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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/13115/the-myth-of-monolithic-communism/

The Myth of Monolithic Communism

June 29, 2010 by

The necessity for grasping distinctions is vital for libertarians; our ultimate aim is to bring freedom to the entire world. It makes an enormous difference to us in which direction various countries are moving, whether toward liberty or toward slavery. FULL ARTICLE by Murray N. Rothbard

{ 32 comments }

michael June 29, 2010 at 6:37 am

It would be hard to imagine an article being any more out of date than this one. !979? That was the height of fossilized Communism under Brezhnev. Everyone, Soviet citizens and internationals alike, understood that the Soviet state was a dead man walking. So what possible motives would anyone have in publishing this piece today?

Nick Bradley June 29, 2010 at 9:36 am

Because people like Glenn Beck and some in the Tea Parties see a monolithic cabal of communists in the woodwork, conspiring to purposely destroy the US economy so that they can set up a marxist state.

The idea of these disparate marxist professors and academics coordinating such a massive effort is absurd, but is suprisingly popular in certain circles.

michael June 29, 2010 at 11:00 am

Do you mean there’s a conscious plot out there, in the right wing media, to capture the allegiance of people who are only motivated by fear and hate? And that since the Islamist Menace is kind of tired at the moment, they assume that people who don’t change their thoughts very often will still salute the flag if the dead ghost of Red Communism is paraded about?

That’s horrible. If what you say is true, the proper authorities must be alerted!

newson June 30, 2010 at 12:43 am

the hammer and sickle still is very evident in all sorts of rallies and public protests in europe. the swastika is happily confined to indiana jones movies. one sort of socialism still needs further discrediting.

Inquisitor June 29, 2010 at 9:39 am

They’re not here to cater to Michael’s preferences or agenda. ;)

newson June 30, 2010 at 12:38 am

…paul samuelson didn’t!

newson June 30, 2010 at 12:39 am

…see the collapse, that is.

Vanmind July 2, 2010 at 9:50 am

Exactly. Still plenty of professional liars out there.

maverick muse June 29, 2010 at 10:56 am

Rothbard presented a magnificent historical setting for our education. Live and learn. We understand that the WWII vying Marxists instigated that European war, even within Germany where communists and fascists battled to be king of the mountain, then NAZI Germany attacking Soviet Russia despite their peace treaty.

Marxism is a pirate code to usurp traditional governments.

To point out historical precedence, and then insist that the European/American Marxists have not evolved leadership that firmly works towards the global Marxism promoted to be the New World Order, would be to ignore the current course that is making history. Today’s Euro-American elitists HAVE control of our traditional governments and HAVE perverted them, regardless of their party identification. (Note Cameron’s “conservative” promotion of neo-collectivism.) Of course they’ll battle amongst themselves for top dog position on the peak of the Marxist power pyramid scheme. What politicians don’t? But regardless, these Marxist elitists remain united economically to destroy free will, free trade, and property rights of all persons. They must first defeat the world’s population before divvying up that prize of ownership. How they manage is what we witness today. To the extent that the diversified South American Marxists or Asian Marxists cooperate with the Euro-American elitists, the easier their mutual prize will be to usurp from rule of law. So long as man exists, especially without rule of law, there will be conflict and warfare.

So it seems.

michael June 29, 2010 at 11:10 am

Excuse me, I’m confused. Do you mean that Hitler didn’t first go after the German Communists, Socialists and Social Democrats, clearing the table on the left, before he consolidated Right elements like the SA under his banner?

And are you saying that secretly Hitler was some kind of Marxist? THAT’s going to surprise all the historians.

“To point out historical precedence, and then insist that the European/American Marxists have not evolved leadership that firmly works towards the global Marxism promoted to be the New World Order, would be to ignore the current course that is making history. Today’s Euro-American elitists HAVE control of our traditional governments and HAVE perverted them, regardless of their party identification.”

So then, in your interpretation, the various shades of political thought in Europe and the USA are all variants of Global Marxist Elitist ideologies promulgated by New World Order cabals, out to subjugate us by destroying our free will? And that their plan includes defeating the world population? That sounds really serious.

How come we haven’t heard anything about this before? And are you really getting all that from Murray Rothbard? Or is some of this your own interpretation?

Here’s a follow-up question: if we do away with the State, what happens to the ‘rule of law’? How will it be enforced?

Daniel June 29, 2010 at 11:37 am

“Here’s a follow-up question: if we do away with the State, what happens to the ‘rule of law’? How will it be enforced?”

The same way it had been for 300 years in the Commonwealth of Iceland or the 1000 years under the tuatha system in Ireland 650-1650

Check chapter 2, “Examples”, of Ryan Faulk’s book “For an Emergent Governance” for other historical examples of emergent systems for the maintenance of order, peace and rule of law.
http://fringeelements.ning.com/page/for-an-emergent-governance
You can find audio at the above address and an abridged book version of his podcasts.

