Sunday, December 07, 2008

Implementing Communism

Part I: Setting the stage

This series is entirely hypothetical, to explore how one would implement communism under more-or-less realistic circumstances. I place myself as the decision maker not because I have any real ambition to hold such a position, but only to avoid the rhetorical awkwardness of placing my own ideas in the mouth of a puppet.

Let's say that after a period of profound civil unrest and violence (perhaps an actual civil war), I have at least the opportunity of greatness thrust upon me: I inexplicably find myself the head of a revolutionary government that has — at least temporarily — seized power by virtue of having the only remaining disciplined army that can effectively enforce its decisions. There is no democratically elected government for me to hand over the reins of power: I can either exercise the power I have, turn it over to another non-democratically-elected leader, or allow the country to devolve into chaos. For better or worse, I choose to exercise power.

I'm faced with the following material circumstances:

The material productive capacity of the country has been substantially reduced, but still remains in good enough condition that I'm fortunately not faced with the sort of desperate material poverty faced by the Russian and Chinese revolutionary governments.

I'm also not faced with the implacable hostility of a well-organized and prosperous capitalist-imperialist enemy. China and Europe are the only remaining powers that might form an a dedicated enemy, but both are cautiously neutral, preoccupied with their own crises. I do not have to face — as did Stalin and Mao — an imminent invasion or nuclear war. Plus, I still have access to the existing US nuclear arsenal, making the country more-or-less invasion-proof.

I therefore have considerably more latitude in my decision making. I can be reasonably confident that one bad decision won't starve millions, nor must I put everything else on the back burner and whip the population to stave off an imminent war.

Politically, I'm in a much more precarious position. Although my government does have state power, I do not have full democratic legitimacy. The only social advantage I have is the lack of a plausible alternative. I have the enthusiastic support of about a third of the population, the passive acceptance of another third, and the active hostility of a third.

I have internal organizational issues as well: While I have the enthusiastic support of my own organization, it has ipso facto the characteristics necessary to seize state power. Some of these characteristics (including too much enthusiastic support) are not conducive to actually running a government.

The remainder of this series will explore my ideas and conjectures for what I would specifically do organizationally, politically, economically and socially in such a hypothetical situation.

16 comments:

  1. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this series. There's a great deal of me that likes the idea of communism, and my main objection to it is that I can't see any way it can happen practially without authoritarianism. I shall be interested to see your take on it.

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  2. This certainly sounds very interesting. Even if you are never able to apply any of this, it may be worthwhile to it work out as a thought-experiment. Such an exercise could yield understanding about governing, leadership, ruthlessness... I'm quite interested!

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  3. I'd image that the greatest obstacle to implementing any kind of communism in the U.S. would be the fact that most americans have a knee jerk reaction to the term "communist". It would be like trying to establish a government called "peadophilia". No matter the nobility of the objectives, the term alone would incite resistance. Of course, being that the american public has proven itself to be less than discerning or probing of the political realm, all you would have to do is call the government the 'Patriotic Party' and insinuate that opposition to it was 'unamerican'. After all the american citizenry did accept the Fundamentalist christian party, they just refer to it as the GOP. :)

    On a serious note, I think this series could be interesting. Looking forward to it.

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    1. Americans have a knee jerk reaction to the word "Communism" because they know history. Over 150 MILLION people murdered at the hands of communist regimes in the 20th Century. Enslavement of 1/3 the population worldwide. Communism cannot work because it views humankind as parts in a machine and makes life decisions for its people based on budgetary costs. Ironic that a system that claims to care so much about people care less than than the people themselves. If its so brilliant, then explain why the last 100 years have shown people trying to escape it? It is stunning to me that any of you would even attempt to legitimize the brutality of such a system. What do you think that says about your character when you defend government sanctioned mass murder? You all are either masochists, sadists, or the epitome of ignorance! Just goes to show that most of the institutionalized so-called professors in America and Europe should be on trial for treason.

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    2. My reply, such as it is, is posted here.

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  4. Wildeabandon: I'm starting off with an authoritarian government. The challenge will be to eliminate the authoritarianism.

    Chimp: I'm assuming that such knee-jerk reactions against the label have been mitigated by previous affairs. It is not entirely implausible IMnsHO that the profound social and civil unrest caused by the impending depression, and Obama's inability to take drastic measures to ameliorate it, will erode much of the propagandistic prejudice against communism and socialism.

