We Are Unstoppable, Another World Is Possible! --- A student’s intro to Communism, written by your friendly neighborhood revolutionary Diego Rojas-Espinoza
Communism is a good idea, but
. . . it doesn’t work in practice.
. . . human beings are too greedy for it to succeed.
. . . the rich and powerful will stop it from happening.
From what I gather, most of you have heard one of these declarations in school, on television, around the dinner table. Whatever the specific reason, the lesson we are meant to take away is that communism ain’t gonna happen. Interestingly, the argument almost always begins with the reluctant concession that communism is, in fact, a good idea. There’s even a right-wing slogan popular on this dimension that goes a step further than good and reads: “Communism . . . A Great Idea until You Run Out of Other People’s Money.” I realize that the guy who’d slap this message on his vehicle alongside Confederate flags and various other “I’m a sexist and racist asshole” signifiers doesn’t mean it as a compliment. But it says something that even the most hostile opponents of communism often start out by admitting that it sure sounds nice.
Perhaps they do so because the inverse is so obviously true: capitalism is a big-B Bad Idea. Imagine if we start a society on an uninhabited tropical island, and I propose that the people who do all the work will be paid as little as possible while the people who don’t do anything but own stocks will have more money than they could possibly spend in their lifetimes. You would all be looking at each other and shaking your heads. “Wait, wait, hear me out,” I might say. “We’ll also treat air, water, plants, minerals, and other animals as objects to be exploited even more ruthlessly than workers!” Now you’d slowly back away because there’s obviously something not right with me, even as I continue on: “Wait, don’t go! We can maintain peace with weapons and violent prisons. Why is everybody leaving?”
In this capitalist country, just north of the most capitalist of all countries, growing numbers are concluding that capitalism doesn’t work. Some of them have read sharp critics of the system living today like Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein. Others have just lived in this world with open eyes and hearts. This is a positive step forward from what I've read of this Earth’s political climate in recent decades, when critics of capitalism were too marginal to even be considered dangerous. But it’s not enough to know what we’re against. If we’re not for something different, we’re just daydreaming—or whining annoyingly, if your personality is more like mine. Capitalism isn’t going to collapse from criticism (or sheer annoyance) alone. People have cursed and denounced this thing for centuries and it’s very good at deflecting opposition with a big “but” of its own:
Capitalism is a bad idea, but
. . . it’s the only system that works.
. . . it fits with humanity’s greedy nature.
. . . you’ll waste your life trying to change it.
Fuck. That. Shit.
Until the Haitian Revolution, people said the same thing about slavery for fuck’s sake, even supposed leftists. So let’s maybe take another look at that crazy pipe-dream of socialism. What even is communism, you ask? Well, the short answer is that a communist society is one whose top priority is meeting all of its people’s needs—ranging from food, shelter, and health care to art, culture, and companionship. In contrast, capitalism only cares about any of that basic human necessity stuff to the extent that money can be made off it.
Communism is both more rational and moral than capitalism, but the question has always been if it is practical and attainable. That, my dear comrades, requires a longer answer. My pitch for you to read my upcoming zines is that they’ll introduce you to the different aspects of communism—its analysis of capitalism, what a different world can look like, strategies for how to get there, and a history of movements, parties, and revolutions.
Finally, a word about my tone, which can seem unusually lighthearted for a booklet series about overthrowing capitalism. The wisecracks aren’t just sugar to help the political medicine go down—they’re part of the politics. Capitalism is destructive and inhuman, but it’s also silly, and mocking its absurdities reminds us that a system this dumb can’t possibly be indestructible. Those of us criticizing capitalism should be able to make fun of ourselves as well. Politicians can dress up every two-bit proposal about corporate tax breaks with high-faluting college words and “big ideas” about freedom and liberty—let the radicals who actually have big ideas put them out with a plain-spokenness and humor befitting those who have dreams of a world where you don't have to have an Ivy League education to matter. We’re building a positive path for humanity, not just trying to add to the chorus of news cranks and internet trolls.
Later to the haters. Communism is for lovers.
If you just can't wait to get in on all this cool revolution stuff, just stop me in the halls and I'll answer any questions you want. I don't bite, promise! Unless of course, you're a fucking fascist...
See you on the barricades!
--- Your faithful comrade, Diego