Is Communism Dead?


This is the text of a leaflet published
by the De Leonist Society of Canada.
Date of publication: to be determined
(During the 1980s or the 1990s).


The De Leonist Society

The following is reproduced from The De Leonist Society Bulletin.


The sage has it that "Nothing is constant but change!" and there has certainly been enough ebb and flow in the affairs of mankind to give weight to his words. Even so, we can all find exceptions.

One exception, one constant that can be counted on to remain constant as long as our so-called "free enterprise" or "free market" economy (Capitalism) remains solvent, is journalism's loyalty to the same- a bought loyalty that manifests its faithfulness with consistent falsification anent the underpinnings that sustain both the said economy and its obverse In the east. Just witness the field day that the media hacks made of the recent power struggle in China, and are now making of unprecedented changes in Russia, Poland, Hungary, East Germany, etc. What golden opportunities for their renewed misrepresentation of Marxism and the terms "Communism" and "Socialism"! De Leonists have repeatedly exposed the deception. We shall do so again.

The latest "gem" to come to hand is the mind-polluting effluent discharged by Toronto Star writer Jack Cahill and spread by an admiring Star over the front page of its INSIGHTt!) section, September 30 last. Let us analyze samples of the putrid concoction.

First the title-"IS COMMUNISM DEAD?" This is an example of what America's foremost Marxist, Daniel De Leon, would have called "surreptitious injection of premises." It is a Jesuitical twist. One could as well ask: Are Jack Cahill's great-great-grandchildren dead? In each case there is an identical and false premise-namely, that the subject has already materialized. But let us turn to the gospel according to Cahill:

"Only 72 years after its birth in angry revolution and ardent ideology, evidence of the failure, even the demise, of Soviet-style communism is overwhelming.

"The philosophy of Karl Marx, which foresaw a Utopian world of classless societies created by the superior productivity of state-planned economic systems over private enterprise, is now in disrepute almost everywhere.

"This is as true in many of the countries where adaptations have been tried in practice as it is in the ivory towers of the universities where it once thrived mightily in theory....

"But now the masses in Communist countries are rising in a revolution against this system. They particularly oppose the way it was adapted by Lenin for the 1917 Revolution, its subsequent vicious interpretation by Stalin, and the varied forms it has taken under such men as Mao, Castro and Pol Pot.

"At the end of the long experiment...the people of the Communist world are choosing market forces over Marxism, material goods over manifestos, blue jeans and Big Macs over power of the proletariat, discos over doctrine, freedom over force, and greed over government controls.

"Instant communication is the blunt instrument that is kil-I ing the creed.

"For more than a decade now it has been battering the often deprived people of Communist states with words and images of material advantages in more efficient, social democratic or capitalist countries. The people have read and listened and asked questions....

"The main reason for this worldwide failure (of "Communism") is not hard to find.

"Communism, an idea that brought hope and sometimes justice but often death to many of the world's underprivileged and oppressed, is essentially an economic philosophy. But the Soviet Union, the crucible in which it has been tested over the last 72 years, is bankrupt."

The trick employed is misrepresentation of Marxism and portrayal of Communism (another name for Socialism) as something it isn't. The truth is that while "instant communication....has been battering the often deprived people of Communist!!] states with words and images of material advantages in more efficient, social democratic!!1 or capitalist countries," it has at the same time been battering the often deprived people of capitalist states with as outrageous falsehoods about Socialism (Communism) as ever were spread by a Stalin or a Hitler to further their hellish pursuits. Let the evidence speak for itself.


Allegation: "The philosophy of Karl Marx foresaw a Utopian world."

Comment: If Utopian (if unattainable), why bother falsifying? But there were Utopians around when Karl Marx and his co-worker Frederick Angels formulated what 1:5 unquestionably a scientific socialist philosophy. Quoting from Engels1 1883 preface, to The Communist Manifesto:

"The history of the Manifesto reflects, to a great extent, the history of the modern working-class movement; at present it is undoubtedly the most widespread, the most international production of all Socialist[!] Literature....

"Yet, when it was written, we could not have called it a Socialist Manifesto. By Socialists, in 1847, were understood, on the one hand, the adherents of the various Utopian systems: Owenites in England, Fourierists in France, both of them already reduced to the position of mere sects, and gradually dying out; on the other hand, the most multifarious social quacks, who, by all manners of tinkering, professed to redress, without any danger to capital and profit, all sorts of social grievances; in both cases men outside the working-class movement, and looking rather to the 'educated1 classes for support. Whatever portion of the working classes had become convinced of the insufficiency of mere political revolutions, and had proclaimed the necessity of a total social change, that portion, then, called itself Communist."

