When I used the following sentence:
“They can show that they are good communists by donating the revenue to environmental causes”
in my last blog, my editor objected. She was right, I changed it to read “good citizens”
Her point was that although it is meaningful to us, people who did not live the communist experience cannot possibly relate to it. I knew that I was over-reaching already when I was putting it down. If you have not lived in a communist country, you cannot relate to it. It is a loaded expression that I will now try to explain to you.
When you are a citizen, you are an individual with your own set of values, your own moral judgment. If you do something for whatever perceived good cause, you do it on your free will, you do it because you think that it is good.
When you are a communist, you try to comply, you try to fit in. A good communist makes sure that those around him fit in as well. A communist will go with the flow; a good communist will try his best to make things flow. The main preoccupation of a good communist is to show good example, to demonstrate, that he is a good communist. Not necessarily because he believes in whatever he does, but because it is the expectation of the collective that he is not supposed to question.
A good communist and a good citizen may be doing the same thing, but their motivations and their attitudes are fundamentally different.
To be a good citizen, you need a moral compass. To be a good communist, you don’t. You just have to sense the whim of the ones with power over you.
The essence of communism is fear, but not the shrieking or hysterically shivering kind; it is the soft fear of punishment for non-compliance, fear of being ostracized for standing out. Communism wants you to conform. Good communists are the agents of conformity and obedience.
If we are coerced into goodness, it is NOT goodness any more, and the more goodness we are coerced into, the worst we, as people, become. Every bit of coerced goodness takes an equal bit of individual goodness away from you.
This is what I tried to hint at with my original formulation of the sentence but I felt it necessary to expand on it.
For us, the most important aspect of this whole plastic bag fascism story is how it reminds us of the world we hoped to escape from. How we can be coerced into compliance with hopelessly ineffective, ideology driven, idiotic policies. Policies that are designed to show power over us. Because for a good communist policy, that is all that matters.