The Wilson Beacon

The case for communism

Madeline Kessler, Contributor

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Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos is the richest man on earth, worth $156 billion. And yet, in 2017, Bezos paid zero dollars in federal income tax. Despite Bezos’ wealth, of Amazon’s 6,000 employees in Ohio, 1,400 are on food stamps as of August 2016. In nine seconds, Bezos makes more than the median salary of his employees, which is a mere $28,446.

These injustices that workers face are state-sanctioned. Low taxes on the top one percent, who own 40 percent of America’s wealth, allow them to continue to prosper at the expense of the bottom 80 percent, who only own seven percent of America’s wealth. Blasphemously disproportionate incomes are alarmingly apparent in our capitalistic society, and show us just why communism is in our best interest.

Communism, birthed by Karl Marx, is the political theory of a revolution based in class wars, in which working people revolt against the ruling and upper classes. These revolts result in a society in which people receive benefits according to their needs, and all property is publicly owned. Land and the means of production are seized from the upper class and are collectively owned by the working people. The resulting communist society has no state, and all people are truly liberated, ruling themselves with all classes eradicated.

Unfortunately, communism has acquired a bad reputation. 20th century totalitarian states created the misconception that communism is evil and that people have no freedom under such a system. True communism, however, is the polar opposite. Communism promises legitimate freedom because it eliminates corporate control and decimates systems of oppression.

State attempts at communism took a nasty turn in Eastern Europe, East Asia, and Latin America, as a result of leaders not dissolving the state, and therefore not actually instilling communism. The proletariat did not have a say in the government because only one party was allowed, making them totalitarian dictatorships. These countries would better be qualified as socialist because the government had total control over the means of production.

In capitalism, the government has little control in production, enabling corporate greed to overtake the safety and prosperity of workers. The system prides itself on “allowing” the hardest workers to rise to the top, but this is no more than a myth. In fact, capitalism perpetuates class divisions regardless of hard work, as evidenced by the fact that increased time spent in poverty is associated with lower chances an individual will exit poverty, which ranges from 56 percent after one year of being poor to 13 percent for those in poverty seven or more years. The system that makes the rich more and more affluent is also the system that keeps people in poverty.

The stressors of capitalism are truly detrimental to society as a whole. Nowhere is this more evident than in the great recession which took place in 2007 and is still showing its impacts. Rooted in capitalistic greed, the recession doubled unemployment in the U.S. and in Europe, caused political unrest across Eurasia, and contributed to an estimated 10,000 suicides.

In a true “dictatorship of the proletariat” under communism, the working people collectivize the means of production. As a result, mines, refineries, factories, and farms, are all run by the people, for the people. But do not get dictatorship of the proletariat confused with a tyrannical dictatorship executed by state governments. Under communism, there is no corporation or state taking away people’s profits.

Collective ownership of businesses, where workers own and operate a business, is already successful in the U.S. In New York City, collective ownership of companies allowed people to go from $7-per-hour minimum wage jobs to earning over $20 per hour. Community wealth initiatives, which help the cooperatives expand, have been prosperous in dozens of cities, including DC, where they succeeded in opening a worker-owned business. Collectivism is based on the communist belief that workers should have control of production.

Social programs are just a step towards a future of opportunity for us all. Growing numbers of youth are participating in social activism to reform the government and ensure rights for everyone. However, the current U.S. system is flawed at its core, and reform would still maintain that system. The solution to injustice isn’t reform, it’s insurrection. The capitalist government that inhibits injustice is at fault, and until it is eliminated, discrimination and oppression will continue.

In America, communism would look like the end of the mega-elite class such as Jeff Bezos and Tim Cook. High cost of living puts American workers into stress, with 80 percent of workers saying they work paycheck to paycheck. With such an abundance of resources being unevenly distributed, communism can ensure the 47 million people in poverty in the U.S. receive living conditions.

It is easy to dismiss communism as idealistic, but by educating oneself on theory and reading texts such as “The Communist Manifesto” and “The State and Revolution,” one can understand it as something that is truly humanizing. The future is in our hands as students, America preaches freedom, and that freedom can only be brought upon if everyone is free.

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The case for communism