Could Communism Work Today?

There is a remarkable answer to this question by a responder in Quora. I find it quite logical except that the idealists of the communist movement overestimated the human factor. If human beings behaved as they morally ought to, perhaps communism would have worked.

I copy paste the response to make it easier for my readers to get the gist of the response.

“Yes.

Communism works—and has long worked—on the level of family. In a “normal” family, parents give to each other and to their kids according to their capacities and skills, often without expecting anything in return. Kids receive care according to their needs, often not giving anything in return. There’s an implicit promise that they will switch the roles when the parents get old and sick, and the kids become breadwinners. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” is a Communist principle.

The system often malfunctions. Negligent parents and thankless kids are the stuff of a zillion tales, stories and soap operas. Amazingly, however, the arrangement reproduces itself generation after generation. It also inspires a powerful dream of extending the arrangement to the entire society. Every attempt to do it has down like a lead balloon—yet the dream resurfaced generation after generation.

Much of the Communist principle is also reproduced in faith-based communities (e.g., monasteries) and altruistic or idealistic organizations. Relief workers and their backers who distribute food and necessities in areas of distress help people out of charity. The recipients are not expected to give something back, apart from the implicit expectation that they in turn will lend a hand to others in need when the occasion arises.

The cartoon below is from a Soviet satirical magazine in the 1970s. The wife says to her husband: “You need to find a second job. Our kid has grown; he’s got a lot of advanced needs”. The reluctance of younger Soviet generations to sacrifice themselves in accordance with to the austere commandments of Communist ideology caused much chagrin to Soviet rulers during the sunset years of the USSR.”

If More Politicians Listened To Scientists Would The World Be A Safer Place?

Welcome to the weekly 2 on 1 blog post that Shackman and I write every Friday. Today’s topic has been chosen by Shackman who is more optimistic than I thought him to be on politicians. Please do go over to his blog to see what he has to say on the topic.

I have no hopes whatsoever of politicians ever doing anything that would make our world a safer place. It simply has not happened ever, nor is it likely to happen ever again. The political class marches to a drum beat that is entirely unique to it and the class is most unsuited to march to any other drum beat.  Politicians by definition cannot think long term.

I am in total agreement with George Carlin and for the purpose of this post, I equate the government to politicians.  I leave it to my readers to decide if we are smart or intelligent.

Media Bias.

And why would some people say this?

“Media includes every broadcasting and narrowcasting medium such as newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, billboards, direct mail, telephone, fax, and internet.”

My understanding of this activity was that the people involved in the media would report on events as factual representation of them leaving the audience to decide the merits. What however media has become now, is an opinion making institution. Like all other opinion making, here too there are many shades of opinion some strong and some weak and the trend in the recent past has been for the strong to bring out the heavy artillery swamping the weaker ones.

The comic part of this approach of bias has been its abject failure. Let me just take two examples, one from the West and one from the East.

From India, the media was totally against the BJP, the present ruling party in the Center and many States of India. The more that the bias was shown to the public, the more seats that the party won. It now looks as though it is unbeatable for the foreseeable future.

The other example is that of the POTUS. I distinctly remember the strong bias against Trump in the media while the campaigning was going on and the bias continued right up to the results being announced and even after the inauguration. He is still there and at least to his constituency, he seems unbeatable despite there being no let up in the bias against him in the media.

As a very dear friend recently observed, what seems to be happening is that the social media has become more effective in swaying public opinion. The wireless mobile telephony offering access to platforms like facebook and whatsapp,  has unleashed an information sharing method that has had a greater impact than the traditional media channels.

Shackman has suggested this week’s topic. You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  Maria, Pravin, Ashok and Shackman.

Perceptions.

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.”

~ Aldous Huxley

It is odd that this topic has come about when I am still mulling over the effects of The Danger Of A Single Story. Another instance of synchronicity! And I am mulling over this topic primarily because the recently held elections in some states of India has thrown up results that are being interpreted in so many ways and I am in separate discussions with three people on three different perceptions about the causes and likely effects of the outcome.

Blind Men and the Elephant

A Poem by John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887) 

It was six men of Indostan,
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approach’d the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!”

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, -“Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me ’tis mighty clear,
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!”

The Third approach’d the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
“I see,” -quoth he- “the Elephant
Is very like a snake!”

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee:
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” -quoth he,-
“‘Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!”

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said- “E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!”

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Then, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” -quoth he,- “the Elephant
Is very like a rope!”

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

MORAL,

So, oft in theologic wars
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean;
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

The inspiration for this poem was the Panchatantra as can readily be seen from the beginning verse where the six blind men are said to be from Indosthan, an Anglicised word for Hindustan.

Pravin has suggested the topic for this week’s LBC Friday post. You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  Maria, Pravin and Shackman.

Irada.

Two of my favourite actors, Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi act in Irada and that was the sole reason for my deciding to see it.

I am glad that I did.

It is not anything like the other films where these two actors have paired,  It is far more serious.  Arshad tries to bring in some humour without much success as the story does not allow for any humour except of the dark variety like when the Chief Minister’s mother asks her to eat with her mouth closed!

The subject matter is contamination of underground water sources and resultant cancer in one particular geographic area. Collusion between Corporate interests and politicians, murder, hear break, suicide etc all come together in a fast paced presentation to make it a worthwhile experience.

Excellent direction and cinematography makes it technically very sound.  All the other actors produce professional performances  and if you can get to see it, please do not miss the opportunity.

Politics.

“No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems — of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two. Whatever is number three is far behind.”

~ Thomas Sowell

As we begin the new year, to me at least, it appears that we are heading to a period of calm after the storm of a year of political turmoil in many parts of the world. We had Brexit, The USA’s Presidential elections, impeachment of the President of South Korea, Italian elections, etc, and in my own backyard, the high decibel politics due to the demonetisation.

While all these things and many more minor political shenanigans took place, what grabbed the maximum attention, naturally due to its global importance is the electioneering, the election and the result of the American President.

Over here in India, the political oneupmanship following the demonetisation continues unabated. Addding spice to the curry as it were are forth coming elections in some crucial states in India for the state legislatures. The cacophony is mind blowing and within my circle of friends, some rifts have taken place due to differing ideologies and loyalties. Politics and religion does that! I am grateful that the latter has not popped up as yet among us!

To conclude on a lighter note, India’s largest state, Uttar Pradesh goes to the polls shortly and the dynasty that has been ruling there is facing a palace revolt as it were.  Mulayam Singh Yadav is the patriarch and the Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is his son.  The joke is that Mulayam is suffering from Akhilesh’s Heels.

Since I will be otherwise preoccupied tomorrow,  I am publishing this this week’s Friday LBC post a day in advance.  The topic has been chosen by Shackman. Other than him and me, Maria the gaelikaa and Pravin are likely to write on the same topic. Please do drop in at their blogs and see what they have to say about it.