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While the FAQs are listed in a logical order, all sections can be read independently. Scroll to find your question!
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Q: What is a “Mode of Production”?
A: A mode of production is the way in which a society socially distributes its labor and the products of that labor. Its defined primarily by the development of the productive forces (the means of production) and its interaction with the relations of production, or the nature of property in society. It is one of the core ideas in Marxist thought.
The social relations of production are almost never formed consciously by human beings, but come out of human history. Social relations (like capitalism, feudalism, etc.), according to Marxism, are determined largely or in part to the material development of technology. In other words, its the nature of technology that creates human social norms, not the other way around. You will find some debate as to how deterministic this relationship is. We won’t make a proclamation here, and only wish to point it out.
The social relations of production change (i.e. there is a social revolution) when these relations are no longer able to fulfill the possibilities afforded by new technology. In Marxist terms the social relations create a “fetter” to the development of the productive forces, so that their full potential can only be achieved when the human social norms change.
A mode of production will only fully disappear once it has exhausted all its possibilities for human advancement. Then the cracks will appear within the system. For humanity to survive, and thrive, it needs new social relations. From our point of view, capitalism is reaching that point in its history, as automation, AI, climate change, inequality, and falling productivity pose series problems for it. As long as humans are divided into classes, with a ruling and ruled class, these new technologies will not achieve their full potential, and the challenges to human society will never be overcome.
Q: What is a class?
A: When we use the term “class” we mean a stratum of society that possesses a particular place in the process of social production/re-production.
Capitalist society is divided between two primary classes: the working class and the capitalist class. All other classes (“middle class”, “white collar”, “blue collar” “tech” etc.) are only fractions of, or mutations from, the two fundamental classes.
As long as the dynamics of capitalist production and competition persist, all humans will tend towards one of these two classes. Most humans will become workers.
Q: Why do you people talk so much about the working class?
A: As Marxists, we believe that it is workers who, through their toil, create all value. There is not a single object or person in the modern world where you cannot see the fingerprints of a 100 million workers upon them.
However, their labor is under the total domination of the capitalist class, the owners of capital and of the corporations. They pay the workers a wage in exchange for labor, but they do not pay the workers the full value of their labor. The capitalist retains this extra as profit.
This is the source of profit, the labor of workers. The capitalist gets to invest that profit however they choose. We, as Marxists, view this relationship as the defining characteristic of our capitalist society. We struggle for a communist society because we take this relationship to be inherently unjust, and also the very source of many, if not most, of the problems in the modern world.
Because the workers are at the heart of all production under capitalism they are the ones most able to, and most in need of, changing the situation. A revolution of the workers would, ideally, bring about a socialist society.
Q: What is the difference between socialism and communism? Are you socialists or communists?
A: While many comrades tend to use the terms interchangeably, the most accepted definition is that socialism is a society that manages production for human need and may have some state or institutional forms lingering from capitalist society. Communism is different. Production is still carried out for human need, but scarcity has been overcome, the society no longer needs institutional forms like capitalism, and there is no state or nations. It is a classless and stateless society, one of total human equality.
In classical Marxism, socialism is often thought of as being the precursor to communism.
Although you will find members describe themselves using both terms, the official position of Red Rose Socialists is to call ourselves socialists who struggle for a communist society.
Q: Isn’t Socialism/Communism just more government?
A: The short answer is no.
The long answer is that what socialists strive for is a society where any and all necessary governmental functions are under the control of the working class (the vast majority of humanity who produces all the goods and services of the world), rather than capitalist class (the owners of capital).
So if by “government” you mean suit-and-tie bureaucrats in fortified buildings commanding the masses, taking huge bonus checks from lobbyists… then no, socialism will not be more government. In fact, socialists and communists see many aspects of modern government to be oppressive and seek the sweep them away: including the system of mass incarceration, mass surveillance of online communications, eminent domain in the service of private profit, and harmful union contracts, among other things.
In fact, we stand firm by the belief that, once the working class has complete control of all aspects of production and state, that most oppressive forms of state machinery can be eliminated immediately. After all, A united working class will have no need to oppress itself when it has state power.
For us it is who has power that matters. In particular, which class has power over our government? The modern government of the United States, like most nations, is a government of the capitalist class, which serves this class and its interests alone. Working people across the whole Earth will always suffer as long as the US government remains under the control of the capitalist class and it’s parties: the Democrats and Republicans. Red Rose Socialists call on all American working people to form their own political party, and not to rely on failed dynasties or well groomed men to lead them out of the wilderness.
In addition to other forms of state oppression, we find private property to be the core of most oppressive behaviors of state.
Q: What about Anarchism?
A: It is important to note that anarchism, as a political philosophy, is very diverse, and we do not wish to make blanket statements. Marxists.org has an excellent definition of anarchism here, which we think is fair.
