Communism is a political and economic system that promotes a classless society in which the means of production are communalized and private property is restricted or abolished. Individuals no longer own anything in this society, instead, everything is collectively owned.
Karl Marx’s ideas on communism are the most well-known example of this political ideology, which he outlined in The Communist Manifesto. Communism is designed to eliminate class conflict by establishing a classless society in which everyone participates in the benefits of labor and the state owns all property and wealth.
What is Communism?
Definition: Communism is defined as a far-left political, social, and economic ideology and movement whose objective is the creation of a communist society, which is a socioeconomic order organized on the principles of common or social ownership of all property, including means of production, and the absence of social classes, money, and state.
Communism is a particular brand of socialism that has its own set of rules. Communists want a self-governing state, but they differ on how to achieve it, reflecting a distinction between a more libertarian approach known as communization, workers’ self-management as well as revolutionary spontaneity, and a more communist party-driven approach based on the creation of a constitutionally socialist state as planned by Marx.
It talks about the establishment of a classless society, communal ownership of property and natural resources, and a strong belief in equality for all members of society.
Karl Marx, a German philosopher who wrote The Communist Manifesto in 1848, is best known for his work on Communism. Marx felt that capitalism, with its focus on profit and private property, resulted in social inequality.
Thus, his aim was to instill in people a system that encouraged a classless society in which everyone benefited from labor and the state-owned all assets and wealth. Nobody would strive to rise above others, and people would no longer be driven by avarice. Communism would then eliminate the gap between rich and poor, end the exploitation of laborers, and free the poor from tyranny.
Origin of Communism Theories
The basic concepts of communism were not designed by Marx, however. Plato and Aristotle had already addressed them in ancient times, but Marx refined them into a well-known doctrine that was subsequently put into practice. The society dreamed up by Marx was supposed to be based on economic equality and justice.
Karl Marx saw private ownership of property as conducive to avarice, blaming capitalism for society’s issues. He said that the Industrial Revolution was to blame. The existence of factories, reliance on machines, and mass production enabled conditions that fostered oppression and promoted the development of a proletariat – a working class.
In a nutshell, in a capitalist economy, industries fueled the economy and a few people owned them. As a result, there was a growing demand for workers to work for factory owners. In this scenario, the wealthy few exploited the employees who were compelled to work in order to survive. As a result of these circumstances, Karl Marx created his plan for the emancipation of the proletariat or liberation from the duty of labor. His socialist Utopia was an imagined nation in which individuals worked as hard as they could because it was wrong to do otherwise.
No single group of people could exceed another if the government controlled the economy and individuals surrendered their assets to the state. Marx’s Manifesto mentioned this idea, but communist countries failed to live up to it in practice. For almost a century, around one-third of the world lived under communist governments—dictatorial rulers who ruled over everyone else and controlled their lives.
The communist leaders established wages, prices, and distribution. Western capitalist nations struggled fiercely against communism, and eventually, most communist countries fell apart. Marx’s paradise was never realized because it required a worldwide revolution that never occurred. However, five self-declared communist countries continue to exist in 2020: North Korea, Vietnam, China, Cuba, and Laos.
History of Communism
1. Early Communism: Plato and Aristotle
The roots of communism can be traced back to early human history. Plato and Aristotle had already addressed the concept of communal living in ancient times.
2. Communism in the 19th Century: Karl Marx
The Industrial Revolution created conditions that encouraged the development of a working-class, or proletariat. In response, Karl Marx formulated his idea of a socialist utopia in which individuals worked as hard as they could because it was wrong to do otherwise. No single group of people could exceed another if the government controlled the economy and individuals surrendered their assets to the state.
3. Communism in the 20th Century: The Russian revolution
In 1917, the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, overthrew the Russian czar and established the first communist government. The Bolsheviks nationalized all industry and collectivized all agriculture. They also created a secret police force to suppress any dissent.
The October Revolution in Russia created the circumstances for Vladimir Lenin’s Bolsheviks to attain political dominance. The Bolsheviks were a small group of radical Marxists who wanted to create a revolution in Russia. They succeeded in overthrowing the czar in 1917 and established the first communist government.
