Communism and camping


A recent Guardian op ed compared communism with camping. The article glorifies both. It draws on G A Cohen’s Why Not Socialism? It explains how campers will unite to share scarce resources and knowledge and how self-interest is suspended.

People get tired of ‘getting along’ and doing favors. More importantly people get tired of not having a bathroom. When push comes to shove, I (and I think most people) choose to reap what they sow in the great mean capitalist market.

The article claims: “People might otherwise live in vastly unequal societies where they are rewarded very differently for their abilities, choices and backgrounds – but deep down everyone recognizes the "moral shabbiness" of such regimes.

I disagree. It seems to be the exact opposite. We do live in unequal societies and we try to overcome it both socially and economically. People act benevolently until its social benefit is below the cost. Sure, I try to respect everyone equally, but when someone is rude or dishonest, my demeanor changes. Economically this is true too. Often workers are given starting salaries or wages and then given raises, bonuses, or commission. Really, deep down everyone recognizes they want to be rewarded relative to others. They recognize they don’t want to be the one who is catching all the fish or setting up the tent.

The article quotes Cohen asking, “if people choose to live like this for a few weeks each year, what's to stop them doing so all the time? Simple: Their resources grow scarcer and their needs increase. Camping involves bringing things from the outside world, both materials and social structures. If this social miracle of camping cooperation were to be made permanent, as communism would be, the dynamics would be different and we would all be getting a whole lot wetter.