Exposing the Private Property Myth

One thing I’ve noticed among non-Marxists is the tendency to fall into a certain trap regarding Marx’s teachings. This is a trap I’ve also fallen into, meaning that, for a long while, my perception of what communism would actually look like was flawed; I believed that under a communist system, the abolition of private property would mean the abolition of individual ownership altogether.

The concept of private property is one easily mistaken, but actually refers to ownership of something that can generate capital, such as a workforce. This means that nobody would be permitted to own a source of profit, rendering both profit and exploitation obsolete concepts.

Personal property, on the other hand, refers to items for individual  use, such as a house, a phone or a musical instrument. None of these, according to Karl Marx would be abolished by the revolutionary movement, as they do not contribute to exploitation, capitalism, or the accumulation of profit.

Are you a little more sympathetic yet?



Beyond the Cash Economy: a Look at ‘True’ Communism

In a Marxist context, ‘true’ communism is viewed as the final stage of society, where class, profit, government and nationality have all been swept away. By this time, according to the theory, mankind will have evolved beyond hierarchical organisation and will live collectively, meaning that the Soviet Union, China, or any other communist regime does not qualify.

Rather, the socialist countries of the twentieth century belong in the ‘lower’ stage of communism, theorised as a period of transitional socialism whilst some remnants of capitalism remain. Thus, a government exists, albeit a socialist one (a ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’), and a socialist economy is in place, rather than a fully communist one. This, although poorly, is how the People’s Republic of China attempts to justify their market economy.

“…between capitalist and communist society lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. There corresponds to this also a political transition period in which the State can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat’ – Karl Marx, Critique of the Gotha Program

Yet it is perhaps because these countries don’t represent the idea (meaning that there are no examples at hand) that ‘true’ communism is rarely discussed. It is often passed off as ‘the communist’s ideal’ or the theoretical utopia which Marxism, as a philosophy, has to offer. This means that the endgame of the international Marxist movement is often only spoken of in contrast to what is seen as communism’s harsh reality, yet few understand that this ideal occupies a hypothetical epoch of its own, one later in time than the stage of development occupied by, say, the USSR. Thus, the theoretical idea is compatible with the practical reality; it is simply a future vision of the modern socialist states.

Nonetheless, the system is often seen as unpractical, because it doesn’t only mean an economic transition, but a complete turnaround in social thought (though if you read my post Naturally Selfish: Does Human Nature Make Socialism Impossible? you’ll see why I think this is possible). Such change is required because the idea it’s centred upon is a communal and essentially anarchistic lifestyle in the modern era; a 21st century attempt at what primitive tribal societies managed centuries ago.

This is by no means an easy feat, and, in theory, can only be done once capitalism has been overthrown worldwide. This presents the first problem: every nation on the planet must no longer exist, meaning that humanity must have not only waged a global war against all existing authorities, but made the collective decision to unify. Therefore, nationalism, even patriotism, must fade into the past. If not, mankind won’t have crossed the first hurdle.

Another problem is that of money, for it underpins every modern economic system, even socialism, and a truly communist society should exist in its absence. This would mean that a method of distributing goods and essential items among the population must be set in place, so that citizens literally work for their bread, and no-one can accumulate excessive capital. The issue becomes more complex, however, when you take into account cars, musical instruments, and various other items of leisure that people may desire.

One way of solving this dilemma would be to allow every person an equal amount of luxury items, giving them the choice of several. This way, everyone would be able to pursue activities they enjoyed, but nobody could accumulate excessively. A difficulty with this method is the fact that it would require some kind of central planning, which is likely a lot less easy in a stateless society, but this could be managed if the political system was structured well.

A final problem, however, is the fact that it’s not only the monetary system that needs to be changed, but the profit-driven mindset of both blue and white-collar workers. In Cuba, certain trained professionals are apparently finding work behind the bar, because it’s easier to earn money that way. To avoid such a tendency, we must change public attitudes towards money, so that, when students train in any professional field of their choosing (none of which offer any special material reward) they do so purely because of their interest in the discipline.

