Why isn’t communism as hated as Nazism

[ 1/5/20 Foundations of Logic Question]

Why isn’t communism as hated as Nazism?

What level do you want an answer?

We all tend to want simple answers to complex questions, and if a situation is actually complex, then all simple answers will be wrong, and some might be less wrong than others in some sub-contexts.

And that is a deeply complex issue, because reality seems to be sufficiently complex that we must all make simplifications of it in order to make any sense of it at all. Much of that is done subconsciously (many levels of), meaning essentially that we all get to live in our own personal subconsciously created experiential virtual reality, that is all we can ever have of whatever actual reality actually is.

It is further complicated by our ability to deal with complexity having two major modulators:
1/ the urgency of the decision, the more rapidly a response is required, then necessarily the simpler the constructs used in arriving at that decision must be (and that will apply at every level of abstraction, recurs to infinity).
2/ the information and energy available for computation. If the sets of evidence and sets of available schema for interpreting that evidence are small, then that limits the available output options.

Social revolutions typically happen only in times of distress. For most people in such situations information and food are usually severely limited, so they are operating on very low resolution models. The only real certainty they have is that their current situation is “bad”, so anything simple that seems likely to be better will be appealing.

All revolutions start out with some set of variations on this particular set of themes.

Sure communism has killed many in practice. My dad was in the allied forces of WWII, with 21st Battalion of 2NZEF, starting in North Africa and going up through Italy into Germany. He was there when Russian POWs were handed back to the Russian military, and he told me they could hear the machine guns running almost continuously as the “white Russians” were mown down for their “anti-communist” beliefs.

And yet there is a core meme in communism that is appealing to most in times of extreme need “from each according to ability and to each according to need”.

In a simple model, that sounds appealing, but in a strategic sense it is a very small part of what the wider communist social control/ police state set of strategies that emerge in order to “maintain purity of ideals”. That is where all such simplistic systems fall apart, they do not allow for the ever expanding diversity that is required of any real implementation of freedom or creativity (and our very existence is predicated on our creativity).

One of the simple ideas that many hold on to is the notion that all effects have a cause. That is a simple binary notion, that has reality only in the simplest of possible logics.
This reality we find ourselves in seems to be much more complex than that, and is more closely approximated by saying that all effects are influenced by those things that preceded them – to some degree (and all have some degree of randomness).

Thus it is our love of simplicity (which has many evolutionary and necessary bases) that is at root of many of the social issues we have.

There is a class of solutions that work.

They are all based in understanding that in an evolutionary sense, all new levels of complexity are based in new levels of cooperation; and that naive cooperation is self terminating, thus we all have a responsibility to identify and remove cheating strategies (note – remove the strategies, not the agents exhibiting the strategies). And by the time one has repeatedly applied that idea through 10 or more levels of abstraction, one is dealing with some serious levels of uncertainty and possibility. Nothing certain.

So why is communism appealing? Because it has a simple idea that sounds cooperative at its base, and all complex life is cooperative at its base.

Why doesn’t it work? Because it becomes a centralised attempt to impose order that fails to make use of the computational complexity present in all individuals that is actually required to be expressed for our individual and communal flourishing.

Why has the existing capitalist system done a better job?

Several factors.

One of the big ones is that America’s productive systems were not bombed in either WWI or WWII. The global impact of that ought never to be underestimated.

Another is that, for all their many problems, markets do actually allow individuals to exercise a level of creativity, and markets do act as effective conduits of a certain level of information flow, that centralised communistic systems do not.

The key failure of communism is centralisation.

The key success of markets is decentralisation.

A key flaw of markets is asymmetric accumulation of capital (it’s all about information at heart, and access to automation is access to information – which becomes a self reinforcing loop to destruction, as it is focused on the abstraction money, rather than the underlying people and ecosystems).

But our existing market based systems have now reached the end of their utility as our ability to automate now makes it possible to produce many goods and services in universal abundance, but anything universally abundant in a market has zero value (think air).

The fundamental basis of the market algorithm is now invalidated for a large and growing set of factors. A new system that has those aspects of markets that worked, yet captures a far wider set of value attributes, is required.

Automation is also reducing (and in the extreme removing) the utility of labour – thus fundamentally altering the labour/capital relationship.
A UBI (Universal Basic {livable/secure/adequate} Income) could be a useful tool in a transition strategy that allows us to develop a replacement set of systems that more adequately captures the notion of human value than does market value alone.

And such systems must be based on the value of individual sapient life, and the liberty of all sapient individuals. And the fact that the value of life comes before that of liberty, imposes sets of responsibilities on all individuals most particularly social and ecological responsibilities to ensure that the systems present do adequately ensure the life and liberty of all, which includes delivering the tools and space to express their creativity and freedom in whatever way they responsibly choose. It also demands that we maintain the ecosystems on which we all depend in ways that very few of us yet appreciate.

And that word responsibility can not have any simple meaning, it must be recursively complex and uncertain and will demand conversations and agreements that may be far from simple and easy.

Long answer to a short question, and it is about as short as I can get it and still retain adequate information for a reasonable approximation of a useful model.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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