Communism in the West has been associated with foment, antigovernment vitriol and suppression of the people. Blame this view on Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Joseph Stalin and Senator Joseph McCarthy. Marx and Engels took the bait that Rousseau took during the French Revolution: trying to write a solution to tyranny by doing away with authority altogether.
Conversely, true unadulterated communism existed in Asia for centuries – beyond the intrusion of emperors and warlords – and still does in pockets of the continent. To clear the mind of all the consternation, remember the root word ‘commune’. Many may remember the movement of the hippies in the 1970s when communes supported nearly one million citizens. Today, the commune has reduced itself to one family at a time and is called ‘living off the grid’.
Unlike capitalism and socialism, cash flow doesn’t flow very far. In fact, the less cash the better. If a person visited Taiwan in 1990, their first impression would be that for the seventh richest nation in the world, there seemed to be no money on the streets or in local commerce. Unlike capitalism and socialism, the nation’s wealth came from the citizenry who put away any cash for a rainy day rather than reinvesting in local appearances, AKA classism.
Communism depends on communal participation and is heavily influenced by extended family obligation. Sustainability is the primary objective, not profitability. For example, a specific sauce in China, dou-chi, has been made by hand by the same families for centuries. Recipes can be traced back to the Han Dynasty (200 BCE). Very popular in China today, one would think production of dou-chi would have succumbed to more industrial processes – but not in communist regions where family, labor and product are bound into a tightknit culture that functions with very little cash flow. Sharing to sustain life is preferred to using cash.
Visiting a communist region shows how inconvenient cash really is and probably exists only, as the old story goes, because it is easier than carrying sheep around. One also notices that cash is an expensive commodity to maintain. When the reader thinks of communism, think of off the grid homesteaders – that’s pure communism.
Class and elitism are bad words in communism. Karl Marx even disliked the idea of personal property. Under communism, it isn’t how much property one owns (if one owns any); it’s the contribution to the ‘commune’ which in early millennia was virtually all of China away from cities and sea travel.
As a national philosophy in today’s world, communism couldn’t operate successfully; any trade that occurs between nations isn’t tit for tat because everyone’s trying to make a dollar, not dou-chi. Nevertheless, in the pockets where it flourishes, peace and wellbeing are simpler to achieve.