It is not always appreciated that a communist is, by definition, someone who is a member of a communist party. It is not a set of beliefs that one can choose to adopt much as one can, for example, call oneself a socialist or a Marxist. Merely reading the Communist Manifesto or donning a Che T-shirt doesn’t make you a communist. For that you need a Party Card. To decide whether this is the right step for you, you could do much worse than read the Communist Party Handbook[i]. This is intended for CP members but is ideal for someone seriously thinking about “becoming a communist”.
The aim of the Communist Party is succinctly summarised in the CP Handbook as
“…to achieve a socialist society in which the means of production, distribution and exchange are socially owned and utilised in a planned way for the benefit of all. This necessitates …ending the existing capitalist system of exploitation and replacing it with a socialist society in which each will contribute according to [his/her] ability and receive according to work done. [This] creates the conditions for the advance to a fully communist form of society in which each will receive according to need.”
No one should, however, be misled by the succinctness of this summary. For example, while the basis for distribution in a socialist society is summarised as “to each according to work done”, it does not mean that only those who work would be rewarded. A society planned “for the benefit of all” is a humane society in which those who cannot work, whether through lack of skills or ill health, age or infirmity, will be looked after. It will not be a world of the current , ruthless ‘fit for work’ assessments; nor will it be a world where ordinary workers have to work into old age before they can draw a pension while company directors receive in their fifties pensions worth millions of pounds per annum.
Another issue not covered in the summary is how, under socialism, we would treat our opponents, or at least those who didn’t flee abroad trying to take their wealth with them. This time, we must take seriously our commitment to a society planned “for the benefit of all” and not persecute our former opponents. That means re-training the 1% and recognising that everyone has some abilities. Many of our top financiers are, for example, quite good at maths and could be retrained in more useful activities such as traffic management. Admittedly, some who do very well under capitalism will present problems. It’s difficult to see what useful skills are possessed by judges, police chiefs, Tory MPs and non-executive directors of public companies but, as with the last Emperor of China, retraining as gardeners is always an option. As for David Cameron, as he already has the uniform, would he not make, with suitable training, an excellent waiter?
[i] Available for £2.50 including postage from the Communist Party