Socio-economic system in which private property rights are eliminated

In political and social sciences, communism (from Latin communis, "common, universal") is the philosophical, social, political and economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of the communist society, which is a socioeconomic order structured upon the common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money and the state.


Along Pennsylvania Avenue, by Murray Rothbard, Faith and Freedom, Nov 1956
Discusses the Hungarian Revolution of late October-early November 1956 and the "disappointing" reactions by the U.S. government and the "shocking comment" of Walter Lippmann
... Walter Lippmann, who often reflects high-echelon thinking in the State Department ... said that Titoism would be better for our interests than freedom in eastern Europe, for, after all, the area must be controlled by someone. It is important, wrote Lippmann, that eastern Europe enjoy 'freedom from anarchy' as well as 'freedom from despotism.' ... We might ask: how many government officials, how many Americans, are really Titoists? How many believe in 'national communism' as the best social system? How much 'anti-communism' of recent years has simply been revulsion against Stalin's crude methods and Muscovite control?
Related Topic: Hungary
Anarchism, by Voltairine de Cleyre, Free Society, 13 Oct 1901
Examines various economic propositions for anarchism (socialist, communist, individualist and mutualist) and opines that all could be tried out
... free Communism looks upon such a fever of exportation and importation as an unhealthy development ... It appeals to the plain sense of the workers, by proposing that they who now consider themselves helpless dependents upon the boss's ability to give them a job, shall constitute themselves independent producing groups, take the materials, do the work (they do that now), deposit the products in the warehouses, taking what they want for themselves, and letting others take the balance.
"Anticommunism" versus Capitalism, by Ludwig von Mises, The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality, 1956
Excerpt from part V
There exists today a sham anticommunist front. ... They make an illusory distinction between communism and socialism and — paradoxically enough — look for a support of their recommendation of noncommunist socialism to the document which its authors called The Communist Manifesto. They think that they have proved their case by employing such aliases for socialism as planning or the welfare state.
UpdBastiat on the Socialization of Wealth, by Sheldon Richman, Future of Freedom, Dec 2014
Explains what Bastiat meant when saying that real wealth is constantly passing from the realm of (private) property to that of the "communal domain" (communauté, or community in the original French)
To be sure, Bastiat did not want his praise of the expanding communal realm to be mistaken for communism ... Unlike the communist, he favored the socialization of the fruits of nature, not of human effort:
By the communal domain is meant those things that we enjoy in common ... without the need of any effort to apply them to our use. They can therefore give rise to no service, no transaction, no property ... What the communist proposes to make common to all is not the gratuitous gifts of God, but human effort, or service.
So communism and the communal domain have nothing in common but a word root.
Blessings of Discrimination, by F. A. Harper, In Brief, 1951
Discusses the human ability to discriminate, e.g., to feel the heat of a stove, which Buddha considered an "essential" virtue, contrasting it with the policy of nondiscrimination on employment, association and other areas
Promoters of the communist ideals have generated chaos and class conflict by generating this phobia about discrimination and persecution. This has led to false claims of rights. Part of the same kit of communist tools is the idea that private property is the consequence of discrimination against those who do not own it. If non-owners can be made to believe this and to help pass laws to correct it, they will fight to have it corrected by 'fair ownership laws' whereby all private property is confiscated for the 'ownership of all.' This is the essence of communism itself, and it is already far advanced in the United States under devious and subtle devices.
Boxer's Confusion about Ownership, by Tibor Machan, 4 May 2007
Explains the absurdity of California Senator Barbara Boxer's statement that public lands are "owned ... by the American people" by recalling a story about Ludwig Wittgenstein
The idea of collective ownership, by the way, is totally anti-American. It belongs within the political-economic framework of socialism in which, as Karl Marx and Frederick Engels made clear in their book, The Communist Manifesto, the right to private property must be abolished. In its place the incoherent idea of public or collective ownership is introduced , and idea that ultimately means that some very few people in society actually own what is called 'public property.' Of course, these few people will allow others to make some use of their lands because, well, they need to in order to remain in power.
Related Topics: John Locke, Property Rights
Conscience on the Battlefield, by Leonard Read, 1981
Pamphlet written in 1951, during the Korean War, updated with prologue in 1981; Read recalls the 1918 incident when the troopship he was on was sunk by a German submarine and wonders about his thoughts if he were dying (in 1951) on a Korean battlefield
You do not seem to realize that the essential characteristic of communism is coercion. Communism in essence is the communalization of the product of all by force. Americans now practice communism in so many ways that the doctrine – not in name, but in substance – is rapidly becoming not only acceptable but 'respectable.'
