly-fledged socialism was defeated in the most humilating way. Not only did the counter-revolution won over the communists but it kept the name and the symbols to the overjoy of the capitalist of the rest of the world. Russian communism ceased to exist as soon as Stalin came to power.

But if USSR was not Communism what was it? Well, by the way it actually worked, the most fitting description for it is State Capitalism. Simply, the state took on the role of the ultimate Capitalist and set about exploiting the workers. Some of the practices it had, like the suppression of individuality, the strict hierarchical spread of power and the like, are identical to the ones within a common Capitalist corporation anyway. Others, like it’s inability to work efficiently or its large bureaucracy are problems that any sufficiently large corporation has as well. There hasn’t been a corporation of the sheer size of the Soviet Union of course so a direct comparison is impossible, but looking at the dinosauric movements of some of the biggest ones certainly points to that direction.

Another common opinion on this Communism = USSR misunderstanding is the claim that Communism has proven to be a failure. This attempts to show that the path Russia took in the early 20th century is the only possible result any attempt for Communism can achieve and thus it is not worth struggling towards it. But this is not simply wrong, it is intellectually dishonest. This assumes that the very unique situation Russia had to struggle is the common situation any communist revolution will have to face which is simply absurd.

Not only was the situation unique but their attempt was doomed from the start. The reason for this is that Communism requires Capitalism to exist before it can take over. It needs the hugely increased level of production achieved with it and the exploitation of the workers is what creates the revolutionary force. Russia attempted to jump directly from Feudalism (with a small growing capitalist class) to Communism while skipping the phase in between and ended up dislocating itself[1]. This is also the case with China as well. An agrarian society simply cannot support Communism, especially not when opposed from the rest of the world.

To extrapolate from these example to anything that may happen during our age is simply disingenuous. Not only do we have the production required to not suffer the same fate but we have many tools in our disposal that the Revolutionaries of last century couldn’t even dream of. The instant, international information exchange we can achieve now can easily be the most important.

It is simply practically impossible at this point for any attempt at communism to take even a similar path to the one of USSR and if it is achieved, it will look nothing like it.

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3 thoughts on “Russia…Un-communist?

  1. Problem is the principles of “communism” have a disnsentive effect as they defy human nature. They are also the feel good populist arguments used to bring on all oppresive governments.

    • I agree with you to some degree, you make a good point. but I feel that the word communist has so vaguely been used, its been like this for roughfly all of the 20 and 21 century. There basically to major reason this happened, westerner and soviet propaganda did this to the word communist or socialist. The the wester propaganda portrayed communism and socialism as a disgusting humanization thing that destroyed democracy, the soviet propaganda said the communism and socialism was a way to revolutionize society and to give the people power. but thats the fact soviet and USSR Russia was never communist or socialist.. the people had no power, they where slaves to the industry and to capitalism (state capitalism), so you see there has never been a communist or even true social-st country.

      • I think I see where you are going but find it idealistic at best, possibly semantic, no offense. Communism is simply antithetical to human nature as the Pilgrims proved. The closest example you will find to a successful commune environment is in Israel Kibbutz and the kick you out if you don’t pull your weight., taking us back to the human nature point I keep pressing.

        Respectfully🙂

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