Communism, freedom, and how we get there

 
BY: Scott Hiley| February 11, 2019
Communism, freedom, and how we get there
QI have been reading a lot of political philosophy recently..... I used to be a libertarian . But now I don't really know what i identify as. please tell me your point of view on communism and how to could work in America. Thank you, John
AHi, and thanks for writing in.

We want what libertarians want (which is, in fact, what almost everyone wants): freedom.  A society where our choices aren't based on economic coercion or political repression, where we no longer need police and jails, and where we work to make our lives and our world better, instead of having to generate profits for a business owner in order to put food on our own table.  There many ways of describing communism: a world where "the free development of each, is the condition for the free development of all" (Marx); a society based on freedom, rather than necessity (Engels); "the unfolding of human genius in conditions of supreme social liberty" (Alexei Tolstoy).

We tend to disagree with libertarians on two points.

First, libertarians tend to think of freedom purely in terms of relations between the individual and the state: the citizen's freedom from government interference.

Communists, on the other hand, see individuals in the context of their role in the economy.  (That role is what we call 'class'.)  Some are capitalists, who own property that enables them to make a profit from the labor of other people.  Others are workers, who furnish the labor that produces value, but receive in return only a small part of that value as a wage. Workers' income is a wage; capitalists' income is profits.

This means, of course, that workers and capitalists aren't on equal footing.  Freedom for the business owner means freedom to use property to control others.  Every choice that workers make is made, in some sense, under duress--that is, with the knowledge that they can be fired at any time, for pretty much any reason.  If I don't stay after my shift, will the boss say I'm not a team player? Will I still have a job if I refuse a 'promotion' that would mean relocating my family to another state? If I try to organize a union, or go on strike, will my position suddenly become 'redundant'?

As long as property gives one person the right to control and subordinate another, real freedom isn't possible.  So we say that freedom requires abolishing class differences altogether: no more wage-workers, no more shareholders, just people working in a society based on collective, democratic control of resources.

So, how would that look here?  Communism can't be built right away.  Society will pass through a period of socialism first, where the big capitalist firms will be placed under public control, working for the collective good rather than the benefit of a few shareholders. Energy companies, banks, and media monopolies, will be broken up and placed under the people's control. Development will be based on human need rather than the unsustainable imperative of limitless growth.  This will require developing new democratic institutions at every level.  We call our vision Bill of Rights Socialism, since it's based on overcoming the limitations of capitalism and expanding the democratic framework that already exists in our country.

Hope this gives a sense of where we're coming from.
Author
    Scott Hiley has taught French, literature, history, and philosophy at the high school, college, and post-graduate levels.  A member of CPUSA since 2010, he is active in struggles against austerity and for education justice and labor rights. His articles have appeared in the People's World (US), the Morning Star (UK), and l'Humanité (France). He lives in a rural town in upstate NY.

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