(German: Grundsätze des Kommunismus) is a brief work written by Friedrich Engels, the co-founder of Marxism. It is structured as a catechism, containing 25 questions about. Principles of Communism is a brief work written by Friedrich Engels, the co-founder of Marxism. It is structured as a catechism, containing 25 questions about communism for which answers are provided.
This is, of course, to paraphrase a complex global movement that has many facets and which is also closely linked with socialism. Communism, as it is most widely understood today, is rooted in the political writings of Marx and Engels, founded on the basis of historical materialsim. Numerous successful and unsuccessful revolutions have moulded the idea of communism.
The most profound effects have come from the Russian and Chinese revolutions and the contributions to communist theory made by Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin and Mao Tse-tung. Communism is, historically, the stage coming after socialism when social classes cease to exist.
At one time communism and socialism were seen as similar. Confusion about and between the two terms in general use is based upon a distinction between revolutionary socialist and democratic socialist. The democratic socialism of the British Labour Party up to , for example, is quite distinct from the notion of revolutionary socialism prior to Engels in The Principles of Communism wrote: :.
What is Communism? Communism is the doctrine of the conditions of the liberation of the proletariat. What is the proletariat? For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.
See All Customer Reviews. Shop Books. Read an excerpt of this book! Add to Wishlist. In addition, one can always learn from defeats. The task of the council communists after the defeat of the revolutions did not consist only of continuing propaganda for the council system, but of elaborating the shortcomings that the movement had suffered from as well.
One of its weaknesses, and perhaps the greatest of them all, was that the councils had no clear conception of their tasks regarding the socialist organization of production and distribution. As the council movement finds its first base in the enterprises, this has to become the point of departure for the social coordination and joining together of economic life, by the producers disposing themselves of their product.
Taking into account the enormous difficulties that are in the way of the proletarian revolution, this document, which is for the most part concerned with the unit of calculation and accounting in the communist economy, may seem strange at first glance. As the details of the political difficulties that can be expected cannot be foreseen, this concern always remains speculative. However this document is not concerned with the organization of revolution, but with the problems that follow the latter. As it is not possible to guess the real state of the economy in the wake of the revolution, one cannot draft a program in advance for the ensuing tasks that really need to be accomplished.
Here the uprising necessities will be the determining factor themselves. But it is possible to discuss in advance the measures and instruments necessary for the establishment of certain desired social relations, in this case relations that can be considered as communist. The theoretical problem of communist production and distribution became a practical problem by the Russian Revolution. But the practice was already predetermined by the concept of centralist State control which dominated both wings of social democracy.
The question was how and with what means a centrally conducted planned economy could be realized. It was upon this point that the bourgeois criticism set in, with the assertion that under such conditions a rational economy is impossible because production and distribution require a measure of value, such as provided by the market prices. They meticulously demonstrate the practical applicability of this method of calculation and the public accounting associated with it.
Because it is just about a question of means to obtain certain results, logically nothing can be objected against this. The application of these means presupposes of course the will to achieve a communist production and distribution. Once this condition is fulfilled, nothing stands in the way of their application, albeit they may not be the only ones suitable for communism.
The division and arrangement of social labor to the satisfaction of the needs of production and consumption turns labor time into the measuring stick of production in capitalism as well, albeit there it does not apply to distribution. The prices that occur within capitalism are based on values bound to labor time. They are not related to individual commodities but to the totality of social production. All prices added up can be nothing else than the total value of production bound to labor time. The relations of production or exploitation in capitalism, which simultaneously are market relations, and the accumulation of capital as the motive and the driving force of capitalist production, exclude an exchange of value equivalents bound to labor time.
Nonetheless the law of value rules capitalist economy and its development.
On the basis of this fact, one could easily assume that the law of value must be valid in socialism as well, because in socialism labor time must be taken into account as well in order to make a rational housekeeping possible. But only under capitalist conditions, in which the necessary social coordination of production is delegated to the market and the relations of private property, labor time is transformed into labor time value.
Without capitalist market relations there is no law of value, albeit it remains necessary to take labor time into account in order to adapt social production to the needs of society. The authors indicate that others had already proposed labor time as a unit of economic calculation before them. They consider these proposals insufficient because they apply solely to production and not to distribution, and therefor remain familiar to capitalism.
From their point of view, average social labor time must simultaneously apply to production and distribution.
In his Critique of the Gotha Program of the German Social Democratic Party, Marx argues that an equal distribution in proportion to labor time would entail new inequalities, since the producers differ from one another with regards to their working capacities and their private relations. In order to avoid all these wrongs, the Law should be unequal rather than equal.
In the advanced capitalist countries, that is, in the countries where socialist revolutions are possible, the social forces of production are sufficiently developed to produce means of consumption in abundance. The actualization of the already potentially existing abundance presupposes, however, a complete conversion of social production into fulfilling the real needs of the producers.
The transformation of the production of capital into a production oriented towards human needs will doubtlessly — not solely as a result of the abolition of capitalist relations — be accompanied by a transformation of industrial-technical development and will also secure the endangered future of human existence. The measures that are adequate to these changes, and their results, will determine whether the distribution will be undertaken according to production shares, or according to the changing real needs.
Further, it is well possible that a partial destruction of the production base, as a consequence of the class struggles linked to the social transformation, could rule out the organization of distribution based on labor time, without thereby impeding an equal distribution, for example by rationing. And this equal distribution could directly be secured by the workers themselves without the detour of labor time calculation.
In such circumstances a distribution bound to labor time appears as superfluous.