The Morality/Immorality of Communism
This is sort of an adjunct post to Robert Prather’s post on the moral authority of Cindy Sheehan. Robert pointed out that Sheehan has toadied upto communist dictators and I contend that this also calls into question the moral authority of Cindy Sheehan.
The problem is the morality of the Communist system, both in practice and in theory. In practice it is hard to argue that Communism is a morally acceptable system. One only need look at the history of Communism as applied in the real world to see great and horrific abuses of the State’s power against its own people. Under Stalin millions of people dies, mostly of starvation, but tens of thousands were executed by secret police (the NKVD). In Communist China a similar massacre of people took place where millions (10 to 15 million conservatively estimated), again mainly by starvation. In Cambodia the Khmer Rogue, the name of the Communists in Cambodia killed anywhere from 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 again mainly via starvation. In North Korea, a communist country there is no telling how many people have died due to starvation and will die in the coming years. This is pretty much the case in almost all communist regimes. And when the people decide they don’t want to live in the communist system and either want to leave, or change the system, they are often imprisoned, tortured and killed.
On a theoretical standpoint one need look no further than one of the primary principles of communism:
From each according to their ability, to each according to their need.
At first glance one might be tempted to conclude that this is a moral stance to take. I contend that it is not. For example, suppose we have a talented individual–call him Bob, and he can make far more than he needs. If Bob wanted to produce enough to cover his needs and then enjoy the remaining time as leisure time this is not allowed. Bob would be forced to produce additional resources and goods to give to those who cannot produce enough to meet their needs. In short, once Bob was done producing for his own needs he’d effectively become the slave of those who cannot met their own needs.
One could argue that since we can’t observe how much Bob can ultimately produce he could simply shirk and enjoy leisure time that way. While true, this also means that those who cannot meet their needs now must go without. In short, there is no mechanism to get Bob to be at his most productive voluntarily. It is either put a gun to Bob’s head, or make do with a sub-standard level of production. In this latter case, it is probably going to be the case that Bob and everybody else will have to make do with less.
Now compare this to the United States. The U.S. relies tremendously on the market mechanism. This mechanism has resulted in tremendous prosperity. Some point to things like measures of income inequality and pronounce the U.S. as somehow deficient. However, income inequality is an imprecise measure for what we are really after. What we really want to measure is people’s welfare. But how do you do that? While this is indeed probably an insurmountable problem, consider this aspect of the problem. How to we represent the welfare for the tens of millions killed in communist societies? After all, many of these people would have lived much longer lives if it weren’t for the communist system. So if we are going to compare some aggregated measure welfare between the two systems (capitalist/market economy vs. communist/collectivist) we should factor in all those dead people. Further, I assert that if we could do this the hands down winner would the capitalist/market economy in terms of promoting and increasing the welfare of people.
The U.S. has had its disgusting moments (slavery of blacks, Native Americans, internment of people of Japanese ancestory, etc.). However, there have been great advances that have also extended human lives, improved human lives, and saved human lives. Is it a mere coincidence that the U.S. and other market based economies are so advanced? Is it merely that the West “stole” resources from the rest of world? Or is it that in market based economies, the quest for profit also provides the impetus for innovation and invention. Was the DVD and DVD players invented because of imperialists going abroad to seize resources, or was it some company that wanted to get an edge on competitors and make some money. I’m going to guess the latter, and unless those who favor the imperialist view can come up with some good evidence, I’m not going to change my mind.
So when Cindy Sheehan goes out there and sucks up to communist dictators and thugs, it is a morally reprehensible act. And then she compounds it by making comments about how the United States is actually the terrorist nation. And no, I’m not going to buy into the babble that market based economies have resulted in far more deaths. I have not seen anything showing anything approaching genocide from anything even vaguely related to market economies.