I have a friend who has a son. Nothing unusual there then.
The son is quite an intelligent being. In the last twelve months, he has started his first job working for a corporation in the CBD. Let’s call him Jerry. As we sat there one Friday evening, I was discussing the benefits of an automated society where universal basic income and AI would mean a life of leisure for everyone. Jerry piped up -
‘I think that everyone needs to contribute to society; I don’t think that people should be allowed to bum off the system.’
He followed it up with -
‘Capitalism has given us everything; the world has a much higher standard of living than it ever has. communism would undo all of the good work that capitalism has done.’
If you know this Guy, you would understand why he said that — A prime example of the internet generation, born of left-wing parents — goes on to become a severe capitalist and converts the parents in the process.
I had many issues with his statement and, I know that no matter how hard you hammer him in a debate, he will never judge you or get angry. I respect that. So I went for it.
First, the obvious -
At seventeen years old, Jerry has lived sixteen years 100% in the care of his parents. During that time, they have purchased for him -
Food, drinks, accommodation, heating, medical bills, transport, education, recreation, computers, computer games, board games, toys, movies, international holidays, bikes, clothes, toilet paper.
You name it. This kid has had it all and had never paid a dollar for any of it.
Not one single dollar.
To make matters worse, his Mum would ask him to stack the dishwasher (That’s right, not wash dishes, stack them) and he would whine like a little bitch.
I pointed these facts out to Jerry. I reminded him that up until a year ago, he had been living as a communist. I further explained that without a basis of communism, he would not have survived. In fact, without communism in this world, nothing as we know it would exist.
In one way, the fact that Jerry formed his own opinions different to that of his parents is an outsanding achievement. It is testament to the fact that the internet is allowing poisonous legacies to be diluted by facts and education. Just cos your parent is a racist no longer means that you have to be. Jerry is proof that it goes both ways — bring your kid up as a socialist and they can also end up as a capitalist.
Anyway, so communism…
There is not a single person in this world that has not relied on a communist model from the beginning of their lives.
Whether we know it or not, communism is alive in this world. It is the very basis of our society and the foundation of capitalism itself. Look at your own family — children cant work at least for the first part of their lives, so they rely on others. This reliance on others is what we have come to brand as communism. Another word for communism is — Sharing
Of course, we love to say that communism will not work in our society.
We think we are making an informed decision in saying this; but isn’t it partially a reaction to the red flags jammed into our faces by the CIA and other pro-US dollar/pro-military-industrial complex organisations since the second world war? The red flag of communism, complete with images of military parades and nuclear weapons is etched deep into our minds. The rise of the Soviet Union and the Communist Party of China were more severe dictatorship than pure communism. So, why is the red flag so heavily embedded in our culture as a symbol that any talk about communism signals danger?
You can see this in the British election lost by Jeremy Corbyn to Boris Johnson. The Conservative Party it seemed did not have any strategies of their own. They just needed to scare the British people with the idea that Corbyn was a socialist. (I use the term communist and socialist interchangeably since the differences are minute and reserved for political intellectuals). Having said that, the red flag of the Labor party never really helped the cause.
On a large scale, communism can easily become a dictatorship.
It works on a small scale because everyone agrees to it. This agreement is inherent in the word communal, which is the basis for the word communism. Taking by force and redistributing unfairly is not communism, it is a dictatorship. But a marketing campaign around a word and a colour has conditioned us to think that all communism is like that. Smart marketing blinds us to the innate communism and sharing that exists right under our noses.
Communism could work on a large scale if our minds were different. It often works well at the family level because of the notions of family that we have. We decide who is and who isn’t our family-based on a variety of factors, namely — who is related by blood.
But the concept of family does not have to limited in this way. Adopted children are generally accepted as the same as blood children by their parents. Even friends can be heard saying other friends are family. So the notion of family is not fixed. It doesn’t exist at all. It is an imaginary category that contains those you consider closer than everyone else.
For communism to work on a large scale, that notion would have to be extended. We know this is possible because it doesn’t exist — it can be anything you want. So for a society to be able to deal with communism, the society doesn’t have to change — the minds of the people have to change. Our idea of family has to expand.
Some Mahayana Buddhist practices deal with this idea.
The practitioner uses visualisation to expand the notion of family beyond the usual boundaries and ultimately to include all beings. The idea is that ultimately, an advanced practitioner can have total equanimity in seeing everyone as equal — not in a dull way, but in feeling the same love for complete strangers as they do with their own families. Many people would baulk at this idea which is why we find ourselves in this predicament.
What is excellent is that communism could easily survive without capitalism, but capitalism could not work without the basis of communism.
When I was speaking to Jerry, I told him that there were a few other flaws in his concept. First, that he was making a judgement on the quality of life gifted by capitalism from his perspective of being in the top 1% of affluent beings on this planet. It was easy for him to imagine that people in Iraq, Sudan, refugee camps and housing projects all over the world are all having a big party, but the opposite is true. Thanks to the greed and profit-driven fires of the military-industrial complex and other money-making schemes, many people are suffering in hell on earth.
People often talk about the destructive nature of religion. I say that the most destructive religion of all is capitalism. In the worship of the ‘God of Money’. It has reaped more destruction, death and suffering in this world than all of the religions combined.
The other issue is that Jerry is looking at it based on what is happening now. That is a flawed view. It is the same view that people have in denying global warming. They say to themselves ‘Well it is pretty good right now so why change?’
In marketing, it is tough to sell someone ‘a dream’
I spent years trading on the phones and, after creating an issue in your customer’s mind, your job was mostly to help them visualise a future and sell them that rather than an item. But it is hard to sell someone a future on a large scale. You can tell them that at our current rate of consumption, we are going to eat up the world’s resources in however many years. That is not a good sales pitch to stop consuming.
Tell someone that if they don’t quit smoking, they will have lung cancer in a year but they won’t stop. Put them in that hospital bed right now though, experiencing hell on earth surrounded by their families and they will never smoke again. Capitalism is like smoking. We are enjoying it so much that we don’t see the hell down the road.
So my point here is threefold.
- ) That communism is a model that has always worked very well and that it is the basis of our very lives and everything we know.
- That it can only work on a large scale if we can evolve our minds enough to expand the notion of family beyond the imaginary boundaries that we create
- That capitalism is leading us off a cliff, and the fortunate among us are having a damn good time on the way down while the rest are already living in hell.
Oh, and if you come across a kid that doesn’t know which side their bread is buttered, you better darn well educate that little shit.
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More from Frank T Bird (That’s me):
Democracy or Dictatorship: Which is better?
It’s almost blasphemous to question the great democracy, isn’t it?