The USSR believed it would reach ‘true’ communism by 1980, yet was proven wrong. China, sixty-seven years after the revolution, still asserts that it’s at the beginning of the road to equality (as if it was ever on it in the first place). This is very much a final conclusion, and will certainly not be achieved with ease. Yet the communist project is not a simple, and often not a glamorous one, but one both inevitable and necessary. In the words of Fidel Castro, ‘A revolution is not a bed of roses. A revolution is a struggle between the future and the past’.

If we applied this reasoning, reaching a completely equal society in the relatively near future may not be beyond our grasp.

Capitalism’s Evolutionary Phases

I’ll start by saying that this entry may be quite dense. The purpose of writing it is to explain and convey an understanding I’ve developed of how capitalism has adapted to survive over the years, a question I’ve been considering for a while now. I suppose you could call the ideas proposed here a theory, (if I was to name it, I’d call it the Theory of Three Ages), and that’s all it’ll be for the moment; any advancement of this idea will only follow a lot of research on my part. 

But, given that this is me explaining my ideas so far, I’ll hopefully give you a good description of these three ages, and of how I believe exploitation has evolved over time. To do this, however, everyone needs to know what we’re dealing with, so I’ll start by asking you the following question:

What is capitalism?

It’s often seen as the embodiment of free trade and economic liberties as opposed to state control. Because of the challenge communism presented in the twentieth century, it would also be easy to cite capitalism as simply one of two political and economic currents in the world, and, after various failures in the communist countries, it’s far too often associated with freedom and harmony. Predictably, I’m going to tell you that this is wrong: it’s the single most sly, destructive, exploitive concept that has dominated the world throughout modern history. 

So here’s a Marxist appraisal of our great nemesis.

The European Age 

In terms of where it all began, capitalism arose roughly three centuries ago, taking its first breath in Italy. I wrote a more detailed entry on its origins a few months ago, but I’ll cover the basics here. The system that takes precedence over all inhabitable continents is a relatively recent one; it developed in Europe, perhaps the most socially advanced corner of the Earth at that point, out of the decaying feudal system that formerly retained supremacy. Yet unlike feudalism, capitalism existed to provide industrial (as opposed to agricultural) production, and with its rise, the focus of the economy was no longer upon the farms, but the factories.

The European countries soon grew in power and influence, and rose to colonise great swathes of Africa, America, Asia and Oceania, allowing them to exploit imperialistically. Imperialism has crept its way into history throughout mankind’s many different epochs, and it has always been a tendency of the strongest individuals to dominate the weak, yet this can be viewed as the rise of capitalist imperialism. The new European empires sought to utilise the people and the resources of the colonised nations for capitalistic purposes, and thus expanded their field of economic influence to the far corners of the Earth.

These powers were thus able to sustain dominance, by widening their field of exploitation beyond national limits, yet it couldn’t continue forever. You could perhaps think of this period as the climax of capitalism, at which point exploitation had advanced humanity greatly, yet had reached a critical level and was growing ever harder to maintain. Even after the establishment of a vast imperial network, the ruling elites of Britain, France or Germany were struggling to control those whose labour they relied upon. The system was, quite literally, falling apart under the weight of its own contradictions.

The American Age

Three significant changes took place in the world throughout the twentieth century. Firstly, the rise in power and influence of another giant, the United States, changed the international dynamic of the capitalist world. Secondly, economic changes allowed exploitation to take place to a less severe extent in the western countries, allowing many concessions to be made to the working population, and causing the working class to actually decline. Finally, the rise of Bolshevism threatened to end capitalism altogether. 

These changes may not seem as though they’d benefit capitalism, but, with the economic system on the very verge of collapse, they perhaps managed to save it. 

One reason why this happened was  the fact that the western countries found a common enemy in Soviet Russia and, later, China, Eastern Europe, Cuba and communist Indochina; they were forced to unite against them. This can be seen most clearly in the Cold War, yet was also present prior to 1945. It demonstrates the development of a capitalist ideology, through the willingness of these nations to fight for motives like democracy and human rights (it is, in a Marxist sense, the tendency of capitalism to allow for greater political freedom) under the new guidance of the United States. It was then a question of whether or not the western proletariat would side with the communist world, or the world run by their employers, and this sense of ideological unity helped allow for the latter. Tales of failures, inefficiencies and abuses in the socialist countries helped strengthen this ideology, and helped keep the workers from revolting, temporarily keeping them occupied and holding capitalism in place for longer.