The Death Wish of the Anarcho-Communists, by Murray Rothbard, The Libertarian Forum, 1 Jan 1970
Critique of anarcho-communism, examining its presumed non-coercive nature, and its philosophical and economics orientation
The only good thing that one might say about anarcho-communism is that, in contrast to Stalinism, its form of communism would, supposedly, be voluntary. Presumably, no one would be forced to join the communes, and those who would continue to live individually, and to engage in market activities, would remain unmolested. Or would they?
FBI Free to Ambush our Bill of Rights, by Nat Hentoff, 23 May 2012
Discusses the Guidelines for Domestic FBI Operations changed and expanded by Attorney General Michael Mukasey in late 2008 and retained by the Obama administration
When I was a kid, I read ... a book about Josef Stalin's Russia that turned me into a fiercely unyielding anti-Communist for the rest of my life. During the so-called Great Depression, I remember arguing with Communists in my Boston neighborhood about Stalin keeping an eye on law-abiding Russians. When I became a reporter years later, ... I was startled by the extent to which J. Edgar Hoover's FBI had secretly infiltrated so many entirely lawful organizations with informants and instigators of illegal actions, insatiably searching for Communists, fellow travelers and other suspicious 'persons of interest.'
Frank Chodorov: A Libertarian's Libertarian, by Joseph R. Stromberg, 30 Nov 1999
Biographical essay on Frank Chodorov with emphasis on his foreign policy views, and his debates about the Cold War with William F. Buckley Jr. and William S. Schlamm in the pages of The Freeman
He warned ... 'Already there is a Red witchhunt afoot, and experience tells us that when the exigencies of the situation require it the definition of "Red" will include every person who raises his voice against the going order.' In the end, 'when our imperialism comes to grips with the empire of the commissars, ... our liberties will vanish into – communism.' ... Chodorov wrote: 'To put it bluntly: Communism will not be imported from Moscow; it will come out of Wall Street and Main Street' – if business itself failed to make the proper distinction between state and market.
Hoover's Second Wrecking of American Agriculture, by James Bovard, Future of Freedom, Dec 2005
Follow-up to "How the Feds Took Over Farming", describes the policies of Hoover's Federal Farm Board, the Smoot-Hawley Act, the Federal Reserve and taxes as contributors to the Great Depression and particularly their effect on farmers
Many of the architects of federal agricultural policy in the 1930s ... thought the Soviet economic system was superior ... Rexford Tugwell, the assistant secretary of agriculture, praised the Soviet Union for its "operation of industry in the public interest rather than for profits" ... The Agricultural Adjustment Administration was a hotbed of radicals and, according to historian Arthur Schlesinger, there was a communist clique in the legal and policy-making branch ... [He] is careful to point out that "nothing of importance took place in AAA as a result of [the communists'] presence in AAA which liberals would not have done anyway."
The Humanitarian with the Guillotine, by Isabel Paterson, The Freeman, Sep 1955
Reprinted from The God of the Machine, 1943; analyzes the negative consequences of "humanitarians" (or professional philanthropists) and politicians act to provide relief to the needy
The Communist regime in Russia gained control by promising the peasants land, in terms the promisers knew to be a lie as understood. Having gained power, the Communists took from the peasants the land they already owned; and exterminated those who resisted. This was done by plan and intention; and the lie was praised as 'social engineering,' by socialist admirers in America.
Karl Marx and the Close of His System, by Eugen Böhm von Bawerk, 1896
Contents: The Theory of Value and Surplus Value - The Theory of the Average Rate of Profit and of the Price of Production - The Question of the Contradiction - The Error in the Marxian System — Its Origin and Ramifications - Werner Sombart's Apology
The Labor Theory of Value (An Analysis), by Donald Ernsberger, Jarret Wollstein (Editor), 1988
Examines Marx's Labor Theory of Value, including an example, and compares it to the market-exchange theory, exploring some of the flaws in the former
Communist countries have not abolished profits. They have merely transferred all profits to the state, which typically uses them to build a huge military apparatus at the expense of consumer production. The labor theory of value is violently anti-consumer by its nature. Under this theory, sellers are compelled to price all goods by the amount of labor that goes into them, rather than how much they are demanded by consumers. ... This inevitably produces a surplus of unskilled and shoddy work, and a shortage of skilled work – which is exactly the situation that exists in communist countries.
