When someone asks me if I am a communist, I ask them what they mean. If communism means that a minority impose their will on a majority, then I want nothing to do with it. That is what we have now. If it means that everyone is treated as equally worthy to contribute to society and equally worthy to get their needs met, then I am all in.
How did communism become a dirty word?
Everyone loves the concept of community. Community implies friends and neighbors, belonging, sharing, and cooperation. The term ‘communist’ gets no such love. The question, “Are you a communist?” is equivalent to asking if you are a serial killer, a spouse beater, or a child molester. Why the contradiction?
The powerful people who run the world promote the concept of community. At the same time, they attack those who want to create community by abolishing class divisions. That kind of community threatens their wealth and power.
When George Bush and Condoleezza Rice talk about the ‘international community,’ it is just talk. If they really cared about community, they would not invade other people’s lands or build walls along the US border. To sustain public support, they must talk as if they are just like us, when their actions reveal the opposite.
The capitalist class have always lied to secure power. During the French Revolution, the capitalists were too weak to overthrow the feudal aristocracy on their own, so they mobilized working people to fight for Liberty, Equality and Brotherhood. However, the two classes define these things very differently.
For capitalists, Liberty means freedom from restrictions on trade and commerce, Equality means an end to the privilege of birth (replaced by the privilege of money), and Brotherhood is restricted to those of the same class. For working people, Liberty means freedom from exploitation and oppression, Equality means no class divisions, and Brotherhood means a sharing society. None of these is possible under capitalism.
Once the capitalists secured power in France, they called a halt to the revolution and slaughtered the workers who continued to fight for their freedom.
Real community threatens the ruling class so much that it will unite with sworn enemies to prevent it. In 1871, as the Prussian army advanced on Paris, the French king abandoned the city and fled with his troops to Versailles. Determined to defend their city, the people of Paris organized the world’s first democratic government, the Paris Commune.
The Paris Commune was a government of the people for the people. During the two months of its existence, the Commune disbanded the police and armed the population. Abandoned factories were reopened under workers’ control, and preparations were made to provide free education, equal pay for women, and day nurseries.
The word “communist” was first coined to describe supporters of the Paris Commune. Around the world, the elite and their supporters spat this word with fear and contempt, while working people embraced it with pride and hope.
The French monarchy refused to tolerate a people’s government in the capital city, so they made a despicable deal. They agreed to a ceasefire with Prussia on the condition that the Prussians allow the French army to enter Paris, destroy the Commune, and retake the city. Not anticipating such treachery, the Commune was crushed.
The lessons of history are written in blood. The ruling class are not threatened by talk of a sharing society. They will, however, attack all who try to build one. Which side are you on?