Yet whilst ideological control helped distract many, the economic contradictions in the capitalist system were still such that it could not continue, and immediate reorganisation of the economy was needed if it were to do so. Economic variation took place in the form of de-industrialisation, causing the working class to shrink in size, and the outsourcing of industry to other parts of the world. This gave rise to a new form of international domination, where brands and corporations, as opposed to armies and governments, became responsible for the unofficial and shadowy exploitation of the third world. Imperialism in the traditional sense, the official establishment of foreign authority in the region, was on the decline, again very much in tune with the tendency of capitalist society to progress in the direction of liberty and freedom, yet a new form of imperialism was developing. It was purely economic, and dodged the need for a military invasion and the controversy that such invasion causes, and yet it was more effective, and could allow the western proletariat to both decline and grow in affluence. They would thus lose their revolutionary character, and so capitalism was kept alive in the developed world. 

Thus an interesting dynamic fell into place, where the capitalist world, led by the United States, relied upon the undeveloped regions for economic purposes, and the communist world, led by the Soviet Union, wished to bring an end to such western domination. This gave way to third-world Marxism, a tendency in communist thought influenced largely by Mao’s teachings, which retains popularity today. It may also be no coincidence that, outside the communist bloc, all the new revolutions occurred in undeveloped areas of the planet. 

The International Age

Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, the communist empire fragmented and the majority of socialist states gave way to a shifting political climate, allowing capitalism to expand across Eurasia, consuming Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. This led to further changes in the international dynamic, and paved the way for a future in which America may not be the leading capitalist power. As some of the still-officially-communist countries resorted to capitalism, the rise of China presented a further challenge to the United States.

At the same time, the third world, which the capitalist world had become increasingly reliant upon, was developing at an astonishing rate. India, Brazil and Indonesia, whilst locked in the depths of poverty, all have the potential to become superpowers, which suggests that soon our imperial ventures in these parts of the world may no longer be tolerated. If this is to be the case, and even if not (as no format of capitalism can continue indefinitely) the capitalist world shall do what it has done for decades, and scour the Earth for pockets of resources and workers to exploit. New pockets of exploitation have already opened up, in countries like Russia, the perfect example of economic polarisation, and more will likely appear as further geopolitical changes take place.

This, it seems, is the kind of capitalism we’ve adopted. In the European Age, exploitation took place within the confines of individual countries, with certain countries exercising capitalistic rule over others. In the American Age, the division between the exploited and the exploiters began to take on national characteristics, yet now, in the age of international economics, such divisions exceed these boundaries and exist irrespective of states and countries.

Revolution, whenever and wherever it occurs, must take place on an international level to compete with this system. While famously sparse on the practicalities of revolution, Karl Marx did remark that, whilst the differences between nations and nationalities are vanishing in capitalistic society, ‘the supremacy of the proletariat will cause them to vanish still faster’. 

Today, as capitalism grows increasingly globalised, this couldn’t be more relevant. 


The image depicting the Statue of Liberty was provided by Giorgio Martini from Wikimedia Commons, and was licenced under the following (though a newer licence is available): https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/deed.en

The image depicting the Shanghai skyline was provided by J. Patrick Fischer from Wikimedia Commons, and was licenced under the following: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en



Workers, not Machines

We live in a world where our increasing reliance on technology is becoming ever more concerning.

Did you know that the University of Cambridge recently established a department on the protection of humanity from the threat of artificial intelligence? This isn’t the only example; novels are written, films are produced, and serious debates and conversations worldwide discuss the subject, asking the same question that has worried mankind for decades: whether or not it’s possible that someday, we will find ourselves at the mercy of machines.

Often, this is considered from a political perspective (‘what if robots took over the world and reduced human beings to mere slaves?’), yet there’s another side to the debate, for whilst having the potential for world domination, modern machinery could also revolutionise society’s economy. Today, I’m asking whether or not the machines we build, quite capable of completing even the most menial tasks as efficiently as any human, take over the role of the industrial workforce.


