Friday 9th of June 2023
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Socialism and Communism

Socialism and Communism

By: Ayatullah Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr

In socialism, there are many creeds the most famous of which is the socialist creed, whichis based on the Marxist theory, and argumentative materialism, which is a certain philosophy of life and a materialistic comprehension of it according to the dialectical method. Dialectical materialists have applied this dialectical materialism to history, sociol ogy and economy. So, it has become a philosophical creed in world affairs, a method to study history and sociology, a creed in economy and a plan in politics. In other words, it formulates all of mankind into a particular structure as regarding his way of thinking, his attitude towards life and his practical method therein.

There is no doubt that the materialistic phil osophy and the dialectical method have never been innovations or creations of the Marxist creed. The materialistic trend has lived within the philosophical field for thousands of years, once in the open and once hidden behind sophistication and absolute denial. Also, the dialectical method of reasoning is deeply rooted in the lines of human thinking. Its lines were perfected at the hands of Hegel, the well known idealistic philosopher. Karl Marx only adopted such "reasoning" and philosophy. He tried to apply it in all fields of life; so, he made two researches: One of them is his purely materialistic, in a dialectical method, interpretation of history. The other is his claim therein that he found out the contradictions within the capital and surplus value which the capitalist steals in his creed from the labourer[7][5].

On these "achievements" has he erected his belief in the necessity of abolishing the communist and socialist societies which he considered to be a step for mankind to completely apply communism. The social field in this philosophy is one of battling contradictions, and every social situation which prevails on such field is but a purely materialistic phenomenon which harmonizes with the other phenomena and materialistic climes and is affected by them. But he at the same time carries his own self-contradiction in the essence, and a battle of contra dictions will then be waged within its context until all contradictions assemble to cause a change in that situation and prepare for another one.

Thus does the battle linger until all mankind form one single class, and the interests of every individual will be repre sented in the interests of that unified class. At that moment will harmony prevail and peace become a reality, and all bad effects of the democratic capitalist system will be completely removed, for they resulted only from the existence of many classes within one society, and such multitude resulted from di viding the society into a producer and a labourer. Therefore, such a division has to be stopped by abol ishing (private) ownership. Here, communism differs from socialism in the main economic outlines, for the communist economy hinges on:

First: Abolishing private ownership and its complete eradication from the society, giving wealth to the public and placing it in the hands of the State since the latter is the legal representative of the so ciety in managing and utilizing it for the common welfare. The communist belief in the necessity of this absolute nationalization is due to the natural reaction of the consequences of private ownership in the democratic capitalist system.

This nationaliz ation has thus been justified: It is meant to abolish the capitalist class and unite the society into one class in order to put an end to that struggle and to forbid the individual from utilizing differ ent means and methods to accumulate his wealth in order to satisfy his greed, motivated by his own selfish interest.

Second: Distribution of products according to individuals’ consumption need. It can be summed up thus: From everyone according to his capacity, and for everyone according to his need. This is so because every individual has natural needs without which he cannot live. So, he gives the so ciety all of his endeavour so that the society may provide him with his living necessities and take care of his livelihood.

Third: An economic procedure planned by the State, in which it combines the society's need with production in its volume, diversity and limitation, so that the society will not be inflicted with the same line in the communist economy, that is, the abolish ment of private ownership, has been substituted with a moderate solution: nationalization of heavy indus tries, foreign and domestic trades, putting all of them under government monopoly; in other words, abolishing large mass capital by freeing the simple industries and trades, leaving them to the individuals.

The wide line of the communist economy collided with the reality of the human nature, to which we referred above, for the individuals started neglecting the performance of their duties and of being active in their jobs, running away from their social obliga tions; the system is supposed to guarantee their livelihood and the fulfilment of their needs.

Also, it is supposed not to exert any further effort; there fore, why should the individual exert himself and sweat as long as the result is already in his calculation, the result of both states of laziness and activity? Why should he rush to provide happiness for others, trading the convenience of others for his own sweat, tears, life and energy, since he does not believe in any principle in life except that of a purely materialistic nature?

Therefore, the advocates of such a creed were forced to freeze absolute nationalization. They were also forced to adjust the other line in the communist economy by allowing wages to vary in order to push the labourers to be active and perfect in their jobs, making the excuse that these variations are only temporary, and that they will disappear once the capitalist mentality is crushed and man is created anew.

