Because our great nation is constantly producing new crops of naive undergraduates, it occurs to me that it might be time to explicate what is painfully obvious to even the most casual observers outside the self-delusional circles of college bull sessions, academic Marxists and Occupy Wall Street. Namely:
Communism does not work.
Communism has never worked at any point in the past.
Communism will never work at any point in the future as long as human beings are involved.
Attempts to implement communism in the real world inevitably lead to failure, misery, and death. (Indeed, some 100 million deaths.)
The theory of communism goes something like this:
Communism + Imagination of True Believer = Magical Working Utopia
You know what tiny piece of evidence refutes this theory? It’s called “The 20th Century.”
The actual practice of communism works more like this:
Theory of Communism + Human Beings = Totalitarianism
Don’t place trust in human beings. Human beings are not reliable things.
When capitalism falls short of the platonic libertarian ideal, the result is Switzerland.
When communism falls short of the wondrous utopia existing in true believers’ heads, the result is Pol Pot’s Cambodia.
These two failure modes are not identical.
The persistent belief that communism can work is sort of like the “No True Scotsman” fallacy, only worse. At least you can find Scotsmen that actually fit the definition. The “No True Communism” fallacy substitutes an idealized successful communist state that only exists in people’s heads for dozens of catastrophic real-world examples.
No dictatorship of the proletariat is possible, because the heady violence of revolution always brings the strongest and most ruthless revolutionaries to the top of the new social order. And these are the precise individuals who entrench and extend their power by means of purging their potential rivals (see also: purge of the Mensheviks), suppression of dissenting opinions (see: Kronstadt rebellion) and establishment of a ruling elite nomenklatura with personal loyalty to the dictatorial leader.
(Hint: If you didn’t know the words Menshevik, Kronstadt rebellion and nomenklatura before you stumbled on this page, you shouldn’t be arguing about communism over the Internet. Actually, the last nine words of that preceding sentence probably apply universally as well…)
Thinking communism might work in the 21st century is like thinking that this time, spraying gasoline over it will finally put out that fire. If a surgical procedure is inevitably 100% fatal to the person being operated on, doctors stop performing it. And no, the magical cash free utopia some time in the distant past you have vague anecdotal evidence of doesn’t count.
You can no more separate communism from totalitarianism that you can separate your own shadow from your body. The two always go together.
Give it up.