Communism – Two Different Views
The basis of my paper is a comparison between communism the way it is supposed to be, as defined by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in the Communist Manifesto, and the way communism looks in reality, as it is described in Milan Kundera’s Book of Laughter and Forgetting. At the beginning of this paper I will summarize the main ideas regarding communism both of Marx and of Kundera, and afterwards I will compare those two points of view.
In the first part of his Communist Manifesto, Marx says that the world is ruled by the bourgeoisie and its capitalist attitude. With his manifesto, he wants to encourage the Proletariat of the world to unite and fight side by side against capitalism. He thinks that the main task of the communist party is to point out the common interest of the entire Proletariat and to represent the interests of the movement as a whole. The main theory of communism is – according to Marx – the abolition of all private property, and in order to achieve that, the party is even willing to sacrifice some parts of the individual freedom (like abolishing families) as a part of the process to free the Proletariat from its oppressors.
Marx even admits that communism wants to abolish the eternal truths like freedom and justice, as well as religion and morality. As some of the most important measures to make communism possible he names heavy income taxes, abolition of property in land and, what is very important considering my paper, the centralization of the means of communication and transportation in the hands of the state. Being able to control the means of communication is an important factor for a state to control and manipulate its population – like the example of CNN and the manipulative media in the United States shows every day.
Marx thinks that once all the measures he has in mind to make communism real have been accomplished, the leaders can go on to achieve the final goal – the abolition of political power. To sum it up you can say that Marx had a very specific and well structured idea of what it would require to make a communist state possible.
In Kundera’s Book of Laughter and Forgetting, communism plays an important role too, as in almost all novels of Kundera. He describes that when communism first came to Czechoslovakia in 1948, “the more dynamic, more intelligent and better half of the population cheered the accession of the communists to power.” He, as one of those people, was convinced of the communist ideas and saw the arrival of communism as a great success. But he was rapidly disillusioned by the harsh oppressions of the new communist regime. Suddenly all the people, including Kundera, who had wished that communism would come to Bohemia, had the feeling of having sent something into the world that soon got out of their control and that had lost all resemblance to their original idea.
Soon after realizing that, the young and intelligent people of Bohemia started to work against the communist oppressors, trying to achieve a socialist state “with a human face”. Kundera was a leader of this reform movement and represented the movement’s desire for more liberal socialism and freedom of art in any way. And in fact, the movement achieved that the communism stepped back, and the final result of its efforts was the Prague Spring in 1968, in which the Czech borders opened and the whole country experienced a joyful liberation. But as soon as the reform movement had accomplished this, they were defeated.
Seeing that communism, the way they wanted it to be, didn’t work in Bohemia, Russia sent half a million of military troops to Czechoslovakia and totally occupied the country in order to reanimate and enforce communism. At this point, the Russian leaders tried to erase the nation’s memory of the revolutionary ideas by deporting the nation’s historians and critical