“I’m literally a communist, you idiot” has been on the rise as the mantra of the millennial left ever since Ash Sarkar’s outburst against Piers Morgan. Neo-communists, caked in hypocrisy as always, can now proudly wear their slogan on a T-shirt for just under £20, and have recently been lobbying radio channel LBC to drop ‘extremist’ presenters like Nigel Farage (communism no longer qualifies as an extremist ideology, apparently).
It’s a tragedy in itself that the communism hasn’t joined feudalism and naziism in history’s bin of terrible ideas. Even worse is that the ideology has somehow become fashionable.
Those who unironically call for ‘luxury communism now’ should learn both their history and their marxism. At their best, communist societies have simply been inefficient and fizzled out after a few years. At their worst, they have been responsible for some of the largest scales of human tragedy ever seen.
Yet modern communists go to great lengths to either divert, deny, or simply ignore anyone who points out the abhorrent track record of their chic ideology. Bringing up the holodomor of the Soviet Union, during which millions of Ukrainians were starved to death, is often met with a rebuttal of “But that wasn’t real communism!”. Similar responses are heard when the Great Leap Forward of Maoist China, the killing fields of Pol Pot’s Cambodia, or the horrors of oppression in North Korea, which continue to persist to this day.
Meanwhile, advocates of communism are quick to hold capitalism responsible for other historical crimes against humanity; slavery, poverty, and preventable diseases are all blamed on the system of free trade.
There are numerous, gaping holes in this argument. Economist Jamie Whyte does a brilliant job of debunking the idea that capitalism somehow ‘caused’ slavery. As he argues, the institution of slavery has existed far longer than modern capitalism, which in many ways led to its final demise. Similarly, arguments that poverty and disease are somehow the fault of capitalism ignore the fact that both of these have existed far longer.
These are the starting conditions of humanity. We began our existence in poverty, and all of history has been one long, gradual process by which we have been lifted out. It is capitalist innovation that has allowed us to grow and improve in this way; to say that it is the reason for poverty’s existence is akin to blaming the medicine for any germs which happen to survive the treatment.
Peep Show’s Mark Corrigan explains this best: “It’s only the miracle of consumer capitalism that means you’re not lying in your own shit, dying at 43 with rotten teeth”.
In short, it’s a no-brainer when it comes to comparing the historical records of capitalism and communism. There is no fight to be had; the capitalists won it a long time ago.
Even communists themselves realise this, though they don’t like to admit it. The aforementioned luxury communist Ash Sarkar, in an interview with Owen Jones, discussed her desires for individual freedom, without the yoke of an oppressive state telling you what you can and can’t do. Sounds a lot like liberal capitalism to me!
There’s nothing fashionable nor fun about communism, no matter how it’s dressed up. Never has it brought more freedom to its people. Never has the individual thrived under a communist state. Never will this ever be the case.
It’s long overdue that communism be fully relegated to the ash heap of history. Let’s not do this again.