I would say it’s more relevant than ever. Perhaps not as a full-ideology. I think the problem is that many people view it as a political ideology in itself and discredit the entire work and movement whilst not fully analyzing what aspects of The Communist Manifesto could be useful for our future. I think mainly this is due to how communism was implemented in the past and global perceptions of communist regimes.
As a political ideology I don’t see it as relevant to the twentieth century, perhaps not even the twenty-first century but I do see it being relevant in the future. I see it as becoming increasingly relevant as the next century progresses. The problem I see with communism in today’s world is that we have not progressed to a point where we can solve the problems of communism.
However, I can foresee that in the future, technological advancement and digitization of physical markets and globalization could lead to a communist-type world. If I were to describe what the future would be like in one or two centuries I would say leave capitalism at the door. We would be living in a totally different world just like we are now living in a totally different world to one that existed two centuries before us.
Indeed, communism is still relevant in the twentieth century by principal. Socialist ideals such as the welfare-state are partly inspired by Marxist principles but in a form that mixes it in with capitalism. Capitalism has increasingly leaned towards socialism during the twentieth century – it is branded neoliberal capitalism. In the next century we could see a new brand of capitalism (post-capitalism) that is ever more progressive and ecological as our current form of capitalism becomes unsustainable.
I could be entirely wrong and there might be a completely new concept of political ideology in the future that is either capitalist or communist in nature. Personally, I’m more biased to the Marxist side.
As far as communism is concerned, outside the four existing socialist countries China, Vietnam, Cuba and North Korea, India holds an important position. The disintegration of the Soviet Regime and the downfall of Marxism in some of the actually existing socialist regimes in Eastern Europe, communism in general suffered a crushing blow. However, communism had strong roots in Kerala and West Bengal, the two of India’s most literate states. Probably, the pursuits of the people of these states matched the Leftist ideologies. But the total collapse of the Leftist government, especially in West Bengal where the Leftist government has ruled for more than three decades and also in Kerala, in the last election, indicates the loss of public support for the communist government even in these states. The undisputed win of the ruling Congress party has pushed the communist entities into parliament minority and has created a further crisis for communism in India. According to Prakash Karat, General Secretary of the Communist Party of India- Marxist (CPI-M), the main communist faction, “This necessitates action and rethinking”. However, in the present perspective, this also raises a question, “Whether communism is at all relevant in the current Indian political scenario”.
If we analyze the methods of ruling of the last Communist regime, it will be evident that India’s romance with communism has reached an end. For example, during the thirty plus years of regime of the Leftist government in West Bengal, there was not a single attempt of large-scale industrialization especially when the “poster boy” of the Left, Jyoti Basu, was the esteemed Chief Minister. When Buddhadeb Bhattacharya came to power, his drastic attempts of taking lands from the peasants for the purpose of industrialization created a lot of outrage among the elite and the literate classes of West Bengal along with the poor peasants who were being directly affected. This coupled with the inefficient governance created a major setback in gaining the support of the masses.
India is the land of Ramkrishna Paramahansa, Swami Vivekananda and Aurobindo Ghosh and undoubtedly one of the largest spiritually oriented nations. The Leftist government’s principle of atheism only further alienated the common masses. In a nutshell, the Leftist government so far has been a total failure to synchronize with the socio-economic trend of the majority. From a bigger perspective, the Leftist government always opposed privatization and land reforms were on the top of their priority list. As pointedly asked by Surjit Bhalla, the financial wizard and anchor of the NDTV talk show, Tough Talk, “In this day and age why do you still celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the October Revolution? How many democratic parties have a bust of Stalin in their headquarters?”
India has made significant economic growth under the Manmohan Singh’s government and has been able to secure a key position in the global scenario which would otherwise have been doubtful under the rule of a Leftist government with their anachronistic ideologies. Liberalization, privatization and reforms in the public sector are the ideas of the day. Victor Hugo once said that no force could stop an idea whose time has come. Gone are the times of the antique Leftist ideas, the days of still looking at the world through a Cold War lens. Karl Marx, Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Lenin are but pale shadows now. Che Guevara has been reduced from a martyr to a popular T-shirt print, for the youngsters of this generation. An advocator of Hindu fundamentalism, even the BJP is gearing up to emerge as a more moderate political party. It is evident that Communism in India has outlived its time.
Communism is extremely relevant in modern times as well as in postmodern times and times to come .
This is why –
- Capitalism is inherently unfair and requires selfishness to survive by having one class exploit another.
- In poor countries, socialism has improved health and social indicators better than capitalist regimes.
- In the developed world, countries with strong socialist forces have better health conditions than those countries lacking or with weak socialist forces.
- Socialist countries have generally given better health services than capitalist countries. They generally have a lower infant mortality rate, higher life expectancy, higher number of physician, and higher daily per capita calorie supply and consumption, higher adult literacy rate, enrollment in secondary education and enrollment in higher education.
One point, there has never been a communist government but socialists aiming to become communist societies. Having said that, we should look to the West today when over the last 30+ years, wages stagnant, dwindling middle class, erosion of working conditions and security, community assets being sold off, and decreasing services. The Western governments have “sold off the family silver” to keep the economy going for the 1% but there will be a tipping point with debt and no “real” economic activity to support the economy. The US economy is mostly economic sleight of hand and a Ponzi scheme of financial products and share dealings. If the $US was not the reserved currency then they crumbled long ago. I believe, in the 50s the US was a quarter of all economic activity in the world.
Contrast that with China. They may not be what the purists call communist but their future looks brighter and more robust than the West especially the US. Ask this question again in 10 years. Since 2008 the average income of the Chinese has tripled. At the same time the average income in the US has stayed the same. There is still a while to go for the average income to be equal to the US but on PPP they are already there.
Yes. When production ability reach some level, society is better to have some communism element to release the social stress. During Great Depression of last century, America introduced Social Security program by Roosevelt’s New Deal. Social Security program contain communism distribution principle of “to each according his need”.
America since then introduced more and more entitlement programs that contain such a communist principle under the Human Right slogan. This communist distribution principle is not compatible with capitalist system. Such as Obama Care that is within the distribution principle of “to each according to his need”, cannot bear the burden of interest groups who will make profit within the Health Care system.
Government’s entitlements programs are so sweet, that every candidate promise them in order to get more ballets. As a result, too much of communism in America that exceeded American production ability. The results is the decade long double deficits, meaning American consume more than they produced.
Europe and America are all too much of communism in their government program under the political correct language of Rights.
Communism is definitely still relevant in our world.
Communists supported women’s suffrage and equality; their right to vote, their right to work, their right to divorce, their right to own property, their right to exist in society as equals with men. That illustrates just one tiny corner of Communism.
The Communist analysis of markets and the relation between capital and labor, the rights of labor, the 40 hour week, environmental protection, opposition to child labor laws, and many such principles which the prosperous industrial nations practice, have their origins in Communism.
Sadly, the atrocities of totalitarian states under the guise of Communism rightfully discredit Communism.
- If you are suggesting the establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community, a global moneyless , classless, stateless, wage less society where production is for use not profit and there is free access to all goods and services, to right the ills of present day Capitalist society then yes it has more than a point but sadly as long as the overwhelming majority are willing to allow Capitalism to continue there is nothing one can do.