For the latter purpose, they continuously create changes in their economic methods and socialist modes in order to follow the failure of an old method by trying a new one. They have not yet succeeded in getting rid of all basic cornerstones of the capitalist econ omy. For example, the interest loans have not been totally abolished, although they are, in fact, the basis of social corruption in the capitalist economy.

All of this, however, does not mean that those advocates have had shortcomings, or that they have not been serious in their creed or unfaithful to their doctrine; rather, it means that they have clashed with reality while trying to put them to practice, finding their path full of obstacles and contradictions put forth by the human nature before the revol utionary method of the "social reform" which they have been promising. Reality, then, forced them to go back on their word in the hope that a miracle would sooner or later take place.

As regarding the political aspect, communism, in its long run, aims in the end at erasing the "state" from the society when the miracle takes place and the "social mentality" prevails on all humans, so much so that all people will be thinking of nothing but of the materialistic social welfare. Before then, as long as the miracle has not taken place yet and people are not unified into one "class", when the society is still divided to capitalist and proletariat forces, it is necessary that the government should be purely proletariat; so, it is a democratic rule within the circle of labour and also a dictatorship regarding the masses. They have reasoned thus: Proletariat dictatorship of government is necessary in all stages passed by mankind, using the individual mentality for the protection of the interests of the working class, strangulating capitalism and forbidding it from coming to the field again.

In fact, this creed, represented by Marxist social ism then by Marxist communism, is distinguished from the democratic capitalist system in its reliance on a particular materialistic philosophy which adopts a particular concept of life to which all idealistic prin ciples and values are not ascribed and which is analyzed in a certain sort of analysis which does not leave room for a Creator above the natural limits, nor to an anticipated compensation beyond the borders of this limited materialistic life. This con trasts democratic capitalism, for although it is a ma terialistic system, it has never been based on a precise philosophical foundation.

The accurate linkage between the realistic understanding of life and the social issue as accepted by materialistic communism versus democratic capitalism has neither believed in this theory, nor has it tried to explain it. Hence, the communist creed is worthy of a philosophical study and of a test through tackling the philosophy on which it has hinged and from which it has been derived.

Judging any system is dependent on the extent of the success of its philosophical concept in portraying and compre hending life. It is easy to comprehend, when we cast the first glance at the simplified or "accomplished" communist system, that its general nature is the fusion of the individual into the society, making him a tool for the achievement of the general criteria which it enforces. It completely contradicts the free capital ist system which puts the society at the service of the individual for the achievement of the latter's interests.

It seems that it has been predestined for the individual and social personalities, according to the precepts of both systems, to clash and to duel with each other. The individual personality has become victorious in one of them, the one based on the individual and his own personal benefits, inflict ing the society thereby with economic catastrophes which have shaken its existence and mutilated life in all its sectors. The social personality has won in the other, which has come to correct the mistakes of the previous one, assisting the society and reducing the individual personality to dissolution and annihi lation, inflicting the individuals with severe dilemmas which ruined their freedom, personal existence and natural rights of selecting and rationalizing.

Communism Criticized

Actually, although the communist system has treated several inflictions of free capitalism by abolishing private ownership, such a treatment has had some natural consequences which have made such a treatment very costly and the method to put it to use very exerting and cannot be used except when all other ways and methods fail. On the other hand, it is an incomplete treatment which does not guar antee the eradication of social corruption, for it has not really been successful in its diagnosis of the ail ment and the discovery of the point from which evil has set out to subjugate the world to the capitalist system, keeping that point maintaining its position in the social life of the communist creed. There fore, mankind has not won a definite solution to his greatest problem, nor has he obtained the medicine to medicate his ailments and uproot his sickening symptoms.

As regarding the consequences of this treatment, they are, indeed, great: They can put an end to the freedom of individuals for the sake of substituting communist ownership for private ownership. The case is so because this tremendous social change contra dicts the general human nature upto, at least, the pre sent time, as its promoters admit, since materialistic man still thinks subjectively, calculating his interests through his own limited individualistic eyes.

Estab lishing a new structure for the society in which the individuals dissolve completely, a structure which totally puts an end to personal motives, requires a strong power to hold the society's reins with iron hands, suppressing any resisting voice, strangulating any opposition, monopolizing all means of news media and the press, enforcing a belt around the nation nobody can by any means go beyond, and becoming habituated to charging and doubting, so that the rein of authority may not suddenly slip out of its hands.

