Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that it does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labour of others by means of such appropriations. –
The idea of communism is very old, and can be traced back at least as far as Plato (4th century BCE) and to early religious . In modern times, the idea gained a following in France in the years immediately after the . It was by these French radicals that , communism's most famous theorist, was led to take up the idea.
Karl Marx developed an analysis in which communism inevitably supercedes the present form of socio-economic organisation, , through a process of which is driven forward by changes in the technological basis of the economy. (See .) He predicted that the working class, or , would grow to be of enormous size under capitalism, and would rise up to throw off the rule of the parasitic capitalist class which lives off of the workers' labour. After the overthrow, a transitional stage which Karl called the , and which has also sometimes been referred to as the socialist stage, would be necessary in which by the newly dispossessed capitalists would be guarded against, production shifted to production for rather than production for profit, and the greedy, acquisitive states of mind fostered by capitalism, along with and the of consciousness, would gradually fade away and attitudes of mutuality and egalitarianism, corresponding to the new , would take hold.Finally, the stage of communism would be reached, in which people would cooperate with each other on the principle, `from each according to her ability, to each according to her need', and since there would be no exploitation of the labour of one person by another, there would be no classes, no class rule or class oppression, and no need for a state whose function is to defend and implement class rule.
But if Communism was waning in the global North, in the South it waxed. There, Communists’ promises of rapid, state-led modernization captured the imagination of many anticolonial nationalists. It was here that a third red wave swelled, breaking in East Asia in the 1940s and across the post-colonial South from the late 1960s.
Five Essays on Bulgarian Museums and Communism
For Geng Changsuo, a Chinese visitor to a model collective farm in Ukraine in 1952 — three years after Mao Zedong’s Communist guerrillas entered Beijing — the legacy of 1917 was still potent. A sober peasant leader from Wugong, a village about 120 miles south of Beijing, he was transformed by his trip. Back home, he shaved his beard and mustache, donned Western clothes and evangelized for agricultural collectivization and the miraculous tractor.
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Many were willing to overlook Stalin’s Terror for the sake of anti-fascist unity. But Communism’s second coming in the late ’30s and early ’40s did not long outlast the defeat of fascism. As the Cold War intensified, Communism’s identification with Soviet empire in Eastern Europe compromised its claim to be a liberator. In Western Europe, a reformed, regulated capitalism, encouraged by the United States, provided higher living standards and welfare states. Command economies that made sense in wartime were less suited to peace.
China is “neither a missionary culture nor a values superpower,” says Kerry Brown of the University of Sydney. “It is not trying to make other people into China.” The rhetoric of American foreign policy—and frequently its content, too—is shaped by claims to be the champion of democracy and liberty. The Communist Party is less committed to universal values. Alliances often grow out of shared values; if you don’t have them, friends are harder to find. Awe can be a respectable alternative to friendship, and China has begun to awe the world—but also to worry it.
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Indeed, as the Yorks point out in their introduction, much of the product of this era indirectly resulted from a different type of containment: namely, the paranoia-infused spectre of Soviet infiltration and concomitant distrust of American youth. Comics – primarily the horror and crime-themed comics published by EC, but even superhero comics and other genres – were regarded by many 1950s moral gatekeepers as an unwelcome, immoral, pernicious, and destructive force among children and teenagers; just the sort of conspiratorial social engineering one might expect of Communist (read: Jewish) saboteurs. Indeed, many writers, artists and publishers in those days were Jewish (and some of them were Communist). Most prominently among them – Jewish, that is – was EC publisher Bill Gaines, whose sweaty, overly-defensive and self-destructive testimony in front of a Senate subcommittee on juvenile delinquency, heralded the end of widespread comics readership as well as its cultural legitimacy, at least until the 1980s revolution and the subsequent Hollywood exploitation of recent years.