From a discussion on the Heterodox Forum started by John Faithful Hamer:
John Faithful Hamer: WHY IS COMMUNISM STILL COOL?: “Why is it still acceptable to regard the Marxist doctrine as essentially accurate in its diagnosis of the hypothetical evils of the free-market, democratic West; to still consider that doctrine ‘progressive’ and fit for the compassionate and proper thinking person? Twenty-five million dead through internal repression in the Soviet Union (according to The Black Book of Communism). Sixty million dead in Mao’s China (and an all-too-likely return to autocratic oppression in that country in the near future). The horrors of Cambodia’s killing fields, with their two million corpses. The barely animate body politic of Cuba, where people struggle even now to feed themselves. Venezuela, where it has now been made illegal to attribute a child’s death in hospital to starvation. No political experiment has ever been tried so widely, with so many disparate people, in so many different countries (with such different histories) and failed so absolutely and so catastrophically.”—Jordan B Peterson, preface to the new edition of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago (2018)
Questions like this call for real answers, not comforting ones -- they need steel-manning. (Did you coin that term, John?)
Simple. Communism offers righteous struggle. The ideologies of liberal democracies do not.
(And it is STILL cool, because the struggle it proposes burns on beyond it's regularly updated objectives, until everything has been consumed by it)
Reminds me of Orwell's 1940 review of MK:
"He has grasped the falsity of the hedonistic attitude to life. Nearly all western thought since the last war, certainly all ‘progressive’ thought, has assumed tacitly that human beings desire nothing beyond ease, security, and avoidance of pain. In such a view of life, there is no room, for instance, for patriotism and the military virtues. The Socialist who finds his children playing with soldiers is usually upset, but he is never able to think of a substitute for the tin soldiers; tin pacifists somehow won’t do. Hitler, because in his own joyless mind he feels it with exceptional strength, knows that human beings don’t only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flags, and loyalty-parades. However they may be as economic theories, Fascism and Nazism are psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life. The same is probably true of Stalin’s militarized version of Socialism. All three of the great dictators have enhanced their power by imposing intolerable burdens on their peoples. Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people ‘I offer you a good time,’ Hitler has said to them ‘I offer you struggle, danger and death,’ and as a result, a whole nation flings itself at his feet."
Obviously Orwell is talking about fascism here, but he even says the same thing applies to socialism.
Hard pill to swallow: Because the core values of Communism overlap a lot more with the core values as well as vectors of Liberalism than any Liberal (which includes JBP, whether it is prefaced by "classical" or not) would ever care to admit.
The general explanations which are echoed above (no true Scotsman, teachers' conspiracy, ignoring economics, overemphasis on Utopia etc.) are pertaining to the methods by which sympathizers wash Communism's feet and present it in a good light. This however, does not explain the pervasiveness of the ideology- so much so that it has not only survived its incarnation in the USSR, but some might argue it currently thrives, albeit under different guises - as well as the extremely high degree of acceptance it receives in the West, especially among highly educated elites. Why is the same not happening to even a remotely similar degree to Fascism which everyone (all Liberal, be it of the "classical", libertarian or socialist persuasion) agrees is pure evil despite having killed far fewer people, if we go strictly by the numbers (in a purely Utilitarian fashion)? After all, the Fascist ideology also has about 1000 years of Utopia in store for everyone on board with its tenets. Fascism glorified elites to the expense of everyone else. Fascism also doesn't require extensive reading of economy or history to grasp its core tenets. Shouldn't elites at least love an ideology glorifying elites? Apparently, no. Why?
Simply put, because the core tenets of Fascism are at odds with both the core tenets as well as opposed to the vectors of Liberalism, while the Communist ones are not. This is why so many "wide eyed idiot youths with no knowledge of history or economics" gobble up Communist ideals, because they are simply an extension of the oppression-fighting egalitarian-seeking society that their (classical?) Liberal great-great-grandfathers fought to create. The same ideals they are taught ever since they can walk that are good and just and true. That men are all (created? What happens if we remove the God that creates?) equal, that each person should be free from oppression, that everyone should fight tyranny, that all systems of government that centralize power in the hands of the few (or a single person, even worse) are pure evil because power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. These are all normal values which are to be expected in a largely Liberal society.
