The Cuban Missile Crisis. The Red Scare of the fifties. Gulags. There is absolutely no wonder that Communism has such a multitude of negative connotations surrounding its name. Under the leadership of Joseph Stalin, the USSR was a world power, with a mission to enforce its ideologies on developing nations. Characterized by harsh ruling and limited personal freedom, Stalin would eradicate anyone who didn’t agree with his ideas. He even went so far as to say that ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas? However, the atrocities that occurred during the USSR’s reign twisted Karl Marx’s original idea of Communism in the eyes of the world. In reality, Communism is merely Marx’s utopian vision, and an alternative to Capitalism. In The Communist Manifesto, Marx outlines his views and forms the basic goal of Communism: the creation of a classless society.
The primary goal of Capitalism, in its most basic form, is to obtain profits. In a capitalistic society, there is the capitalist class, which owns the means for producing and distributing goods, and the working class, who sell their labor to the capitalist class in exchange for wages (Zucchi). Through this, companies in a capitalistic society can produce commodities for profit. However, Marx believes this is everything wrong with society. The fact that Capitalism splits society into two classes, the employer and the employee, allows for inequality among classes, and oppression of one class over another. Secondly, Capitalism’s sole motive of obtaining profits reduces the world around us, the things we use, and ourselves into a monetary value.
The solution, as Marx proposes, is to abolish classes. Like any process, there are steps, and the first step is to form the proletariat (wage-laborers) into a class (Marx 76). In order for the proletariat to become a class, they must first abolish that which makes the bourgeoisie (capitalist class) superior, which is private property. One of the many objections to this is that private property is earned through the hard-work of the individual. In reality, their hard work is exploited by the capitalist class for their own gain. Because of this, it is those who don’t work that make profit, and those who do work that are exploited. Because the bourgeoisie power rests in their property, they are against the abolishment of private property. However, Marx writes that private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population (Marx 79), so in the end, the overwhelming majority of society benefits.
Private property controlled by the bourgeoisie is considered a class privilege. When that same property is converted into public property, it removes the class aspect of the property. This ushers in the next step in our process, overthrowing the bourgeois supremacy (Marx 76). By eliminating the only thing that made the bourgeoisie superior, it eliminated the bourgeois as a class. Now that there is no ruling class, the benefits of labor are determined by the individual laborer, and not appropriated by the bourgeois for capital gain. In other words, Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that it does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labors of others by means of appropriation (Marx 79).
Now that the proletarians have succeeded in eliminating the bourgeoisie as a class, and in-turn rose to supremacy, they can conquer the political power to seize all capital left from the bourgeoisie and centralize all instruments of production (Marx 76, 83). Now, because overthrowing and installing a new government usually isn’t a quick and simple transition, there will be numerous measures taken to ensure that economic and social production are revolutionized. These measures include, but are not limited to: elimination of rights of inheritance, abolition of land ownership, a graduated income tax, making everyone liable to labor, state centralization of credit, communication, and transportation, elimination of distinctions between town and country, and free education for children (Marx 83, 84). After these measures have been implemented, a nation is considered developed. Due to the nature of the developments, and as more and more institutions are centralized, class distinctions start to disappear. Because Marx defines political power as merely the organized power of one class for oppressing another, the absence of class distinction results in declining political power. Ultimately, the bourgeoisie society has been replaced with an association, in which the free development of each is equal to the free development of all (Marx 84).
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