However, Lenin’s Bolsheviks faced many challenges in governing Russia. The country was economically and socially backward, and the Bolsheviks had to deal with a devastating world war and a civil war. In addition, they had to fight against the Western capitalist nations that were trying to destroy communism.
In spite of these challenges, the Bolsheviks were able to transform Russia into a major industrial power within a few years. They did this by using forced labor and by collectivizing all agriculture. The secret police force also helped to keep people in line.
However, the high cost of industrialization led to widespread poverty and suffering among the people. In addition, the government was very repressive and there was no freedom of speech or assembly. Dissent was not tolerated and people who disagreed with the government were often imprisoned or executed.
The Soviet Union
The Soviet Union was established in 1922 after the Bolsheviks succeeded in conquering all of Russia. The Soviet Union was a communist state that included several republics, and it had a strong centralized government with a single party, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union was an atheistic state and the Communist Party-controlled all aspects of life. The government-owned all industries and collectivized all agriculture. It also created a secret police force to suppress any dissent.
The Soviet Union experienced rapid industrialization in the 1920s and 1930s. However, this process led to widespread poverty and suffering among the people. In addition, the government was very repressive and there was no freedom of speech or assembly. Dissent was not tolerated and people who disagreed with the government were often imprisoned or executed.
The Soviet Union also faced many challenges during World War II. The country was invaded by Nazi Germany in 1941 and suffered enormous damage. However, the Soviet Union was able to defeat Nazi Germany and emerge as a major power after the war.
The Soviet Union continued to exist until 1991 when it collapsed due to economic and political problems.
4. Communism Today
Although the Soviet Union no longer exists, there are five self-declared communist countries in the world today: North Korea, Vietnam, China, Cuba, and Laos.
These countries have different forms of government and different economic systems. However, they all share a commitment to communism and a belief in the need for a strong centralized government.
While these countries nominally adhere to Marx’s ideas, they have all been characterized by totalitarian regimes that have oppressed their citizens.
Communist leaders established wages, prices, and distribution after World War I. Western capitalist nations struggled fiercely against communism, and eventually, most communist countries fell apart. However, five self-declared communist countries continue to exist in 2020: North Korea, Vietnam, China, Cuba, and Laos.
Communism in the 21st Century
The 21st century has seen a resurgence of interest in communism. This is due to the failure of capitalism to deliver economic growth and prosperity for all.
In addition, many people are concerned about the increasing inequality in capitalist societies.
Communism is also attractive to young people because it offers a vision of a fairer and more just society.
Communism is also the official ideology of a number of political parties around the world, such as the Communist Party USA and the Communist Party of India.
However, many people believe that communism is no longer a relevant ideology in the 21st century. This is because most communist states have abandoned key principles of communism, such as central planning and state ownership of the means of production.
However, it is important to remember that communism has been tried before and it has always led to repression and suffering. There is no reason to believe that things will be different this time around.
Some of the most famous communist leaders include
1. Vladimir Lenin
Leader of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and the first leader of the Soviet Union.
2. Mao Zedong
Leader of the Communist Party of China and founder of the People’s Republic of China.
3. Fidel Castro
Leader of Communist Cuba from 1959 to 2008.
4. Ho Chi Minh
Leader of the Communist Party of Vietnam and the founder of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
A soviet Leader of the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1953.
Marxism vs Leninism
There are two main schools of thought within communism: Marxism and Leninism.
Marxism is a theory that was created by Karl Marx. It focuses on the need for a revolution by the working class to overthrow the capitalist system.
Leninism is a theory that was created by Vladimir Lenin. It focuses on the need for a small group of dedicated revolutionaries to lead the working class to victory.
Some of the key differences between both of these are:
- Marxism focuses on the need for a revolution by the working class, while Leninism focuses on the need for a small group of dedicated revolutionaries to lead the working class to victory.
- Marxism emphasizes the importance of economic factors in bringing about change, while Leninism emphasizes the importance of political factors.
- Marxism believes that revolution will occur naturally as a result of economic inequality, while Leninism believes that revolution must be actively encouraged and led by a small group of dedicated individuals.
