I’ll start this off with saying that I, by no means, am a communist. But as a historian, I find myself drawn to this idealised concept which in a perfect world would mean true equality on all bases. Communism in its true form, as set out by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the Communist Manifesto, would be epitomised in the notion of the world as one country, with no need for money, a state or social divisions. It is a political theory which is often surrounded with scaremongering and little else, with those who condemn it knowing little other than meagre facts about the USSR.
On no account am I stating that the road to communism, or even socialism, would be an easy path – indeed, at its essence it is doomed to fail. This is due to simple human nature – all humans, at their core, are selfish. None who gained the power to lead a country or even the world into communism would give up that power once established. Those who had earned wealth over the years, or whose families had been unwaveringly upper or even middle class, would have a hard time giving up their riches and status to be equalised with the poor. But what would happen if, indeed in this time of political turmoil, communism became the answer (as it has done, albeit failingly, in multiple countries in the 20th century)?
without governance and state control, anarchy could set in, causing a myriad of legal issues.
Let’s focus on the UK alone, imagining the notion that the UK encompasses the ‘one country’ that would be becoming communist. First of all, all private land would be given to the government and all rents of land given to the public purpose. In essence this would be able to make a country self-sufficient as such land would be used for crops and animal farming, thus ending a need for money. In terms of social class, a highly progressive tax system would be put into place, meaning those with and who earned more money would be taxed at a higher rate. The right to inheritance would also be abolished, so forget that money your grandparents left you in their will. And while we’re on the subject – those who emigrated in retirement to sunny ol’ Spain would lose any property in the UK to public use. What would be more difficult is the gradual abolition of the distinctions between town and country, as communism would aim to distribute the population more equally, with the extension of state-run factories and the cultivation of areas deemed as ‘wastelands’. One aspect of our current system that would not have to be altered would be the right to free education for all children, as well as the abolition of child labour.
Thus, what must also be taken into consideration, of course, is that Marx was writing in 1848, and a great deal more technology and thus jobs have been developed and prioritised. It is not a simple matter of factory worker or agricultural worker – there is a great necessity for teachers, doctors, bartenders, actors and any job you could think of that adds to both our cultural and everyday lives. For this reason, a new model and ideal of communism would have to be developed, because I don’t know about you but I don’t want those bartenders disappearing anytime soon. Thus comes the question of whether each job is as valuable as the next. On some level, both factory workers and agricultural workers could have been equated in the past, but in this day and age many would claim their job to take more effort, time or guile than others making equal payment a cause for complaint.
The most difficult part that can be seen, somewhat obviously, would not be the implementation of these new policies, but the stages after, where an adjustment would have to be made to a situation of no state or government, and complete self-sufficiency with no back-lash. Self-sufficiency in terms of foodstuffs would require many to change their professions in order to keep up with demand. Without the aid of imports from countries such as China, cheap production and thus cheap prices (although money would not exist in further stages) would be more difficult. The country would also no longer receive revenue from exports, potentially weakening its economic position. Communism has the capacity to ricochet us back 100 years. Furthermore, without governance and state control, anarchy could set in, causing a myriad of legal issues. Communism as a success would require complete popular participation and support.
In an ideal world, all senses of inequality – be it racial, gender, social class or education – would be forgotten.
It all sounds rather unfair and dreary, especially when matched with the pictures we studied in school of the starving, suffering people of the USSR. Nevertheless, if you look at the bigger picture – at the ideal itself – many big problems could be solved. Breaking down the idea using the UK as a case study, the world as a whole could gain much from complete communism of ‘one country’. By sharing all food stuffs and other products, world hunger could in theory be eradicated. Peace could be established with the communal efforts of all people, with no one country or person attempting to monopolise power and finances. In an ideal world, all senses of inequality – be it racial, gender, social class or education – would be forgotten.
I’ll go back to the beginning now and state that I am not a communist. But perhaps this can give you food for thought on a political concept I would agree with deeming too radical, but is ultimately a form of harmony.