It’s definitely a question worth asking, because it could potentially threaten the careers of billions worldwide. It’s also perfectly possible, unlike the subject of other debates surrounding robotics which concern an indefinite point in the future, when we have finally created artificial intelligence or some other development we can’t actually be sure we’ll achieve. No, this is something that could happen in a matter of years – we have the technology, probably the money, to allow such to occur – all we need is the will. So, given how possible this would be, it would be sensible to assume that the capitalist world can probably look forward to a new age of human development; that someday soon, we’ll have a worker-free economy.

Or is it?

As a Marxist, this question has troubled me, because it suggests that humans are very close to achieving capitalism without exploitation. In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels wrote of a similar idea, which they referred to as ‘Conservative, or Bourgeois Socialism’, explaining how ‘The Socialistic Bourgeois want all the advantages of modern social conditions without the struggles and dangers necessarily resulting therefrom. They desire the existing state of society minus its revolutionary and disintegrating elements. They wish for a bourgeoisie without a proletariat.’

Now, the Communist Manifesto, arguably the document around which communism is centred, dismisses such a utopian proposition, as did I when reading it; it contradicts the key Marxian idea that exploitation of the international proletariat may only end after a proletarian revolution, suggesting that capitalism can be made ‘friendly’. Thus, when I realised that it would seem logical for new developments in technology would allow just that, I considered how I’d approach this idea, not wanting the entire basis for my philosophy to be disproven. I eventually decided why (in my opinion, at least) it won’t happen…

1. This Could Have Happened Years Ago

One thing I realised was that the replacement of an industrial proletariat with machinery or robots isn’t an idea entirely unique to today’s world, for machinery has played a key role in industry since Marx’s day. In fact, one of his most important theories (the theory of Relative Surplus Value) argues that the rate of profit accumulation can only change through re-organisation of the workforce, which may include the introduction of machines or new technologies. In short, I believe that if mechanisation was a goal the capitalists really wanted to go for, they’d surely have done it by now.

It could be argued that, until modern times, this wasn’t possible, as only recently have we developed technology capable of performing the advanced tasks necessary to society today. But whilst machines have caught up with us in this respect, many of the basic tasks that theoretically could be left to machinery back in Marx’s day, weren’t. Even back then, it would be possible then to build machines that would eliminate many of the most basic and menial tasks subject to the proletariat, but this, largely didn’t happen. Similarly, it’s possible to eradicate a great deal more of the tasks subject to today’s workers, but if we follow in the same trend, I don’t see why this will occur today either.

It all comes down to the same principle, this being that, given the current circumstances, it’s just easier to employ workers than invest in technology. To quote Mike Daisey’s ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs’, a monologue written about the conditions of those who produce Apple products in Shenzhen, China, ‘why use machines when you can use people?’. Now, there are accusations that some of what Daisey describes has been fabricated for effect, but this doesn’t matter in this instance, as the argument is the same: it’s often easier to exploit the life out of ten, fifteen, or five million than it is to rely on expensive and perhaps-not-always-available technologies that may perform the same task.

The Workers of Shenzhen

The Workers of Shenzhen

2. If it did Happen, it Would Only be Temporary

Let’s imagine for a second that it happened; that the economy was transformed by robotics. I’d like to point out that there is a serious problem with non-human elements taking over the workforce, for we forget that we live in a society of man. This may seem obvious, but it’s important to remember, for, in the world we’ve created, humans require jobs. If, after the ‘technological revolution’, machinery replaces the roles of the modern-day proletariat, that means everyone except the wealthy middle and upper classes is thrown out of work… and they’re going to need employment.

It’s hard to imagine exactly what this would lead to, but if you imagine billions of people who can’t work, and thus don’t have a source of income, it’s not hard to see that some kind of crisis will result. The way I see it, it would likely mean one of two things: either we’d be forced to take a sharp U-turn away from mechanisation in an attempt to re-introduce capitalism as we know it, allowing society to progress more or less in the way Marx predicted, or we’d see something like the biggest and most dramatic revolution in history and capitalism would be destroyed altogether (again giving Marxism significant credibility). Either that or three billion would starve to death.

