In political and social sciences, communism (from Latin communis, "common, universal") is the philosophical, social, political, and economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of the communist society, which is a socioeconomic order structured upon the common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money, and the state.
Communism includes a variety of schools of thought, which broadly include Marxism and anarchism (anarcho-communism), as well as the political ideologies grouped around both. All of these share the analysis that the current order of society stems from its economic system, capitalism; that in this system there are two major social classes; that conflict between these two classes is the root of all problems in society; and that this situation will ultimately be resolved through a social revolution. The two classes are the working class—who must work to survive and who make up the majority within society—and the capitalist class—a minority who derives profit from employing the working class through private ownership of the means of production. The revolution will put the working class in power and in turn establish social ownership of the means of production, which according to this analysis is the primary element in the transformation of society towards communism. Critics of communism can be roughly divided into those concerning themselves with the practical aspects of 20th century communist states and those concerning themselves with communist principles and theory.
Marxist communism and social democracy were the two dominant forms of socialism in the 20th century; social democracy advocates economic reform through gradual democratic legislative action rather than through revolution.
The term "communism" was first coined and defined in its modern definition by the French philosopher and writer Victor d'Hupay. In his 1777 book Projet de communauté philosophe (English: Philosopher Community Project), d'Hupay pushes the philosophy of the Enlightenment to principles which he lived up to during most of his life in his bastide of Fuveau (Provence). This book can be seen as the cornerstone of communist philosophy as d'Hupay defines this lifestyle as a "commune" and advises to "share all economic and material products between inhabitants of the commune, so that all may benefit from everybody's work".
According to Richard Pipes, the idea of a classless, egalitarian society first emerged in Ancient Greece. The 5th-century Mazdak movement in Persia (Iran) has been described as "communistic" for challenging the enormous privileges of the noble classes and the clergy, for criticizing the institution of private property and for striving to create an egalitarian society. At one time or another, various small communist communities existed, generally under the inspiration of Scripture. For example, in the medieval Christian Church some monastic communities and religious orders shared their land and their other property (see religious and Christian communism).
Communist thought has also been traced back to the works of the 16th-century English writer Thomas More. In his treatise Utopia (1516), More portrayed a society based on common ownership of property, whose rulers administered it through the application of reason. In the 17th century, communist thought surfaced again in England, where a Puritan religious group known as the "Diggers" advocated the abolition of private ownership of land. In his 1895 Cromwell and Communism, Eduard Bernstein argued that several groups during the English Civil War (especially the Diggers) espoused clear communistic, agrarian ideals and that Oliver Cromwell's attitude towards these groups was at best ambivalent and often hostile. Criticism of the idea of private property continued into the Age of Enlightenment of the 18th century through such thinkers as Jean Jacques Rousseau in France. Later, following the upheaval of the French Revolution communism emerged as a political doctrine.
In the early 19th century, various social reformers founded communities based on common ownership. However, unlike many previous communist communities they replaced the religious emphasis with a rational and philanthropic basis. Notable among them were Robert Owen, who founded New Harmony in Indiana (1825), as well as Charles Fourier, whose followers organized other settlements in the United States such as Brook Farm (1841–1847).
In its modern form, communism grew out of the socialist movement in 19th-century Europe. As the Industrial Revolution advanced, socialist critics blamed capitalism for the misery of the proletariat—a new class of urban factory workers who labored under often-hazardous conditions. Foremost among these critics were Karl Marx and his associate Friedrich Engels. In 1848, Marx and Engels offered a new definition of communism and popularized the term in their famous pamphlet The Communist Manifesto.
The 1917 October Revolution in Russia set the conditions for the rise to state power of Vladimir Lenin's Bolsheviks, which was the first time any avowedly communist party reached that position. The revolution transferred power to the All-Russian Congress of Soviets, in which the Bolsheviks had a majority. The event generated a great deal of practical and theoretical debate within the Marxist movement. Marx predicted that socialism and communism would be built upon foundations laid by the most advanced capitalist development. However, Russia was one of the poorest countries in Europe with an enormous, largely illiterate peasantry and a minority of industrial workers. Marx had explicitly stated that Russia might be able to skip the stage of bourgeois rule.