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  5. BB: Yes - indeed, that much is obvious - it's the how of the elimination, and what comes afterwards that I'm interested in.

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  6. I have some further questions concerning the state of affairs of your post revolutionary country.
    What is the status of organized criminal organizations?
    What is the education level of the remaining populace?
    What is the condition of the neighboring countries as well as Central and South America?
    What is the level of debt the country has carried over and which governments would likely be the holder of that debt in regards to your revolution and the country's existing pre-revolutionary debt?

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  7. What is the status of organized criminal organizations?

    Do you mean the Mafia or Halliburton?

    What is the education level of the remaining populace?

    I'm assuming a near-future time frame, so about what it is today.

    What is the condition of the neighboring countries as well as Central and South America?

    Haven't thought about it. Any ideas?

    What is the level of debt the country has carried over...

    It's enormous right now, and probably debt payments would be an important factor in civil unreset

    and which governments would likely be the holder of that debt in regards to your revolution and the country's existing pre-revolutionary debt?

    Well, China's holding a lot of US debt right now. Given that the Chinese pay a degree of lip service to communism, that might be an interesting irony.

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  8. In regards to the organized criminal org's, I was thinking mafia, but also Ted Nugent style militia or AlSadr type local warlords. I would think that if you had the last organized military you would have secured the supply lines and specifically taken over anything Haliburton.

    In regards to the US having a civil war, I would imagine this would be devastating on the Mexican government. Then again, it could also be a boon depending on their stance on the war. I could see Mexico taking advantage of the war to claim some of the southwestern states, specifically California and Texas. Though Texas would likely be split as it would be a vital resource in any war due to the oil industry. Canada would likely be packed with refugees and the like. Alaska would be a good question and likely would have succeeded to Canada or Russia or tried to remain independent. More than likely joined Canada for their protection.

    Central America would likely see their armies enlisted as well as a swath of mercenary forces that would deplete their population to join in the US Civil War. I suspect they would be financially sound but unstable. So...no real change.

    South America could definitely benefit from a civil unrest in the US. They would be a supply of agriculture and oil the world would need. I would see then similar to the US in the 50's. Particularly in Brazil and Argentina.

    This is a great thought experiment. I look forward to your exploration.

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  9. Are you going to consider repercussions from our current brand of foreign policy? Our current brand of "state building" has the unfortunate (but not undeserved) side effect of "we create our own worst enemies".

    We are not imperialistic, we are worse. We have a "we broke it, now you deal with it" policy where we seed a place with "democracy" and then pull out**, leaving an unstable and confused mess behind.

    Some of these victim states churn out terrorist groups who might be inclined to kick us while we're down. You (rightfully, I believe) discount the immediate threat of a "well organized" state, but most of the armed threat to us is likely to be from these considerably less organized, but very dedicated, corners of the world. Much as they currently are.

    ** - oh, look, we're doing it again!

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  10. Hey BB,

    Inspired, I wrote a brief history of the future where you would rise to power.

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  11. Good luck with the people who are going to gun for where you are: some hoping to achieve their own vision of society (which may be only slightly different from your own), some purely out of the desire for power, and some feeling threatened by you (justified or not).

    Juggling power plays is going to be a tough hurdle no matter what the goal is supposed to be, and I think I'll find it interesting to see how you'll deal with it.

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  12. ood luck with the people who are going to gun for where you are: some hoping to achieve their own vision of society (which may be only slightly different from your own), some purely out of the desire for power, and some feeling threatened by you (justified or not).

    I'm boning up on my Machiavelli. ;)

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  13. Are you going to consider repercussions from our current brand of foreign policy?

    I'll consider it, yes. I've not yet decided how important I think this consideration is.

    In all probability military imperialism would already have been vastly reduced as the previous government tried to fight the revolution.

    Some of these victim states churn out terrorist groups who might be inclined to kick us while we're down.

    It should be noted that even when highly motivated by active imperialism, terrorist attacks have primarily psychological value, and they have psychological value precisely because we presently consider ourselves invulnerable. So the combination of reduced motivation and lowered expectations should transform this issue into a police problem.

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  14. Juggling power plays is going to be a tough hurdle no matter what the goal is supposed to be, and I think I'll find it interesting to see how you'll deal with it.

    Happily, I can rely on authorial omnipotence.

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