You may be thinking ‘surely, no-one would let it get that bad!’ and I agree, which brings me to my third and final argument: I don’t believe that we, society, would let this come to be…

3. It Wouldn’t Happen in the First Place

I can’t imagine mankind being so blind to the possibility of all the above occurring. Forget Marxism, forget revolution, and just imagine that three billion or so, a figure which no benefits service, no welfare system, no charity in the world could cater for. Will we just watch these people get thrown out of work, one by one?

When discussing this issue with somebody, they offered a counter-argument by suggesting that such change would be gradual, and would take place only in the form of different brands, companies and factories starting to introduce new technologies to compete with one another. This is likely true, but the results, like the process, would also appear gradually. Therefore, as rising unemployment can’t be seen as good results by any measure, this would only give us time to pause and think. To end our short-lived dream of a bourgeoisie without a proletariat. To stop what we’re doing before that figure gains nine zeros.

The featured image and the second photo in the entry was provided by Steve Jurvetson from Wikimedia Commons, and is licenced under the following (though there is a more recent version of this licence, which can be found via first opening this link):


The Birth and Development of Capitalism

On Tuesday 14th, many undoubtedly celebrated Bastille Day, paying respect to the rebel movement behind the French Revolution.

Probably the most significant event in eighteenth-century Europe, this revolution reshaped European history, changing the face of France forever. For anyone unaware of what actually occurred during this remarkable few years, violence broke out across the nation after the Bastille was stormed by revolutionary forces. Such violence would later overthrow the monarchy, throw the country into chaos, and trigger a series of conflicts extending as far as the Middle East, securing it in the minds of many generations to come. Even with these drastic outcomes aside, it still deserves a place in world history, for this was the event that brought about an economic system still standing today; this was the event that brought about capitalism.

Bataille de Jemmapes 1792

Bataille de Jemmapes, 1792

The idea of a capitalist revolution may sound foreign to you, which is understandable; in a world where capitalism has long been the system which nations have tried to prevent revolution from overthrowing, the thought that it could exist as a revolutionary theory may sound strange to many, yet just like communism, capitalism had to start somewhere, and 1793 is one of the most profound examples of such an instalment. If the transition it enacted isn’t obvious, we have to remember that feudalism – the system’s predecessor – were the days of landlords, peasants, absolute monarchy, and a heavy religious influence on the populace. All of the above were revoked or transformed after the transfer of power took place, and the main focus of production was no longer the peasants labouring on the aristocrat’s land, but the workforce in the factories of Paris, Lyon or Toulouse.

However, although possibly the most dramatic, the transition in France is obviously not the only example; it is believed by many that capitalism originated many years ago, in the regions of northern Italy, and the ideas of a revolution against feudalism can be seen in the English Civil War, the European Enlightenment, and events reaching as far back as the Crisis of the Late Middle Ages. To give you an idea of how long unrest had been present, Europe – arguably the most advanced continent at that time period – experienced almost half a millennium of tensions and trauma with the rise of the new productive means. As a result, society saw many profound changes up to the late eighteenth century, at which point France had finally reformed its economy.

But we have to remember that at this stage, many nations were still stuck in the dark ages of serfdom, and though they would later progress, they did so in a different manner. In the podcast ‘Is Marxism a Science?’ provided by wearemany.org*, the speaker David Whitehouse looks into this when it refers to the German transition to capitalism, which, whist revolutionary in its own way, was not dramatic or profound like that in France. The states of Germany, as Whitehouse explains, were yet to catch up with more advanced European nations, and thus constructed industrialised economies whilst still under feudal leadership. The same can be said for the third world, which, still not completely capitalistic, relied on this kind of ‘uneven development’ (as he puts it) to allow progression to occur.


