I have heard a number of objections to "communism" in the course of my career. First, there are objections I mostly agree with; a workable communist system should, I think, address these concerns:
- Communism, as traditionally defined, requires almost all individuals to be radically altruistic.
- Central planning cannot efficiently manage the complexity and interactivity of the large number of transactions necessary for managing a complex industrial economy.
Second, there are objections I mostly disagree with; made by people who are well-intentioned, these objections require thoughtful rebuttal.
- Entrepreneurs will not innovate without the incentive of private ownership.
- Individuals will not work hard without the potential obtaining enough wealth to become rentiers
- Government is philosophically and institutionally incompetent to manage the economy, in a fundamentally different sense than the complexity objection above.
- It is always more efficient to allocate capital at all levels by private decisions rather than public decisions.
And, finally, there is the standard objection to revolution: However egregiously flawed the republican capitalist system, it is the system we have, with an enormous investment in making it (more or less) work; replacing it with a fundamentally different, relatively untried, system poses the risk of a catastrophic failure far worse than republican capitalism. I've written on this last topic at length. To sum up, I agree that we should not replace a system that is not in catastrophic failure; I disagree in that I see capitalism on the road to catastrophic failure; I'm convinced that even if capitalism does not fail catastrophically, radicalism strengthens and empower reformers.
I'll talk about these objections at greater length in future posts.