The moderate Mensheviks (minority) opposed Lenin's Bolshevik (majority) plan for socialist revolution before capitalism was more fully developed. The Bolsheviks' successful rise to power was based upon the slogans such as "Peace, bread and land" which tapped into the massive public desire for an end to Russian involvement in the First World War, the peasants' demand for land reform, and popular support for the soviets. The Soviet Union was established in 1922.
Following Lenin's democratic centralism, the Leninist parties were organized on a hierarchical basis, with active cells of members as the broad base. They were made up only of elite cadres approved by higher members of the party as being reliable and completely subject to party discipline. In the Moscow Trials, many old Bolsheviks who had played prominent roles during the Russian Revolution of 1917 or in Lenin's Soviet government afterwards, including Kamenev, Zinoviev, Rykov and Bukharin, were accused, pleaded guilty of conspiracy against the Soviet Union, and were executed.
Its leading role in the Second World War saw the emergence of the Soviet Union as a superpower, with strong influence over Eastern Europe and parts of Asia. The European and Japanese empires were shattered and communist parties played a leading role in many independence movements. Marxist–Leninist governments modeled on the Soviet Union took power with Soviet assistance in Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Poland, Hungary and Romania. A Marxist–Leninist government was also created under Marshal Tito in Yugoslavia, but Tito's independent policies led to the expulsion of Yugoslavia from the Cominform which had replaced the Comintern and Titoism was branded "deviationist". Albania also became an independent Marxist–Leninist state after World War II. Communism was seen as a rival of and a threat to western capitalism for most of the 20th century.
The Soviet Union was dissolved on December 26, 1991. It was a result of the declaration number 142-Н of the Soviet of the Republics of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union. The declaration acknowledged the independence of the former Soviet republics and created the Commonwealth of Independent States, although five of the signatories ratified it much later or did not do it at all. On the previous day, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev (the eighth and final leader of the Soviet Union) resigned, declared his office extinct and handed over its powers – including control of the Soviet nuclear missile launching codes – to Russian President Boris Yeltsin. That evening at 7:32, the Soviet flag was lowered from the Kremlin for the last time and replaced with the pre-revolutionary Russian flag.
Previously, from August to December all the individual republics, including Russia itself, had seceded from the union. The week before the union's formal dissolution, eleven republics signed the Alma-Ata Protocol formally establishing the Commonwealth of Independent States and declaring that the Soviet Union had ceased to exist.
At present, states controlled by Marxist–Leninist parties under a single-party system include the People's Republic of China, Cuba, Laos and Vietnam. North Korea currently refers to its leading ideology as Juche, which is portrayed as a development of Marxism–Leninism. Communist parties, or their descendant parties, remain politically important in a number of other countries. The South African Communist Party is a partner in the African National Congress-led government. In India, as of March 2018, communists lead the government of only one state, Kerala. In Nepal, communists hold a majority in the parliament. The Communist Party of Brazil was a part of the parliamentary coalition led by the ruling democratic socialist Workers' Party until August 2016.
The People's Republic of China has reassessed many aspects of the Maoist legacy and along with Laos, Vietnam and to a lesser degree Cuba has decentralized state control of the economy in order to stimulate growth. Chinese economic reforms were started in 1978 under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping and since then China has managed to bring down the poverty rate from 53% in the Mao era to just 6% in 2001. These reforms are sometimes described by outside commentators as a regression to capitalism, but the communist parties describe it as a necessary adjustment to existing realities in the post-Soviet world in order to maximize industrial productive capacity. In these countries, the land is a universal public monopoly administered by the state, as are natural resources and vital industries and services. The public sector is the dominant sector in these economies and the state plays a central role in coordinating economic development.
