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The dream of a different world

Communism. A little story about how it will finally be different
Forfatter: Bini Adamczak
Forlag: THP (Danmark)
The fall of the Soviet Union was understood as the final victory of capitalism over communism. But there is someone who wants to restore it and give communism political significance today.


When Bini Adamczak's little book on communism was published in the US in 2017, under the title Communism for Kids, caused the great resurrection. A number of reactionary commentators from media such as Breitbart talked about "brainwashing" of American youth. The combination of communism and children's book was too much.

It may well be that the capitalist national democracies are not surrounded by the same self-evident naturalness as they were after the fall of the wall, but we do know that in many contexts "communism" has meant mass murder and tyranny. How, then, can Adamczak write a story about how people try to create a communist society?

Something must be done

In a North American context, the word "communism" is fraught with connotations of evil and dictatorship. It might not be so bad in a Scandinavian context, and yet: Just think of the ongoing debates in the Unity List in Denmark, where the party top has tried to avoid the term communism for fear of being laughed at in the media.

This situation, of course, has to do with Soviet state capitalism, which presented itself as "the actually existing socialism", although the capitalist economy had by no means been settled in the Soviet Union. Although the state expropriated most of the capital, the capital form (money-raising money) was never repealed.

The book is an extremely fine description of the need to do away with the laws of capitalism – which enslave people and destroy the Earth.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, this was interpreted as the capitalist West's victory over evil communism. Because of the identification between the party dictatorship created in the Soviet Union and communism as a concept, it is difficult to use the term.

Adamczak's book is an attempt to challenge this story, recapture communism as an idea and give this social ideology an analytical and political significance today. The book was originally written in 2004, at a time when it was very difficult to see anything other than the capitalist world that already existed. Capitalism appeared undeniable.

Today, after the financial crisis and confronted with the ongoing climate destruction, it may not appear quite as infallible, but it is in turn busy screwing up repression and control. That way, it's still trying to shut down so that things could be different.

That is why Adamczak's book is important. It is a contribution to the critique of capitalism and its inherent structural violence – and a contribution to finding answers to the question of what should be done.

Our Story

Communism. A little story about how it will finally be different is an extremely fine description of the need to do away with capitalism and its impersonal economic laws – which enslave people and destroy the earth. The book consists of two parts and a later added afterword. In the first part, Adamczak explains the basic characteristics of capitalism. She describes how the ideology arose, she analyzes the capitalist economy, wage labor and the market, and she explains why crises within capitalism constantly arise. In a straightforward language, she describes «the domination of capital», where things rule over people.

As she herself writes, it may sound strange to say that «things prevail». "Of course it is not meant literally, because of course things can not do anything at all and then not rule over a human being at all, because it is only one thing. Nor are all things ruling over men, but only very definite, or more precisely: a very definite kind of thing. " Namely, the things "which men themselves have made to make their lives easier."

Change is possible

Adamczak describes how people forget or cannot see through this development – where the things they themselves have created end up taking power. There is a reversal, and soon the product form prevails.

Adamczak continuously illustrates this change by comparing capitalism with the spirit in the glass, where a group of people sit holding a finger against a glass standing upside down on a table, with letters in a circle around the glass in the middle. Of course, it's only because all the people tremble a little bit that the glass moves, but it looks like the glass by itself moves around the table. People therefore believe that there is a spirit in the glass that gives them secret messages.

Even when Park Geunhye's support among the population fell to five percent, the opposition hesitated
to krhennes departure.

As Adamczak writes, “it is the people themselves who move the glass, but they cannot do it alone, only all together. Only through their interplay, their relationship to each other, does the glass move. And with this interaction, people are not really noticing it at all. It happens in a secret way or behind their backs. "

The point, of course, is that there is no spirit, but the people themselves who do the work. As with capitalism, which man himself has created – and therefore can also change and abolish.

To take back power

In the second part of the book, Adamczak describes how one can try to create a communist society, ie «the society that abolishes all the evils that people suffer in the capitalist society». Adamczak undergoes various attempts to abolish capitalism from a different distribution of what is produced, over self-control, where the workers themselves control production, to automation and on to machine storm, where the machines are destroyed.

Eventually, the experiments are interrupted when the small, drawn figures illustrating Adamczak's book shout out and take control and depose the author. "'Hey, hello! You there!' 'What, who… me?' And actually, at the bottom of the paper, there are some people standing and others looking up at me from the computer screen. And they fight with their arms and shout, and some look very angry. 'Yes, exactly! Dig! You, we mean. Stop prescribing us our story. We alone decide how to proceed. Because that's our story – and now we're making it ourselves. '»

This is how Adamczak's book ends: People take action. There is no one else to write their story, they will do it themselves. Communism is not just the abolition of the domination of capital, it is also self-constitution, the desire for and the realization of another world.

Mikkel Bolt
Mikkel Bolt
Professor of political aesthetics at the University of Copenhagen.

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