Communism (with a capital C) is a theory developed by Karl Marx about how society will inevitably eventually become what Marx called a communist (with a small "c") society. There is a huge difference between Communism and communism. Small c communism is a classless society in which, by definition, class inequality is abolished. Small c communism is based on the principle, "From each according to ability, to each according to need" (this phrase was first published by the French utopian Étienne-Gabriel Morelly in 1775, 43 years before Karl Marx was even born, and it is a principle that had been cherished by many people going as far back in time at least to the early Christians (Acts 4: 32-36.)
An egalitarian society and the small c communist society that Big C Communists hope one day to achieve in the far distant future (by means of social engineering to make people very different from how they are today) are essentially the same thing. But the way that egalitarians aim to make an egalitarian society is vastly different from the way the Communists aim to do it--so different that egalitarianism and Communism are, in theory and in practice, hostile to each other today.
The conflict between egalitarianism and Communism stems from their having diametrically opposite views of ordinary people as they are today. Egalitarians understand that most ordinary people value equality (in the sense of no rich and no poor, not in the sense of "equal opportunity" to get richer than others), mutual aid (people helping each other) and democracy (people having an equal say in decisions) and try to shape the small corner of the world over which they have any real control with these values. Egalitarians believe that an egalitarian society will come into being because it is what most people want, and it is the shaping of society on a large scale by the same values by which most people are already trying to shape the little corner of the world over which they have any real control today.
Communists (based on the writings of Karl Marx), in stark contrast, believe that most ordinary people care only about their self-interest, that they "think with their belly" and have no desire for a classless society based on equality and mutual aid and democracy. Communists have a thoroughly negative view of most ordinary people as they are today, that they are "dehumanized by capitalism," that they are as selfish as capitalists, that they are "racist" and "homophobic," and "complicit" in the crimes of the ruling class.
But Communists still believe that a classless society is inevitable one day and that it will happen because of the working class's leading role in history. This "working class," however, is not flesh and blood real individuals that exist today but rather a purely abstract conception. How does this abstract "working class" usher in a small c communist society if it is made up of people for whom that goal is the last thing on their minds? Here's how it works in Marxist "science."
Communists believe in something like Adam Smith's "invisible hand." Adam Smith said that people acting in their self-interest resulted in a better world for everybody even though they did not care about or even think about making a better world for everybody. Thus the baker who only thinks of making a profit provides bread for all, and the candlestick maker who only cares about making a profit provides candlesticks for all, etc. The Communists similarly argue that people acting only in their self-interest leads to something good happening to society despite it not being the subjective aim of anybody. But whereas Adam Smith thought that capitalism itself was what made something good for society happen, Marx said that the thing that was good for society, that would happen as a result of people acting in their self interest, was the ending of capitalism and its replacement by small c communism. How this happens is what Marx's supposed "science" of social development is all about. It is all based on impersonal economic laws that assume everybody acts only in their self-interest: the capitalist's self interest being to maximize profits and the worker's conflicting self-interest being to get a higher wage. The Communists say that people acting in their self-interest will lead inevitably to a crisis in capitalism that will prevent capitalism from increasing economic productivity as it had initially done; and this will lead to Socialism (i.e., the working class, which Marx views as an abstract force of history, taking over society) and this in turn will enable economic production to continue to increase so that one day in the far off future there will no longer be any scarcity; and when scarcity is eliminated then, and only then, will it be possible for Communists to socially engineer people to be fundamentally different and better than they are today so they will accept small c communism. As the Marxist Che Guevara says in his "Socialism and Man in Cuba":
"To build communism it is necessary, simultaneous with the new material foundations, to build the new man and woman."
Communists believe that small c communism will come not because it is what most people today want, but rather in spite of the fact that it is NOT what most people today want. This is why Communists are so anti-democratic. Communists fear democracy because they think most people do not want what the Communists want. Communists think that the way to achieve small c communism is to have power exclusively in the hands of the Communist Party (whose members are trained in the science of Marxism and who will, in the name of an abstract "working class," work to hasten the impersonal laws of economic development* by increasing economic productivity to end scarcity so that one day people will accept small c communism.**)
Communists think that increasing economic productivity is the crucial task today. And because they think that people act only in their self-interest, Communists think that the way to increase economic productivity is with a combination of the stick, i.e., authoritative control over workers by a strong central government (controlled by the Communist Party) and the carrot, i.e., letting some get much richer than others if they produce (or make workers produce) more. This explains why the Chinese Communist Party is promoting capitalist billionaires and factories with brutal sweat shop conditions for workers. Lenin did similar things in the Soviet Union, and likewise Stalin.
Egalitarians, in stark contrast, think that the way to achieve a classless society (i.e., egalitarianism) is to help the vast majority of people today who already want an egalitarian society to act together (using voluntary federation of egalitarians and only of egalitarians) to make society egalitarian, and to prevent anti-egalitarians from stopping them.
* An example of how Marxism is about hastening impersonal laws of economic development even when this means supporting extremely oppressive capitalist rulers is Karl Marx's 1853 letter declaring that British imperialism in India, despite its cruelty, was necessary in order to bring about the "social revolution" that India needed.
** The notion that scarcity has to be abolished before most people will share--on the basis of "From each according to ability, to each according to need" with scarce things equitably rationed--is just flat out wrong. This wrong notion comes from the elitist view of ordinary people held by Marxism--that ordinary people only think with their belly and are motivated only by self-interest. It is a disgusting view of working class people, and it is why Marxist regimes are always so anti-democratic.
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