Tuesday, 24 May 2005

Cue Card Libertarianism -- Communism

COMMUNISM: One of the most virulent forms of collectivism known to man. Its defining ethic was articulated by Karl Marx as ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to his need;’ i.e. one person’s need is a mortgage on someone else’s ability; i.e. people are born with prior claims over, and unchosen obligations to, other people; and that brings us back to the ethic of self-sacrifice (see altruism).

Marx imagined that the achievement of communism would be accompanied by a withering away of the state; clearly, however, such an ethic can only be implemented at the point of a state-wielded gun. Thus it is no accident or aberration that communist regimes routinely slaughtered millions of their own citizens. No other outcome was possible. 

One ought not to take excessive comfort from the collapse of communism while this underlying ethic still flourishes. Communism yesterday, Russian nationalism today, fascism tomorrow: variations on a theme called collectivism, derived from the ethic of altruism.

This is part of a continuing series explaining the concepts and terms used by NZ libertarians, originally published in The Free Radical in 1993. The 'Introduction' to the series is here. Tomorrow, 'Conservatism.'

1 comment:

  1. Food for thought. I believe you should review the difference between political collectivism and economic collectivism. You will without doubt agree that collective decision making (economically), was totally lacking in the Soviet Union and similarly modeled states. I do wholeheartedly agree that Marx had a flawed perception regarding the dictatorship of the proletariat, however, to use the Soviet example as an argument for capitalism, u run the risk of the same failed paradox. Are private tyrannies very much different to state ones?


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