Les Economistes Libertaires, by Carl Watner, Reason, Jan 1977
Discusses the French economists of the 19th century and in particular Gustave de Molinari and his thoughts on the provision of security and defense services by private agencies
The alternatives are the production of security by a monopoly or by the community (communism). Under communistic or monopolistic organization, the interests of the producers dominate, rather than the interests of the consumers. In such cases, Molinari saw that the price for services would rise while quality would deteriorate through lack of competition. Furthermore, Molinari demanded to know why communism or monopoly should not be applicable to other areas of the market if they are suitable to the production of security.
A Lesson from Vietnam, Part 3, by Wendy McElroy, Future of Freedom, Mar 2004
Relates key events in Vietnam mostly from the start of the Kennedy in 1961 to the Gulf of Tonkin resolution in 1964, and a few concluding paragraphs on this three part series
The economist John Kenneth Galbraith explained, 'One of the errors of the cold war mystique has been to assume that the whole world is equally susceptible to Communism; this is nonsense. Wherever one has great social injustice, and if there is no good hope of change, then sooner or later there will be a response to the promise of Communism. On the other hand, where there are widely distributed land holdings, or there are tribal land holdings, the problem of such a highly organized system of Communism … isn't going to happen.'
Lest We Forget, by Paul Craig Roberts, 25 Feb 2006
Recounts Khrushchev's denouncing of Stalin 50 years earlier, and warns Americans that they do not need to give up civil liberties, constitutional safeguards or international conventions in order to defend themselves against terrorism
The power that Stalin had accumulated in this position had made communism unsafe for communists. ... Stalin had turned the unaccountable power that Lenin had embodied in the Communist Party against the party itself. Karl Marx's reasoning leaves violence as the mediator between classes. Lenin took the reasoning one step further and made violence the mediator of disputes between the Party and the people. Stalin completed the logic and made violence the mediator between the Party and its members. Consequently, no one was safe. The situation was intolerable for all, and Nikita Krushchev brought it to an end.
Related Topic: George W. Bush
A Libertarian Visits Cuba, Part 1, by Jacob Hornberger, Future of Freedom, May 1999
Reviews Cuban history from their independence war, through the Batista regime, the Castro revolution, the Bay of Pigs invasion and more current events, leading up to a week's visit to Cuba to study their socialist system
Castro, in turn, had begun betraying the principles for which he had fought ... Nationalizing the media, he brutally suppressed dissent and even made criticism of both the Cuban revolution and socialism a grave criminal offense ... Although Castro had not been a member of the Communist Party during the revolution, he quickly began converting Cuba into a Marxist-Leninist economic "paradise," and secured assistance from the Soviet Union. Betrayed by Castro's move toward communism, many of his fellow revolutionaries, who believed they had been fighting for loftier principles, fled the country for Miami.
The Menace of the Religious Left, by Murray Rothbard, The Irrepressible Rothbard, Oct 1994
Details various socialist-communist religious or quasi-religious movements from the 12th through the 20th century, concluding with the Clintonians (Bill and Hillary) as the latest exponents of these trends
... the 'Religious Left' ... struggles to bring about ... a thousand-year Kingdom of God on Earth, a 'perfect' and sinless world, a world which would be Communist, collectivist, and egalitarian ... Private property would be stamped out, and all 'heretics,' that is, any dissenters from this messianic rule, would be slaughtered. ... What is little realized today is that at the time of the flourishing of Karl Marx as a socialist-Communist leader, at least half of the Communist movement was heretically Christian, the other half following Marx's atheized version of the search for an apocalyptic and secular Kingdom.
Related Topic: Bill Clinton
Middle-of-the-Road Policy Leads to Socialism, by Ludwig von Mises, 18 Apr 1950
Speech to the University Club of New York; argues that the middle of the road policies of interventionism, such as price controls and progressive taxation, eventually lead to socialism via central planning
What we must realize is that the antagonism between the interventionists and the communists is a manifestation of the conflict between the two doctrines of the early Marxism and of the late Marxism. It is the conflict between the Marx of 1848, the author of the Communist Manifesto, and the Marx of 1867, the author of Das Capital. And it is paradoxical indeed that the document in which Marx endorsed the policies of the present-day self-styled anti-communists is called the Communist Manifesto.
Morals and the Welfare State, by F. A. Harper, 1951
Examines five moral principles by which the idea of the Welfare State (described in more detail in an appendix) can be judged; extension of talk given 13 June 1951; later published as "Morals and Liberty" (see The Freeman, Sep 1971)
The belief that good ends are attainable through evil means is one of the most vicious concepts of the ages. ... for the past century it has been part and parcel of the kit of tools used by the Marxian communist-socialists to mislead people. ... The moral right to private prop­erty ... is consistent with the moral codes of all the great religious beliefs. ... two of history's leading ex­ponents of the Welfare State con­cept found it necessary to de­nounce this moral code completely. Marx said: 'Religion is the opium of the people.' And Lenin said: 'Any religious idea, any idea of a 'good God'... is an abominably nasty thing.'