Carl Stilling: The Forge – Germany, 1909

We can also see how such development has possibly occurred on a deeper level in countries like Russia or, perhaps more profoundly, China, for these were largely feudal and backward regimes, yet in both, communist revolutions (or, at least, revolutions claiming to be of a communist nature) took place. Here it would appear that not only has development occurred on an uneven level, with both feudal and capitalistic features present, but it has almost completely skipped a stage. Whether or not these revolutions were truly Marxist is a debate for another time, but the preface to the Communist Manifesto’s Russian edition talks of the peasantry possibly building communism in the country, suggesting that such a progression may be possible, and thus and thus that capitalism need not always develop fully.

Even if this isn’t the case, we can see through this pattern of mixed progress – where undeveloped societies were forced to prematurely catch up with developed ones – the extent to which capitalism has transformed the world through its own evolution; western Europe and North America have practically raced ahead, forcing other regions of the world to industrialise quickly, and this is all down to the colossal scale on which capitalist production took place. On this subject, Marx also wrote that the bourgeois class, ‘during its rule of scarcely 100 years has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together’, which allows us to see how the implementation and the spread of capitalism has truly revolutionised society.

*find it here: http://wearemany.org/a/2010/06/is-marxism-science

North Korea: the Beginning of the End

In the preface to ‘Communism: A Very Short Introduction’, Leslie Holmes writes:

‘The overwhelming majority of states that were Communist as recently as the late 1980s have moved on. While, formerly, five communist states remain, the two successful ones (China and Vietnam) are so largely because they have jettisoned many of the original basic tenants of communism and are in some important areas – notably the economy – already post-communist’.

The communist world today

The communist world today

First published in 2009, such a view presented in Holmes’ book is already proving to be especially discerning. Only in late 2014 did the USA and Cuba set aside their long-enduring hostility towards one another, an action which, as I’ve earlier said, I believe will mark the start of socialism’s decline in the Caribbean. Arguably, with China and Vietnam already long gone, this leaves just one state that exists according to strictly socialist principles; North Korea, or officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Ironically, what could be perceived to be the last untarnished communist regime has formally abandoned communist philosophy, a political step on the road to capitalism which the other four countries have yet to take, with their constitution of 2009 describing their country as one ‘guided in its activities by the Juche idea and the Songun idea’. However, Juche, the school of thought based upon ideas of self-sufficiency, and Songun, the national policy of ‘military first’, contribute little in the way of altering the country’s strictly-centralised economy. From the outside, it would appear that the economic situation has persisted without interruption, leaving a country with an equally ‘communistic’ system to the other four, and even more so today, with the relaxations in policy within China or Vietnam. But is all this about to change?

A surprising event in recent news may indicate exactly that, depending on what angle you look at it; North Korea is currently experiencing a nationwide property boom, a concept we’d associate with the capitalist west. In itself, this may not provide a strong enough argument to suggest a foreshadowing of the regime’s collapse, but an article published in the South Korean newspaper ‘The Hankyoreh’ explains how this may be the case. The author references research professor Jung Eun-yi, a leading expert in the field, who ‘argues that there are signs that the housing market in North Korea is turning into a real estate market, rather like South Korea’.


As I’ve said, it’s still only a minor alteration, yet change has to begin somewhere, and it isn’t always as dramatic as the Romanian Revolution of 1989, or even the lifting of the trade embargo against Cuba by the USA. Furthermore, it shouldn’t be underestimated how provocative such a change could be; the article explains how Jung believes this style of market ‘will continue to expand for a significant period of time’, allowing it time to seriously transform the nationwide economy, paving the way for further relaxations on the road to a free market. In short, we learn that Jung thinks 2013’s establishment of the housing delegation offices proves that ‘both central planning and market forces are at work in the North Korean economy today.’, and that, in her opinion, the incorporation of the latter alongside the former into the market also provides evidence for a reformist trend developing under Kim Jong-un’s government; she informs us that ‘the regime is going beyond the military-first policy known as Songun that was instituted by Kim’s father and moving down the path toward socialist capitalism’.

The timing certainly seems right, with the DPRK standing as the last of its kind, and I believe this is exactly the kind of trigger such transition requires. Once more opportunities arise for personal financial gain, enabling the individual, rather than the state, to profit, the iron grip the government maintains over the economy will begin to loosen; like the other socialist states whose colours have somehow clung to the mast after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the DPRK’s regime shall eventually crumble. One question, however, remains unanswered: is the fall of Korean communism to be rejoiced or lamented?

