Communism has been tried repeatedly. It doesn’t work. Most people just about remember this (though most youngsters will have forgotten by the time the next crisis comes about). Communism’s degree of failure is utterly incomparable with the failure of our present, mixed economy system (what we have is not pure capitalism or “neo-liberalism” but a weird and unstable combination of markets combined with a large public sector, high and graduated taxes, hugely powerful monetary authorities and a huge amount of regulation). Communism leads to collapse, starvation and dictatorship.Heath provides plenty of examples, and recommends The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression, which "details how at least 94m people lost their lives as a result of communism in the twentieth century".
But what of those compliant comrades who weren't forced to pay the ultimate price? Is there nothing to recommend the communist approach?
Two natural experiments were run last century: an unusually pure version of capitalism in Hong Kong versus real communism in China; a slightly more diluted but still highly capitalist model in post-war Germany versus a socialist system in East Germany. In both cases the triumph of capitalism was complete.Heath concludes:
Instead of wasting time investigating the views of an economist whose overall system failed disastrously, we should be learning from those who understand that a free-market is the only possible system but who also grasp that current institutions tend to lead to booms and busts, especially if the price system is distorted by underpriced credit or underpriced risk as a result of central bank or government actions. If you are into dead economists, try reading Ludwig von Mises or F.A. Hayek. The latter predicted the crash of 1929 and the stagflation of the 1970s; their followers predicted the dot.com bubble and the collapse of 2008. Marx should remain buried.It is a good point, well made.