Marxism, first developed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the mid-1800s, has been the foremost ideology of the communist movement. Marxism considers itself to be the embodiment of scientific socialism, and rather than model an "ideal society" based on intellectuals' design, it is a non-idealist attempt at the understanding of society and history through an analysis based in real life. Marxism does not see communism as a "state of affairs" to be established, but rather as the expression of a real movement, with parameters which are derived completely from real life and not based on any intelligent design. Therefore, Marxism does no blueprinting of a communist society and it only makes an analysis which concludes what will trigger its implementation and discovers its fundamental characteristics based on the derivation of real life conditions.
At the root of Marxism is the materialist conception of history, known as historical materialism for short. It holds that the key characteristic of economic systems through history has been the mode of production and that the change between modes of production has been triggered by class struggle. According to this analysis, the Industrial Revolution ushered the world into a new mode of production: capitalism. Before capitalism, certain working classes had ownership of instruments utilized in production, but because machinery was much more efficient this property became worthless and the mass majority of workers could only survive by selling their labor, working through making use of someone else's machinery and therefore making someone else profit. Thus with capitalism the world was divided between two major classes: the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. These classes are directly antagonistic: the bourgeoisie has private ownership of the means of production and earns a profit off surplus value, which is generated by the proletariat, which has no ownership of the means of production and therefore no option but to sell its labor to the bourgeoisie.
Historical materialism goes on and says: the rising bourgeoisie within feudalism, through the furtherance of its own material interests, captured power and abolished, of all relations of private property, only the feudal privileges and with this took out of existence the feudal ruling class. This was another of the keys behind the consolidation of capitalism as the new mode of production, which is the final expression of class and property relations and also has led into a massive expansion of production. It is therefore only in capitalism that private property in itself can be abolished. Similarly, the proletariat will capture political power, abolish bourgeois property through the common ownership of the means of production, therefore abolishing the bourgeoisie and ultimately abolishing the proletariat itself and ushering the world into a new mode of production: communism. In between capitalism and communism there is the dictatorship of the proletariat, a democratic state where the whole of the public authority is elected and recallable under the basis of universal suffrage. It is the defeat of the bourgeois state, but not yet of the capitalist mode of production and at the same time the only element which places into the realm of possibility moving on from this mode of production.
An important concept in Marxism is socialization vs. nationalization. Nationalization is merely state ownership of property, whereas socialization is actual control and management of property by society. Marxism considers socialization its goal and considers nationalization a tactical issue, with state ownership still being in the realm of the capitalist mode of production; in the words of Engels: "[The transformation [...] into State-ownership does not do away with the capitalistic nature of the productive forces. [...] State-ownership of the productive forces is not the solution of the conflict, but concealed within it are the technical conditions that form the elements of that solution". This has led some Marxist groups and tendencies to label states such as the Soviet Union—based on nationalization—as state capitalist.
We want to achieve a new and better order of society: in this new and better society there must be neither rich nor poor; all will have to work. Not a handful of rich people, but all the working people must enjoy the fruits of their common labour. Machines and other improvements must serve to ease the work of all and not to enable a few to grow rich at the expense of millions and tens of millions of people. This new and better society is called socialist society. The teachings about this society are called 'socialism'.
–Vladimir Lenin, 1903
Leninism is the body of political theory, developed by and named after the Russian revolutionary and later Soviet premier Vladimir Lenin for the democratic organisation of a revolutionary vanguard party and the achievement of a dictatorship of the proletariat, as political prelude to the establishment of socialism. Leninism comprises socialist political and economic theories developed from Marxism, as well as Lenin's interpretations of Marxist theory for practical application to the socio-political conditions of the agrarian early-twentieth-century Russian Empire. In February 1917, for five years Leninism was the Russian application of Marxist economics and political philosophy, effected and realised by the Bolsheviks, the vanguard party who led the fight for the political independence of the working class.
Marxism–Leninism is a political ideology developed by Joseph Stalin, which according to its proponents is based in Marxism and Leninism. The term describes the specific political ideology which Stalin implemented in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and in a global scale in the Comintern. There is no definite agreement between historians of about whether Stalin actually followed the principles of Marx and Lenin. It also contains aspects which according to some are deviations from Marxism, such as "socialism in one country". Marxism–Leninism was the ideology of the most clearly visible communist movement. As such, it is the most prominent ideology associated with communism.