There’s obviously no one answer, and it depends not only on your attitude towards communism on the whole, but also towards the North Korean regime. I can’t imagine many conservatives, liberals, or even socialists saddened at the prospect. A dispute could arise among the far left, however, and opinions on North Korea vary from a communist perspective.

Personally, I’d definitely support the ousting of the current leadership, which operates as an absolute monarchy, enjoys luxurious privileges unheard of by the workers it claims to represent, looks to the leader like a prophet, Kim Il-sung like a God, and all in a perverted fashion which contradicts multiple tenants of Marxism. As for the loss of a communist system in the economic sense, I feel much the same as I did for the potential loss of Cuba’s. Yet it doesn’t take an expert to realise that the North Korean system is already flawed, given the famine it produces, the corruption it’s tainted by, and the seemingly endless funding it directs towards the military at the expense of the populace. In fact, if you take all its flaws into consideration, it would even seem sensible to argue that North Korea’s economy has already strayed too far from the communist model it was built upon.


The featured image was provided by User:SKopp from Wikimedia Commons. It was licenced under the following: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

The image depicting the current communist states was provided by Ichwan Palongengi from Wikimedia Commons, and was also licenced under the above.

The image depicting the apartments in North Korea was provided by Nicor from Wikimedia Commons, and was also licenced under the above. 

Tsipras Takes a Stand…

Recently, as you probably know, the winner of the Greek election turned out to be the socialist party Syriza, or ‘Coalition of the Radical Left’. Even the name is enough to suggest the ideological positions party members are coming from, alongside the fact that their former communist leader, Alexis Tsipras named their child Orpheus Ernesto, a possible tribute to Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara. Their economic stance, however, shall be far more influential in the months to come: an opposition to austerity. When first hearing of them, I thought that their political and economic views clashed somewhat, given the nature of the organisation which they have sparked tensions within, this being the European Union.

I think we can all agree that the EU was founded on broadly leftist principles. Themes of proletarian internationalism can be seen within it, for example. To demonstrate this, the political climate in the United Kingdom,  (whose situation shall likely be similar to that of other countries) is one under which the debate on EU membership has assumed ideological characteristics: the left support it, whilst significant movement on the right oppose it.

But the leader of the British Labour Party, Ed Milliband, according to the Telegraph newspaper, was once forced to deny that he was an ‘old-fashioned socialist’ highlighting the extent to which socialism in mainstream British politics has been watered-down. Tsipras, on the other hand, whilst perhaps not reflecting the characteristics seen in the KKE (Communist Party of Greece), would obviously uphold and practise far more radical views than Milliband, and yet what the Greek Prime Minister intends to bring to the scene of international politics was described by Andrew Smart, in an article published by the Idler Academy, as ‘two fingers to the tyranny of the cult of productivity.’

It’s this description that I’m interested in, as the conclusion I’ve come to is this: The European Union is no longer a leftist organisation. Whatever socialist principles it was founded upon have dried up with the current recession, and perhaps only the most moderate of Europe’s contempory left see anything in the union anymore. Jean-Claude Juncker does not strive for ‘international justice’ and ‘economic liberation for the proletariat’ or even any moderate imitations of true socialism: He wants to put an end to debt, and will happily wait for the countries of both Eastern and Western Europe, no matter how dismal or prosperous their economies, to pay. This will translate to bad news for their citizens. A slogan used by the Communist Party USA; ‘People and Nature before Profits’, in my opinion, outlines a programme which the EU should adopt.

euro banknotes

Tsipras is the first to take a significant stance, and I can only hope he’s not the only one. I’d like to see this as the point at which the parties of Europe are beginning to realise that whilst debt presents significant concern, the demands of the people must come first. In any case, one can determine not only from the conditions causing the election result in Greece, but also the hostile attitudes it caused within the EU, the true nature of the organisation. Based in Brussels, the European Union is currently an aloof bureaucracy centred on the elimination of debt at the cost of wellbeing, when it should learn to value the peoples’ urgent needs more, especially in cases such as Greece today.