that under communism, no individuality is allowed, that you get no freedom, no opportunity to express yourself. i don’t really believe him, but at the same time the belief is hard to shake bc i learned it at such a young age.
Every current capitalist society has lead to human rights abuses. He can’t name one capitalist society that hasn’t. Capitalism allows people to die by underpaying them and then not giving them healthcare, by letting more unowned, unrented, unlived in houses stand there, unused than homeless people on the streets, by operating on oppression, racism, sexism, etc. Capitalism requires there be poor people who suffer. The system is also built to fail. Every few years we’ve had a recession in the US. The longest time of economic prosperity we had was ten years during the 90s. Marx foresaw this in his Communist Manifesto: he foresaw that capitalist societies would have recessions every ten years—he was actually generous with that prediction.
Capitalism is called capitalism because our society runs on the value of capital that is produced by the working class/proletariat and appropriated by the capitalist. A capitalist is defined as a person who hires wage laborers they pay an hourly wage or salary, but who makes money off the profits of their business. The capitalist profits off the labors of other people. The capitalist does not need to work nearly so hard as the working class, but the capitalist is the one who earns the profits: the working class does not. This is why you have fat cat ceos making millions or billions of dollars by barely working, and people who work 9-5 nearly their whole lives making barely a liveable wage (if liveable). The capitalist system is built on exploitation. Businesses care most about growing profits and about keeping their workers underpaid, underpowered, struggling and dependent on them, even when their CEO’s are rich and self-sustaining. Further, this obsession with ceaseless growth will result in the end of resources on our planet because we continue to grow our GDP and businesses exponentially and every president within recent memory has stated this express purpose. This also results in globalization and imperialism: American businesses wish to consume and invade other cultures—they can never be big enough or have enough profits. They exploit workers in other countries to save money, which deprives american workers of jobs, but much, much worse, they underpay and abuse and exploit workers overseas.
There’s a lot more to be said about why capitalism is a broken system and why it depends on racism, sexism, heteronormativity, classism and other oppressive forces. I’ve brought up Eve Sedgwick in the past who is a q***r scholar and feminist who has written about heteronormativity and sexism under capitalist society (often in it’s relationship to bourgeois family structure and gender roles). I briefly mentioned imperialism: capitalism has been a driving force behind colonialism and warfare as well. Our economy has flourished during times of war: the military industrial complex and prison industrial complex are key aspects to our capitalist society. But I could go on forever about these things—I encourage you to study them.
I would ask your father what about communism would prevent people from expressing themselves or prevent individuality? Socialism and communism are economic systems, they are not system of governance. There’s no reason you couldn’t have a democratic socialist society. Although, under Marx’s theory eventually, there would be no government and everything would be owned and run by the people (not all socialists operate under those beliefs, but yeah). The USSR and The People’s Republic of China are the examples pro-capitalists/anti-communists like to give, but currently China is not communist, and the USSR did not fit the profile for Marx’s ideas re communism. It was an agricultural society, not an industrialized one, so it arguably did not have the means of production necessary to create a successful communist society. Further, the USSR had prominent members in power who abused their power and were totalitarian and deprived others of rights, that’s not how a socialist or communist society is supposed to work at all.
There’s also the fact, as I’ve addressed earlier, that communism can operate in an authoritarian state or libertarian state (libertarian meaning socially liberal state), as this political compass site explains. Although, it’s important to understand that a libertarian capitalist state is not an equal or free society because gaps in power and ability to survive are integral to capitalism. A free market has never provided equality for any society in the world in the history of humanity (that we know of). Without economic equality there can be no real social equality or freedom.
Also, your father (and possibly you as well) probably are mixing up private property with personal property. In a communist system, individuals don’t own land but they own books, clothes, etc and can buy things. The difference is people’s basic needs would be provided for (homes, food, etc), and everyone would be paid fairly, and the system would not be based on class. You wouldn’t have any grossly wealthy people anymore, you wouldn’t have financial gaps between people, but everyone would be able to live and work.
I would argue dismantling kierarchy is impossible with capitalism in place. The capitalism system depends on inequality and the exploitation and/or oppression of people of color, women, people of low socio-economic status, lgbtqa people, disabled people, etc.
I would read Marx. His Communist Manifesto is advanced, but it’s short. He’s written a lot of other stuff, too, that I’ve yet to read. You can also follow some communist and socialist bloggers on tumblr to learn more about it. I’m also still learning about communism and capitalism, so if anyone more knowledgeable than me wants to add anything/correct me, let me know.