Marxism–Leninism refers to the socioeconomic system and political ideology implemented by Stalin in the Soviet Union and later copied by other states based on the Soviet model (central planning, one-party state and so on), whereas Stalinism refers to Stalin's style of governance. Marxism–Leninism stayed after de-Stalinization, Stalinism did not. In the last letters before his death, Lenin in fact warned against the danger of Stalin's personality and urged the Soviet government to replace him.
Maoism is a form of Marxism–Leninism associated with Chinese leader Mao Zedong. After de-Stalinization, Marxism–Leninism was kept in the Soviet Union, but certain anti-revisionist tendencies such as Hoxhaism and Maoism argued that it was deviated from, therefore different policies were applied in Albania and China, which became more distanced from the Soviet Union.
Marxism–Leninism has been criticized by other communist and Marxist tendencies. They argue that Marxist–Leninist states did not establish socialism, but rather state capitalism. According to Marxism, the dictatorship of the proletariat represents the rule of the majority (democracy) rather than of one party, to the extent that co-founder of Marxism Friedrich Engels described its "specific form" as the democratic republic. Additionally, according to Engels state property by itself is private property of capitalist nature unless the proletariat has control of political power, in which case it forms public property. Whether the proletariat was actually in control of the Marxist–Leninist states is a matter of debate between Marxism–Leninism and other communist tendencies. To these tendencies, Marxism–Leninism is neither Marxism nor Leninism nor the union of both, but rather an artificial term created to justify Stalin's ideological distortion, forced into the CPSU and Comintern. In the Soviet Union, this struggle against Marxism–Leninism was represented by Trotskyism, which describes itself as a Marxist and Leninist tendency.
Trotskyism is a Marxist and Leninist tendency that was developed by Leon Trotsky, opposed to Stalinism. It supports the theory of permanent revolution and world revolution instead of the two stage theory and socialism in one country. It supported proletarian internationalism and another communist revolution in the Soviet Union, which Trotsky claimed had become a "degenerated worker's state" under the leadership of Stalin, in which class relations had re-emerged in a new form, rather than the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Trotsky and his supporters, struggling against Stalin for power in the Soviet Union, organized into the Left Opposition and their platform became known as Trotskyism. Stalin eventually succeeded in gaining control of the Soviet regime and Trotskyist attempts to remove Stalin from power resulted in Trotsky's exile from the Soviet Union in 1929. While in exile, Trotsky continued his campaign against Stalin, founding in 1938 the Fourth International, a Trotskyist rival to the Comintern In August 1940, Trotsky was assassinated in Mexico City on Stalin's orders.
Trotsky's politics differed sharply from those of Stalin and Mao, most importantly in declaring the need for an international proletarian revolution (rather than socialism in one country) and support for a true dictatorship of the proletariat based on democratic principles.
Libertarian Marxism is a broad range of economic and political philosophies that emphasize the anti-authoritarian aspects of Marxism. Early currents of libertarian Marxism, known as left communism, emerged in opposition to Marxism–Leninism and its derivatives, such as Stalinism, Maoism and Trotskyism. Libertarian Marxism is also critical of reformist positions, such as those held by social democrats. Libertarian Marxist currents often draw from Marx and Engels' later works, specifically the Grundrisse and The Civil War in France, emphasizing the Marxist belief in the ability of the working class to forge its own destiny without the need for a revolutionary party or state to mediate or aid its liberation. Along with anarchism, libertarian Marxism is one of the main currents of libertarian socialism.
Libertarian Marxism includes such currents as Luxemburgism, council communism, left communism, Socialisme ou Barbarie, the Johnson-Forest tendency, world socialism, Lettrism/Situationism and operaismo/autonomism and New Left. Libertarian Marxism has often had a strong influence on both post-left and social anarchists. Notable theorists of libertarian Marxism have included Anton Pannekoek, Raya Dunayevskaya, CLR James, Antonio Negri, Cornelius Castoriadis, Maurice Brinton, Guy Debord, Daniel Guérin, Ernesto Screpanti and Raoul Vaneigem.
