The Communist Program, and Objections To It

The Communist Program

  1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
  2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
  3. Abolition of all right of inheritance.
  4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
  5. Centralization of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.
  6. Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.
  7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
  8. Equal liability of all to labour. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
  9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equitable distribution of the population over the country.
  10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, &c, &c.

Objections That Marx Raises, and Addresses

1. "Why would you take away the fruits of labour?"

In fact, private property has already been all but abolished for the worker. Industry has seen to that. Wage labour does not create property, but just capital. The worker buys things with this, but the worker is always shortchanged by the capitalist. That's where profit comes from. And, this capital is not just the personal power of the worker, earned by his own toil. It is a social power, and is controlled by international markets, bankers, and governments.

The money that the worker earns is small compared to the money that the capitalist makes. If money brings freedom and power, then the abolition of property affects only the capitalist. The worker essentially feels no ill effects. Property for the few comes at the expense of property for the many right now. That must change.

2. "Work would cease, and universal laziness would overtake us."

The bourgeoisie is already in this state, and they are the ones profiting from the labour of others. Those who work, acquire nothing, and those who acquire anything, do not work. This would make it so that work was again related to tangible reward.

3. "We would lose our intellectual life."

But there is little intellectual life for the worker as it is.

4. "Communism is the denial of individuality."

True, but only the individuality of oppression.

5. "It would abolish the family."

But the current family is a microcosm of the bourgeoisie/proletariat struggle. Parents gain by the labour of their children, husbands gain by the labour of their wives. Besides, big business has already destroyed the proletariat family.

6. "We would introduce a community of women."

But the bourgeoisie already treats the wife as another instrument of production. Bourgeoisie marriage is a system of having wives in common -- they support the capitalist project by making the personal conditions of the capitalist comfortable.

7. "Communists. . .desire to abolish countries and nationality."

Workers have no countries. They are already played off against labour in other places. You can't take from them what they do not have.

8. "Communist theory has problems from religious, philosophical, and ideological perspectives."

But all this is the result of our social conditions, and any critique is rooted in a particular mindset brought about by the conditions of production at a particular time. Communism abolishes eternal truths (which philosophy and religion want); all is historical.

The Result:

  • Class distinctions will disappear.
  • Production will be in the hands of the whole nation, not just a few people.
  • Political power will fade away, for it is just the power of one class oppressing another.
  • There will be an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.

Question: Can this work?

What would our society look like if we tried to implement Marx's reforms?

More criticisms (other than what Marx raised)

1. Are all societies really class societies? Marx speaks of an "Asian mode of development" in some societies, which does not have class conflict.

2. It doesn't seem like we have two great classes facing each other. The standard of living for workers has increased, not decreased. There is a new middle class. There is more social mobility than Marx could have imagined. Diffusion of ownership has extended property so far that the notion of a ruling class has all but disappeared.

3. In many places, there are "permanent" groups that the workers can look down on (e.g., blacks in the U.S., natives in Canada). So, the workers in fact don't think of themselves as the most miserable of anyone.

4. There is not a fixed group at the bottom of the social hierarchy, due to immigration.