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Another major characteristic of communist society is the high degree of cooperation and mutual concern which is discernable in most human activities. One indication of this development is simply the increase in the number of things people do in common. Reference has already been made to the “industrial armies” which to the work formerly done by peasants on their own plots. Beyond this, Marx claims, “communal activity and communal consumption—that is activity and consumption which are manifested and directly confirmed in real association with other men—will occur wherever such a direct expression of sociality stems from the true character of the activity’s content and is adequate to the nature of consumption.”63
We are not told which activities have a “character that requires they be done communally. Nor do we learn what types of consumption have a “nature that requires communal consumption. Consequently, we don’t really know how far Marx would extend his principle in practice. All we can be certain of is that cooperation will cover far more than it does today. Marx speaks, for example, of new “social organs” coming into existence which are the institutional forms of new social activities as well as new forms adapted for old ones.64
Of greater significance than the spread of cooperation is the fact that it is qualitatively superior to what goes by the same name in earlier periods. Marx believed that production is social in any society since it is always carried on inside some relationship with other people. However, the cooperation involved varies from tenuous, unconscious and forced, to close, conscious and free. In communism, interdependence becomes the recognized means to transform the limitations set by what was until now unrecognized interdependence.
Because people at this time are “brought into practical connection with the material and intellectual production of the whole world,” interdependence is world-wide and grasped as such.65 These relations lead each individual to become conscious of humanity as part of him/herself, which is to say of him/herself as a “social being.”66 This is not only a matter of considering social interdependence as a facet of one’s own existence, but of thinking (and therefore, treating) the needs of others as one’s own, experiencing happiness when they are happy and sadness when they are sad, and believing that what one controls or does is equally theirs and their doing and vice-versa. Perhaps nothing in the communist society helps explain the extraordinary cooperation which characterizes this period as much as the individual’s new conception of self, which, in turn, could only emerge full blown as a product of such cooperation.67
In discussing the first stage of communism, we saw that the satisfaction of social needs had become the accepted goal of material production. By full communism, this goal has sunk into the consciousness of each individual, determining how he or she views all the products of his or her work. Besides the sense of devotedness which comes from feeling oneself a part of a productive unit (and the productive unit a part of oneself), each person gives his best because he is aware of the needs of those who use his products (and because he conceives of those needs as his own). He realizes that the better he does the more satisfaction he gives.68 Communist peoples’ concern for their fellows as co-producers is matched by their concern for them as consumers of what they have helped to produce.
This desire to please is not associated with any sense of duty, but with the satisfaction one gets at this time in helping others. Assuming the role of communist, Marx proclaims, “in your joy or in your use of my product, I would have the direct joy from my good conscience of having, by my work, satisfied a human need… and consequently, of having procured to the need of another human being his corresponding object.”69 We can approximate what takes place here if we view each person as loving all others such that he or she can get pleasure from the pleasure they derive from his or her efforts. This should not be so hard to conceive when we think of how close friends and relatives often get pleasure from the happiness they give each other. Marx is universalizing this emotion, much enriched, to the point where each person is able to feel it for everyone whom his/her actions affect, which in communism is the whole of society. Everywhere the individual recognizes and experiences the other as the “complement” of his/her own “nature” and as a “necessary part” of his/her own “being.”70 Aside from considerations of getting something done, people at this time also engage in communal activities for the sheer pleasure of being with others. Human togetherness has become its own justification.71
A third characteristic distinctive of the communist society is the replacement of private property by social ownership in personal as well as public effects.72Communism is spoken of in one place as the “positive transcendence of private property.”73 We have already seen the role social ownership of the means of production plays in the first stage of communism in enabling wide-scale planning, promoting equality and securing better working conditions. Small businesses, however, still existed at least at the beginning of the first stage, and articles subject to direct consumption were still owned as private property. Most people attached great value to the particular objects they used for these were not easy to replace, and, in any case, cost money (labor vouchers) which could be spent on something else. Under such conditions, cooperation did not extend to sharing all that one had with others, and the grasping attitude so prevalent today still had to be reckoned with, though probably less among the proletariat who had fewer material possessions to begin with, than among the small-holding peasants and the remnants of the bourgeoisie.
Private property, by its very nature, secures the owner special rights over and against all non-owners. It is essentially a negative notion, an assertion, backed by the full coercive force of society, that one person may exclude others from using or benefiting from whatever it is he/she owns, if so desired. It assumes the possibility—no, the inevitability—of a clash between what he/she wants to do with his/her objects and what others want to do with them. What happens, then, to the notion of private property in a society where no one ever claims a right to the things he/she is using, wearing, eating, or living in, where instead of refusing to share with others he/she is only too happy to give them what they want, where—if you like—all claims to use are considered equally legitimate? This is the situation in communism; the clash of competing interests has disappeared and with it the need to claim rights of any sort.
We have just seen how aware each communist person is of the effect his actions have on others and how concerned he is with their obtaining satisfaction, both because his own personal needs require it and because he has conceptualized himself as a social being of which they are integral parts. It is this which allows him to say, “The sense and enjoyment of other men have become my own appropriation.”74 Consequently, if one person has something another wants his first reaction is to give it to her. Of private property in land, Marx says, “From the standpoint of a higher economic form of society, private ownership of the globe by single individuals will appear quite as absurd as private ownership of one man by another.”75 In full communism, with human relationships as I have depicted them, private ownership of anything will appear equally ridiculous. It should be clear that it is never a matter of people depriving themselves for the sake of others. Consumption for all citizens is that which “the full development of the individual requires.”76 The community stores are complete with everything a communist person could possibly want. “To each according to his need” is the promise communist society makes to all its members.77

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