Council communism is a movement originating in Germany and the Netherlands in the 1920s. Its primary organization was the Communist Workers Party of Germany. Council communism continues today as a theoretical and activist position within both left-wing Marxism and libertarian socialism.
The central argument of council communism, in contrast to those of social democracy and Leninist communism, is that democratic workers' councils arising in the factories and municipalities are the natural form of working class organization and governmental power. This view is opposed to both the reformist and the Leninist ideologies, with their stress on respectively parliaments and institutional government (i.e. by applying social reforms on the one hand and vanguard parties and participative democratic centralism on the other).
The core principle of council communism is that the government and the economy should be managed by workers' councils composed of delegates elected at workplaces and recallable at any moment. As such, council communists oppose state-run authoritarian "state socialism"/"state capitalism". They also oppose the idea of a "revolutionary party", since council communists believe that a revolution led by a party will necessarily produce a party dictatorship. Council communists support a worker's democracy, which they want to produce through a federation of workers' councils.
Left communism is the range of communist viewpoints held by the communist left, which criticizes the political ideas and practices espoused—particularly following the series of revolutions which brought the First World War to an end—by Bolsheviks and by social democrats. Left communists assert positions which they regard as more authentically Marxist and proletarian than the views of Marxism–Leninism espoused by the Communist International after its first congress (March 1919) and during its second congress (July–August 1920).
Left communists represent a range of political movements distinct from Marxist–Leninists (whom they largely view as merely the left-wing of capital), from anarcho-communists (some of whom they consider internationalist socialists) as well as from various other revolutionary socialist tendencies (for example De Leonists, whom they tend to see as being internationalist socialists only in limited instances).
Anarcho-communism (also known as libertarian communism) is a theory of anarchism which advocates the abolition of the state, private property and capitalism in favor of common ownership of the means of production, direct democracy and a horizontal network of voluntary associations and workers' councils with production and consumption based on the guiding principle: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need".
Anarcho-communism differs from Marxism rejecting its view about the need for a state socialism phase before building communism. The main theorist of anarcho-communism, Peter Kropotkin, argued that a revolutionary society should "transform itself immediately into a communist society", that is should go immediately into what Marx had regarded as the "more advanced, completed, phase of communism". In this way, it tries to avoid the reappearance of "class divisions and the need for a state to oversee everything".
Some forms of anarcho-communism such as insurrectionary anarchism are egoist and strongly influenced by radical individualism, believing that anarchist communism does not require a communitarian nature at all. Most anarcho-communists view anarchist communism as a way of reconciling the opposition between the individual and society.
To date in human history, the best-known examples of an anarcho-communist society, established around the ideas as they exist today and that received worldwide attention and knowledge in the historical canon, are the anarchist territories during the Spanish Revolution and the Free Territory during the Russian Revolution. Through the efforts and influence of the Spanish anarchists during the Spanish Revolution within the Spanish Civil War, starting in 1936 anarcho-communism existed in most of Aragon, parts of the Levante and Andalusia as well as in the stronghold of Anarchist Catalonia before being brutally crushed. During the Russian Revolution, anarchists such as Nestor Makhno worked to create and defend—through the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine—anarcho-communism in the Free Territory of the Ukraine from 1919 before being conquered by the Bolsheviks in 1921.
Christian communism is a form of religious communism based on Christianity. It is a theological and political theory based upon the view that the teachings of Jesus Christ compel Christians to support communism as the ideal social system. Although there is no universal agreement on the exact date when Christian communism was founded, many Christian communists assert that evidence from the Bible suggests that the first Christians, including the Apostles, established their own small communist society in the years following Jesus' death and resurrection. As such, many advocates of Christian communism argue that it was taught by Jesus and practiced by the Apostles themselves.
