July 14, 2019


[Author Aaron Bastani] claims that “communism” has never existed, because “communism” is defined as a post-scarcity economy, in which people no longer need to work for a living. Public ownership of the means of production is not enough; on its own, that is just socialism, not communism. This is, of course, technically correct, but it is a technicality just the same. Bastani knows as well as anyone that we sometimes informally describe systems (the Soviet Union, Maoist China, North Korea) as “communist” when the technically correct term would be “socialist.” But linguistic pedantry does not save his case.

Bastani’s argument is not that we should wait for another 100 years or so until the technology is sufficiently advanced, and then move straight from capitalism to communism. He wants the transition to start today—or, better still, yesterday—and he envisages a long transition period, during which our economy would no longer be capitalist, but not yet communist either.

There is a word for this: socialism. Like almost every other communist before him, Bastani wants to reach communism via socialism. Thus, the fact that socialism has already been tried more than two dozen times, and failed every time without exception, should be somewhat relevant to this book. But on that issue, Bastani has next to nothing to say. Like most socialist manifestoes, FALC ultimately boils down to “next time will be different, because I say so.”

As blogger Moe Lane once wrote, “Marxism is intellectualism for stupid people; it tends to attract the sort who can’t understand that an economic system that cannot feed its own population reliably has failed at the game of Life. Literally.” Read the whole thing.

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