Communism is a form of government that was originally advocated for by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It has the goal of equalizing a society so that every person works and receives payment based on their needs and abilities. All property within this structure of government is publicly owned.
This common ownership would eliminate distinctions between intellectual and manual labor, bridge the gap between rural and urban life, and create the potential for future human development in every industry, category, or pursuit. This potential outcome is often seen as the primary benefit of Communism.
The primary disadvantage of Communism is the fact that it can be easily manipulated to serve the purpose of the state. In the original theory, Marx and Engels suggested common ownership as a way to negate the power of the State. Governments which have implemented structures which have been called Communism have switched the concept so that the government holds all the common property instead of the people.
Although there has never been a pure Communist government structure implemented, we can look at past examples to think about these additional pros and cons.
What Are the Pros of Communism?
1. Everyone gets the same chance.
Excluding government officials for the practical application of Communism, it is a theory where everyone should receive the same chance to build a life for themselves. There aren’t any inherent household benefits, like existing wealth, that can give certain people an advantage. Ordinary citizens can be come extraordinary based on their own talents and gifts.
2. Almost everyone is employed.
In a true Communist structure, you are asked to contribute to the society as you are able. That means almost everyone is employed in some way. Increased employment can lead to lower crime rates, especially with a government structure which guarantees the basics of life will be provided. No role is greater than another, which reinforces the idea of true human equality.
3. Almost everyone is educated.
Because the goal is to improve the society as a whole, many individuals are sent through advanced schooling so their skill sets can be improved. Although the choice of subject may be restricted and other limitations may apply, just about everyone in a true Communist society is offered the chance to seek out an advanced degree.
4. Agriculture and manufacturing are emphasized.
These two industry forces tend to be the primary drive behind a growing GDP. Communism focuses on these two areas because it provides the most needs for the fewest resources. That builds up the infrastructure for these industries and allows for innovation to drive forward because there is a need to produce higher yields and cheaper products to stay competitive.
What Are the Cons of Communism?
1. Individual rights are restricted.
The goal of Communism is to have people working toward common goals and needs. For that reason, people are not free to pursue their own interests. Their job assignments are based on what the community requires for survival. Someone might be a great writer on comparing pros and cons of subjects, but if the community needs an auto mechanic for the common good, then guess what that writer gets to be? An auto mechanic.
2. There is no unauthorized opposition.
In a Communist structure, there is one overall entity which controls the message and agenda of the society. They have an absolute rule over the law and can even outlaw private ownership of any capitalistic items, such as currency or property. This absolute control is bolstered by the idea that only authorized opposition to new ideas, strategies, or work assignments may be allowed. If you don’t agree with the direction of society, you could be imprisoned or worse.
3. People are kept in ignorance.
The design of Communism feels Orwellian when implemented. The single party can control the message that people receive within their country. There is rarely any contact with the outside world that has not been screened by the government first. That means the population can think they are informed on current events, but in reality, they are purposely kept in ignorance for the benefit of the community.
4. Violence tends to be the only option for dissent.
Because only authorized dissent is allowed in Communism, people who feel like their voices are not being heard tend to resort to violence or violent rhetoric to make their point. The risks of terrorism increase, which then increases the government response to threats of opposition. Secret police and other forms of enforcement are then used to maintain control within the governmental structure.
5. Earning is limited.
There are specific caps placed on the amount of income that can be earned by individuals within this structure of government. These hard caps make it difficult for innovation to grow because there is no motivation to work harder. People know they need to complete a specific level of productivity to reach their community needs and have no reason to go beyond the bare minimum because of the compensation caps that are in place.
6. It often results in poverty.
Communism might have the goal of uplifting everyone in a society, but in reality, it often drives most households into poverty. The structure is easy to manipulate for government officials because only one entity has oversight over everything in the society. One politician can tweak the rules and laws so that their class of people receive the most compensation while still mandating everyone else to work for virtually nothing. Communism might meet needs, but it is often only the bare essentials.
7. No savings are allowed.
Even if a household were to accumulate some level of wealth, that wealth belongs to the community and not the family. There is no precedent for inheritance under true Communism because everything belongs to the singular party, state, or government.
8. Employment may go up, but meaningful employment goes down.
Under Communism, you’re essentially working to earn a paycheck that you’ll never really see. You get enough to provide for yourself, but the remainder of your wages and productivity goes to benefit the community. Many people living within this form of government aren’t following their passions because they don’t have the final say for their career. In many instances, people just give up trying to work and let the government provide the basics for them.
The pros and cons of Communism might be based on utopian ideas, but the outcomes tend to example dystopian societies instead. It is a system of government that looks good on paper because it focuses on equality and building everyone up at the same time. It is also a system that struggles in practical application because of the demands that the party, state, or government places on its people.