Christian communism can be seen as a radical form of Christian socialism. Christian communists may or may not agree with various aspects of Marxism. They do not agree with the atheist and antireligious views held by secular Marxists, but they do agree with many of the economic and existential aspects of Marxist theory, such as the idea that capitalism exploits the working class by extracting surplus value from the workers in the form of profits and the idea that wage labor is a tool of human alienation that promotes arbitrary and unjust authority. Like Marxism, Christian communism also holds the view that capitalism encourages the negative aspects of humans, supplanting values such as mercy, kindness, justice and compassion in favor of greed, selfishness and blind ambition.
Criticism of communism can be divided into two broad categories: that which concerns itself with the practical aspects of 20th century communist states and that which concerns itself with communist principles and theory.
Marxism is also subject to general criticisms, criticisms related to historical materialism that it is a type of historical determinism, the necessary suppression of liberal democratic rights, issues with the implementation of communism and economic issues such as the distortion or absence of price signals. In addition, empirical and epistemological problems are frequently identified.
Anarcho-communism (also known as anarchist communism, free communism, stateless communism, libertarian communism and communist anarchism) is a political philosophy and anarchist school of thought which advocates the abolition of the state, capitalism, wage labour and private property (while retaining respect for personal property, along with collectively-owned items, goods and services) in favor of common ownership of the means of production, direct democracy (among communes, participatory democracy), cooperativism, equal distribution of valuables, and a horizontal network of workers' councils with production and consumption based on the guiding principle: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs".Some forms of anarchist communism, such as insurrectionary anarchism, are strongly influenced by egoism and radical individualism, believing anarcho-communism is the best social system for the realization of individual freedom. Most anarcho-communists view anarcho-communism as a way of reconciling the opposition between the individual and society.Anarcho-communism developed out of radical socialist currents after the French Revolution, but was first formulated as such in the Italian section of the First International. The theoretical work of Peter Kropotkin took importance later as it expanded and developed pro-organizationalist and insurrectionary anti-organizationalist sections. To date, the best-known examples of an anarchist communist society (i.e. established around the ideas as they exist today and achieving worldwide attention and knowledge in the historical canon) are the anarchist territories during the Spanish Revolution and the Free Territory during the Russian Revolution. Through the efforts and influence of the Spanish anarchists during the Spanish Revolution within the Spanish Civil War, starting in 1936 anarchist communism existed in most of Aragon, parts of the Levante and Andalusia as well as in the stronghold of anarchist Catalonia before being crushed by the combined forces of the regime that won the war, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Spanish Communist Party repression (backed by the Soviet Union) as well as economic and armaments blockades from the capitalist countries and the Spanish Republic itself. During the Russian Revolution, anarchists such as Nestor Makhno worked to create and defend—through the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine—anarchist communism in the Free Territory of the Ukraine from 1919 before being conquered by the Bolsheviks in 1921.Anti-communism
Anti-communism is opposition to communism. Organized anti-communism developed after the 1917 October Revolution in Russia and it reached global dimensions during the Cold War, when the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in an intense rivalry. Anti-communism has been an element of movements holding many different political positions, including nationalist, social democratic, liberal, libertarian, conservative, fascist, capitalist, anarchist and even socialist viewpoints.
The first organization specifically dedicated to opposing communism was the Russian White movement, which fought in the Russian Civil War starting in 1918 against the recently established Communist government. The White movement was supported militarily by several allied foreign governments, which represented the first instance of anti-communism as a government policy. Nevertheless, the Communist Red Army defeated the White movement and the Soviet Union was created in 1922. During the existence of the Soviet Union, anti-communism became an important feature of many different political movements and governments across the world.
In the United States, anti-communism came to prominence with the First Red Scare of 1919–1920. During the 1920s and 1930s, opposition to communism in Europe was promoted by conservatives, social democrats, liberals and fascists. Fascist governments rose to prominence as major opponents of communism in the 1930s and they founded the Anti-Comintern Pact in 1936 as an anti-communist alliance. In Asia, the Empire of Japan and the Kuomintang (the Chinese Nationalist Party) were the leading anti-communist forces in this period.
