Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Communism, Democracy, and Equality

Today's discussion revolved around the initiation of communism. What was important to understand from today's discussion was the environment into which communism was introduced: the factory system was a completely unchecked enterprise-the only thing that could control how much workers were paid was the number of unemployed workers out on the street. If there were a bunch of people unemployed, then the factory owner simply could hire the one willing to take the least amount per day for his services. Because factory work at that time required few specific skills, there was no reason for a factory owner to pay someone more than necessary. Necessary, in this case, was very little.

Of course, this lead to a situation in which the rich got A LOT richer and the more got A LOT poorer. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels saw this as a problem and, unlike Toqueville (who felt that Democracy was inherently a good thing), felt that true equality could only be reached in a system in which the government collects all private property and wealth and redistributes equally among the population. Communism was born.

As you read for today, the Communist Manifesto laid out ten ways in which the government would acquire wealth in order to create what the communists believed would be a more equal society. This was in great contrast to the American system at the time in which the role of the government was simply to provide defense and basic infrastructure (roads and things like that).

So the question that remains is: what is the role of government in the lives of the people? Should government be more like the communists wanted, in which the government intervenes in order to create a sense of equality (whatever they feel that "equality" means) or is government better when it is more like the "laissez-faire" style that was going on in the United States, in which government left all economic elements alone and chose not to intervene regardless of the situation?

What do you think?


Aubrey Rugo said...

I think that government needs to stay out of the picture to an extent. When it goes to communism they are too much part of people's lives. Once you start controlling money, where do you stop? You can start to control what you can buy, who you can marry, and how you live your day to day lives. Communism begins to eliminate religion and personality. It makes everyone the same which i don't think it productive for a government. You need ideas from people in order to make a government that runs successfully and communism doe not allow for that. However, i do not think that government should take no role. They need to be the backbone, but not the whole body. They have to be there for support when the people need it and need to give some structure to life. I think the U.S. was running their government more successfully because it allowed for free opinion and different personalities. Classes aren't always bad, as long as they don't become to extreme. I think the government only needs to intervene strongly when it is needed, but should always be there for some guidance and support.

cindy said...

Of course, depending on each person, the role of the government will vary but, in my opinion, I feel that a society would best function if it gave the people such liberties (such as the freedoms given in the United States government today) because it gives the people a say in how they not only want to be ruled but also how such laws are enforced. However, with such great freedoms there must be some source of control that will keep the society not only in line but also there must be something that the people can base their decisions on. I believe that to a certain extent the communists had a good intention of keeping their society in order yet, once the conditions begin to improve the form of government should then switch over to a democracy (if only it were this easy…) Regarding the economic issue, it only makes sense that the government gets involved to keep the support of the people and to continue gaining such control.
*understand that the above answer is highly based off of the democratic ways since I have, evidently, been raised in an increasingly liberal environment and it is only natural that the above questions are answered in such a way. At least I notice this problem because I am, in one sense or another, leaning towards the democratic beliefs. Therefore I believe that the people should have more freedom than anything and, for primarily international issues, is when the government should be FULLY involved.*

Ivan Parfenoff said...

In theory Communism would work, it is only the ways of men stopping it. In theory, Communism as a clearly defined plan for an utopia, unlike other forms of government. It wishes to create a society where there are no classes and there is true equality. I believe that the government should be involved directly with the people. If the leaders are not corrupt and the system is true, a highly involved government would work better than any other. Communism is a very good idea for a system, but it doesn't cover all. It does not account for human nature. In my opinion, people are greedy and could not survive in a society where there are no rewards, or "treats" for doing the right, or good, thing. A good government would use Communism in its truest form. A good government is one that is not corrupt and only thinks of its people, not themselves. There is only one problem, there is no such thing as a good government; there will always be corruption and people will always put themselves first. Thats why the government needs to have a reward for the good work of the people. The government needs to be involved with the the workings of the people because anarchy is a threat to society as a whole. I believe that people are inherently evil and need to be in a structured in environment, like the U.S. democracy to an extent, to survive. People need a society where laws are put in place to tell them what is right and wrong. A good government would allow the people to create the moral standard of the country, but that same government should know that the people do not have enough will to control themselves, and that it is the governments job to do so. In short, i believe that the government should heavily be involved with the people to make sure that the society in the whole is headed in the correct direction.

Alexandra Harmel said...

I believe that communism just makes the people more dependent on the government, which ultimately makes them more vulnerable. Marx explains how that eventually the people will be completely equal and not have to rely on the government, but this is hard to come by and there will always be people that need to be the actual “leader” of something. The people are so relied on the government to equally distribute the money to the people that it would be hard for them to live without the government from then on. This also makes them more vulnerable to the government. If the people rely on the government too much then they can abuse their powers more easily. I don’t believe that this form of government is better than the United States form where the government is more like the “laissez-faire” or worse. I don’t believe that the government should not be interacting with the people at all as well. I believe that the government should intervene to a certain extent so that the people aren’t completely reliable on the government for everything. I believe that the government should try and make more of an effort to make the people more equal and intervene with more situations, but only to a certain extent.

Emily Snow said...

I think that although communism could/should potentially work if done and followed through correctly, i don't think that it is the best choice. I feel that in some sense there is a reason for differences in class and individuality. SO although yes there would most likely be no poverty and no super rich people, i think that class separation is what makes the world a little bit interesting. As we spoke of in class, with out this separation there would be no retail and nothing to set one man apart from the other, essentially leaving the world boring and meaningless. SO although i think it is up to the government to keep its people safe, i don't think that it is their right to take away what people have worked for or strived for their entire lives. Also if all people are provided with the same thing then what will the insentive for working hard?