You probably wanted or expected some statist monopolistic solution, but that really won’t do. The fact that I alone cannot give you ONE answer as to how the rule of law would be “enforced” only illustrates why it shouldn’t be enforced monopolistically in the first place; a marketplace for the rule of law can accommodate the actual wants and desires of what law “should” be much better than any coercive monolithic entity ever will.

michael June 29, 2010 at 3:48 pm

The Commonwealth of Iceland was a tiny community of outlaws a thousand miles from anyone else. It’s natural for such a community, numbering in the hundreds, to make and enforce its own law by community council.

We have 307 million participants. And each half is fighting mad about the existence of the other half. What chances would you give that the same sort of government would work for us?

If we were to decide our form of government by national plebiscite, I don’t think the majority would come up with anything you’d be happy with. Conversely, if some small minority put together an armed putsch, attempting to overthrow a government the majority were happy with, all hell would break loose.

Inquisitor June 29, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Stop. Thinking. In. Terms. Of. We. There is no nation with 300m inhabitants in the anarcho-capitalist future. That abomination is a “fact” of the present that cannot be sustained. And what a curious notion, that “we” (as in people in the geographic area comprising the USA, not me) should need such a barbaric system even if “we’re” more advanced when technology makes tracking all the easier these days.

Priar June 29, 2010 at 8:07 pm

“Stop. Thinking. In. Terms. Of. We.”Michael serenades us with promises of a panacea to the ills of the business cycle, if we just boost aggregate demand by relieving the “scarcity” of money. Thinking in term of “I” is not in his interest.

Matthew Swaringen June 29, 2010 at 7:08 pm

This half vs half is a huge problem, which is why I’m certain that we’ll see much secession (or attempts at the least) at some point within the next century. I doubt a coup d’état is likely to last in the long run, because neither half truly accepts the policies of the other.

There are truly more segments than just the 2, so I imagine we’ll see more than 2 new states at the end of this cycle.

michael July 7, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Hi Matthew. I’ve been away, hence this belated answer.

Would that we could just divide ourselves up into parts. But the moment for that has long passed. There are no true red states or blue states now, just a purple haze of politically divided individuals. I live, for example, in a zip code that went 70% for Bush-Cheney. Yet I find the people here to be likable and the (state-managed) economy to be at times aggravating but overall adequate to my purposes. And I’m invested here, so I’m not likely to move. The same applies with everyone.

The time to enact a split would have been in 1860. Then as now the country was hopelessly at odds. And there was no satisfactory way one party could ever impose its rule on the other. So rather than go through the protracted horrors of Reconstruction and its failure and subversion over the next century (which arguably made the lot of the Negro worse than it otherwise might have evolved), Lincoln should have just told the breakaway Confederacy “Okay. If that’s the way you want to be, go your own way. Just don’t come crying back to us if it doesn’t work out for you.” And we could have become two reasonably self-satisfied nations, each pursuing policies the opposite of the other.

The conflict still has not been resolved… and it forms a part of the greater conflict today between proponents of one form of government or the other. Or, in the case of you fellows, no form of government. The issue is one of states’ rights versus onerous federal rule. How much easier for both parties to go forward had we just split up then, when the marriage was first declared to be irreconcilable!

SirThinkALot June 29, 2010 at 7:04 pm

I dont think Hitler was a Marxist, but Communism and Facisism/Natzism are just different variations of state controled economies.

michael July 7, 2010 at 4:28 pm

ThinkALot: Let’s not get carried away to the point that words lose all their meaning. Yes, Communism and Fascism are both state controlled economies. But so are all forms of government. Liberal democracies are state controlled economies. Parliamentary forms of government also control their economy. Everywhere you find a state you’ll find that it conceives of its basic function as being (a) the defense of the realm and (b) control of its economy. Many also include (c) the welfare of its people.

So should we then debate in learned fashion whether Fascism and parliamentary democracy are exactly the same? No we should not. Because they are not.

SirThinkALot July 7, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Actually thats not entirely true. While modern democracies do maintain a great deal of control over the economy, a great deal is also left to the markets. Theres certainly no ‘central planner’ who tries to micromanage every aspect of economic production in the country. Although the governments of many democracies have done so in certain areas(money supply, roads, healthcare etc).

Perhaps I should have used ‘centrally planned’ or ‘state micro-managed’ economies.

michael July 9, 2010 at 7:46 am

So then, what you’re saying is that it’s a matter of degree. And there I would agree with you.

Let’s take the Russian Revolution as an example. When Lenin first triumphed he instigated something called “War Communism”, which was a totally top-down, command economy and a total change from what had gone before.

Forget the fact that the old Czarist economy no longer functioned (the reason the Revolution was so popular). War Communism didn’t work either, and was highly resented by everyone. So Lenin, being no dummy, switched to the New Economic Policy: a mixed economy.

And it worked pretty well. Only thing was, Stalin climbed to power and re-instituted a totalitarian state. With results we know so well.

So maybe even Lenin’s NEP wasn’t perfect. I think we can agree that it was a lot better than a totalitarian economy, where an almighty State was in charge of the minutest details of everyone’s lives.

