Communism (from the Latin – communis):
- the direction of social and philosophical thought, a hypothetical model that reflects the everlasting dreams of people about a perfect and fair social and political system;
- socio-political movement, designed to implement this model in practice.
Communism has common roots with socialism. According to most experts, communist ideas in the bud were already contained in the “State” of Plato, where the state structure was based, in which management would be carried out by philosophers deprived of their property. As Plato believed, if the rulers possess the property and, accordingly, special interests, they will lose the ability to make impartial, unbiased decisions. The first Christians who communistically inherited ideas were those who defended and practiced communal property, viewing private interest as contradictory to the spirit of their teaching.
These attitudes were quite widespread in the Middle Ages in monasteries and various kinds of chiliastic, or millenarian, sects, whose adherents believed that they could not fully serve God if their attention was distracted by earthly concerns. At that time, there were many small communist communities founded on the literal interpretation of Holy Scripture. They communism meant a social system with the collective property, in which material wealth was distributed among all members of society evenly according to their needs. Collective property and the corresponding distribution of material goods were designed to bind believers closer to the monastery or community and prevent all thoughts of their independence and independence, thereby cementing the unity of the community of believers.
Such ideas were again expressed by T. Morin in his famous work “Utopia” (1516), as well as by Levellers and Diggers (J.Lilburn, J. Winstanley, etc.) during the English bourgeois revolution of the middle of the 17th century. In the 18th century, certain ideas were gained by the French abbot G.B. de Mably, who claimed that the property originated with the fall, and proposed a model of ascetic communism as a way of salvation from the luxury of worldly life and the aggressive motivations of people. He subjected particularly sharp attacks to businessmen and bankers. Of great importance from the ripening of communist ideas were the works of Morelli, who defended agrarian communism, and J.-J. Rousseau with his apology for subordinating individual interests to a common will. Ideas of full social equality were substantiated in work “The conspiracy for the sake of equality” (1796), the extremely radical figure of the French Revolution G. Babeuf, who believed that private property and inequality are the primary sources of all social evils. On this basis, he defended the project of agrarian communism, in which the property belonged to the whole community, and all its members were obliged to work while leading an ascetic way of life.
In the future, adherents of communist ideas adapted the doctrine of agrarian communism to the realities engendered by industrialization and urbanization. This was found, in particular, in the creation of the Utopian socialists of the 19th century some communist communities in which rationalistic and philanthropic idealism replaced the former religious arguments. The most famous of these attempts are New Harmony (1825) in Indiana R. Owen and Brooke Farm (1841-47) by F. M. Fourier. An essential contribution to the development of communist ideas was made by E. Cabe, who in his work “Journey to Icaria” (1840) raised universal equality and “fraternal communism”, based on large-scale factory production with the extensive use of machinery and socialization of the land. Moreover, Cabet asserted, communism should cover all new national states, and not be limited to the limits of individual communities. He believed that Christianity was contrary to property, and built its own “utopia,” Icarius, based on corrected, “true” Christianity.
The principal merit in the development of mature ideas of communism in the modern sense of the word belongs to the founders of Marxism – K. Marx, F. Engels, V. I. Lenin, their adherents and followers who viewed communism as the highest social formation, inevitably and with a natural and historical necessity, following capitalism. It should be noted that in the works of the classics of Marxism there is not any detailed description of the specific socio-economic and political parameters of the socialist and communist social order. In fact, here we are dealing not so much with theory as with the criticism of the existing bourgeois society, as well as with the discussion of ways and means of its destruction.
According to the Marxist scheme, regardless of the form of the state-political system, whether it be ancient democracies, the Roman empire, eastern despotism, absolutism of medieval Europe or parliamentary representative democracies of the 19th century, the content and meaning of domination in the so-called. Exploiting society remain the same – it is the dictatorship of the exploiting minority over the exploited majority.
In each of the successive formations, the productive forces were controlled by a small minority of those in power who used their economic power to exploit the overwhelming majority of the people. Or, in other words, in each of these formations there existed a class of exploiters and a class of exploited people: under the slaveholding system these were slaveholders and slaves, under feudalism – feudal lords and peasants, under capitalist – the bourgeoisie and the working class.
