Robbing the rich to give to the poor?

BY: Scott Hiley| March 9, 2017
Robbing the rich to give to the poor?
QBeing that you are a Communist organization, it is obvious that you want to take from those whom you deem to be "too wealthy", and redistribute said assets to "the people". Just curious as to whether or not you would classify me as such. After 30+ years of practicing urgent care medicine on an hourly rate, I make about 150K before taxes. I drive a 7 year old Mercury Mariner SUV, live in a 2 bedroom townhome worth about 350K, and at the age of 62, owe just over 100K on the mortgage. I also own a 14 year old 31 foot sailboat worth maybe 60K. Just wondering how you think.
AThanks for your question.  And don't worry--we're not coming to confiscate your boat or turn your house into collective property.

I'm being a bit flippant, but your question touches on one of the biggest misunderstandings about CPUSA, and about socialism and communism more generally.  People think communism means you have to share your toothbrush.

We make a distinction between personal property and private property.  Personal property is your personal possessions, things you use to satisfy your needs and wants in daily life.  Your boat, my collection of ski equipment or fountain pens, our cars--those are all personal property.  Most working class people (including physicians, like you and my wife) are attached to their personal property and wouldn't want to give it up.  And they shouldn't have to.

Private property is a whole other matter.  Private property is private ownership of the means of production--that is, property that enables you to make money from the labor of someone else.  When someone owns a company or a factory (or a portion thereof, as a big stockholder), when they make money by skimming off the wealth created by the labor of others, that is private property.  Communists oppose private property because we see the division between labor (which gets by on wages) and capital (which gets rich on profits) as the fundamental source of inequality and injustice in our society.  Capitalist control of private property actually limits and endangers the right of wage earners to personal property.

So we fight for socialism, where those who do the work control the wealth that they create.  And, since work today is done collectively, control of the means of production should also be collective.

Of course, I'm being schematic here.  Many working class people own stock, either as small investors or via participation in a mutual fund or retirement plan.  Small business owners may control enough private property to make money from their own labor and the labor of a few employees.  These scenarios involve private property, but we're mostly concerned with the big guys: billionaire stockholders whose decisions to buy or sell impact the lives of thousands of workers, defense contractors who turn war into a business, insurance companies who get rich by rationing medical care...

So your boat and my ski equipment are safe--or, at least, they're unsafe because of capitalism, not because of communism.

Photo: Creative Commons 3.0

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