We cannot but acknowledge that the specter of communism still haunts the world, that it never stopped haunting it. The collapse of the Soviet Union wasn’t the end of communism, nor, as some would argue, was its establishment the beginning.
All historians without exception agree, I hope, that the first half of the 20th century wasn’t really the best of times. On a scale of one to what-the-hell-are-you-doing, it was the worst period in human history. That’s when the ‘communism’ you are afraid of today was born.
Communism itself does not advocate killing, of course. (Nor does it want you to be hungry and poor, by the way.) Lenin, fighting in the name of communism, however, did not shy away from spilling some blood. But that’s not so surprising, I would say. When the revolution comes, people die. That’s how it always has been.
On the other hand, we must also understand that though people (like Dostoevsky, for example) were afraid of communism (or socialism, or anarchism) way before 1917, it was only after the October Revolution that the bourgeoisie shat in their pants. As Orlando Figes puts it in Revolutionary Russia, 1891-1991, “It was not Marxism that made Lenin a revolutionary but Lenin who made Marxism revolutionary.” In other words, Karl Marx wouldn’t have sent so many people to the Gulag as Lenin, or later Stalin, did.
Now, since I have just reread The Communist Manifesto, and since communism and anti-communism is still a thing on Social Media, here are some quotes from it. Maybe you’ll use one of them to win an argument one day. Who knows?
This history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle.
The distinguishing feature of communism is not the abolition of property generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property.
The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production.
Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that it does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labour of others by means of such appropriation.
But not only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring death to itself; it has also called into existence the men who are to wield those weapons – the modern working class – the proletarians.
Now and then the workers are victorious, but only for a time. The real fruit of their battles lies, not in the immediate result, but in the ever expanding union of the workers.
The “dangerous class,” the social scum, that passively rotting mass thrown off by the lowest layers of old society, may, here and there, be swept into the movement by a proletarian revolution; its conditions of life, however, prepare it far more for the part of a bribed tool of reactionary intrigue.
The communists have not invented the intervention of society in education; they do but seek to alter the character of that intervention, and to rescue education from the influence of the ruling class.
The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority.
That’s it for today.