Prime fact: "The philosophy of Karl Marx foresaw a world of classless societies."

Comment: If the so-called "communist" countries had indeed been communist, therefore classless, how explain away the bureaucratic state despotisms that have been the hallmark of class division in these countries?

Allegation: "The philosophy of Karl Marx foresaw a world of state-planned economic systems."

Comment: So says our precious scribbler. But in the language of political science a "communist state" (or "socialist state") is a contradiction In terms, and anyone claiming knowledge of Marxism would surely be expected to know it-would surely know that Marx and Engels researched the history of the state Institution and pointed up its anti-communist (anti-socialist) nature in the clearest possible terms. For instance according to Marx:

"The existence of the state is inseparable from the existence of slavery."

And according to Engels:

"The ancient state was, above all, the state of the slave-owners for holding down the slaves, just as the feudal state was the organ of the nobility for holding down the peasant serfs and bondsmen, and the modern representative (also, now, the modern non-representative) state is the instrument for exploiting wage-labor by capital."

"As soon as there is no longer any social class to be held in subjection; as soon as class rule and the individual struggle for existence based on our present anarchy in production, with the collisions and excesses arising from these, are removed, nothing more remains to be repressed, and a special repressive force, a State, is no longer necessary."

Allegation: "The philosophy of Karl Marx once thrived mightily in theory in the ivory towers of the universities."

Comment: It did, did it? Whatever of Marxism was and is truly or falsely dispensed in those ivory towers, certain it is that its immediate essentials (irreconcilable economic class antagonisms within capitalism traced to capitalist expropriation of surplus value from wage labor; increasing poverty and insecurity among the working class due to capitalist competition for profit; necessity for class-conscious working-class unification on the political and economic fields for expropriation of the expropriators, abolition of the wages system and institution of a stateless social order freed from economic class and class rule) thrived neither "mightily" nor at all. Rather, Capitalism's "educators" (and journalists) were and are "educated" to ignore these essentials of Marxism, distort them, or present them as no longer relevant.

Allegation: "But now the masses in Communist countries particularly oppose the way it [Communism] was adapted by Lenin for the 1917 Revolution, its subsequent vicious interpretation by Stalin," etc., etc.

Comment: The implication that pokes its head from out the a-bove jargon is that beginning with Lenin, various "styles" of Communism were implemented in the various countries now called "Communist." Well then, the victorious proletariat having abolished the wages system, what "style" of compensation for their labor did they institute? and having relegated the State to "the ashcan of history," what "style" of government organ did they put in its place? But of course neither the wages system nor the State was abolished in the "communist" countries; the State continued as it does under "private enterprise" to impose wage servitude on the masses. And of course Lenin himself admitted that due to lack of industrial development in the Russia of those days the communist goal could only be an ultimate goal. Differently with Stalin et al, and differently with Capitalism's heads of State and its "educators" and journalists; these ruling class agents have on both hands falsely equated Bureaucratic State Despotism with Communism (Socialism) and have thus prejudiced the working classes of both east and west against the real thing!

Allegation: "At the end of the long experiment [with "Communism"] the people of the Communist world are choosing market forces over Marxism[!]."

Comment: First: As shown, the people never did win Communism but were instead subjected to Bureaucratic State Despotism. Second: It follows from what we previously proved that what the reformers are attempting to introduce is not "market forces over Marxism" but "market forces" over (or together with) "state-planned economic systems."

Allegation: "The people of the Communist!!] world are choosing material goods over manifestos."

Comment: This is of course a snide reference to the Communist Manifesto-widely recognized as a work of the highest order in the literature of the world. How the enemies of Marxism must wish it had never been written! Unable to refute its indictment of Capitalism, their only recourse is to either ignore it or induce anti-Marxist prejudice by falsifying and vilifying. So with the perpetrator of the above inane implication that "the people of the Communist!!] world" have had Communism, the equally absurd implication that the capitalist world is a world without poverty, and the ludicrous fabrication that the Manifesto Is an idle document having no relevance to the burning question of the production and distribution of material goods.

Allegation: "The people of the Communist!!] world are choosing blue jeans and Big Macs over the power of the proletariat."

