“Communism failed”

It didn’t because we’ve never seen it exist for more than brief periods and then only under extreme internal and external pressures. Communism does not mean what was practised in the USSR, China and Eastern Europe. Nor is it what the paranoiacs in the USA mean by the term – any movement that opposes or tries to limit US imperialism or the domination of US businesses. Fidel Castro, for instance, wasn’t a communist but was forced to seek support from the USSR because Washington refused to recognise the justice of the revolution and wanted to keep looting the Cuban economy. As envisioned by Marx and Engels, communism should mean socialism-max – ie, not just common ownership of the means of production, etc, but also control of it and achieved by what Marx called ‘the self-activity of the proletariat (the working class)’. The Communist Party may have preached communism but it never practised it. Instead what they created was state capitalism under centralised, militarised police-state control. This was called the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’, which meant in effect the dictatorship by the party hierarchy*. That’s not what Marx and Engels had in mind, though they may have been persuaded to go along with it, if they’d still been around – Marx, at least, was a politician. That doesn’t mean that all Party members were in agreement with this. There have been many, many genuine communists in the Party, but those who weren’t murdered by the bosses’ death squads and police in the West, were executed or destroyed in the camps in the East. Any survivors became cynical and born-again right-wingers or transferred their allegiance to Trotskyist groups. A truly communist world – that is one where everyone’s needs are provided for fairly, where there’s no more exploitation and where everyone really does have a voice and a choice in the running of public affairs – is the only hope for the long-term survival of the human race. The worst crime the so-called Communist Parties have committed is to make the word poisonous for those who need to hear it.
[* These became known as the ‘namenklatura’ and were, in effect, a baby bourgeoisie who appeared in their full glory when the USSR collapsed.]

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