Because anarchists (with few exceptions) are against unjustified hierarchies in society, we consider them allies in struggle against the oppressive capitalist state. Anarchists, whom we have worked with before, are also against white supremacy, hetero-normativity, imperialist war, and capitalism. They believe, like we we do, that the oppressed must liberate themselves and not rely on capitalist institutions to save them. Anarchists strive for a stateless, classless society where the means of social reproduction are commonly owned.
So their end-goals and ours are, essentially, the same.
The primary difference between anarchists and Marxists such as ourselves is in the tactics and strategy used to reach a communist society. Our theoretical approaches to understanding (and overthrowing) capitalism are also quite different.
Q: Why do you dislike private property?
A: In a word: theft. Private property is essentially theft from the workers to the capitalists. While the workers are responsible for all production of surplus value (all the stuff we can make beyond basic necessities.. it’s what allows us to relax!) the capitalist claims full powers to control the surplus.
Private property in this sense is not your house or toothbrush. No communist, who is being sincere or serious, wants to take your personal possessions. What the communist wants is for the means of production to be taken over by the working class and used democratically to produce for human need (needs themselves also being democratically determined, after all, needs of human society change. Most people might not describe a computer as a need, but go try to apply for a job without one!).
Because the means of production are owned privately (i.e. are the private property of the capitalists) and because the capitalists only invest and sell based on what is profitable (i.e. what can give them a return on investment), this creates a system where we have massive abundance of goods that could fulfill basic needs, but do not. For example: Capitalist society already produces enough surpluses of food to feed the entire human population of the Earth. Millions still die from hunger annually. Why is this? Because surplus food which cannot be sold for a profit will instead be thrown in the garbage.
If the for-profit system that is centered on private property (i.e. capitalism) was replaced with a planned system that carried out production for human needs, then human society could end hunger, among other ills, quite rapidly.
Another example of the illogic of private property is that there are enough empty homes in the United States to house every homeless person thrice. This is because land and buildings are also owned as private property and cannot be sold at a profit. So these places just languish. The same applies to old factory buildings, abandoned government buildings, massive private estates, and whole neighborhoods destroyed by gentrification and poverty.
We also feel the need to point out here that the existence of the police as an institution (and all the brutality that comes from that institution) rests on the existence of private property and the need to protect it. The same logic applies to online methods of content restriction and content ID (such as DRM software) that stifle innovation and free use, simply because someone, somewhere, is not making a profit.
Private property is thus both unethical and inefficient.
Q: But capitalism has created so much wealth and COOL STUFF! Shouldn’t this be obvious?
A: The short answer is that all this wealth and “cool stuff” could be created via collectively owned property (i.e. under communism) just the same as under capitalism. What would be different is:
1: How that wealth is distributed.
2: Who decides what “cool stuff” to make, and how to produce it.
3: Finally, how we organize our work to bring it about.
There is no contradiction between making life comfortable for everyone and producing wealth. “If you get a bigger piece of the pie, the pie won’t grow” is utter BS propaganda. Once you (the workers) control the “bakery”, you can make the “pie” however you please.
We do not need eight men controlling the same wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion human beings in order to have a dynamic society. If anything, these leeches drag the rest of us down.
We do not need to be told, via the constant bombardment of advertisements in every aspect of our daily lives, what we should want. Indeed, the practice of advertising is intensely wasteful, and borders on being propaganda for businesses.
And we do not need to feel forced to work at a job we hate for a wage that barely sustains us. Many capitalists, particularly within the conservative wing of the capitalist class, claim that without wage labor humans would be overcome by sloth. Such is ridiculous nonsense, and obviously a psychological projection.
There are other ways we can organize our lives and our productive processes, to make us not only happier, but also use technology in ways we might not have previously imagined.
Q: Doesn’t history show us that socialism/communism failed?
A: We are not struggling for a communist society out of ignorance of the past, nor do we believe that communism, once we get there, will be perfect.
As Marxists, and dialectical materialists, we understand human history as a process, one that progresses through a series of internal contradictions that must resolve themselves in order for society to progress. As we understand modern capitalism, we argue that to best resolve these contradictions, socialism, and worldwide workers democracy, is the answer.
We did not come to be Marxists because of an unearned love for past socialist states (or ignorance of their crimes), but rather because we see the socialist answer as the best option for a liberated human future. That past socialist states “failed” (more on that in a moment) or were imperfect is, essentially, a non-issue so far as we are concerned. The dynamics of capitalism and the promise of a socialist future will always be factors in history, so long as capitalism exists.
Past socialist states came out of their history and confronted their own unique set of challenges left to them by that history. Thus to say that these states “failed” is a dismissal of the nuance of history.
