How to Be a Communist

Three Parts:Learning What Communism is All AboutGetting Involved in Communist PoliticsApplying Communist Principles to Your Daily Life

While it is unlikely that you live in one of the few remaining countries with a communist government, you can still embrace the ideology of communism in your everyday life, and participate in political and activist organizations that support communist principals.[1] This article will give you practical tips on how to live as a communist in the twenty-first century.

Part 1
Learning What Communism is All About

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    Understand the plight of the proletariat. The proletariat is the laboring class; people who provide work to an employer in exchange for wages, but do not have any ownership of the company they work for or the "means of production," meaning the land, tools, factories, office-buildings, raw materials, etc. that make their work possible. Most members of the proletariat have little control or say over their own labor, and do not share in the profits of their employer.[2]
    • Because the proletariat have no control over their labor and are dependent on wages to survive, they are easily exploited by their employers.
    • The oppressors of the proletariat are called the "bourgeoisie" in Marxist terms, the wealthy capitalists who own the corporations, factories, and land, and consequently, most of the world's wealth.[3]
    • The modern concept of the 99 percent is very similar to Karl Marx' concept of the proletariat, and the 1 percent is analogous to the bourgeoisie.
    • A key tenet of communism is that the proletariat should strive to gain control over the means of production, and own and manage it collectively.
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    Contemplate how private property creates social injustice. Private ownership over the means of production is what gives the bourgeoisie the power to exploit the proletariat. Marx argued that if the ownership of the means of production was seized and handed over to the proletariat to own communally and equally, workers would fare better, exploitation would cease, and the social classes that arise from the unfair distribution of property would disappear.
    • Some modern companies are partially or completely employee-owned, in that they give their employees stock, but these are relatively few. [4]
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    Consider communist critiques of capitalism. Marx believed that it was capitalism, itself, along with the market economy, and the unbridled quest for profit that brought about the current state of injustice and inequality. Marx felt that the remedy for this was the total abolition of capitalism through a proletariat revolution.
    • Numerous communist revolutions have taken place in Europe, Asia, and Latin America, although few truly communist regimes remain.[5][6]
    • Most modern Communist parties now focus on reform of capitalist societies, rather than on revolution. [7]
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    Become familiar with the core texts of Marxist communism. If you identify yourself as a communist, people will presume you are familiar with these texts and expect you to be able to discuss them knowledgeably.
    • Begin with Frederick Engels' The Principles of Communism, a pamphlet he wrote in 1847 outlining the key tenets of Marxist communism. [8]
    • Move on to the Communist Manifesto, published by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in 1848. [9]
    • Read Marx' 3-volume Das Kapital when you are up for a real challenge.[10]
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    Read some secondary literature on communism that explains the context and evolution of the movement.
    • Some good introductory texts include: Communism: A Very Short Introduction by Leslie Holmes, and The Theory and Practice of Communism: An Introduction by R. N. Carew Hunt
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    Add some later Communist works to your reading list. Ideal choices include Vladimir Lenin's The State and Revolution and Leon Trotsky's In Defense of Marxism. [11][12]
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    Remember that communism is strongly opposed to the acquisition of private property, and needless consumption. One of the most communist things you can do is to rely on the public library and used bookstores to accomplish your research goals

Part 2
Getting Involved in Communist Politics

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    Read current communist and communist-sympathizing websites and publications. Some good examples include People's Word, libcom, and The People's Daily Morning Star. [13][14][15]
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    Join and participate in local communist organizations. Do some research and look for an active Communist party or activist group in your area.
    • In the United States, you can join the Communist Party USA. [16]
    • If no communist groups exist locally, consider forming your own.
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    Participate in groups and causes that are based on, or are compatible with, communist ideals.
    • Support labor unions, and remember that a good communist would never cross a picket-line!
    • Participate in the Occupy movement.
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    Keep in mind that even peaceful demonstrations can lead to legal consequences. Learn the laws in your area, and be prepared to be chastised and possibly even arrested for participation in political demonstrations.

Part 3
Applying Communist Principles to Your Daily Life

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    Reduce your exposure to capitalist propaganda by avoiding commercial television and radio. Marketing is ubiquitous in modern society and most of us think little of it, but it is also a powerfully manipulative tool of the capitalist machine.[17]
    • Avoid advertisement-heavy websites, and use pop-up and ad-blockers to reduce your exposure to unwanted advertisements online.
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    Choose where you spend your money wisely, for money is the lifeblood of capitalism. Giving money to exploitative companies only increases their power over the working classes.
    • Research the various corporations that produce the food, medicine, clothing, and other items that you use. Avoid doing business with corporations that are known to exploit labor.
    • Buy goods directly from the person who manufactures them and avoid the corporate middleman whenever possible.
    • Look for labor-friendly companies to do business with. Shop at union, or better yet, employee-owned stores.
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    Join a co-op. For a small annual fee, you can take part-ownership of your food distribution source. Most co-ops also offer opportunities for members to share their labor, as well.
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    Minimize your consumption of consumer goods.
    • Avoid purchasing disposable products of any kind.
    • Avoid the unnecessary acquisition of personal property. Before making a purchase, analyze whether or not you really need it, and consider how long you will be able to use the item. If possible, go in on large purchases (for instance, a lawnmower) with one or more other people, and share the item that you buy among the co-owners.
    • Learn to sew and repair things. Mend and reuse old items before purchasing new ones.
    • Buy as much as possible from second-hand stores.
    • Eschew the latest technological trends and gadgets. Only buy what you really need.
    • Learn to garden and begin to grow your own produce, if space allows, or if a neighborhood garden co-op is available.
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    Consider forgoing car ownership. Cars are a particularly wasteful and expensive form of private property that with a few adjustments, can be made unnecessary for most people.
    • Use mass transit whenever possible.
    • Take advantage of ride-sharing and car-sharing programs in your area.
    • Consider buying an older used car that is in good working condition, rather than a new vehicle, if you must buy a car.
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    Treat your employees well if you are an employer. Pay all employees a fair, living wage, and allow them to participate in the direction, profits and ideally the ownership of the company.
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    Advance the cause of labor if you are an employee. Participate in labor unions and employee organizations, and advocate for your fellow workers. If labor is not organized in your place of business, do your part to make this happen.
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    Speak to others about your beliefs, and share practical ways that others can adopt and practice communist ideals.
    • Keep in mind that many people, particularly members of older generations, may become immediately hostile to the term "Communism" or "Communist," as they equate it with Cold War politics and propaganda. Do not take it personally, and do not antagonize people needlessly. Teaching by example will win more converts than aggressive confrontations and debate.
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    Avoid causing physical or mental harm other people in the course of your revolutionary activities. Becoming an oppressor yourself will not further the communist cause, and will only land you in jail!

Tips

  • The Marxists Internet Archive is a great resource on communism and has an excellent student section.[18]

Warnings

  • Being too open with strangers about your beliefs might be dangerous.

Article Info

Categories: Political Campaigning and Participation