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The Importance of Being CivilThe Struggle for Political Decency$
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John A. Hall

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691153261

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691153261.001.0001

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The Problem with Communism

The Problem with Communism

(p.176) Chapter 8 The Problem with Communism
The Importance of Being Civil

John A. Hall

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines communism. Communism in premodern circumstances was extremely rare. It requires a very considerable break in normal societal relations in order to institutionalize it. Conquest certainly creates a break of this sort, and it is this that explains the Jesuit communist communities in Paraguay quite as much as it does Sparta. Equally, millenarian expectations of religious charisma more generally so disrupt the normal as to induce social experimentation. The general point is reinforced by the aberrant case of early Iranian communism. Here the sharing of women was suggested by a ruler, Kavadh I, who was keen to discipline his nobility; once the idea had been put into practice and the nobility weakened, its ideology then came to be adopted by Mazdak, the leader of a peasant revolt.

Keywords:   communism, premodern communism, normal societal relations, Jesuit communist communities, religious charisma, societal experimentation, Iranian communism

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