Is it not a factor to consider, that the United States government engaged in warfare (and sometimes, backed coups or committed mass murder) everywhere communism started? Is not the industrial backwardness of historical socialist states, having risen from agricultural peasant states, something to think about? Communism, is not a magic ingredient you simply add to a country to destroy it… and not all cultures want capitalism either.
It is well beyond the scope of this FAQ to address every last mistake, every opportunist who called themselves socialist, or debunk every last piece of cold-war propaganda. Nor is it the task of this FAQ to explain in detail the history of China or Russia or Cuba or etc.
The Red Rose Socialists encourages anyone curious about the topic to read the history and motives of socialist revolutionaries and draw their own conclusions. We also encourage you to read up on Marxist theory to get an idea about our perspective on modern capitalism and why socialism is today’s solution, and not mere history.
Q: Didn’t communism kill millions of people?
A: Red Rose Socialists reject mass killings. Red Rose Socialists reject regimes which engage in mass killings. We reject war and genocide.
Yet the specter of “communism’s death toll” is a historical baggage (yet a mostly ideological one) , which we Marxists must deal with maturely. Although it should be remembered that capitalism has resulted in far more deaths (more on this in a moment).
There are three things we must address: Methodology, Ethics, and Bias.
Methodology: “The Black Book of Communism”, the most often quoted source for people claiming “communism” killed millions, is methodologically dubious in the extreme. As is the case with most gutter-writers and anti-communist slanderers, numbers were rounded hardily, if not just made up.
Additionally, unlike the holocaust, the deaths from “communism” do not have a wide consensus among historians.
Ethics: It is not our purpose here to dismiss the crimes against humanity. People did die under regimes which claimed communist ideology. This is a fact. But much is overlooked:
- Anti-communist sources often compare deaths under communist regimes to the holocaust. Yet the majority of deaths attributable to communism were due to mismanagement, famine, or stupidity… not government malice. “The Great Leap Forward” may have resulted in many deaths, and was inexcusable, but it is hardly the moral equivalent of the holocaust. (As an aside, the history of capitalism shows us many famines).
- Accounts of the death toll overlook factors such as civil war. Surely, if 1920’s Russia was a capitalist state experiencing civil war, nobody would claim the prisons or camps for POW’s were the fault of capitalism. Yet deaths of civil war combatants in communist countries are, somehow, communism’s fault, rather than wars fault.
- The emergence of cultist leaders. Stalin killed people, not “communism”. Mao killed people, not “communism”. Among their biggest evils, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong also created cults of personality around themselves and solidified state power to themselves. Naturally, they would crush dissenters to their regime and claim it was in the name of communism. Cults of personality are not what Red Rose Socialists strive for, and are not the communism we fight to make reality. If the working class gains real political power, maniacs like these will never gain a foothold.
Bias: Without wishing to make light of human tragedy, lets get some perspective:
Why isn’t the death toll from the colonial slave trade capitalism’s fault? Why isn’t the genocide of Native Americans at the hands of the United States, capitalism’s killing? What about the 18,000,000 who die from poverty, yearly? Not capitalism’s fault?
But of course, they are capitalism’s fault. The colonial slave trade was a for-profit enterprise that helped enrich dozens of capitalists, many capitalist companies have their wealth traceable to slavery. The Native Americans were in the way of American westward expansion. America, being a capitalist country, had to continually expand westward to exploit untold riches and natural resources for profit, particularly gold. The death of entire cultures does not matter to capitalism. The 18,000,000 or so who die yearly due to poverty and structural violence? They could be saved. We have the technology and resources, as a species, to make sure not a single one of them die!
It is just not profitable to do so.
The countless genocides, famines, and crime which happen within capitalist countries and the thousands that die from gun violence, car accidents, and obesity in the United States, seem to go unnoticed by communism’s critics, but we notice. The millions who died in India under British colonial rule, [insert US president]’s drone bombings, Winston Churchill ordering the bombing of German civilians during WWII, the US dropping nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and other such barbarisms lay at capitalism’s feet. King Leopold, mass murderer of 10 million Congolese, did so in the name of rubber extraction… private profit.
Capitalism as resulted in far more death, and far more disregard for human life, than communism ever did. And worse, capitalism’s death toll was in the name of enriching a tiny few. It was all for profit. Comparatively, communism’s relatively tiny death toll, while inexcusable, was done to defend revolution in the name of the great many.
For some, when discussing the topic of death and economic systems the millions who die under capitalist regimes every year don’t register. But when people die in a communist country suddenly the whole philosophy of communism is at fault. Curious.
This is a double standard, with no connection to global objectivity or investigative history at all. All the hoopla about communism killing millions is just propaganda. If we, as a species, wanted to ditch an economic system because it killed people, lets take a closer look at capitalism.