The idea of communism is as eternal as religion
The idea of communism has been buried in the history of the mankind a lot of times. Every Western media outlet would report in the fall of the year 1989 that the era of communism was coming to its end. The Paris newspaper Russian Thought published my article in the beginning of 1990. The article was called “Early Requiem.” In the article I wrote that communists seized the capital of Salvador, while the West rejoiced about the coming end of the communist era. This country is very far from Moscow, although it is rather close to Washington. Communists were ousted from the capital later, although they were not defeated. It is a paradox, but communist leaders Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin became the grave diggers of communism in Russia. Western figures have awarded so many prizes to them. Yet, was it communism? Were those people communists? We have to separate the idea of communism and communism as a certain social order in order to be able to answer this question.
Originally, the common property on the basic means of production – land – was typical everywhere. This was typical for Russia, for German tribes, for India, for American Indians. Engels called such society the “primeval communist society.” Communist ideas appear with the beginning of class fights, when a society gets divided into a poor part and a rich parts. This idea appeared earlier than the Christianity did. There used to be Essenes sect in Israel in the second century B.C. until the first century A.D. This sect is considered to be the predecessor of the Christianity. Essenes lived in communes. They had common property and they worked collectively, condemning social inequality and slavery. Their ideas were then developed by Christianity.
The idea of communism as a society of the universal justice did not originate from slaves or poor people only. Thomas More, the author of Utopia, was the Lord Chancellor of England. However, he harshly criticized the English order, opposing the order of a fictitious island that he made up himself. The word “utopia” became a synonym of something unrealizable. A lot of communist theories or practical attempts, like it happened with Owen’s New Harmony colony in America (1825), were basically called “utopia communism.” Neither Marx, nor Lenin came from the working class; Engels was a factory owner. That is why, if the social being determines the public conscience, this is not absolute as far as certain people are concerned.
It is worth mentioning that there are three monotheistic religions in the world: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. The common feature about these three religions is the fact that they promise living in paradise after death in return to sufferings on earth. However, the three religions get divided into various branches: Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Shiite and Sunite branches. All religions often wage wars with each other, and those wars are not only verbal wars. Catholics and Protestants in Ireland kill each other for the sake of their love and devotion for Jesus Christ. The Orthodox religion is far from being a joint religion too. There are congregations of Russian Foreign Church in Russia, as well as Old Believers and the Catacombs Church. The discord between them is irreconcilable, although each of those religions and their branches believe that their teaching is the only true one.
There are a lot of various communist parties in the world as well. Up-to-date Russia is not an exception: Communist Party of the Russian Federation (Gennady Zyuganov is the leader), Viktor Anpilov’s party, Eduard Limonov’s party and so on and so forth. It goes without saying that each of those party believes that it is the most communist kind of party. They criticize each other’s actions, not theories, for the development of the communist theory has been stopped for everyone.
It should be mentioned here that Marx and Engels’s theory is far from being complete as well. In the Soviet Union, Marxism was announced to be the highest achievement of the human mind. On the other hand, there is only one choice, when you reach the highest point of something: you either have to stop or to go down. When Aristotle was proclaimed the indisputable icon of human mind in the Middle Ages, this eventually resulted in the standstill of thought and in lifeless scholasticism. It was written in the “Communist Manifesto” that communists could set out the point of their theory in a very short way: to destroy private property. When the Communist Party of the Russian Federation accepted the notion of private property in its program, it actually disavowed the true communism. However, the founder of the communist party of Peru, Jose Carlos Mariбtegui, was right, when he said that the ancient Enoch state of was a communist state. Indeed, there was no private property, no money, the labor was collective, there was a social guarantee system. When someone would pay his attention to the despotism of the Enoch state, he would answer that there was not a slightest need of freedom for a person of an ancient state. For example, there was absolutely no need of freedom of press. Jose Carlos Mariбtegui believed and communism and despotism could go together ok. He believed that Marx’s communism was the industrial kind of communism, while the Enoch communism was agricultural.
One should acknowledge that the single theory or practice of communism has never existed. Stalin’s communism does not look like Trotsky’s or Mao’s communism. Fidel Castro’s or Che Guevara’s communism does not look like Kim Jong-Il’s communism. When the Soviet Union was a friend of Cambodia or Vietnam, Soviet “scientists” praised the Khmer Rouge regime. They wrote things like this: the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Soviet government back the struggle of the Cambodian people for freedom and independence.” When the Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia, the Soviet Union had to choose between those two countries. Soon after that the Soviet press was filled with articles about the bloody Cambodian dictatorship. Indeed, Cambodian dictators destroyed rich and smart people, although the country was on the edge of hunger and chaos. Communists wanted to feed people, first and foremost. They sent the urban population to villages, organized communes, in which people were forced to work in the fields. Rich people, or those, who did not want to work, had their heads smashed with hoes. This was a way to save bullets. That was exactly the way Cambodia was going to build communism. They abolished private property together with the class of proprietors. Wasn’t that communism? The major goal was achieved – private property was eliminated.