If we were ever to go to the other extreme, that of an economy dictated by personal greed, we’d (most of us) find that result as uncomfortable as that of Stalinism. That is, a tiny minority would enjoy immense wealth and privilege, while the overwhelming mass of peasants would suffer in providing the privileged their high standard of living. The only difference would be that those on top would be the bankers and heads of industry, rather than CP members.

mpolzkill July 9, 2010 at 8:50 am

“a tiny minority (bankers and heads of industry, like GM) would enjoy immense wealth and privilege, while the overwhelming mass of peasants would suffer in providing the privileged their high standard of living.”

Try to imagine such a world!

Lentenlands January 29, 2011 at 10:58 am

“I am not only the conqueror, but also the executor of Marxism, of that part of it which is essential and justified, stripped of its Jewish-Talmudic dogma.” – Adolph Hitler

Raimondas June 29, 2010 at 11:37 am

Investigating the communism once more is waste of time:
“Lie, terrorism, robbery, parasitism”-so put it communism Francoise Thom professor of Sorbonne University.

Gernot Hassenpflug June 29, 2010 at 11:32 pm

Someone like Hitler saw it better in his purposes to invent a new ideology rather than make a slight variation on an existing one—so it is easier to define enemies and in-group people, and getting rid of people with similar but differently named ideologies/agendas. After all, “national socialism” is not any different from a regulatory Communist regime, nor from what Western countries are slowly but surely becoming.

newson June 30, 2010 at 1:17 am

rothbard’s tone on tito’s yugoslavia seems altogether too friendly, notwithstanding the greater economic liberty with respect to the ussr. rummel puts victims of tito’s yugslavia as around one million, though this is widely debated. nevertheless, the treatment of italian civilians by tito’s regime in the istria and dalmatian territories amounted to racial cleansing.

Beefcake the Mighty June 30, 2010 at 9:48 am

I personally know Finnish libertarians who are quite annoyed with some comments Rothbard made at one time (can’t recall where) that downplayed somewhat the Soviet attack on Finland at the start of WWII.

michael July 9, 2010 at 7:55 am

Tito knew his Yugoslavs. This Balkan morass should never have even been a country, with its three religions, five languages and seven nationalities. They were all killing one another well before WW II. They were killing each other during WW II. And as soon as Tito’s body was cold in the grave they were killing each other again.

What did he do right? He united the country with an iron fist, forcing them to work together for the only productive fifty years of their existence.

newson August 20, 2010 at 8:38 pm

now you show your real face. production under coercion. nice.

Mark D Hughes June 30, 2010 at 5:14 am

You are all missing the fundamental importance of this article (leave aside, for the moment, whether it has relevance to 2010). In it Rothbard has presented, as only he could, a radically honest comparative economic analysis of “world communism” circa 1979. It is laughable to suggest, as does newson, that he was “altogether too friendly” to this or that communist regime implying he was somehow ignorant of the evils of communism as imposed by this or that dictator. Rothbard despised communist ideology and the ghastly history it obtained, nevertheless, he was honest enough to point out that not all communist regimes were created equal. That is the fundamental importance of the article. And I can think of no other anti-communist intellectually honest enough to present the case so reasonably. This is an article that could never have been written by the likes of Ayn Rand or William F. Buckley, Jr..

As to its relevance today. Well, consider replacing communism with Islam. We have with us today a particularly conservative mindset (identical in almost every way to the pre 1990 conservative mindset that views world communism as a monolithic united enemy) that views international Islam as some kind of united front aiming to destroy western civilization. This is simply fantasy and hegemony inflamed by those power elite who need a perpetual enemy.

Mark D Hughes
Executive Director
Institute for the Study of Privacy Issues (ISPI)

newson June 30, 2010 at 9:45 am

to mark hughes:
please read carefully before making accusations. i said rothbard’s “tone” with respect to the barbarous tito regime was altogether too friendly, not that “he” was. i’m perfectly aware of his anti-communist credentials. i recognize, too, there are greater and smaller demons. perhaps i’m thinking of the rothbard who wrote this:
http://mises.org/journals/lar/pdfs/3_3/3_3_1.pdf

tell me if you think he didn’t err seriously on “che”

Mark D Hughes June 30, 2010 at 4:56 pm

You split hairs newson. Slamming Rothbard for his “tone” is same as slamming Rothbard. As an honest political writer he not only created his tone he also embodied it.

As for his obituary for Che Guevare he was being true to his radical revolutionary self and absolutely correct in for what and why he honored the man. He wrote in part: “What made Che such an heroic figure for our time is that he, more than any man of our epoch or even of our century, was the living embodiment of the principle of Revolution.”

Rothbard knew full well Che was both a murderer and economic enslaver — he did not praise che for that. As much as Rothbard despised Che for these things he was honest enough to recognize that “we all knew that his enemy was our enemy–that great Colossus that oppresses and threatens all the peoples of the world, U. S. imperialism.”

newson June 30, 2010 at 6:46 pm

“che is dead and we all mourn him.”

gimme a break.

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