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Creating a true Communist setting

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Gryphos, Jun 18, 2015.

  1. Gryphos

    Gryphos Auror

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    To be honest, the only real reason I'm planning now working with a middle-eastern-esque aesthetic is that I kinda like that aesthetic, clothing wise and linguistically. And I certainly don't see anything wrong with using that aesthetic for my fantasy world's culture.

    And this was one of the things the Soviets got wrong, IMO. One of the main things I don't like about the way they tried to implement communism (or socialism, as it was technically for them), was, to put it simply, the blandness of everything. Soviet architecture is all boring and cubic, and as you say, they put inlace policies that went against ideals of choice and freedom. That's not even communism done badly, that's socialism done badly.

    I like the idea of their being golems of all kinds of shapes and sizes, some the size of elephants and some birds, most of them specialised for a particular task. Picture a horse-like golem dragging its own tail through the earth like a plough, while little arms stick out from its back sprinkling seeds behind it. Some golems, the ones which are more varied in their roles and tasks, will most likely be roughly humanoid in their structure. As for tinkering with their design and constructing them, I think a hefty amount of magic will be involved.

    As discussed, the concept of a 'freeloader' wouldn't exist. If person doesn't want to work, they don't have to. Meanwhile the prodigies do what they love, inventing or discovering new things, because they do want to.

    All the way, I think. I want this world to be the 'endgame' of socialism, the absolute Marxist utopia in every way.
     
  2. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    Just take the tenants that Marxism is based upon and take them to their logical conclusion. Should be the answer you are looking for.
     
  3. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

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    So if there's no state, how does your society handle criminal behavior?
     
  4. Gryphos

    Gryphos Auror

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    Good question.
    There wouldn't be any law, so the fate of the individual would be decided democratically by the community, I think.
     
  5. chrispenycate

    chrispenycate Sage

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    From each according to his ability
    is not a rejection of work, an invitation to lie about on tropical beaches waiting for coconuts to fall, it is the removal of social barriers that limit an individual's advance. If one guy is a gifted architect, and another a great mason, and each is interested in building an impressive structure, it doesn't matter which is the son of a lord or merchant - they can still build cathedrals.

    To each according to his need.
    Aye, but who defines that need? Some cases are obvious, but not all, or even most. If there is a genuine scarcity, who decides to whom resources shall flow? Do you attempt to slice them so fine nobody gets enough, or is, democratically, the answer to choose a minority group to persecute? Final question in this sequence (promise) are spouses considered as property - the 'thou shall not covet' commandment has taken a severe beating from the lack of personal property.


    A few communist societies have functioned for limited periods of time, many of them within religious frameworks ( early Christian communities and monastries, Kibbutzim) but they are not long-term stable without stress.

    Post scarcity society without rewards (the Midas Plague)
    There are humans who need their work, their ability, to define them within their own minds - I happen to be one of them. When I go to a con I volunteer to do what I am good at - technical matters, especially sound. I am much more comfortable when I have a function, am making other people's life easier.

    In fact, let's choose a con as a representative community - nobody's getting paid, there is work to be done and - strange, it always seems to be the same people who are doing it, are happy doing it, and require no labelling as lord high panjundram. As decisions must be made, committees are set up, but are frequently dominated by a single personality - but often as not, this is one of the 'doing everything' people, and has been putting effort into making the experience as pleasurable for everybody as possible, and thus merits the position, but true communism, not the practical forms that have actually functioned, is essentially anti authority, certainly hierarchical authority (governments claiming to be communist love charismatic leaders, but tend to a bit short of the 'to everyone…' philosophy). Distributed authority with no direct chain of command is fine for a stable, unchanging environment, but like true democracy shows difficulty in reacting to a sudden change, like an earthquake or a war.

    But you still have at least three 'classes' of humans in a con - organisers, special guests and the hoi polloi (this ignores the hotel staff and other non-affiliated but essential organisms. And other hotel guests who have no connection to the convention, all of whom are outside the community we are analysing.) I could easily differentiate gofers, traders and technicians… humanity isn't an ant nest, and seeks to create order in organisation - it's almost as is, socially speaking, we needed someone to look down on.Servitude should be extinct by now, but it flourishes - we can't even eliminate slavery.

    It is a great pity that communism doesn't work except in periods of war or discrimination - in relative comfort they break down. But it's a beautiful theory, just not for humans.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  6. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    So things can be praised but not criticized. Got it.
     
  7. Gryphos

    Gryphos Auror

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    No one 'defines' the need. There would be free access to all the food and resources for anyone to take what they wanted. You planning on making a sick meal for dinner that night? Just pop to the storehouse and grab the ingredients. As for scarcity, there probably wouldn't ever be any due to the abundance provided by the alchemical crops and the Golemry, but if for some strange reason there was a genuine scarcity, then the community would get together to decide how they're going to deal with it.

    Of f*cking course they're not property. This society would by definition also be completely egalitarian across sex and ethnic lines.

    I very much disagree. But that's beside the point.
     
  8. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

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    While punishment was part of my question, I was thinking more along the lines of how those criminals are apprehended. A police force seems like it would need a state to control and coordinate it.
     
  9. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Many of the posts here have more to do with whether or not "true" communism would work in a practical sense, and less to do with how one might write about it in a piece of fiction. I find the latter question much more interesting, as the former has been beaten to death by better minds than mine.

    Here are a few considerations. One, you might think about the distinction between work (operare) and labor (laborare). I think you have so far considered only the one. What if a golem wanted to work instead of labor? What about a human who wanted to labor? Or one who wanted to "free" the golems by inventing machines? Or magic, I suppose. As someone on the thread said, sailing along smoothly rarely makes for good story. You either need a storm or a mutiny.

