Anti-Capitalism and the political spectrum

Posted: April 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

It is surprising to me, someone who’s political views tend to remain central, that anybody within western society can truly be against capitalism. I myself believe capitalism to be the rock on which western society is built, and believe that fascism and comumism, as extremes of each political angle, have both been proven ineffective.

Since the anti capitalist protesters from the occupy movement, appear to come solely from the political left, I think it’s fair, in this case to disregard the far right from the argument altogether. To see the failings of communism I believe we need look no further than Cuba. while it’s fair to say their society is better in some ways for the communist regime, I think their political system is deeply flawed and it takes only a little research to see how.

Let’s begin with the positives, because it would be impossible to argue that they don’t exist. Cuba has a fantastic state education system, one that is the envy of their close neighbours the United States. With one teacher to every ten students, compared to one teacher to every fifteen in the U.S. it’s clear to see this has been successful. To see how communism has effected this, one only needs look briefly at Karl Marx’ “The Communist Manifesto” to which the Communist Party of Cuba attribute much of their proudly stated Leninist-Marxist model of Government. The second section of the manifesto, entitled “Proletarians and Communists” states specifically that all children should be educated for free in public schools and also, that child factory labour should be abolished, which is something it’s fair to say the Cuban government has adhered to.

The next point we come to has to be the Cuban healthcare system. The national health service in Cuba is excellent, and something they rightly boast about. They actually attract patients from many other countries, including the United States, where it’s fair to say, for a country considered a word power the health care is frankly abysmal. The Cuban health service generates more than $40m in revenue and infant mortality is some of the lowest in the region, much lower than that in the united states. They also boast over twice as many doctors per 1000 patients.

So, with these two points taken into account, communism is probably starting to look rather appealing, and why wouldn’t it? A harmonious society, where everyone works for the well being of one another. Where the state take care of everybody, and the proletarians live in peace, comfortable in the knowledge they’re living the best life their society permits. However, when one begins to look more thoroughly at Cuban society, it quickly ceases to look harmonious, and begins to look increasingly Orwellian.

Communism is often criticised for not giving the population any incentive to work, as the way the society theoretically should be run suggests everybody will be cared for by the state. In Cuba, this definitely is not the case. The poverty is grinding, and it has been shown recently that more than half the population survive on less than $1 a day with little chance of earning any more. When one takes into account the minimum wage requirements in the surrounding capitalist countries, this is really shown for what it is, a severe failing of the communist regime. Recent reports from Cuba suggest, that due to the demands of the communist government regarding wages, qualified professionals from positions that would be well respected in most of the western world, often find themselves working jobs that would usually be lower paid. For example, qualified surgeons and doctors are often seen moon lighting as taxi drivers, hotel bell hops and waiters, as these positions open up the possibility of being occasionally tipped by tourists.

I often imagine the anti capitalists would like to think of their idealistic communist society with some kind of fantastic, free public transport system, always on time, making use of well maintained roads and beautifully cared for train tracks. Well, in Cuba this certainly is not the case, their public transport system is frankly pitiful. Barely adequate roads are served by completely inadequate public transport which often leave roadsides lined with desperate hitch-hikers who often spend hours to accomplish journeys that would usually be quite simple

Personally, one of my main arguments against communism, is, I don’t believe a society can ever function properly in complete equality. Well, Cuba doesn’t function, their regime is dreadfully repressive, with more than 400 political dissidents imprisoned for up to 20 years. And of course, in Cuba, just like every society where everybody is equal, some are more equal than others, and the most equal of them all, was until 2008, their supreme leader Fidel Castro. being from Cuba, would have meant you’d be obliged to listen to his notoriously interminable speeches. Castro holds the record for the longest speech in the UN General Assembly which was 4hrs 29min and it wasn’t until he gave his last domestic address, which lasted a mere 150min that people started to question his health. He has since been succeeded by his brother Raul. There is very little in the way of free speech in Cuba, which surely, would be desirable in a society where everybody is supposedly equal. And it’s not just political activists who’re repressed, homosexuals are also severely harassed and it’s very difficult for them to maintain a lifestyle there.

Far from being a paradise, communist Cuba seems more like the totalitarian, dystopian society described in George Orwell’s novel 1984. I think it’s fair to say, that far from being what the protesters desire, Cuba is an example of what they would likely consider communism gone wrong. Of course, it’s easy to see how a communist society could be desirable, but I would put it to anyone to find an example of a true communist government that has been successful in the modern era.

Obviously, I’ve written this post with the assumption that the occupy movement is inherently communist, which isn’t strictly the case, while the people I’ve spoken to from occupy Bournemouth and occupy LSX all describe themselves as left wing or socialist, It’s only been a small number of who’ve described themselves as openly holding communist beliefs, although one did describe his copy of Karl Marx “the communist manifesto” as “his bible” it’s unfair to tar them all with the same brush. In February of this year “mediacommons” published an article entitled “Is Occupy Wall Street Communist?”  although the article appears to strongly support the belief that it is a communist movement, quoting the words of American conservative radio personality Glenn Beck saying  “You have people on the streets calling for revolution… This is a Marxist revolution that is global in its nature… The leaders of the movement… [are] saying, we’re not here to reform, we’re going to collapse the system. We’re not here to reform it. They’re calling openly for revolution.”

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