Douwe Osinga's Blog: Are we too poor for communism?

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Are we too poor for communism?

Poor countries usually have a hard time to maintain their democracies. Democracy doesn't necesarily make a country rich, though most democracies are rich. It is easily explained, even though democracies are usually better run than dictatorships, but for citizens themselves, democracy is a luxury problem. If you're hungry, you want food, who cares who runs the country. Once you have food, a refrigerator and may be a car, you start to care. You want a well run country, if not for yourself then for your children.

Typically when a country gets to the 8.000. dollar a head income, enough people start to care to make changes. This happened in Japan, South-Korea and Taiwan and to some extend in Europe. Sure, there are exceptions, India comes to mind, as does the US, but it is sort of pattern. It is part of a Maslov pyramid sort of thing. First things first. What if communism was something similar?

Equality for all and collective ownership of the means of production turned out to hurt efficiency. But equality brings peace of mind as would a state that takes care of our needs without us having to bother. The richer we get, the less important it becomes to make that next dollar, the more important relative ease of living becomes.

I'm not picturing communism as living in a drab, Eastern European capital, but more like living in Club Med full time. People like the concept of everything included, all-you-can-eat, flat fee. Why not flat fee all-you-can-live? It doesn't have to be run by the state per se, Disney could do it, but what's the real difference? Once a society is rich enough to offer something like this to all its citizens, why wouldn't it?

Put in other words, agriculture and industry are becoming less and less important for our economies. At some point they will get a sort of residu status, something you might as well collective, not because that is more fair or or more efficient, but just because nobody wants the bother of arranging for his material needs.