    Which flavor of communism did you have in mind? So far the discussion has spoken as if there was only one kind. The variations, especially the pre-WWI kinds, might spark some ideas.

    One problem with starting with communism explicitly (rather than, say, a society in which others do all the labor, and there's no formal government) is that it is a political form that existed specifically as a critique of capitalism. But you could make that into a story, if you have a capitalist society to play off against.

    You wondered why no one has used communism in fantasy. I'd say it's because communism is antithetical to fantasy. There's no need for magic or fantastic creatures. When you described the golems I immediately thought of RUR, by Karel Capek. But that's SF, at least by modern definitions.

    But maybe there's room. I can envision a specific non-human race being communist in form. They wouldn't be the center, but they could provide some interesting backdrop.

    OK, now I'm just sort of randomly typing. Time to stop. The real feedback is the same as always: write it!
     
  10. Gryphos

    Gryphos Auror

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    Ah, well you're right, there wouldn't be any official police force. Also, there wouldn't be any concept of a 'criminal', as that word implies a set of laws which one can disobey. If a community discovers that an individual has committed a morally wrong act (murder, rape, etc.) they decide how to handle the situation, at every level. Same with the investigation of a 'crime'.

    Of course, how often these kinds of decisions would have to take place is interesting to consider. Some argue that an abundant society such as this would transcend (internal) human conflict. While that might not be 100% true, it does sound like a logical assumption to me that in a world without money, jobs and social inequality, there would be less stuff to fight about.
     
  11. Gryphos

    Gryphos Auror

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    Golems don't 'want' anything. In this world they're basically just machines programmed to do certain things, not sentient creatures. If a human wanted to labor alongside the golems, they absolutely could. Nothing would stop them. As for conflict, as I said I'm thinking of an external source of conflict, a grand adventure kind of thing. See, the story won't be focused on this communist society, it'll just form the backdrop of the story.

    I'm going with the version Marx originally envisioned as the ultimate goal of humanity.

    Obviously in the story I won't call it communism, as you're right, that word has very real-world connotations. It'll just be the way things are.

    I'm interested in what you mean by communism being antithetical to fantasy. If you get the opportunity to elaborate I'd be very interested.
     
  12. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

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    I am also a communist, so I'll jump in with a few questions that come to mind.

    First, I agree with a few other posters that 'golem rights' would become a concern to readers no matter how mindless they are in the story. For one, 'golems' as a Stock Fantasy Creature (tm) are - in some stories - capable of free thought and of making choices, so readers may have a presupposition as to the nature of the creatures despite how you present them. There are also people in the real world who are already debating the morality and rights of AI and robots despite how basic they are at this point. Also, golems aren't Middle Eastern, are they? I thought they were from Jewish mythology.

    The people of these villages are united by a shared history and culture, so who is preserving that? If there is no need for trade, how freely do people travel and exchange ideas, songs, writings? If there are no cities, then are there no libraries or museums (perhaps with the notes and prototypes and blueprints of old inventors, so new ones have access to those building blocks)? If there is one in a certain town, would everyone in the other towns know if it existed and be able to go there if they wanted? If the head librarian died and nobody in their town wanted to take over the job, would they let the information die and the books rot or would they send missives to the other towns looking for bookworm who might be interested in the job?

    Does everyone have equal access to magic, or alchemy? If it is something that requires a lot of learning, or something you're born with the ability to do, that creates a power dynamic separate from prejudice that must be addressed in an egalitarian society. I don't know if I worded that right, so another example: women and men are not so different that - if you remove patriarchy from the equation - there would be any natural imbalance; but mages and non-mages have different power levels that would exist even if your society doesn't say "wizards are superior to muggles".

    If most people do have fairly easy access to it, are there small minorities that don't? Maybe people with certain disabilities? That is another easy prejudice to form even in a society that doesn't draw arbitrary lines, since it's easy to not consider the one blind woman in town, or the only man in town whose bad leg keeps him from climbing the steps to the alchemy lab.
     
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  13. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    If golems are machines, I think I would lean toward making them machines rather than living entities. They're only there as a way to explain why nobody has to work, so move them well out of the storytelling equation. Golem, like communism, is a word that has all sorts of cultural connotations. They are middle European rather than Middle Eastern, and yes they come from Jewish folklore. Except in that folklore, there's only one.

    If communism is just the backdrop, then we still don't have a fantasy tale that is *about* communism, right? It seems only relevant (to me!) if the Chosen One (to pick a trope) somehow makes different decisions because s/he come from a communistic society rather than from a capitalist one. Otherwise, introducing communism in the story but not really talking about it is rather like introducing giant purple elephants but they only forage in the background.

    But you asked me a question. I did answer, albeit briefly. I said there's no need for the fantastic in a communist tale. I think I still stand by that, communist SF writers notwithstanding. Communism is very much a product of the industrial age. As I said, it really only makes sense as a critique of capitalism. Remove that whole dialectic and what remains is a static society in which all problems have been solved. I hope the religious here will understand when I say that communism more or less rejects fantasy when it rejects God. That is, it rejects all things supra-natural not only as things that do not exist, but which are in fact the product of the ideology of the ruling class.

    That said, I'll admit that this argument merely avers that *communists* aren't likely to write fantasy. It still leaves open the possibility of someone with non-communist politics writing a fantasy story in which one or more societies are communistic. So, there's that.

    But this is all just talk. Write the story. If it's good enough, the above will swirl away like dry leaves.
     
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