Communism only overly exaggerates the egalitarian aspect which it deems the only true moral aspect to the detriment of the libertarian aspect of liberalism which is thrown down the wayside because it is seen as both selfish and elitist - both epithets associated with the tyrannical monarchy and the plutocratic aristocracy which Liberals, again, fought so hard to overturn a couple centuries ago. This also, partly, explains why Liberal elites try so hard to appear as if they are anything but elites.
This isn't a value oriented comment, it simply seeks to answer the original question: Why is communism still cool? In my view, try its hardest, liberalism cannot shake Marx's grim prediction: That it will inevitably lead to Communism or at least something very similar. The core liberal values are certainly pointing towards that direction if stretched towards a puritanically egalitarian extreme.
By appealing to unselfishness , vanity and ego.
This isn't all that difficult to answer. Now before anyone starts frothing at the mouth, Stalin and Mao killed more people than Hitler; the following is not a defense of communism as practiced in history or today.
The THEORY of communism is actually quite attractive to people who desire a caring more egalitarian society. "Let's govern ourselves in a manner that is egalitarian and flat structured where everyone gets a voice and is respected. Let's ensure everyone is cared for, valued and can live decently with proper housing food and clothing."
There is nothing wrong to preferring that ideal society to an individualist, capitalist, winner take all and devil take the hindmost society.
Please refrain from citing Pol Pot's killing Fields, Mao's great leap forward or the Holomodor under Stalin -- I am aware.
It is normal for idealistic young people (and old ones) to look at our western capitalist societies and yearn for a more humane system that helps everyone flourish not just the richest/most powerful/most able/most successful. A system that also crushes huge swathes of the population.
The problem with THEORETICAL communism is it doesn't account for human nature and communism in practice and in history.
And yet, there are instances of communist movements (which were in fact more socialist) in the developing world that did in fact increase education, literacy, women's equality and ability to learn and work while also combating government corruption. Such movements sent bright young village girls in Indonesia to the Sorbonne in Paris to study at University. It's not ALL a human rights disaster. But US foreign policy was to snuff out those political parties by any means necessary during the 1950s and 1960s - even if it meant funding and arming foreign regimes and militaries that would ruthlessly kill and disappear tens of thousands of people in mass terror operations. Who knows whether Indonesia wouldn't have been better off as a secular socialist democracy rather than living through the brutal Suharto regime and a current government now under the sway of Islamists? [Source:. The Jakarta Method, Vincent Bevins]
In my limited experience, the main driver, keeping people on board who otherwise should know better, is the belief that wealthy, privileged interest groups are actually waging an ongoing war against the rest of us, actually killing people sometimes with direct violence, other times by disease, famine, impoverishment, disenfranchisement ... . For most people, when you're in an actual war, the values of democracy and civil liberties become secondary, command and obedience are necessary as a matter of life and death, and you evaluate everything primarily by how you think it affects the war.
I think people inherently want an easy way out. Thats why fad diets and get rich quick schemes work so well.
Intrinsic theories of values and peoples general acceptance of altruism and self sacrifice as some kind of moral standard are the main reasons.
I've always heard that Communism works great in India's Christian state, Kerala, and that it's been Communist ever since independence. That may be a cruel myth, but it's worth checking out.
Then check it out and let us know.
OK, it looks like they are officially communists, but in practice, they're a shining example of truly democratic socialism. And in politics, as distinct from economics or culture, they're liberal. It's hard to say if their economic model works in the very long run, because it's so interconnected with the rest of the world -- people get great educations and then earn their livings in the Gulf, the UK, the US ... . But it's hard to say if any real-life economic model works in the very long run, if it has one. (And personally I'm a hard-core libertarian.):