Communism is the Truth that Fulfills All Truths: Why Christians and Atheists (& Muslims, Hindus, Etc) Will Someday Reach the Same Destination

from Plato onwards, Communism is the only political Idea worthy of a philosopher. – Alain Badiou

Reading this line from Badiou a few years ago pushed me over a hesitation to embrace the word “communism” in a full-throated sense. I wrote an essay not long after this point on Plato’s Republic where I explored how Plato connected the ability of his ideal city’s guardians to achieve justice to their having forsaken private property. In fact, re-reading Book V last night only confirmed for me what Badiou is saying, that Communism is the fulfillment of political rationality. If Plato’s philosophy of ideal justice requires communism in this sense, I hold that a profound truth has escaped the notice of many in our time, including advocates of Marxism. That truth is that communism does not belong to Marx and his successors, but to humanity as a whole.

Marxists often want to define just how communism will be brought into being. They have a theory of the proletariat revolution led by a Communist Party. The leadership of the Communist Party is composed of the advanced activists and theorists who correctly understand the necessary path to take towards Communism. Of course, history is littered with the failures of Communist governments. It isn’t adequate to slap a label on your philosophy and call it Communism. Communism does not belong to Marxists, but to humanity.

If communism is as old as Greek philosophy – actually older – then is it so surprising that it also makes an appearance in the most popular world religion, Christianity? The gospels are only comprehensible as a communist event with a vision of a classless society at their core. The Book of Acts presents the “Jerusalem Commune” where the followers of Jesus set up a system of wealth redistribution among the members of their new movement.

I am not arguing that Communists should become Christians, by no means. I am contending that Communists, whether atheist or Christian, have a common heritage that is older than Karl Marx. I am contending that Communism’s central axiom, “from each according to ability, from each according to need” is rooted in universal human relationships. Every healthy nuclear family operates as a commune. In “primitive communism” sharing was simple and direct exchange. It is the ruling classes throughout human history who have rejected this basic relational ethos and imposed class domination on the majority of all societies.

The rebirth of Communism in our times will not fall into the classic divides of the left of Marxist vs. Anarchist vs. Religious communists. In our post-secular world, communism is only possible with an inclusive alliance of Atheists, Christians, Muslims, and others.

Or, communism may fail to be achieved. Humanity may be forever trapped in an undesirable system of class domination. Many science fiction dystopias paint such a picture. I am an optimist, but I am not a fatalist. Humanity could fail to fulfill its own potential. That will be tragic, indeed. But, even such a failure does not prove that Communism was not the true fulfillment of humanity’s potential.

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5 comments

  1. myatheistlife · January 19

    Communism cannot work side by side with commercial enterprise. In one debt is owned by everyone, in the other everyone is owned by debt. To move toward communism is to move away from free enterprise… a difficult task indeed.

  2. David Waln · January 19

    Even people I know on the political Right adhere to the notion of ‘ From each according to his ability, too each according to his need’, when it comes to their own family members, (and, sometimes, even close community). And there is a logic to this. I think the reason it is palatable to them in this setting is, among other things, that they know the desservedness of the recipients of their charity and can hold accountable any swindlers. Even militantly anti-communist families embrace it at home, while seeing it as folly when extended to strangers you can not hold accountable. That addresses the issue on the personal level.

    On the societal level, the concerns are forever being distilled back down to the competitiveness of the Survival Unit/Nation State. For at least 7,000 years, starting in the Middle East, being bigger, badder, and more specialized than your competitors has been a survival advantage for post tribal survival units. As this process gave rise to Empires and futile attempt at conquering the world, we have more recently retreated to Nation States that still are so large that the only common denominator in the Citizenry is the desire for security. Without this common need people would gladly break into more intimate groups. So any talk of ‘From each according to his ability… etc’., will always be rejected by those clued into the historic impetus for ‘bigger, badder, and more specialized’. They know the world is a dangerous place and have little patience for anything that might compromise competitiveness, including imposed ideals that are ripe for abuse by unaccountable strangers.

  3. James Bailey · January 19

    It should be understood the passage refers to the multitude of the believers in Christ Jesus and His great power of mercy and grace. Certainly, not Marx. Christ Jesus is the only Son of God who gave His life on the cross and rose from the dead that all mankind can be forgiven of their sins.

  4. radicalprogress · January 19

    The term “sins” in the gospels is also the term for financial debt. Communism is the abolition of debt.

    Jesus sacrificed his life to bring everyone the message of the kingdom of heaven on earth. Believing in him means believing his universal communist message. All things will be reconciled to him, the Prince of World Peace.

  5. radicalprogress · January 19

    The resurrection may be real or not, but Jesus preached communism, sell all you have, the meek shall inherit the earth, the mighty will be cast down and rich driven into eternal destruction. You can’t follow Jesus if you don’t believe in communism.

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