Ten thousand years is too long. Seize the day! Seize the moment! —Mao Zedong
Communism has been relentlessly defamed and blackened by its enemies. A false reality has been constructed, a shameless lie: Communism is evil, totalitarian, murderous, a gigantic nightmare that besmirched the twentieth century. Communism—history’s greatest ever attempt to overthrow class rule and construct a society based on human solidarity—was an abysmal failure, we are told. It stands as a permanent warning to all who would heed the siren call of revolution. This is the Black Legend of Communism.
“The ruling ideas are the ideas of the ruling class” and never more so than in the lies about Communism, the greatest enemy the capitalist class has ever had. Our capitalist masters use our labor to build a world that serves their own interests, constructing not only the economic and political reality but also the very ideas and images through which we perceive that reality. Often these are lies, designed to make us accept our fate, to turn us away from rebellion, and to turn us against one another. Being social creatures, we swim in these illusions like fish in water. Our task is to liberate ourselves, to swim up to the surface and see outside the illusions. Only by liberating our minds can we join together and liberate ourselves and the world we live in from the annihilating tyranny of capital.
The truth about Communism is very different from what we are told. Communism is clearly one of history’s great liberating ideals. Enormous numbers of people have mobilized and sacrificed to pursue this ideal. Communism has rescued and transformed great societies devastated by war, imperialism, and brutal poverty. It has materially and spiritually uplifted hundreds of millions of people. Communism helped to undermine colonialism; Communism defeated fascism, capitalism in its most evil form. And Communism held out for generations against brutal encirclement and attack from the amassed forces of Western imperialism.
Ordinary people, the beneficiaries of Communism, never wanted to get rid of it. Three-quarters of Soviet citizens voted to preserve the Soviet Union. An elite class developed within Communist societies—a serious flaw to be sure—and eventually cast off socialism as an impediment to their own enrichment: capitalism better served their predatory ambitions. Today large majorities of those who once lived under communism regret its passing. By almost two to one Russians would like to have the Soviet Union and socialism back; Mao is deeply loved and honored in China. For ordinary people, Communism was a success.
We need to see Communism as it really was, its failures for sure, but also its many successes. We need to see it clearly so we can learn from it. Twentieth century Communism is an invaluable resource both for inspiration and for understanding what has to be done. As capitalism spirals toward destruction of the entire earth, we cannot continue to blindly reject the greatest ever challenge to capitalism and the hope it offers us, maybe the only hope we have: hope from the most profoundly humane social ideal our species has ever developed.
Communism has deep roots in our human nature. Roots in empathy, which has its most developed form in humans. Roots in our 200,000 year history of egalitarian human communities. Roots in the most expansive reach of our imaginations.
Just as our imaginations can reach out to the stars and galaxies, so our imaginations can reach out to a society of equals, a society of solidarity, a society of life and happiness for all.
To limit our imaginations to our own self interest is as pathetic as limiting our vision to the dirt between our toes. What about the horizon? What about the sky above? Lift up your eyes!
Storm the gates! Seize the day!