The New Communism, by Lew Rockwell, Mises Daily, 13 Aug 2001
Comments on the antiglobalization protests, such as at the G8 Summit in Genoa, the WTO meeting in Seattle and the World Economic Forum in Davos, and the protestors manifesto and intentions
From 1916 through 1918, the Bolsheviks engaged in active protest against the Russian war on Germany. They were the party with one unnegotiable demand: peace. The Communists were wrong on everything but that one issue, yet it was the most important to the general Russian population. ... Lenin and Trotsky, maniacal Communists with a lust for blood, said the war was a symptom of capitalism, which makes no sense ... Not until after they gained power did the Communists' demonic intentions become obvious to most Russians. But once the Reds consolidated their power by murdering their adversaries, their bloody rule lasted 74 years.
Related Topic: Imperialism
North Korea's Nukes: Why Now?, by Justin Raimondo, 11 Oct 2006
Comments on the first North Korean nuclear test and the political prospects for the Korean peninsula, considering also China and the United States
The Korean question ... that it is now coming to a boil is a function of the passing of Communism as a force to be reckoned with. The implosion of the Soviet empire, and the general rejection of Marxism-Leninism inside the Communist Party of China, eliminated two main pillars of support for the continuity of Communist rule in North Korea. During the Cold War era, Pyongyang played Moscow off against Beijing rather successfully, while still managing to retain some real measure of independence. The passing of the Marxist project put an end to that game, and they are fast running out of options.
Our Terrorism, and Theirs, by Justin Raimondo, 5 Jun 2006
Comments on the responses to the Haditha massacre and other Iraq War reported atrocities, particularly from Peter Beinart and Bill Kristol
According to the old Commie view, actions were to be judged not by some objective code of morality, but according to a "class-based" criteria. Mass murder committed by the evil capitalist top-hat-wearing West was "terrorism," whilst the "liquidation" of the kulaks and others by the millions was winked at. This "revolutionary morality" was defended by Leon Trotsky, in his ... essay, "Their Morals, and Ours," who denounced as "moralizing Philistines" anyone who considered Lenin's crimes equivalent to the czar's. ... in his exact words, "That is permissible, we answer, which really leads to the liberation of mankind."
The Political Economy of Soviet Socialism: The Formative Years, 1918-1928, by Peter Boettke, 1990
Partial contents: The Meaning of the First Decade of Soviet Socialism - The Political Economy of Utopia: Communism in Soviet Russia, 1918-1921 - The Political Economy of NEP: Market Relations and Interventionism in Soviet Russia, 1921-1928
Related Topic: Socialism
The Politics of Étienne de La Boétie, by Murray Rothbard, 1975
Introduction to the 1975 edition of The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude, translated by Harry Kurz; summarises the key insights of La Boétie's work
Notice, for example, how many anti-Communists write about Communist rule as if it were solely terror imposed from above on the angry and discontented masses. Many of the errors of American foreign policy have stemmed from the idea that the majority of the population of a country can never accept and believe in Communist ideas, which must therefore be imposed by either a small clique or by outside agents from existing Communist countries.
The Production of Security, by Gustave de Molinari, Journal des économistes, Feb 1849
Questions whether the provision of security to citizens should be an exception to the economic principle of free competition, delving into arguments favoring monopolistic and communistic government and concluding with a hypothetical free market example
If the roused and insurgent consumers secure the means of production of the salt industry, in all probability they will confiscate this industry for their own profit, and their first thought will be, not to relegate it to free competition, but rather to exploit it, in common, for their own account. ... This form of the organization of production has been named communism.
Related Topics: Democracy, Government, Monopoly, Society
The Quest for Cosmic Justice, by Richard Ebeling, Future of Freedom, Dec 1999
Review of The Quest for Cosmic Justice (1999) by Thomas Sowell
The Bolsheviks had set themselves the task to remake the world according to the Marxian vision of a classless society. But to do so required the destruction of the "exploiting" classes, an overthrow of the existing property relationships and the remolding of "the masses" into a "new socialist man." The Bolsheviks viewed themselves as a privileged elite, led by Lenin, to remake man and mankind, and all according to a compulsory master plan. After all, said Feliks Dzerzhinsky, the first chief of the Soviet secret police, the masses "are so ignorant that they have no idea what is really in their own interest."