The purpose of the communist system, the founders of Marxism asserted, is to break this vicious circle and create a classless society free from all exploitation of man by man. Since all the conflicts and upheavals of any exploitative society are rooted in private ownership of the means of production, the main task of the Communists is to replace it with public property. Public property assumes an equal distribution of material goods according to the principle “from each according to the possibilities, to each according to the needs”.
But it was not just a matter of changing property relations and distribution because communism marked the ascent of an entirely new way of life built on the principles of equality, brotherhood, solidarity. The communist ideal included in the Marxist system the idea of freedom, but not the freedom of the individual, as it is understood in liberalism, but of freedom from repression, exploitation and want, and freedom at the same time for all, with the complete abolition of privileges for a few. Liberty of all in this case was of fundamental importance for the freedom of a single individual.
An important essential characteristic of communism is the disappearance of the state and state power. Since any state is an instrument of the domination of one class over other classes, then with the disappearance of class differences and the concentration of all means of production in the hands of the working class, the very need for “public power”, i.e. state, will lose all meaning. Political power, according to Marx, is “the organized violence of one class to suppress the other.” When the proletariat, which overcomes the bourgeoisie, turns into the ruling class itself and abolishes the old production relations, at the same time “it destroys the conditions for the existence of class antagonism, destroys classes in general, and thereby also its domination as a class.” In place of the old bourgeois society, “an association comes in which the free development of everyone is a condition for the free development of all.”
It is significant that classical Marxism provided for the removal of the separation of the state and civil society through the withering away of the state and, accordingly, the law. That is why in this system of views the problem of relations between the state and civil society applied to the future lost all meaning. Where there is no state, there are no legal relations and legal institutions; there are no corresponding rights there. In the realm of freedom, you do not have the right to raise the issue of freedom. Although Marx was aware that in the sphere of production people could not completely overcome the need to regulate relations, he assumed the complete separation of the management of things from the management of people. Necessity was attributed only to the first sphere. The contractual system makes sense regarding commodity production and conflicting interests. Where there is no commodity production, there are no conflicting interests. Therefore, there is no need for any contractual principle. Marx imagined a society not only without domination but also without power. Where there is no power, no one there needs management, so the meaning and “rule of the people” is lost, i.e. democracy.
The founders of Marxism were convinced that in the communist society, thanks to the “all-round development of individuals,” the enslaving subordination to the division of labor, the distinction between physical and mental labor, and the phenomenon of alienation itself would disappear. Marx asserted that in civil society, in “its immediate reality,” man is a worldly being, having for himself and others the value of the real individual. In a state where a person is recognized as a generic being, he is deprived of his real individuality. Hence, he said, “there is a difference between a religious person and a citizen of the state, between the day-laborer and the citizen of the state, the landowner and citizen of the state, between the living individual and the citizen of the state.”
A completely different position is reached under communism, “where no one is restricted to an exclusive range of activities, and everyone can improve in any industry, society regulates all production and that is why it creates for me the opportunity to do today one and tomorrow another, in the morning to hunt, in the afternoon to fish, in the evening to engage in cattle breeding, after dinner, indulge in criticism – as my heart desires – without making me, by virtue of this, a hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic. “Thus, the splitting and individualization of the individual are overcome, the primordial integrity and unity of the various manifestations of the human essence, one with the genus, are restored.
The subsequent experience of humankind has shown the utopianism and the failure of these ideas and attitudes. Moreover, it was found that in Marxism the possibility of the complete dissolution of the individual-personal principle in the collective, whether in civil society or the state, was laid. Marx was convinced that man could find himself and be liberated only by becoming an actual generic being, that his salvation is in merging with the clan, society. However, in reality, it became obvious that it was impossible to get rid of the division of labor, nor from alienation, nor from social and other conflicts and contradictions.
The result of the disappearance or liquidation of the state, which was originally intended to resolve these conflicts and contradictions, would be chaos and anarchy, which, in their destructive capacity, may be worse than any dictatorship and despotism. Experience of the 20th century also showed that social revolution, including the socialist revolution in Russia, conceived as a means of transition to the building of a communist society, lead not to the annihilation of the state, but to its multiple reinforcement and expansion. As a result, under conditions of real socialism, the state essentially wholly subordinated and absorbed both societies and the individual was taken.