Communism is Good

Sometimes communism works. In the US we think communism is the worst thing ever, and we hate the very word itself. But in reality, we practice good communist activity every day of our lives.

The Take a Penny, Leave a Penny tray is communism in its purest form. Think about it. In 1875, Marx laid down the basic premise behind communism like this: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!” (TIL that it was a popular sentiment among socialist circles for decades before Marx’s famous sentence.)

This is precisely how the penny tray works. If you have an extra penny (the ability to donate $0.01 to someone else), you leave a penny. If you need a penny, you take one. Simple. Communist. Effective. No one gets hurt. There’s no coercion, no Big Brother ordering us to leave or take pennies. It’s self-organizing (and anarchistic, I suppose) communism, and we all love it.

Could we take this further? How about Take a Nickel, Leave a Nickel? Take a Dollar, Leave a Dollar? Seems like — as soon as the amount gets big enough — some people would just snatch it all up and the tray would always be empty. But it would be an interesting experiment.

(pic from the south in my mouth)


I haven’t watched it yet, but Cornel West is almost always worth a half-hour of our time.

Today I’m listening to: Negativland! (From where the post title comes. Please note that I do not consider Christianity to be stupid.)

Christianity Is Stupid

1 comment to Communism is Good

  • That’s an excellent observation, and it gives people another good way of envisioning how communism could take hold. We already know how it works; we just need to extend it from pennies to nickels to dollars to the simple concept of “take what you need, leave what you don’t.”

    But yes, of course communist nations have always turned into kleptocracies. I’ve seen plenty of those people who will help themselves to the entire tray of change when it gets full. But if you find a store where thieves don’t shop, the tray thrives. My view on communism has long been that there’s something important that nobody seems to understand: It will come about not through revolution, but by natural progress when everyone is generous enough to just keep giving until no one is left poor.