Yugoslavia's history is rather interesting in this respect. When communist Josip Broz Tito quarreled with Stalin, the social country of Yugoslavia was announced to be the country of Tito-Rankovic fascist regime. When Stalin died, Yugoslavia became a socialist country again, although its public organization did not change at all. Does it mean that a social order estimation does not depend on social criteria?
In difference to feudalism, capitalism is the society of legal equality. Any person can go to a fancy restaurant in Paris, where celebrities go. However, a cup of coffee will be more expensive there, than the cost of ten dinners in common restaurants. As Mark Twain used to say, both a millionaire and a poor man have a right to sleep under a bridge. Theoretically, communism is the society of the virtual equality. However, there used to be a lot of special places in Stalin's era, where common people could not go. There are special places like that in Russia nowadays as well - the Kremlin hospital, for example. A sick minister will be treated there for free, because he has a right for it. However, a janitor does not have such a right at all. Russia’s FSB, Internal Affairs Ministry and other departments have their own hospitals. In other words, Russia’s social order allows the legal inequality, which looks like feudalism, not to mention Gulag or asylums for those, whose thoughts differed from the ones of the Soviet leadership. Criminal proceedings could be legally instituted without any reason. One may understand writer Alexander Solzhenitsin and his hate towards communism. He identifies communism with Gulag, which is totally wrong.
Russia’s modern mafia order, chaos and destruction, depopulation on the level of one million people a year, homelessness, plunder and corruption make a lot of people think that the Soviet era was a bliss. By the way, there can hardly be a person found, who would believe the slogan of the government, which says that the law is one for all. The government does not believe that either, although it tries to prove it on a daily basis.
The history of the state of Israel, the way that it was formed, is rather interesting from the point of view of communism theory and practice. The Soviet Union was the first country, which recognized the new state. As it is well known, Jews were ousted from their homeland, they were forced to settle all over the world. At the end of the 19th century America brought up the idea to make Jews come back to their historic land, to the mountain of Zion (Jerusalem’s center). This is the origin of Zionist movement. Jews penetrated in Palestine, purchased lands from Arabs, who presumably sold deserts and swamps. There was only one kind of labor that could make those deserts and swamps good for living. Vladimir Lenin called that labor the self-sacrificing collective communist labor. Young people had to work from early morning till late at night, in all weathers. They had to be all alert too, for Arabs tried to expel them already. They managed to turn the barren land into blooming gardens. Tiny Israel exports fruit and vegetables to huge Russia - the country, which is rich with unique soil. Communism is not supposed to meet unrestricted demand, no communist thought about it. There was no ideology in Israel at all. Its communes were set up on the basis of practical needs. There is private property in Israel, as well as capitalist relations.
I believe that we should also recollect Nikita Khruschev’s shameful attempt to build communism in the USSR by 1980 and leave the United States behind. This crazy idea inspired millions of “scientific communism preachers,” hundreds academicians (there was only one way to become an academician in the Soviet Union: you had to praise crazy ideas). After Khruschev resigned, it was ordered to forget about that idea. However, history remembers that very well. History will never forget, how the Central Committee of the Communist Party ordered to persecute a group of geneticists, or how the same committee announced that cybernetics was an obscurant science. No one will forget the food program, which made Mikhail Gorbachev’s career, in spite of the fact that he forgot about it completely at his last congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
My mother was born in a Latvian province, in a poor working family. She started working in a printing house at the age of nine. Her education was only three grades. At the age of 19 she joined an illegal bolshevik organization. What did she do it for? For her future state positions or big houses? Her future was all about jails and Siberia (which was exactly what she got later). She joined the communist movement, because she wanted to create a fair world. She lived for other people, and saved nothing for herself during 40 years that she spent as a member of the communist party. My father was also an illegal communist. He died during the Civil War, fighting for the bright idea.
Irina Khakamada, one of the leaders of the Union of the Right Forces at the moment, wrote in her memoirs that she joined the communist party just for a bottle of cognac. She needed that for her career of Marxist political economy professor. When this profession became absolutely useless, she disavowed communism and joined Anatoly Chubais and Egor Gaidar’s party instead. This was going to bring her good profit. To crown it all, she had a dream – to have a fancy restaurant with geishas.
A French sociologist believed that the social inequality, some people’s wealth and other people’s poverty will remain forever, for those are the peculiarities of human nature. It goes without saying that there are people, who are ready to betray their mothers in order to become rich. However, the history of Christianity and the history of communism prove that there are always people, who dream of universal happiness for everyone, who dream of a perfect world. They will fight for it. Thousands of communists were ready to give away the most valuable thing that a human being has – life. They did so. That is why, the idea of communism is as eternal as religion.
Anatoly Tille Doctor of Legal Sciences
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov