“The Red's Reply”
by David Massarde
A response to
“On the Deficits of Communism in Micronational Economy”
by Charles I of Eleytheria
Firstly, I'd like to thank Charles I for his essay, entitled 'On the Deficits of Communism in Micronational Economy', expressing his views on communism, both micro- and macronationally. I now present my own critical analysis and personal views on his piece.
The essay starts off with a couple of definitions. The first, for communism, is given as “valuing the collective over the individual”. This is a common misconception of communism. To start, communism is the final stage of civilisation according to Marxist theory. It is a stage in which the state has been abolished, and the means of production (factories, farms and so on) are owned collectively, by the whole population. Each individual or collective uses these resources as needed. Problems are solved democratically, and no police force or judiciary system is needed, as society has reached a point at which these institutions are no longer required.
The system that I believe Charles describes is socialism. Socialism is a system in which a government, representing all the people of the nation equally, is formed. The system is influenced by a number of 19th century German philosophers, particularly Karl Marx. This government takes under its control the means of production and distribution, banks and all other large institutions on behalf of the people. The main aims of a socialist government include maximisation of individual liberty, elimination of class divides and promotion of equality. Ordinarily, this government is democratically elected by the citizenry in a free election (this is a major point at which the theory of Marxism-Leninism distinguishes itself from most other forms of socialism, as the revolutionary vanguard party takes control, with little or no democratic process involved, and a single-party state is instituted). The socialist state seizes these institutions to provide a centralised, stable and co-ordinated leadership to these powerful organisations in society. The purpose of this is to reduce wastage and duplication of efforts (i.e. competition between firms) to produce a system that uses these resources to provide its citizens with maximum benefit, for example universal healthcare. Disputes are solved with democratic discourse, allowing each member of the community to voice their concerns and influence government policy. This is where the conception of “collective over individual” originates. However, there are many different types of democratic discussion, some specifically designed to defeat the “tyranny of the majority”, such as consensus democracy, in which all views are addressed and attempted to be solved, ensuring that minorities are not ignored. In addition to this, most socialist systems aim to maximise the liberty of the citizen instead of depriving them of their rights, which would result in the types of extreme conditions portrayed in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. However, socialism is a communitarian system, opposed to individualism. This is not to say that the rights of the individual are ignored. Quite the opposite, in fact, individual liberty is one of the most treasured of socialist values.
The next definition in the essay is of fascism. It is described by Charles as “valuing the state more than the individual”. This is an extremely narrow view of fascism. Fascism is a right-wing political system based upon authoritarian, nationalist corporatism. It can be said that socialism shares a few similarities with socialism, such as collectivism, despite the systems being on opposite ends of the political spectrum. However, they diverge on almost every other issue. Fascism promotes a strong national identity. Socialists tend to take an internationalist view. Fascists see capitalism as a productive influence on society, but socialists view it as wasteful and destructive. Fascists aim for class integration, whereas socialists aim for the obliteration of class divides. Fascists advocate a single-party system based upon unification of national identity. Most socialist systems prefer a multi-party system. It can clearly be seen that there is a dramatic divergence of values between the two systems.
Charles now fallaciously proceeds to claim that the Soviet Union was in fact a fascist state. As has been proven, the USSR was far from fascist; they abhorred the idea. It is true that, especially in the Stalin era, the socialist system mutated into an extremely autocratic, oppressive and in some ways even nationalistic (with Stalin's Socialism in One Country policy) police state. While this level of authoritarianism may be interpreted as being similar to that of a fascist state, the internal structure and ideology of the Soviet Union still differed in almost every way to fascism.
Charles proceeds to assert that the People's Republic of China continues to use the Stalinist system. This is an outright error; China follows a modified version of Marxism-Leninism which is peculiar to China. The state adheres to the political philosophy of Mao Zedong Thought, which has been adjusted to include the doctrine of Deng Xiaoping Theory. Deng Xiaoping Theory introduces many capitalistic elements to the system, transforming it into what the Chinese refer to as socialism with Chinese characteristics. More strictly, it could be called single-party market socialism. The result is a system which differs sharply to the system of the Soviet Union.
The writer now asserts that the defining difference between capitalism and socialism is not the level of control exerted upon the individual by the state. Charles claims that that factor is determined by the state's place on the authoritarianism-libertarianism continuum alone. He thus argues that a state's level of authoritarianism or libertarianism is independent of the system of government. This is an error. The ideology and organisational system of a government share a dynamic relationship; one affects the other. A government motivated by libertarian ideals will avoid oppressing its people whenever possible. Fascism, for example, is not motivated by libertarianism. Therefore a fascist state will be more oppressive than a socialist one, which is. This fact cannot simply be dismissed.
Charles now claims that the intrinsic difference between capitalism and socialism is the amount of control the state maintains over business. As proven by the Chinese example above, this is simply not true. The Democratic People's Republic is a socialist state. However, it operates on a market economy. Little control is maintained over business, but the government remains socialist. According to Charles' theory, these two elements in a society are mutually exclusive. The fact that China exists under these circumstances disproves Charles' theory comprehensively.
It is at this stage Charles make his most daring, reckless leap by stating that as an application, socialism is utterly useless to micronationalism. He states that since level of control over business is the only factor that separates socialism from capitalism (a theory proven not to be true), and business is an insignificant, in most cases non-existent issue in micronations, there is no reason for micronational socialism to exist. This is a major fallacy on the writer's behalf. He ignores all of the other organisational differences between the two systems. The fact that most socialist models are far more democratic than most others is ignored. The fact that one of socialism's main goals is the maximisation of individual liberty is ignored. The fact that socialist government is more effective at delivering the policy that the citizenry wants is ignored. All of these characteristics of socialism make the system more appealing to micronationalists.
If trade is irrelevant in the micronational world, a market system is far worse a choice than socialism. The success of capitalism relies upon the existence of an active, competitive market. In micronationalism, such a thing does not exist. In a capitalist system, work is motivated by payment. In a situation without payment, the economy would halt. A socialist system is equipped to deal with a situation in which money is redundant or does not exist. Since what little industry there exists is state-controlled, it is made sure by the government that that work does get done. The motivation for a citizen to work is to contribute to the society.
Even if a small economy did exist, most micronations would not have the money to pay the workers. It must be remembered that the majority of micronations are founded and run by youths, usually still in secondary school. If an internal, 'native' currency was used, it would be of poor quality, and would be easily forged, leading to a very unstable market.. For a micronation to buy from the macro-world a piece of equipment capable of producing high-quality currency that is difficult to forge is unrealistic. It is far beyond the means of most adolescents to acquire such a piece of equipment.
Charles now says that socialists will claim that socialism “isn't just an economic doctrine... [but] an ideal which encompasses all areas of life”. Charles asserts that such an ideal is undesirable, and could lead to an Orwellian dystopia. In fact, the political system of all nations penetrates most aspects of our lives every day. Our level of liberty is determined by the system of government we live under, and our level of liberty affects our culture. Our culture affects our outlook on the world. It drives opinion and taste. This is why a citizen of China may applaud an action undertaken by the government of North Korea, whereas a South Korean citizen may not.
The writer complains about revolutionary ideals “and other such nonsense”, calling it pompous rhetoric, a waste of time. Are revolutionary ideals a waste of time? A revolution in any form, be it a French Revolution or an Industrial Revolution, is something that is ultimately constructive to society, something progressive. This revolutionary “nonsense” helps this process. It encourages a nation to improve itself. Something like a revolutionary ideal, aimed at contributing to the betterment of a nation is is something worth having.
Charles complains further that this revolutionary “nonsense” is a mere re-iteration of classical imperialism. This argument seems to be somewhat out of place coming from the despot of an absolute monarchy. While it may be justly viewed that the revolutionary propaganda distributed by the Soviet Union under Stalin was an expression or an echo of old world imperialism, today's socialist and communist revolutionary speech is distinct from that. The imperialism of Europe was motivated by a nationalistic urge. Since most forms of socialism are inherently internationalist, they cannot be restatements of imperialism.
On the subject of rhetoric, Charles rather ungracefully proclaims, “Same shit, different ideology”. Indeed, the same argument could be used against today's Western liberal and social democracies; instead of political propaganda on the radio, we hear the latest hit song. In the place of a picture of Lenin, we have an advertisement for jewellery. Instead of military parades, we have rock concerts. Both alternatives in each example reinforce in our minds that the system we are under is the superior. It can be inferred that the popular culture of liberal and social democracies act as a new kind of propaganda, constantly reaffirming the greatness of the society.
The point of social welfare in micronationalism is a point I must concede. It is simply unrealistic to expect a micronation to provide that level of care with such limited resources.
Charles now admits that there is the smallest shred of hope for socialism in his mind, confessing that there may be some way that it could work. He likes the idea of socialism in theory, but says he fails to see any evidence of the system providing an advantage, either in the micro-world or the macro-world.
The People's Republic of China is one of the superpowers of the 21st century. The socialist nation's economy is expanding at a speed unprecedented in modern history. Even the most financially crippling crisis since the Great Depression has failed to stop the growth of this red powerhouse. The People's Republic can rightly be seen as the United States' new rival for the new century. One must look no farther to see the massive potential socialism still has in the macro-world.
Meanwhile in the micro-world, many of the community's greatest nations such as the Democratic People's Republic of Erusia, the People's Democratic Republic of Sandus and the Most Glorious People's Republic of A1 are socialist. For A1 especially, socialism has been a most rewarding system to develop under.
I would once again like to that Charles I of Eleytheria for his essay. My exploration of his ideas has been most enriching, and I look forward to a lively discussion with him – either on the topic of socialism or an entirely different topic – some time in the future.
Most Glorious People's Republic of A1
Word count: 2129 – beat that, Lethler!