Comment: How "clever" of them! And how "clever" of journalist Cahill to rewrite history with his oblique reference to "the dictatorship of the proletariat." With an eye to what is well documented -that the Russian proletarian revolution (November, 1917) quickly regressed into a dictatorship OVER! the proletariat, and with an eye to the circumstance that the proletariat (the wage-working-classes) of the industrialized "Communist" world are now by far the numerically largest element in that world and practically synonymous with "the people," it is clear that Cahill has merely to explain how the people could possibly bring themselves to reject an alleged proletarian power in favor of a "free enterprise" market, with all its vicissitudes, instead of using such power to swamp themselves in blue jeans and gorge themselves in Big Macs if they wished.

Allegation: "The people of the Communist[!] world are choosing freedom over force."

Comment: And welI they might! for the "democratic freedoms" of the western world must appear infinitely preferable to the harsh constraints of totalitarianism. But are they (the populace) choosing ECONOMIC freedom? Are they choosing freedom from exploitation? No more than the masses of the capitalist world do they seem aware of their wage-slave status in society! Economic freedom is the foundation of all true freedoms. Political freedom without economic freedom, where not illusory, is at best tenuous. Glassnost and capitalist democracy notwithstanding, does the "communist"-controI -led media, any more than the capitalist-controlled media, spread the truth about Communism (Socialism) and Marxism? To ask the question is to answer it.

Allegation: "The people of the Communist[!] world are choosing d T scos over doctr i ne."

Comment: If true, so much the worse for the people! Jumping from the frying pan of a stagnant, state-controlled economy into the fire of a decadent, depression-prone "free market" economy, they would be far better advised to choose doctrine over discos.

Allegation: "The people of the Communist!!] world are choosing greed over government controls."

Comment: Strange language to characterize the alleged beatitude of the "free enterprise" system! Nevertheless there IS an instance where the slur fits: the up-and-coming entrepreneurial class in the "Communist!!] world" will doubtless be found to be every bit as greedy in their exploitation of wage labor as either capitalist or "communist" ruling elite.

Allegation: "The people [of the "Communist"! world! have read and listened and asked questions."

Comment: About what? No doubt many have been strongly impressed by the images of "material advantages" in "social democratic!!! or capitalist countries" temptingly portrayed by the apostles of Capitalism. But have they been told about Capitalism's dark side? -about Capitalism's rejects?-about the increasing millions of cruelly disadvantaged that this "best of all possible systems" leaves in its wake?

Allegation: "Communism [another name for Socialism] is essentially an economic philosophy."

Comment: It is more than that. It is both economic and socio-logic. Its economics proves that wage labor is slave labor. Its sociology calls for class-conscious unification of the working class to abolish the wages system and institute a classless, self-governing society.


"A SPECTRE is haunting Europe [and America]-the spectre of Communism."


The task before capitalist apologists has been and remains to hold the working class to the belief that Capitalism is "the best of all possible systems." Capitalist "educators" and journalists have promoted this belief by spreading lies about Marxism and by falsely presenting Russia, etc., as communist or socialist countries. Today their task is being made easier by evidence that the State-run economies of these countries are beset by severe economic problems. Nevertheless to remain credible they must now and then temper their paeans of praise for Capitalism with admissions of its more obvious failings and transgressions-must make a clean breast of things, but always in the sense that Capitalism is amenable to reform. And here Cahill turns to The New Yorker for its "respected" observations:

"The New Yorker, in its respected notes and comment column, suggested that although communism!!] has failed, American liberal democracy!!] can't be all that smug about it.

"'It's common knowledge among Americans that on occasion our government has lied,' it said. 'We know that the Ohio National Guard has fired on American students. We have a class system in which the gap between rich and poor is widening rather than narrowing. We have a permanent underclass of people who can find no way out of poverty. Racism continues to blight our country. Homeless people are a common sight on our city streets. We know that we have had a hand in subverting governments of other countries, some of them popularly elected, when they threatened our interests, and that sometimes those interests have had more to do with money than with security. We know that we have trained and supported secret-police forces in other countries.'"

In short (reading between the lines): Let us capitalists who are reaping rich rewards from Capitalism not gloat over the widening cracks in the "communist"(!) empire. Let us instead put on sackcloth for the sins of our own system and do something to check them before they destroy our own rule. For how gratifying is capitalist freedom to feed upon Labor!

But The New Yorker stops short in its penance! It is also common knowledge among Americans (and Canadians) that in addition to the above-admitted blemishes in capitalist society there are others that come second to none such as Industrial pollution of our air, water and soil, desecration of the natural environment, rampant crime and drug addiction, sexism, ill treatment of aboriginal peoples, the arms trade, and so on and on. All things considered, therefore, the capitalist kettle is in pretty poor shape to call the "communist"(!) pot bIack!

