Give Communism a Chance
What is more important: the individual or the collective?
After visiting a communist nation, watching The Farewell, and listening to a philosophy podcast on individualism, one will start to ask this question: what is more important: the individual or the collective? Growing up in America, a country that was founded on freedom and the rights of the individual ingrained in our political structure, our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, our culture, it’s easy to answer “the individual”; I always have, never once questioning that outlook. I’m an only child; who else is there to care about except myself?
I always loved the symbol of the self-made man who came from nothing to own a vast fortune or to create a business that monopolizes its industry: the robber barons. Of course I had love for my family and friends, but the only mention of family and friends in those great stories of the Carnegies, the Rockefellers, or the Musks was a backdrop with a brief chapter in the autobiography about their upbringing with either undying support or a tumultuous relationship that pushed them further; never a relationship of necessity; at least that’s how I perceived it growing up. Regardless, their stories were of their own success and how they changed the world. This is not so in communist nations throughout history with the prime example being China.
In China, the only name and face that is unilaterally recognized and beloved is the man on their currency who stares dumbly off in the distance at a protest or something: Mao Zedong. Now, I read a little book on Chinese history and culture, lived there for nearly two weeks, and I’ve watched a few documentaries on the One Child Policy, so yes, I’m an Expert with a capital “E”. Not really, but I am better than your averaged “laying back man”. The overall tone of the Chinese culture is what’s best for the collective is best for you. What matters most is the well-being of the nation and the populace at large.
When the coronavirus initially hit in January and sent me packing, the government swiftly, and with little grievance from its people, shut down everything to prevent the virus spreading: markets, stores, rest stops, theaters, cities, and eventually borders. Even Chinese news media and journalists undercut the severity of the virus with orders from the Chinese state, and now they are supposedly a model for combatting the ever-threatening COVID-19. It’s a stark reminder that while China is more open to the world and a global superpower, it’s not quite like the rest of the world. The slumbering giant that is the communist state still has total control over its people and unlike America and many other pro-democracy republics of the west, puts the protection of the state before its people and the freedoms we hold to be self-evident.
Communism as a branch of socialism has always fascinated me. Socialism, in general, is a positive moralistic approach to providing for everyone so no one is left behind; a passive hope in comparison to the aggressive tactic of redistribution to form equality that is ingrained in the communist structure. The ideas seem to work great on paper, but fail when adopted by political governments on a large scale. Whether it’s the varying history or the simple variance in size between the Scandinavian countries and the rest of the first world, outright socialism seems to only work when there’s cultural homogeneity and a few million people at most. Why can’t it work? In a utopia—not even—in general we should all want for our fellow man to be fed and sheltered, right? We should want an end to pain and suffering—and we do—but it’s laughable to think that we can totally eradicate both, at least anytime soon. Is it in our DNA? Is it an agreed upon bargain between God and humanity that we shall have life with the cost of pain and suffering? All I really know is that tangential humor is the best humor, and that the Chiefs finally winning a Super Bowl with Mayor McCheeseburger and the frog-voiced Mahomes is pretty cool.