- Marxism is a more general theory while Leninism is more specific.
- Marxism is more optimistic about the possibility of change, while Leninism is more realistic.
At the end of the day, both Marxism and Leninism are based on the same core principles of communism. They just have different approaches to how these principles should be put into practice.
5 Principles of Communism
The 5 principles of communism are:
- From each according to their ability, to each according to their need
- A classless and stateless society
- Common ownership of the means of production
- Distribution based on need
- Proletarian Internationalism
The Communist Manifesto
The Communist Manifesto is a book that was written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1848. It is one of the most important documents in the history of communism. The book sets out the basic principles of Marxism and provides a call to action for workers to overthrow the capitalist system.
The manifesto begins by stating that “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles”. It goes on to say that there are two main classes in society: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.
The bourgeoisie is the capitalists who own the means of production, while the proletariat is the workers who sell their labor power to the bourgeoisie. The manifesto argues that the interests of these two classes are diametrically opposed and that they will always be in conflict with each other.
The manifesto then goes on to say that the only way to solve this conflict is through a revolution by the proletariat. This revolution will lead to a classless and stateless society, which is communism.
Examples of Communism
There have been so many communist regimes and communist parties all around the world. From Russian revolutionary and soviet leaders to the countries ruled through modern communism, all have been talking about an ideal society on the basis of communism theories. Let us have a look at those-
1. Communism in China
Communism has been practiced in China since 1949 when the Communist Party of China took power. Since then, the Chinese government has been based on Marxist-Leninist principles.
The Chinese economy is a planned economy, which means that the government centrally plans and controls the production and distribution of goods and services. The government does this in order to achieve economic goals such as full employment and economic growth.
Since taking power, the Communist Party of China has embarked on a number of economic reforms. These reforms have resulted in China becoming one of the world’s most powerful economies.
2. Communism in Cuba
Communism has been practiced in Cuba since 1959 when Fidel Castro overthrew the Cuban government. Since then, the Cuban government has been based on Marxist-Leninist principles.
Like China, the Cuban economy is a planned economy. The Cuban government centrally plans and controls the production and distribution of goods and services.
The Cuban government has also implemented a number of social programs, such as free education and healthcare. These programs have helped to improve the standard of living of the Cuban people.
3. Communism in the Soviet Union
Communism was also practiced in the Soviet Union from 1917 until 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. The Soviet Union was a communist state that was based on Marxist-Leninist principles.
The Soviet economy was a planned economy, which means that the government centrally planned and controlled the production and distribution of goods and services. The Soviet government did this in order to achieve economic goals such as full employment and economic growth.
However, the Soviet Union was not able to achieve these goals and the Soviet economy ultimately collapsed. This led to the end of communism in the Soviet Union.
The Cold War
The Cold War was a period of time (1945-1991) when the United States and the Soviet Union were in a global conflict. This conflict was based on their different ideologies: capitalism (USA) and communism (USSR).
The Cold War led to a number of proxy wars, which were conflicts that were fought between the two superpowers in other countries. These wars were often used as a way to test each other’s military strength and resolve.
The Cold War finally came to an end in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Communism no longer existed as a political system and the world became more stable.
Why Did Communism Fail?
Communism has failed in a number of countries, including the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba. There are a number of reasons for this:
- Communism is an economic system that does not work. The centrally planned economy is not efficient and leads to widespread poverty and hunger.
- Communism is a political system that does not work. The one-party dictatorship leads to human rights abuses and a lack of freedom.
- Communism is an ideology that does not work. The idea of a classless and stateless society is utopian and cannot be achieved in the real world.
Communism is an economic and political system in which the government owns all property and controls all aspects of the economy.
The goal of communism is to create a classless society in which everyone shares the benefits of labor and the state controls all property and wealth. Communism would then eliminate the gap between rich and poor, end the exploitation of laborers, and free the poor from tyranny.
On a concluding note, communism has not been able to achieve these goals and has failed in a number of countries. Many believe that communism is an unworkable system that does not take into account human nature and the desire for freedom and liberty.
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