As for the working class majority in capitalist society-unlike the capitalist class they obviously have no cause to love Capitalism. On the contrary, they should be twice heedful of The New Yorker's capitalist memorandum, to wit: "We have a class!!] system in which the gap between rich and poor is widening! !1 rather then narrowing. We have a permanent!!] underclass of people who can find no way out of poverty." And they should be twice wary of the capitalist-supportive "social democratic"(!) or "democratic socia Iist"(!! euphemistic nostrums for their unenviable condition-"remedies" that have "worked" according to a Canadian university professor quoted by Cahill, to wit: "Democratic socialism of the Canadian and Swedish kind has worked in that it has forced unbridled capitalism to the middle and we have come up with a kind of welfare capitalism or capitalism with a safety net." So this is how Socialism works, is it? Instead of calling for the abolition of Capitalism, Socialism "forces" the capitalist class to be merciful to its wage slaves, does it? What shall we do with a college professor who not only deploys such nonsense but whose "democratic Socialism" works so democrati-caIly that Canada, too, has its "permanent underclass of people who can find no way out of poverty." But after all, who nailed the deception better than Marx and Engels in the following satirical passages from the Communist Manifesto!-

"A part of the bourgeois is desirous of redressing social grievances, in order to secure the continued existence of bourgeois society.

"To this section belong economists, philanthropists, humanitarians, improvers of the condition of the working class, organizers of charity....

"Bourgeois Socialism attains adequate expression, when, and only when, it becomes a mere figure of speech....It is summed up in the phrase: the bourgeois is a bourgeois -for the benefit of the working class."


There is that about the modern industrialized world that is cause for deep wonder, but also for strident alarm and united working class action. Never before have there hung in the balance so unlimited potentials for both social good and social evil. On the one hand technological improvements developed by Labor have been "silently taking place" such that today Labor is able to produce wealth on a scale hitherto undreamt of. Nevertheless under the wages system that huge industrial capacity is not directed toward satisfaction of Labor's wants (except insofar as is necessary to maintain an ever-ready labor supply) but is instead profit-motivated for the benefit of Labor's employers-capitalist class or bureaucratic ruling elite, as the case may be. And therein lies the paradox of the wages system-the contradiction between its ability to produce wealth and its inability to prevent poverty from spreading throughout society-a contradiction that appears to be rendering both the "communist" and capitalist wage economies unmanageable-and a contradiction that thereby threatens to rend the very fabric of today's industrial society.

In a bid to retain control, the bureaucracies of eastern Europe offer olive branches of glassnost and perestroika, even a whiff of political pluralism, while on the as yet calmer surface of capitalist society U.S. president George Bush promises a "kinder, gentler" administration. Meanwhile both the eastern "style" and western "style" wage economies appear daily less stable.

Where will it all end? We do not know. Perhaps anarchy will break free of its leash, accompanied by unrestrained terrorism. Pei- haps the man on horseback will reimpose harsh measures to forestall social revolt in the east, and perhaps also be called upon to quell social unrest in the west. Perhaps the superpowers, plagued by increasing troubles at home, will shelve their recent peace overtures and resume their insane race for military supremacy. We do not know. But this we DO know: Socialism (genuine Socialism-genuine Communism) must be the next social order in the human experience if the ages-long dream of universal peace, security and freedom is to be realized.

And what is Socialism? By the term's very roots Socialism (Communism) is obviously none of the absurd caricatures which its falsifiers have so zealously drawn. If workers want the truth about Socialism they must go to Marx, Engels, and De Leon. America's foremost Marxist, Daniel De Leon, gave the working class the following concise, watertight definition:

"Socialism is that social system under which the necessaries of production (factories, tools, land, etc.] are owned, controlled and administered by the people, for the people, and under which, accordingly, the cause of political and economic despotism having been abolished, class rule is at an end. That is Socialism, nothing short of that."

THAT is what Socialism (Communism) means! THAT is what is obviously anathema to Socialism's enemies, explaining their deceitful rendering of the term! But in the dark days of economic collapse that are inexorably advancing upon us it is THAT meaning (including its instrument of implementation and administration-the integrally-organized Socialist Industrial Union) that will surely be understood and seized upon by a working class that at last identifies the wages system as the root cause of its misery and its peril and is determined to throw the parasite class off its back!