After World War II, fascism ceased to be a major political movement due to the defeat of the Axis powers. The victorious Allies were an international coalition led primarily by the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union, but after the war this alliance quickly broke down into two opposing camps: a Communist one led by the Soviet Union and a capitalist one led by the United States. The rivalry between the two sides came to be known as the Cold War and during this period the United States government played a leading role in supporting global anti-communism as part of its containment policy. There were numerous military conflicts between Communists and anti-Communists in various parts of the world, including the Chinese Civil War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Soviet–Afghan War. NATO was founded as an anti-communist military alliance in 1949 and continued throughout the Cold War.
With the Revolutions of 1989 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, most of the world's Communist governments were overthrown and the Cold War ended. Nevertheless, anti-communism remains an important intellectual element of many contemporary political movements and organized anti-communism is a factor in the domestic opposition found to varying degrees within the People's Republic of China and other countries governed by Communist parties.Christian communism
Christian communism is a form of religious communism based on Christianity. It is a theological and political theory based upon the view that the teachings of Jesus Christ compel Christians to support communism as the ideal social system. Although there is no universal agreement on the exact date when Christian communism was founded, many Christian communists assert that evidence from the Bible (in the Acts of the Apostles) suggests that the first Christians, including the apostles, established their own small communist society in the years following Jesus' death and resurrection. As such, many advocates of Christian communism argue that it was taught by Jesus and practiced by the apostles themselves. Some independent historians confirm it.Communist Party of China
The Communist Party of China (CPC), also referred to as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), is the founding and ruling political party of the People's Republic of China. The Communist Party is the sole governing party within mainland China, permitting only eight other, subordinated parties to co-exist, those making up the United Front. It was founded in 1921, chiefly by Chen Duxiu and Li Dazhao. The party grew quickly, and by 1949 it had driven the nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) government from mainland China after the Chinese Civil War, leading to the establishment of the People's Republic of China. It also controls the world's largest armed forces, the People's Liberation Army.
The CPC is officially organised on the basis of democratic centralism, a principle conceived by Russian Marxist theoretician Vladimir Lenin which entails democratic and open discussion on policy on the condition of unity in upholding the agreed upon policies. The highest body of the CPC is the National Congress, convened every fifth year. When the National Congress is not in session, the Central Committee is the highest body, but since the body meets normally only once a year most duties and responsibilities are vested in the Politburo and its Standing Committee. The party's leader holds the offices of General Secretary (responsible for civilian party duties), Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) (responsible for military affairs) and State President (a largely ceremonial position). Through these posts, the party leader is the country's paramount leader. The current paramount leader is Xi Jinping, elected at the 18th National Congress held in October 2012.
The CPC is committed to communism and continues to participate in the International Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties each year. According to the party constitution, the CPC adheres to Marxism–Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, socialism with Chinese characteristics, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Three Represents, the Scientific Outlook on Development and Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese characteristics for a New Era. The official explanation for China's economic reforms is that the country is in the primary stage of socialism, a developmental stage similar to the capitalist mode of production. The command economy established under Mao Zedong was replaced by the socialist market economy, the current economic system, on the basis that "Practice is the Sole Criterion for the Truth".
Since the collapse of Eastern European communist governments in 1989–1990 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the CPC has emphasised its party-to-party relations with the ruling parties of the remaining socialist states. While the CPC still maintains party-to-party relations with non-ruling communist parties around the world, since the 1980s it has established relations with several non-communist parties, most notably with ruling parties of one-party states (whatever their ideology), dominant parties in democracies (whatever their ideology) and social democratic parties.Communist society
In Marxist thought, communist society or the communist system is the type of society and economic system postulated to emerge from technological advances in the productive forces, representing the ultimate goal of the political ideology of communism. A communist society is characterized by common ownership of the means of production with free access to the articles of consumption and is classless and stateless, implying the end of the exploitation of labour.Communism is a specific stage of socioeconomic development predicated upon a superabundance of material wealth, which is postulated to arise from advances in production technology and corresponding changes in the social relations of production. This would allow for distribution based on need and social relations based on freely-associated individuals.The term "communist society" should be distinguished from the Western concept of the "communist state", the latter referring to a state ruled by a party which professes a variation of Marxism–Leninism.Communist state
A Communist state (sometimes referred to as Marxist–Leninist state or workers' state) is a state that is administered and governed by a single party, guided by Marxist–Leninist philosophy.
