Excerpt From this Document
INTRO – “Communism used to mean a lot of different things (political system, economic system, theory, etc., different types) – CONFUSING -- so sort through meanings today and discuss ideas….
RESPECT – important that everyone can freely express views today without insults or put-downs – controversial discussion class
- I will read some statistics about state of world today. You go to a corner of room to indicate:
- Governments should do something to change this.
- Governments should not do anything to change this.
State of World Today:
- More than 25% of the world’s population does not have access to safe drinking water
- If all the food in the world were divided evenly, everyone would have enough to eat. Because it is not divided evenly, 60% of world’s population is always hungry, 16% go to sleep often without enough to eat, and only 24% always have enough to eat.
- More than 2/3 of the world’s population has to survive on less than $500/year (or less than $2/day)
- 27,000,000 people in the world today live in slavery
- The richest 350 people in the world have incomes greater than the poorest 45% of the world’s population combined.
- In many countries today (including the U.S.) the gap between the rich and poor is growing wider (rich becoming richer and poor becoming poorer)
- Communists would answer yes to all those Q’s. ……..that govt’s SHOULD do something to change that? Does that mean that the people who answered yes for a lot of those are communists?
- “Communist” today is used in this country as pejorative term / used as insult – provokes fear and hostility – “He’s a commie….”
- Q – Why do you think it has such a negative connotation today? Where did that come from? * Cold War, McCarthy era, Red Scare, USSR and China, collapse of USSR
INTRO QUESTIONS / Answer in Groups – 10 min discuss / 5 min. REVIEW with whole class:
Define authoritarian socialism, and give two examples of countries under this system.
- Government owns ALL of economy / No private property
- Violent revolution
- No human rights / No real elections
- E.g. USSR and China under Mao
Define democratic socialism, and give two examples of countries under this system.
- Government owns part of economy / Private property is allowed
- no need for violent revolution
- Human rights and civil liberties guaranteed
- Elections for leaders
- Norway, Sweden, Finland, many European countries, France
- Tend toward Higher Taxes, more Govt. services – Free Healthcare, Free Higher Education, Extensive Welfare if no job
- It’s a spectrum…..(even Britain to some extent although moving away from it)
Summarize 5 key points made by Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto.
- History is a history of class struggle between rich and poor
- Capitalism leads to two classes, the bourgeosie and the proletariat. (Q – what are those?)
- Trend - Capitalists gain wealth while workers sent deeper into poverty
- Violent revolution inevitable -- Workers have nothing to lose
- “Dictatorship of Proletariat” = Period where people are educated to work cooperatively
- Eventually government disappears. . .
- Classless society = Communism
How did Marx’s definition of communism differ from authoritarian socialism? Did the Soviet Union practice communism under Marx’s definition?
- Government never disappeared in Russia or China
- Believed in basic human rights – people give voluntarily (AFTER dictatorship of proletariat)
- Classless society – all equal / Never happened in USSR or China which had privileged elites running govt.
About this Document
I use this lesson to introduce the ideal of communism in our Industrial Revolution unit.