Red Flag Over Hong Kong, by Richard Ebeling, Future of Freedom, Jan 1997
Revew of Red Flag Over Hong Kong (1996) by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, David Newman, and Alvin Rabushka, which discusses the then potential effects of the handover of Hong Kong to China
... the state machinery of oppression, imprisonment, and torture in Communist China is ready at any moment to turn a human life into a nightmare ...After the triumph of Mao Zedong and the communists in 1949, China suffered under totalitarian rule, central planning, and a reign of terror that culminated in the Great Cultural Revolution ... just like the twilight shadows that slowly envelop the sky as the sun sets, communist darkness will cover Hong Kong and the unfortunate people there, many of whom escaped in the past to that 415 square miles of freedom precisely because they wanted to leave communism behind.
Related Topics: China, Hong Kong
Rose Wilder Lane, Isabel Paterson, and Ayn Rand: Three Women Who Inspired the Modern Libertarian Movement, by Jim Powell, The Freeman, May 1996
Triple biographical essay on the women who in 1943 published The Discovery of Freedom, The God of the Machine and The Fountainhead
Lane visited the Soviet Union four years after the Bolsheviks seized power. Like many people, she was enchanted by the Communist vision for a better life. She met peasants whom she expected to be rapturous about Communism. But as she reported later, 'My host astounded me by the force with which he said that he did not like the new government. ... His complaint was government interference with village affairs. ... He predicted chaos and suffering from the centralizing of economic power in Moscow. ... I came out of the Soviet Union no longer a communist, because I believed in personal freedom.'
A Tribute to the Polish People, by Lawrence Reed, The Freeman, Oct 2009
Larry reminisces about a visit with the Polish underground movement in November 1986
One of the intellectual giants of Polish liberty, Leszek Kolakowski, died this past July at the age of 81. Kolakowski labeled Marxism "the greatest fantasy of our century" and regarded totalitarian brutality as the inevitable outcome of the concentration of power. He told the New York Times in 2004, "This ideology was supposed to mold the thinking of people, but at a certain moment it became so weak and so ridiculous that nobody believed in it, neither the ruled nor the rulers."
The War On Drugs Is Lost, by William F. Buckley Jr., Steven B. Duke, Joseph D. McNamara, Ethan A. Nadelmann, Kurt Schmoke, Robert W. Sweet, Thomas Szasz, National Review, 12 Feb 1996
Symposium with essays from William F. Buckley Jr., drug policy researcher Ethan A. Nadelmann, Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke, former chief of police Joseph D. McNamara, judge Robert W. Sweet, psychiatrist Thomas Szasz and law professor Steven B. Duke
The Communists' war on private property dramatized their unwavering devotion to the ideal of a society free of economic exploitation. ... The Soviet Union was the embodiment of the principle that private property is evil. To protect people from dangerous capitalists, the USSR criminalized leaving the country without permission. The Russians are now paying the price of their anti-capitalist mentality.
War, the God That Failed, by Lew Rockwell, 15 May 2004
Contrasts the general reaction to the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse vs. the mass deaths caused by the 2003 Iraq War, and the rationalizations made about the war with excuses made by early Bolsheviks
The champions of the Iraq War are ... already assuming that history will hold them accountable ... and therefore trying to put the best spin on it. The way to think about their efforts is by analogy to the early supporters of the Bolsheviks, during the period of war communism. The revolution had gone badly, as evidenced by starvation, misery, death, and no obvious way out apart from backing away from core doctrine. This is what Lenin ultimately did, but in the meantime, the backers of the Bolsheviks had to provide an explanation for why history's great leap forward was straight into the abyss.
Related Topics: Iraq War (2003), Terrorism, War


The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression
    by Stéphane Courtois (editor), 1999
Calculation and Coordination: Essays on Socialism and Transitional Political Economy
    by Peter Boettke, 2001
Partial contents: Why are there no Austrian Socialists? - Economic calculation: the Austrian contribution to political economy - Hayek's The Road to Serfdom revisited: government failure in the argument against Socialism
Related Topic: Socialism
Communism: A History
    by Richard Pipes, 2001
The Exploitation Theory of Socialism-Communism: The Idea That All Unearned Income (Rent, Interest and Profit) Involves Economic Injustice
    by Eugen Böhm von Bawerk, 1975
Extract from Volume I, Chapter XII, of Capital and Interest; partial contents: Historical Survey of Exploitation Theory - His General and Astounding Error - Marxian Doctrine as Interpreted by His Successors

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Communism" as of 21 Nov 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.