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edmund_the_destroyer wrote (edited )

I'm going to be stupid and give you the benefit of the doubt.

The overwhelming mindset on Raddle seems to be for anti-authoritarian communism. Marx had his 'dictatorship of the proletariat', this idea that an elected central committee would manage the economy until a full transition to communism was ready. This was tried by the Soviets and China and ended badly. Other communists like Mikhail Bakunin embraced communism but rejected Marx's concept of a strong central government or in fact any government at all. Their idea is individual self-organizing communist communities and that's all, with little or ideally no power given to any regional or central government. Bakunin lived at the same time as Marx and foresaw exactly what happened in the Soviet Union.

So there would be no job assignments and no gulags. If I don't like the work I'm doing, I find some other work to do.

And with respect to your example of doctors, that's complex. In modern America medical school is absurdly expensive, takes many years, and for the first few years they work as underpaid and grossly overworked interns during their residency. In return for all of that they get huge salaries later. And part of that high salary is from artificial scarcity - not all people can afford the tuition costs or handle 80 hour work weeks as a resident. And nurse practitioners, physician's assistants, and other medical professionals have all the knowledge they need to do parts of a doctor's job but they're legally forbidden from doing so. That's the American Medical Association's work, lobbying for a concentration of power with doctors to make even more artificial scarcity and drive up their own compensation.

Even in a capitalist system, that's all unnecessary. A lot of the things done by doctors like examining X-rays or prescribing certain types of drugs could be done by nurse practioners and physician's assistants. Medical schools could be more common and cheaper. Residencies could be longer but with a 40 or fewer hour work week and better pay. Doctors would still be the top-earning professionals outside Wall Street and executive board rooms, but not at the inflated earning levels they have today.

But on to doctors and communism. Individual schools of communist thought have different ideas on worker treatment (compensation, if you want to use that term). I think many of us are okay with having a doctor treated better by the community than a janitor. What we definitely agree upon as communists is the abolition of capital. The doctor can have a nice house and a nice car and a nice boat. What he can't have is a house he rents out, a car or boat he rents out, or a factory he runs for which he takes some percentage (whether it's 90% or 0.09%) of the profits from the production.


yaaqov wrote

I think many of us are okay with having a doctor treated better by the community than a janitor.

Can you expand on this? On the face of it, I can't agree with this assertion at all, and I wouldn't have expected most people here to be able to, either.


edmund_the_destroyer wrote (edited )

I'm relatively new to adopting socialist or communist ideas, so maybe I've missed some key tenets. But I thought "no private ownership of the means of production" does not rule out the possibility of compensation based on contribution. Marx believed in personal property, right? Is it automatically bad for someone that saves lives to get more personal property for their work than someone that washes sheets?

Again, I'm not advocating that anyone get more based on what they own (capitalism) or have a larger say in community decisions (authoritarianism) than anyone else. Just more personal property reward for more work or higher skilled work. Even within the same work domain, if everyone working on the farm agrees on a 30 hour work week but then one person wants to work longer because they want to have more apple pies for their own family at harvest, is that bad?

(Edit later: I see the appeal of complete 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his need' in a communist society. But I think that removes any incentive to master the most critical skills. That kind of freedom to do any job you like instead of having a motive to become a doctor is nice... until society runs out of doctors.)


yaaqov wrote

Thanks for the explanation. The apple pie scenario, especially, seems to make sense, at least in my current thinking. I'll say this, though—isn't it the case that every society has always had doctors/practitioners of medicine? More generally, it seems to be the case that the motivation for becoming an expert in any particular field can be tied to some combination of the societal need for those experts, and personal interest. Under this view, people become doctors primarily so that their communities stay healthy, to put it in other words.


edmund_the_destroyer wrote

I understand what you're saying, but I'm wondering if just allowing recognition of society's needs and personal inclinations will create enough. That could be enough doctors or enough anything else: plumbers, engineers, musicians, cleaners, teachers.

As I said before, there may be aspects of the discussion I'm missing or complex ideas around this topic that are widely available and discussed but just unknown to me. But my own first thought is that we can allow supply and demand to work in this regard in a communist society. Supply and demand isn't inherently bad, if everyone in a communist community wants to knit clothing or build homes or create music and nobody wants to create food, there is a problem. Supply and demand in a capitalist context is bad, for a host of reasons that have everything to do with capitalism and as far as I can tell nothing to do with supply and demand.


mofongo wrote

Marx had his 'dictatorship of the proletariat', this idea that an elected central committee would manage the economy until a full transition to communism was ready.

False! The dictatorship of the proletariat is the stage where the working class is successful in appropriating the bourgeois' political power (and economical) and starts shaping society shaping society according to their interests, i.e. communism.


edmund_the_destroyer wrote

Isn't this exactly where Bakunin disagreed with Marx in the 19th century? Marx wanted some kind of democratically appointed, centralized authority to manage the transition to communism. Bakunin thought that any such organization would eventually grow into a bureaucracy that serves its own ends - and history seems to indicate Bakunin was right.