Someone on hacker news replied to a comment I wrote where I linked to The Machine. They said, in a nutshell, that Karl Marx already advocated for communism and it didn’t work, and so the future I advocate for is unlikely to come. I wanted to share my reply to him here, as I think it captures well what I mean when I talk about “communism” (reboot, The Machine, etc) versus “Communism” (the violent governments from the 20th century).
I think Marx’s analysis of capitalism is over emphasized as a cause of the murderous regimes we saw under the “Communist” label in the 20th century. Stalin wanted control of the people, and he knew that Marx was very popular among the people at the time. But while I’m not an expert on all of these things, I don’t think Marx advocated for the violent methods we saw used by those brutal regimes who used his name. And remember, Capitalist nations like the US were violent too (millions killed in Vietnam, and for what exactly?), but we don’t blame Adam Smith or David Ricardo for those horrors.
When I do mention communism, I mean an agreement between people where some good or service it shared amongst them without any individual or individuals laying specific claim to more than their fair share. Families operate this way with food for example, and employers like Google share food freely this way too. I’m advocating that we build robots that are owned by huge groups of people who then share the rewards of the machines freely.
So it’s “communism” because certain things are shared by the community, but people can still have their own private property and make other choices about what they do. It’s a libertarian, non-violent non-coercive way to achieve a sort of voluntary communism for only life’s most important goods (as decided by the people who choose to participate in these sharing schemes).
I hope it’s clear that when I say “communism” I pretty much mean “sharing”. There was a lot of violence in the 20th century that in my mind had a lot to do with concentrating and seizing power, and Marx was the poster child for so many of those regimes. But I don’t advocate centralization of power (I explicitly advocate for decentralization of power) and I do advocate voluntary non-violent radical social experimentation.
To read more about my thoughts here, please see one view on how a voluntary communist society could be arranged, from a technical perspective (as told by an exasperated new resident of such a place) in The Corporation.