“From each according to ability; to each according to need.”
“The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggles
— Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto
These two statements tell me what Communism is. The first is something we’re quite familiar with. We practice this form of communism in each and every family. The second statement is patently false. If it weren’t for wars and religions, it might have been true, but it wasn’t and isn’t true.
Like the religious dogma that preceded and engendered it, The Communist Manifesto was full of half truths and wishful thinking along with blatantly false assumptions and, like the religious dogma that preceded and engendered it, people accepted it with wholehearted passion.
In war, all classes of a society immediately rally to the common defense. This was the primary purpose of the community in the first place. They created a flag. They composed a motto. They adopted rules and a hierarchy of leadership which all classes accepted and supported. Usually, they adopted a common religious dogma or a common expectation of religious tolerance. When an invader showed up, everyone gleaned the countryside of anything that might benefit the enemy, burned the rest, and retired behind defensive walls to stand together against the siege.
And what of the invader? Clearly, this mob felt entitled to be there, to lay siege to territory which didn’t belong to them, and to impose their will upon others. Once hostilities started, there was little or no class struggle. All social classes on both sides of the conflict united in their opposition to whatever the “enemy” represented. In our case, it was “savagery,” colonialism (“taxation without representation”), “totalitarianism,” “Communism,” “anti-Zionism,” and “terrorism.”
The cohesion of both sides depends on the threat represented by something outside the group. In some sense it defines the group and it almost always is the glue which binds them together.
When the colonizer is driven out, old loyalties resurface. The Tutsi murder the Hutu; ethnic Serbs and Croatians immediately fight; India erupts into violent warfare between its Hindu and Muslim citizens. This isn’t surprising since the first rule of colonization is “divide and conquer.”
Again, social classes are usually subordinate to ethnic and religious loyalties. In Moslem and Christian Crusades, all classes were also allied on both sides of the conflict.
The first thing that Communists tried to do was to eradicate other belief systems. Again, Communism itself acts just like another religion and, like all others, heresies pop up such as Mao’s version of Communism in China. Like other doctrinal schisms, this led almost immediately to enmity between competing dogmas within the same faith-based group.
This “threat” of Soviet Communism was, within Communist China, again a uniting factor, an additional outside “enemy” which had to be opposed with rigid adherence to accepted dogma. The Chinese became zealous in their defense of Mao Zedong’s pronouncements in his “Red Book.” Part of that “defense” was, of course, an aggressive offense against surrounding ideologies such as capitalism, Buddhism, Christianity and feudalism.
Please note that all of this is a thin veneer, the self-defining exterior of pretense and posture, the rhetoric and invective which galvanizes us to support the insanity of enmity and warfare.
We can stop occupying other countries. Since we’ve been using force and threat to “rule” the world, things have just been degenerating. They will only get worse if we continue to do the same things.
We might have to pay the same for gasoline that Europe has been paying all along. That isn’t a penalty for doing the right thing. It is amends for having done the wrong thing.
We might have to close or retool quite a few factories which produce the weapons of war. Again, the good news is that we can use these resources for something actually useful like modern plumbing and sanitation in the Third World, like reclaiming land lost in recent droughts or floods or for building international infrastructure.
If we consider ourselves the world’s preeminent superpower, why can’t we accept the position responsibly and do something constructive for a change?
Clearly, fear of us has not and will not create a real and lasting submissive response from the rest of the world. Our bullying, as it did in Vietnam and Iraq, will only lead to more opposition, no matter what their religious beliefs are. They are as loyal to their homeland as we are – probably more so, since they’ve been there much longer than we’ve been here. Invasion and occupation have not and will not work as a plan to “make the world safe for democracy.”
We owe the world amends. We have taken more than our fair share for a century and a half.
The amends I’m talking about can be seen in Japan and Germany, our two World War II enemies whom we helped rebuild. This period of helping our enemies back on their feet worked well, both for us and for them. Maybe we don’t need so many nuclear reactors this time. Maybe we can do it with less impact on climate and health, but we need to stop war immediately and start peace.
The price for this isn’t prohibitive.
If countries have civil wars, we need to subordinate ourselves to some higher authority such as the United Nations which must act in the best long-term interests of all parties.
If a dictatorship or a democracy with socialist leanings arises, we must steel ourselves in our resolve not to try to “fix” it with our own puppet. We must sit back and wait for the dictator to die or the country itself to find a solution or – if the new government works well for them – resolve ourselves to revise our view of them and their choices. We have had almost no success in our interventions. Let’s chill a bit and see what happens. In Vietnam, had we done so, millions would be alive today and hundreds of thousands of birth defects would have been avoided. Dogmatism and ignorance led us to kill our allies in the Cold War and to support dictators and despots against popular and legitimate Vietnamese unity and leadership.
We must stop using violence. It just exacerbates the problems it is trying to “fix.”
Let’s put modern plumbing in Rwanda. Let’s take the sands of the Sahara and make solar panels. Let’s export our technology for healing and helping.
After all, the label is just a thin veneer. Underneath that, we’re brothers and sisters; we’re in this together.
©David N. Dodson, August, 2015, Phoenix, AZ