Communism Definition

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Communism proposes a community model based on the idea of ​​common sense, community-owned means of production and common property.

What does communism mean?

What is communism?

Communism comes from the Latin word ‘communis’ which means common. The concept of communism was first introduced in the 1840s by the French Socialist and author, Étienne Cabets. But it was especially the German Socialist and Social Theorist, Karl Marx, who further developed the ideas of communism.

Communism’s ideology puts forward the idea that private property must be completely abolished and that all citizens must be guaranteed equal access to community benefits.

Citizens are not required to buy or invest in real estate (eg a house or apartment), and all buildings, schools and factories must belong to the state or society as a whole. All people are equal, and therefore there are no different social classes in a pure communist society.

Communism in practice

Communists want full control over the traditional means of production (eg mines, machinery and factories) and natural resources (eg raw materials and soil) in country. Communism is therefore a form of advanced socialism , as it fully supports the goodness of all community.  Exactly how communism differs from socialism has always been a question for debate, but the distinction largely rests on the communists’ belief in Karl Marx’s revolutionary socialism.

Karl Marx believed that socialism should be introduced by a revolution. Such a revolution will lead to a complete change of society where the private property rights are abolished and transferred to the state.

Karl Marx, however, thought that socialism as a social model only should exists during a transitional period, as citizens will slowly get used to living in the socialist society and begin to think collectively. In this way, communism will eradicate human selfishness and ensure that everybody cares for each other’s interests. Once that happens, the state will become redundant and lose its power, and all social classes will be abolished. Thus, society transformed to fully communist system.

Communism’s grandeur and fall

Communism as a social model that has been be tested by different countries around the world. Following the end of World War II in Europe, a number of Eastern European countries’ communist leaders made agreements on economic cooperation and military defense (Warsaw Pact). This was the start of a political division of Eastern and Western Europe. This was followed by the construction of the Berlin wall to separate the western capitalist countries from the eastern communist countries.

From the 1950s to the 1980s, countries such as the Soviet Union, East Germany, Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria introduced a large number of social reforms with the communist ideology. The Communists’ power, however, encountered tough opposition from Western European countries, which supported protests and demonstrations organized by unsatisfied citizens in the communist countries. It ultimately led to the fall and the abolition of Communist regimes in the majority of Eastern European countries.

Communism and Capitalism

Communism and capitalism can be described as two contradictory poles that support two widely different social models. The difference between communism and capitalism is that communists go for communion and collectivism, capitalists go for private property. In a capitalist society you can freely sell your goods and capital (eg buildings and machinery) and keep the profits you earn.

Capitalism can remind much of liberalism, as the theories contain many common aspects. The difference between capitalism and liberalism is that capitalism is not an ideology but rather an economic system with a free market where people can act as they want without the state interference.

Below are a number of fundamental differences between communism and capitalism.

Communism Capitalism
State role The state is totalitarian and determines everything. The state is democratic and the people decide for everything.
Property The state has the right to own all property. Citizens and businesses have the right to own private properties.
Social Model Society is classless and all citizens are considered equal. The society is traditionally divided into working class, middle class and upper class.
The People It focuses on the prosperity of the community. It focuses on the individual’s prosperity and own progress in life.

Communist countries

Despite the efforts of different countries to introduce communist social systems, the world has not yet seen a complete communist society in practice. Critics have also defined communism as an utopia. Communist leaders around the world have often both oppressed their population and persecuted critics of communist ideology in order to maintain control over society. In addition, the Communist countries have often had a hierarchical structure that does not match the communist ideals.

Communism in China

Since 1949, China has been a Communist-led, one-party state, where the Communist Party closely monitors everything in society. Political opponents are not accepted and the population is subject to censorship of the government, even on the internet.

However, Chinese society is not fully communist, as China has entered the global economy by switching to market economy. This has led to a huge boom of the Chinese economy and a great improvement in the living conditions and general prosperity of China.

Communism in Russia

Russia has a long and complicated history of communism. With the Russian Revolution in 1917, the working class changed the Zar regime in Russia, after which the Communists took power and founded the Soviet Union.

After the Second World War, the Soviet Union became one of the world’s superpowers. But in the latter half of the 20th century, the Soviet Union experienced a deep economic crisis, which was compounded by an increasing skepticism against communism especially from unsatisfied citizens around the eastern European countries. This led to the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991 and Russia’s formation as an independent state.