Does currency exist in communism?

  • I've thought about this before, but never heard any explanation as to how this works.

    My understanding of communism is:

    1. Everyone works.
    2. Everything is rationed out equally.
    3. Since there is no private property, everything is borrowed. So if you want to take a boat out on a lake for instance, you simply schedule a time that you can.

    Given this situation, and the fact that there's no private property - wouldn't currency be obsolete? I mean, maybe you'd need something to prove that you've worked a full time job or something - but if everything is public/shared/rented - what would the point of currency be?

    Is everything really shared equally? I thought that in the worker's paradise there was such a super abundance that everyone could have as much as they wanted without worrying about their neighbor's overindulgence.

    In worker's paradise you don't need to schedule a boat, there just exists a boat at the time and place you want it.

    If you have to work a full time job, then it is not a "worker's paradise."

    In workers' paradise, boat takes you out.

    @emory Depends on the definitions of „full time“ and „job“. ;-)

    If you remove currency but use something to prove people did some work, then that itself will become the new currency. And if you forbid trading it, a black market will emerge. Even if you succeed in completely eliminating it, something else will become the new currency (like packs of cigarettes).

    Strictly speaking Communism, as a branch of Anarchism, is anti-authoritarian not anti-currency. The problem is the accumulation of "something" that would allow one to diminish the freedom of another. This is not a simple subject and you'll encounter far more versions or systems within this framework than one might expect. Take a look to a wikipedia article such as Anarchist Economics to see some of the ideas that have circulated in the past.

    Also consider checking the philosophy regarding the notion of private property and personal property. This is extremely relevant from the point of view of Anarchism and is a very common misconception (yet another) people seem to have about these systems.

  • FalseHooHa

    FalseHooHa Correct answer

    4 years ago

    Officially no; in some systems possibly yes; and in practice yes.

    By currency in the term of legal tender, a fully-communist system should not have currency for the reasons that you point out. That is how the system is designed. Private property is completely abolished.

    In some systems that are/were considered communist (depends who answers), the Soviet Union had and Venezuela and Cuba have currency. Some consider Venezuela socialist, not communist. Some consider Venezuela communist - whether we agree or disagree, it comes down to a person's view. Some consider Cuba communist. Still, some may disagree with these views that they are/are not socialist/communist and they both had/have currency. You can even buy old Soviet currency at some places.

    By currency in terms of an exchange of value, in practice, yes currency exists. If you know how to produce your own food, even if there's a shortage of food, you may be able to have more access to resources than others without their knowing it. Just like money is not evenly distributed in systems, skill isn't either. Skill is private property and this cannot be redistributed, especially when it's not known.

    I think that first word should be "Officially". The idea of also counting the black market is an interesting approach.

    USSR wasn't communist in the meaning that they had communism as state model - they certainly did not. It was communist in the sense that they were ruled by Communist Party that wanted to build communism - somewhere far in the future, no one knows when. USSR was socialist, and surely had currency (apart from brief period of "war communism" in 1918-1921 where having currency wouldn't do you much good and sometimes got you shot, and resources were allocated mostly by conquest and central planning. Soviets abandoned it very quickly though).

    Neither USSR nor Venezuela were communist in any way shape or form, even on paper. The constitution officially called them socialist, the actual form of the state was socialist.

    I was born in soviet satellite state. I wouldn't call USSR socialist even. Economy was more like "state-owned-capitalism" whereas politic-wise it was dictatorship.

    You need a citation for implying that some consider Venezuela as communist.

    The third paragraph starts with a falsehood and then tries to justify it. It doesn't really add anything to the answer though. I suggest removing it entirely. The rest of the answer is great. +1 if you edit. Just kudos otherwise.

    @el.pescado but it was at least *nominally* socialist.

    If one believes the comments here, communism is apparently an idea that never really existed in practice.

    @RobertHarvey: "With every five year plan, we get one step closer to communism". "And how far away is it?" "About twenty miles".

    @RobertHarvey I would be very interested in an example of a stable society that implemented communism-as-defined (i.e. no social classes, no money, and common ownership of any property), if you can provide one.

    @DanilaSmirnov: Exactly my point. Apparently communism is just a fantasy, one that provoked decades of proxy wars. A fantasy that a lot of people took very seriously.

    @RobertHarvey There is a difference between a fantasy and an ideal. One could on the same basis proclaim that capitalism is but a fantasy, since there were also no society that legalised no-holds-barred free market, either. Ideals are hard/impossible to implement in practice, that's why they are called ideals. On the other hand, proponents of both communism and capitalism brought about numerous positive social changes - so, while unattainable, both ideals worked for common good.

    @DanilaSmirnov: Sure, but at what cost? I don't see the point of "well, since we didn't get the results we wanted, we can't really call it communism." By that logic you could declare that "it wasn't really child abuse, since it made the victim a stronger person."

    @RobertHarvey "well, since we didn't get the results we wanted, we can't really call it communism." - no. We cannot call it communism because it did not have the required components. It's like saying that christianity ideals are violent because of crusades - because while the pretense was religious, in nature it was just a land grab by european nobility - which controlled the church at that time. But this argument is not for comments - if you want, we could continue in chat.

    @DanilaSmirnov: So apparently we're back to some fictional idealized notion of societal perfection that was never really achieved (or even approached) in practice.

    Communism is meant to be an end goal, whereas socialism is meant to be a transitionary phase to that end goal. So it's just not correct to call the USSR or Venezuela Communist based on the traditional definitions.

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