Excerpt from  
Full Communism

(New Palgrave - Marxism, pp.193-195)  



In Marx and Marxism, Full Communism is that final state of humanity in which productivity is higher than wants and everyone can help himself in the warehouses (not shops!). Since productivity cannot be unlimited, this entails that wants are limited: a direct contradiction to one of the basic propositions of Western economics. This is only possible because wants have been reduced to needs, Originally a governmental concept, needs are accepted as valid by each consumer, and internalized to become the new wants.

If wants are to fall below productivity, people must work seriously but voluntarily, that is work too must become a need and so again a want. The link between labour and reward is cut, so that everyone gets a dividend and no one gets a wage, however much or little, well or ill, he or she works — and never mind at what job. …


Since people would be ‘well brought up’, they would not help themselves to more than their ‘need dividend’ should they have the opportunity for example, in the common mess hall or at the clothing warehouse… The lack of scrutiny removes the optimal allocation problem, and causes the end of economics (if we accept that definition of it) as an intellectual subject.

Though allocations need no longer be optimal they must still be made, both of goods and of labour. The state, however, meaning the coercive organs of the governing class, in this case the proletariat, has withered away, so there is a big question-mark over the nature of this allocating authority. …

In particular, however, unpopular labour, and labour threatening to convey political power to its performers (notably within the allocating authority), must both be rotated. Indeed, in extreme versions, all jobs are rotated, to relieve boredom and broaden human development. This is the (utterly impossible and now very embarrassing to Soviet scholars) abolition of the division of labour. This foolishness stems from Marx and Lenin’s notion that advanced technology simplifies all labour.


We have only used the words ‘utterly impossible’ once, and we have presented the whole concept in ordinary Western language. This is partly because the kibbutz does embody Full Communism in practice, as indeed do most monasteries and nunneries. Elements of it are also included by other organizations such as cities under siege, countries immediately after Communist revolutions and military forces. Perhaps above all the nuclear family, even the extended family, brings this utopia down to earth.

The kibbutz and the family, the former hardly Marxist, the latter originally scheduled to disappear under Full Communism, both illuminate the Marxist neglect of the spiritual diseconomies of scale. The altruism that we feel in not ‘breaking the bank’ with our consumption need not be very warm, but it must be there, if only as a sense of duty. The larger our community, the less warmth and eventually the less duty we feel. Homo economicus simply becomes an empirically more probable mode. But for Full Communism he must be altogether negated, at least on the consumption side. However, generous a view we take of needs, only a very ‘well-brought-up’ population can reduce its wants to that, or indeed to any other than an infinitely high, level.

It is a commonplace that the modern kibbutz cannot stop people consuming, but it can make people work. Work, after all, is in part natural. Up to a (very variable) point it is thought of as a duty and a pleasure. Deprivation of it is felt as painful, even when income is constant. Homo economicus explains work very badly, however large or smaller, rich or poor, capitalist or socialist, our community: he is already negated, in all systems.


The official Marxist name for Full Communism is ‘Communism’; we have used the longer phrase for clarity. The first post-revolutionary phase is ‘Socialism’. Marx describes this in his Critique of the Gotha Programme in very brief terms that correspond respectably to what the Soviet economy has become. Thus it is false that Marx left no post-revolutionary blueprint, but he certainly had a very foreshortened time path. He called the intermediate phase the ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’, and Full Communism, ‘Socialism’ or ‘Communism’ indifferently.







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