Communism is an economic structure, not a political one

navywxman is a leftist. Odysseus is a right-wing dude. They’ve been having an argument on navywxman’s space about Communism and fascist states. Navywxman claims that there has never been a true communist state, that they were all run by right-wing governments. Odysseus is disputing that Russia wasn’t a communist country.

Both of them are a wrong, but Navywxman is a quite a bit more wrong than Odysseus.

Communism is an economic structure, not a political one. It’s an incredibly stupid, unworkable economic structure, but it’s not a form of government.

Therefore you couldn’t have a communist state, because such a thing can’t exist. You can have a communist economy in a totalitarian state, or a communist economy in a democratic state, or a communist economy in a monarchy. Except that communism doesn’t actually work, so none of those is actually possible. But navywxman can have fun trying, as long as it doesn’t involve me. I’m a capitalist pig.

The opposite of communism isn’t democracy. It’s capitalism. it goes like this:

Economic: communism vs. capitalism
Political: democracy vs. authoritarianism/totalitarianism/dictatorship

The Russian states were indeed communist economies. But they were also right-wing totalitarian governments. So all the communist tyrannies failed for two reasons: Communism is dumb, and tyrannies are wrong.

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6 comments on “Communism is an economic structure, not a political one
  1. Gary Mineart says:

    Sorry Steph. I gotta chime in on this one. We studied this stuff in a class in college…The History of Economic Thought. This was probably my favorite class and some of it managed to stick.

    There has never been a communist society. Communism is the opposite of capitalism, but according to Marx, true communism comes THROUGH capitalism. Capitalism leads to a great degree of separation between the upper and lower classes. He believed that true communism would be reached when the lower classes got so fed up with the mistreatment of workers (Das Capital) that they would REVOLT and communism would result (big theme during the industrial revolution). He wouldn’t have agreed with the USSR form of communism as it did not spawn from the revolution of the lower classes. He was a very meticulous and arrogant man who would have highly dissagreed with how the USSR came about…mainly because it didn’t meet/agree with HIS idea. He did hate capitalism though. He wanted to see it fail and to see his idea come true. Who knows, it might have if there hadn’t have been labor laws developed during the time. That also is why we don’t have a true capitalist economy…we have labor laws to protect people.

    True communism would be considered more of a way of life…it would be a utopian society where all benefited equally…so you’re right that it is not a form of government at all.

  2. I studied the same thing in my Poly Sci course “Politics of Economics”, too, Gary. People other than you actually went to college, remember?

    What kind of economy would you say the USSR had, if not communism? I agree that it didn’t come about they way that Marx expected, but if it wasn’t communism, what was it?

    My understanding of it was that the difference in Marx’s plan was that he expected the government system to be some sort of democracy supporting communism, installed by the enlightened workers who revolted.

    Instead, the way the USSR came about installed a authoritarian government with the purpose of imposing the communist economy on the USSR, with the intentions (at least of the early Bolsheviks) of devolving the authoritarian government into a democracy later. And that because communism wasn’t working, the authoritarian government never dissolved itself into a democracy.

    At least, that’s the crap that I learned.

  3. George Karamalis says:

    Hi Steph
    Gary is right, there was no socialism nor communism in Ussr and the other countries, from economic and political and social view
    It was a sui generis system, created by the epigons of Lenin, especially Stalin, and survived till 1990
    There was an historical attempt to proceed to the next form of organisation of human society, after capitalism, which failed.
    But you should know from history that every social form changes and a new one emerges through and by the human action
    This is the future of capitalism (as it was the future of feudalism)

  4. Sara Gabriel says:

    Okay so basically Communism is more of economic? Cuz Im gettin confused .. Im doing it for macroeconomics assignment. So I need more details lol

  5. Sara – yes, communism and capitalism are about economic structures, not about political ones. They’re about property and ownership and commerce.

    Whereas democracy, dictatorships, monarchies, etc. are forms of goverment/political structures. They’re about how people govern. So when people say “democracy is the opposite of communism” they’re wrong – because they comparing apples and oranges.

    It’s entirely possible to have a communist economic system in a democratic government.

    It’s also possible to have a capitalist economic system in a totalitarian government.

  6. Brent Powers says:

    I know this is four years later. Didn’t Marx also state that a communist economy would result from industrial workers that did not own their own property, not from agrarian workers, who may or may not own their own property, as in the case of the pre-industrial Russian Empire . When workers own nothing their only source of power is the proletarian revolt right?

    In that vein and along side Gary’s idea one could say that capitalism and communism have never existed in their absolute form. Correct me if I am wrong and/or enlighten me on the subject.

    Also, has absolute socialism ever existed?

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