Dishwasher Communism

If political ideologies being professed is something that irks you then you should understand that you may be irked in the following post.

When I am asked my political leanings, I tend to say communist.  Specifically, I profess to be an anarcho-communist.  What exactly that means I’ll leave to a later post, but suffice to say, the basic idea of communism is something that appeals to me.  The capitalist idea that you will be rewarded for the quality and quantity of work is a fair system assuming everyone has the same skill set or at least an “equal” skill set, but unfortunately that is not true.  Not only are there people who are born that are smarter, stronger, faster, harder workers etc, but in addition to the basic traits that people have, their are also extreme disparities in education, exposure to certain kinds of work and a host of other things that make the “fair” system of capitalism much less than fair.  I do not believe it is right for one person to earn more money and live a more comfortable life just because they had more opportunities or went to a better school or would a bit better at working hard.  

Anyways, with my reason behind prefering communism to capitalism explained I will now tell you that though I believe communism to be the superior system, their is a type of communism that shows up in everyday life that I am horrible at participating in.  I’ll call this sort of communism “Dishwasher Communism,” that is to say, the way that most groups of roommates end up making sure that there kitchen sink stays at least a little bit clean.  

When I say that I am bad at this kind of communism I mean that I usually end up either not doing my fair share of the dishwashing or end up feeling dissatisfied when I do do some of the dishes.  The point of this whole post is to explain why this sort of communism, a common one that many experience is bad for reasons beside communism.  

So then, what problems does the dishwasher and sink present for out erstwhile proletariat?  The first is lack of communication.  It is very hard to participate in a communal agreement when there is no idea what the expectation is.  There are many ways that a dishwashing agreement could be made “fair” and depending upon what system you think is in place their are different expectations.  If you think that you should just pile up the dishes and alternate between who cleans them then you and the guy who thinks the basic idea is that you just clean up your dishes right away are not going to get along.  So, the first thing that needs to happen is that you sit down and talk with everyone involved and find out what system is going to be used.  Not doing so will result in unhappiness.  

Another problem with dishwashing is that the principle of “To each based on need, from each based on ability,” does not translate well into dishwashing.  Unless something very strange is going on, everyone’s ability to dishwash is going to be about equal.  Additionally, though this is a bit more variable, everyone’s need to use dishes is going to be around the same.  The factor that contributes to how much work you are creating for other people is not need then, but rather a combination of your ability to plan your food eating and your ability to continue to use the same dish or utensil multiple times.  In a communist society, one cannot be flippant with resources and excess use does need to have consequences.  This does not apply to need based consumption, but when you consume twice as much as others for your own enjoyment, you need to be willing to put a bit back in or simply stop the excess consumption.  Unfortunately in the situation of the dishwasher, no one knows exactly who is making what dishes dirty and whether they were making those dishes dirty irresponsibly.  As such it is very easy for one person to end up getting a free ride from the others which usually leads to dissatisfaction and anger from those who have to do extra work.  

I’m not sure if there is a good solution to the previous problem aside from making sure everyone understands that it is expected that you use dishes and silverware responsibly, and if you fail to do so you should do a little extra to help clean up.  

I expect there are a lot more complicated problems with this particular problem, but for now, let it be known that the problem of how to be fair with dishwashing is not an easy one and that if you find yourself frustrated with this particular problem, blame it not upon communism, but rather upon miscommunication, your friends or yourself.


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