Published on Countercurrents.org, by Gaither Stewart, 18 December, 2007.


Rightwing regimes adore Communism. Just the word “Communist” sets their hearts a flutter. Communism in Italy is the scarecrow that terrorism is in America. In countries with less solid democratic traditions, the threat of Communism has been exploited by reactionary forces to establish dictatorial regimes. Nearly every day you can see it in action. Like terrorism, Communism was the excuse for emergency laws in the Philippines and Peru as it was in Chile and Argentina. Emergency laws, special prisons, torture, the sky is the limit in the war against the Communist bugaboo.

Though the Stalinist brand of Communism in East Europe failed long ago and those states disappeared, the European Right—in Italy, France, Spain, Greece— continues to raise the specter of the “Communist” threat to “family” and “our values.”

But what is Communism today? In the minds of non-Communists, Communism is still associated with the former USSR. Yet, Communistic ideas are as old as man: a social system characterized by the community of goods and the absence of private property. Such ideas marked the organization of the first Christian communities.

Communism first appeared in ancient Greece advocating the community of all goods. In the Nineteenth century Communistic ideas inspired reformists all over Europe, ideas of equality and the abolition of private property. Marx summed things up with his motto: “From each according to his capacity, to each according to his needs” …

… The social economy recognizes the existence of inequalities and places limits on them. Market economy theoreticians, on the other hand, explain that inequality is quite a good thing; it is a stimulus to improve one’s position by hard work or innovation; success is a hope for all, an aspiration, something to strive for; it makes a society more vital.

I do not believe that social and economic inequalities are a necessary price to pay for the economic freedom (that word again!) of a few. First, let’s redistribute wealth dramatically. Then we can talk about acceptance of inequalities as a boast to economic progress.

Gramsci like other Marxists insisted on the role of intellectuals to lead the way toward reform. Gramsci considered mass media the instrument used by the dominant class to spread its hegemony, but he pointed out that the media can also be used to counter that hegemony.

Throughout the world today we see the confrontation—still unequal—between establishment media on one side and the spread of alternative media on the other: ezines, independent publishers and filmmakers and the free press. (full text).

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