The “Nature” of Communism

A key aspect of the Soviet Union’s quest for true Communism was becoming waste-free and efficient. Every single resource was utilized for the common good of the state; this included people, materials, machines, and even nature. Unused land was waste, and waste had no place in the Party’s strategy.

Looking back, particularly with today’s heightened emphasis on preserving the environment, it is easy to see the ways in which these policies of brutal extraction from the land would lead to future consequences. The desiccation of the Aral Sea has not only caused serious environmental repercussions, but has also been linked to an increase in medical problems, such as cancer.

I was reading the excerpt on the Aral Sea thinking, “whew, so glad we know better now,” when I realized that thought was dead-wrong. We don’t really know any better. And the biggest environmental offender today? China, the other communist powerhouse from the 20th Century. Chinese cities have some of the worst air and water pollution ratings in the entire world, yet when it was approached with the Kyoto Protocol, which would require it to curb its actions that are so detrimental to the environment, it refused. China’s reasoning was that it was still a “developing nation” and shouldn’t be subjected to such environmental restraints—restraints that other, now-developed nations did not have to adhere to on their path to modernity. Russia would be one such example.

When using this China-parallel it would be easy to conclude that destroying the environment to the states’ benefit is a common facet among Communist states. I’m not sure I can soundly make that assertion, but I don’t think it is a coincidence that the two largest Communist (or near-Communist) countries have committed some of the worst atrocities towards the environment.

2 thoughts on “The “Nature” of Communism

  1. Do you think the reason for Communist countries misusing their natural resources is because of the need to utilize all available resources that seems to exist in both China and Russia? It’s highly probable that both China and Russia care more about the development of their economy than the state of their environment, which leads to the destruction of natural resources and environmental disasters. Is being efficient worth the cost to the environment?

  2. Is the disrespect of health and environment only Communist? In the instance of America’s Industrial Revolution we showed such disrespect for natural resources (see:, for example.) But, our distributed population reduced instances of concentrated consumerism and pollution to urban centers. In China, there is such a boom of population in the economic centers (due to both increased economic demand of these children and farmers’ lower standard of living) that their infrastructure cannot cope. Even now, in America, our is our quest for natural gas (and voluntary ignorance of its affects) a blatant disregard for the environment and our citizens?

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