It occurred to me today that travel would be a lot simpler in a communist society.
One of the most difficult things about travel is the things you have to lug around. But how many of those individual things are ones that you really need to take, rather than things that will be available everywhere? You don’t really need to transport clothes – you can get clothes when you arrive wherever you’re going. Same with books, cosmetics, first aid, tools, furniture, mugs, cutlery, food, stationery, phones, computers, music players, pretty much anything except those things which are either very specific or very sentimentally important to us.
The reason we transport all these things (and then take them back when we travel in the opposite direction) is simply that if we pick things up at our destination, we’ll have to pay for them. If they’re held in common – no problem. A small example of this is with books – if you’re going somewhere well-equipped with libraries, you can leave your ‘own’ books at home and pick things up out of the library, whereas if there’s just bookshops, to avoid spending money you have to lug all that paper around.
Travel would also be easier because of socially-owned housing. Society already has a surplus of available rooms – but it makes this surplus into a deficit by pricing them, so that even if there are a hundred perfectly good rooms, you have to compete over the ones that you can afford (and if you don’t have enough money to get any of them, you sleep on the streets outside empty rooms).
If this was taken under society’s collective management I can’t think of a more reasonable idea than maintaining a constant ‘margin’ of unoccupied rooms in all locations (obviously adapting to changing situations, like a refugee crisis) so that people can turn up wherever they turn up and be booked into a room for the night without fuss.
And with free public transport (I have to say, short of fantastic new energy sources appearing I have to imagine private powered transport like cars would be phased out) you could basically decide on the spur of the moment to go somewhere, not have to book tickets or rooms, not have to pack, not even have to plan in advance when to come back, and just walk out the door and go. Maybe you don’t come back?
People sometimes suggest that communism is a sort of ‘levelling’, in that it makes everyone equivalent to a middle-income person now. No beggars, but no millionaires either. But what is a millionaire? A millionaire is, for example, a person who can go wherever they like, and who can know in advance that when they arrive, people there will be helpful and do what they can to make their lives easy and comfortable. Someone who can expect that if they feel a need and the means to satisfy it exist, it will be satisfied. Someone living in world set up for their benefit.
By these kinds of definitions, arguably, communism would make everyone a millionaire.
Personally, I can’t wait.