Sunday, October 24, 2010

The “Communism Starves the People” Bullshit

Originally Posted on Robert Lindsay's Blog:

"Seems like there’s always some famine that happens in communist countries that wipes out hundreds of thousands if not millions. Look at China’s great famines. Cambodians had to resort to eating spiders they dug up just to survive. I think these were man-made events. Capitalism has it’s flaws, but Communism is just fucked up to the core. There hasn’t been one example of a communist success."

"At least not one that didn’t have to throttle back and incorporate capitalism into their economy, like China. And then that’s not even getting into all the other shit communist governments do like the censorship of the internet, lack of freedom to protest, etc."

"I’ll take capitalism any day, warts and all. I just think we need some elements of socialist safeguards and need progressive taxation to try and stop the rich from getting too rich."

I’m no Orthodox Commie by any means, despite what everyone believes. I’m just a socialist. That said, I tend to support most forms of socialism that actually work well (I don’t support fake socialism that doesn’t work, and I don’t support all Communist states). As Communism is a form of socialism, I tend to look favorably on it, but then I also look favorably on European social democracy, since I consider that also a form of socialism.

I support state funding of education, medicine, food, shelter, corrections, telecommunications, military, infrastructure building, public health, libraries, parks and wildlife reserves, R & D, social safety nets, housing, utilities, and maybe even a few industries here or there. I’m basically a Big Government with a capital B type of guy.

That said, I would like to defend the Communist record against one of the worst slanders, that “Communism equals starvation.” Not true, it’s actually capitalism equals starvation.

There were continuous famines in China under capitalism. In 1949, life expectancy was only 32 years in capitalist China. The rural people lived on the edge of starvation and death all the time. Read The Good Earth by Pearl Buck to see what it was like. From 1949-1980, Mao increased life expectancy from 32 to 65. That’s the greatest increase in life expectancy that the world has ever seen.

Furthermore, the Communists built that country up from nothing. Same thing with Russia. Russia was a zero pre-Communism. Communists built that country into a 1st World country. Even now it’s a good place. The press here bitches about Soviet style housing, but it looks decent enough to me. Anyway, compare the East Bloc, the former USSR and China to Latin America, Africa, India, the Philippines or the rest of the capitalist shitholes.

None of those places have the type of horrific slums, cardboard shack shantytowns, or outrageous poverty that you see every day in those capitalist paradises. Imagine if Latin America, the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia, Afghanistan and the rest of the shitholes had followed a Communist model of development. Sure, they would have run into problems and at some point, they may have moved in the direction of Eastern Europe, the former USSR and China. But let us look at housing alone. All of these places would have adequate housing. Now you can complain about Soviet bloc housing, but I’d rather see that in Brazil, Delhi, Manila and Lima than those horrifying slums and favelas. Medical care would be decent in all of those places – they would have good health figures, especially maternal mortality, infant mortality, and life expectancy. They would have enough to eat – malnutrition rates would be low.

The fact that capitalism everywhere seems to produce these horrific, nightmarish slums with no end or cure for them in sight is reason enough for me to feel that it’s a totally failed system.

There have been a few famines in the Communist countries, true, but you must realize that there’s a continuous famine in the capitalist world, mostly in the 3rd world. As I noted, capitalism starves 14 million a year, year in and year out. A couple years of that, and they’ve beaten everyone starved under Communism put together.

There was a famine in the USSR, true, at the beginning of collectivization. There was another in China around the same time. It seems like if they collectivize ag too quickly, ag collapses for a few years before the new system gets going. If they want to collectivize ag, they ought do so slowly.

It’s a big lie that Communism starves people. It’s capitalism that does that. In general, the Communist states like the USSR, the East Bloc, China, etc. have done a fantastic job of feeding the people, especially compared to the disastrous dietary conditions pre-Communism.

True, the diet is not top-notch, but it fills your stomach. There was a famine in the USSR in 1932, but there’s never been another. There was one in 1962 in China, but there’s never been another. Regular deadly famines spread through both places pre-Communism.

In 1980, Cubans had the highest dietary intake in Latin America. Right now, Cuba has the lowest rate of malnutrition in Latin America. It’s really hard to make this “Communism starves the people” argument. It’s generally not true. Communism is generally pretty good about putting adequate food in people’s stomachs.

And capitalism is not! One thing capitalism cannot ever seem to do is to feed its populations adequately. When I die in 30 years, capitalism still will be failing to feed its own populations. If there’s any indictment of capitalism, that’s it. WTF man? You call that a successful system? You can’t even feed your own people, give me a break.

I’m no fan of the Khmer Rogue, but realize that there was already mass starvation going on when they took over. Agriculture had collapsed in the countryside long since. I don’t agree with emptying the cities to the rural areas like they did, but the reason they did that was to try to get the ag system going again. Presently, capitalist Cambodia has a sky high malnutrition rate.

What happened with Communist economics is more a problem with chronic shortages of food and other basics and luxuries, long lines, housing shortages, etc. Also collectivized ag had poor productivity. The centrally planned economy doesn’t work very well because you have to figure out how much everyone is going to consume every year at the start of the year and plan for that. It’s almost impossible to do that, and that leads to economic deformations. Also, labor productivity was often poor.

The best system in a lot of cases seems to be some sort of mixed economy.

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