This is natural in every system desired to be imposed on the nation before the mentality of such a system ripens in it and its spirit prevails. Yes, if materialistic man starts reasoning social ly, realizing his interests in a social mentality, with his own personal feelings, desires and inclinations melting through his own self, then a system in which individ uals "melt" can be established, leaving in the arena none but as huge “social” giant.

But the achievement of this in the materialistic man, who does not believe except in a limited life without knowing any meaning for it except materialistic pleasures, needs a miracle to create paradise on earth and to bring it down from hea ven. The communists promise us such a paradise, wait ing for that day when the factory changes the human nature, creating him anew with idealistic thoughts and deeds even if he does not believe the weight of an atom in ideal values or ethical principles. If such a miracle happens, then we will have a talk with them.

As for the time being, the position of the social structure which they desire calls for the confinement of individuals within the limits of this structure's idea and its guarantee for protection by the group that believes in it and using caution concerning it by sup pressing the human nature and the psychological emotions, forbidding them by all possible means from setting themselves free.

Even when he wins a total assurance and a social guarantee of his livelihood and needs, for the social wealth provides him with all of these during the time of need, the individual who lives in the shade of a system like this will be better off if he can get such an assurance without losing the pleasure of breathing the fresh air of cultivated freedom rather than being forced to melt his personality in fire and drown him self in the tumultuous social sea.

How can he have a desire for freedom, in any field, when he is deprived of freedom in livelihood, while sustaining his life is totally tied to a particular "committee", although economic and sustain ing freedom is the basis of all other norms of free dom? The advocates answer this question by still asking: "What can man do with freedom and enjoyment of his right to criticize and publicize his opin ions while moaning under a horrible social burden? What benefit can his discussion and opposition bring him when he needs accurate nutrition and guaranteed life more than opposition or the fuss freedom brings him?"

Those who ask such questions look only at capi talist democracy as if it is the only social issue which competes with their own in the field; therefore, they underestimate the value of the individual dignity and its rights, for they see it as a menace to the general social torrent. But humanity has the right not to sacrifice any of its principles or privileges as long as it does not have to. It has but to choose either a dignity which is an ideal privilege of humanity, and a need which is its materialistic privilege, only if it lacks the system which can combine both aspects and succeed in solving both problems.

The man whose energy is being squeezed by others, without finding a good and comfortable life or a fair salary and an assurance during the time of need, is indeed one deprived of enjoying life, separated from a stable and quiet life. Also, a man threatened every moment, questioned about every movement, liable to be arrested without a trial and be imprisoned, banished or even killed for any reason, is indeed one who lives in fear and ter ror; horror forbids him from enjoying the pleasures of this life.

The third man, the one whose life is comfort able, feeling assured of preserving his dignity and safety, is indeed humanity's sweet dream. So, how can such a dream become a reality? When will it become an existing actuality? We have said above that the communist solution to the social problem is incomplete, in addition to its consequences to which we have also referred. For he, although human emotions and feelings breathe within him, is evoked by the general social pressure which caused some thinkers to resort to the new solution, but they did not put their hands on the causes of corruption so that they could eradicate it; rather, they eradicated something else; therefore, they were not successful in their medication.

The concept of private ownership is not the one responsible for the sins of absolute capitalism which shook the world and its felicity, so much so that it is not the one that forces millions of labourers to be idle for the sake of the investment of a new machine which put an end to their industry, as it happened at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, nor is it the one that forces the capitalist to destroy large quantities of his products in order to maintain their price and in preference of extravagance to satisfy the need of the poor thereby.

Nor is it the one that invites him to make his wealth a gaining capital multiplied through usury, absorbing the civilians' endeavour without production or toil. Nor is it the one that pushes him to buy all consumption goods from the market in order to monopolize them and raise their prices. Nor is it the one that forces him to open new markets, even when the freedom and rights of nations will be violated by them and their prestige and freedom weakened. All of these terrifying calamities have not re sulted from private ownership; rather, they are the breed of the materialistic individual interest which has been made the criterion of life in the capitalist system and the absolute reason for all acts and deal ings.

When a society is based on such an individual criterion which is self-advocate, nothing can be ex pected from it except what has already befallen. It is from the nature of this criterion that all curses and calamities befall the entire human race, not from the principle of private ownership. If the criterion is changed, and a new cultivated objective for life is put forth, one that harmonizes with the human nature, only then will the real remedy of the greatest human problem become a reality.


[8][5] I have explained these theories and undertaken a detailed scientific study of them in my book Iqtisaduna.

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