How To Answer The “Communism Does Not Work” Question

May 15, 2016
How To Answer The “Communism Does Not Work” Question
QWhat response do you usually have to arguments against communism such as "Communism does not work because humans are naturally greedy and selfish" and if you had the chance to implement a Communist society in America how would you go about doing this while avoiding the mistakes of past Communist societies?
AI don’t have any specific articles to suggest on those subjects, but reference to the actual experiences of socialist countries offers some illumination on how things might work. It is a bit difficult to offer any prescription, because each country has its own path, own history, and own culture, so the details will certainly vary. As well, we are more focused on the actual struggles taking place in our country, since that is what determines our path.

But in general, socialist countries, even relatively poor ones, offer much greater state support for the arts—arts of all kinds: performance, graphic, classical, student, sculpture, music, film, dance, and more. This has taken the form of subsidies, sponsored troupes, prizes, artists organizations with funding from the state, and so on. As a result, those countries have had a more vigorous artistic scene, and much more mass participation in the arts, since cost and profit are no longer the sole determinates of artistic production.

We can also refer to many important cultural figures from the last hundred years or so who have been Communists or very close to our Party (for details about the 1930s, check out “The Cultural Front” by Denning and “Radical Hollywood” by Buhle)—in our country figures like Paul Robeson, W.E.B. Dubois, Mark Blitzstein, Dalton Trumbo, Pete Seeger, Hugo Gellert, and many more; in other countries, such figures as Pablo Neruda, Berthold Brecht, Nazim Hikmet, Sean O’Casey, Mikail Sholokov, to mention just a few of multitudes. So our movement has a proud tradition of involvement and leadership from artists of many kinds (there are also negative examples of efforts to control artistic production, but we think those can be avoided by more democracy, decentralization, and a respect for the independence of the arts).

Technological development is something that has been problematic in some respects in socialist countries. There are many examples of innovation and experimentation—for example, the development of a lung cancer vaccine in Cuba, which has been prevented from use in this country by the Blockade, for example space exploration by the Soviets, for example the almost shockingly fast development of high speed rail in China. So socialist countries have found ways to encourage and implement technological progress, including by state support for basic scientific research. There are also examples of a lag in implementing some technological innovations because socialist economies don’t have the same built-in impetus for constantly revolutionizing production that capitalism has. On the other hand, socialism doesn’t have the distortions of technology inherent in capitalism’s search for more effective and efficient ways to exploit and oppress labor, and to exploit and degrade nature.

In neither case has the final chapter been written nor any ultimate solution been found. And we have no exact blueprint of how a US socialist economy would work in any detail. The involvement, participation, and leadership of artists and cultural figures is one piece that will help determine the most positive outcome.

We hope you will find ways to work with us and join us in the struggles, of the working class, or oppressed peoples, and of demands to democratize culture which ocnstanly rage in our country.

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