There have been several instances of Communist states with functioning political participation processes involving several other non-party organisations, such as trade unions, factory committees and direct democratic participation. The term "Communist state" is used by Western historians, political scientists and media to refer to these countries. However, contrary to Western usage, these states do not describe themselves as "communist" nor do they claim to have achieved communism—they refer to themselves as Socialist or Workers' states that are in the process of constructing socialism.Communist states are typically administered by a single, centralised party apparatus, although some provide the impression of multiple political parties but these are all solely in control by that centralised party. These parties usually are Marxist–Leninist or some variation thereof (including Maoism in China), with the official aim of achieving socialism and progressing toward a communist society. These states are usually termed by Marxists as dictatorships of the proletariat, or dictatorships of the working class, whereby the working class is the ruling class of the country in contrast to capitalism, whereby the bourgeoisie is the ruling class.Council communism
Council communism (also councilism) is a current of socialist thought that emerged in the 1920s. Inspired by the November Revolution, councilism was characterized by its opposition to state capitalism/state socialism and its advocacy of workers' councils and soviet democracy as the basis for dismantling the class state. Strong in Germany and the Netherlands during the 1920s, council communism continues to exist today within the greater socialist and communist movements.
Chief among the tenets of council communism is its opposition to the party vanguardism and democratic centralism of Leninist ideologies and its contention that democratic workers' councils arising in the factories and municipalities are the natural form of working class organization and authority. Council Communism also stands in contrast to social democracy through its formal rejection of both reformism and "parliamentarism" (i.e. the compromises and quids pro quo, such as logrolling, normally found in legislative politics).Eurocommunism
Eurocommunism was a revisionist trend in the 1970s and 1980s within various Western European communist parties. They claimed to be developing a theory and practice of social transformation more relevant for Western Europe. During the Cold War, they sought to undermine the influence of the Soviet Union and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. It was especially prominent in Italy, Spain and France.Far-left politics
Far-left politics are political views located further on the left of the left-right spectrum than the standard political left.
The term has been used to describe ideologies such as: communism, anarchism, anarcho-communism, left-communism, anarcho-syndicalism, Marxism–Leninism, Trotskyism, and Maoism.Jewish Bolshevism
Jewish Bolshevism, also Judeo–Bolshevism, is an anti-communist and antisemitic canard, which alleges that the Jews were the originators of the Russian Revolution in 1917 and that they held the primary power among the Bolsheviks. Similarly, the conspiracy theory of Jewish Communism implies that Jews have dominated the Communist movements in the world, and is related to The Zionist Occupation Government conspiracy theory (ZOG), which asserts that Jews control world politics.In 1917, after the October revolution, the catchword was the title of the pamphlet, The Jewish Bolshevism, which featured in the racist propaganda of the anti-communist White movement forces during the Russian Civil War (1918–22). The Nazi Party in Germany and the German-American Bund in the United States propagated the anti-Semitic theory to their followers, sympathisers, and fellow travellers during the 1930s.The expressions Jewish Bolshevism, Jewish Communism, and the ZOG conspiracy are used as far-right catchwords for the false assertions that Communism is a Jewish conspiracy. In Poland, "Judeo-Bolshevism", known as "Żydokomuna", was an antisemitic stereotype.Left communism
Left communism is the range of Marxist viewpoints held by the left wing of communism, which criticizes the political ideas and practices espoused—particularly following the series of revolutions which brought World War I to an end—by Bolsheviks and by social democrats. Left communists assert positions which they regard as more authentically Marxist and proletarian than the views of Marxism–Leninism espoused by the Communist International after its first congress (March 1919) and during its second congress (July–August 1920).There are a range of left communist political movements. These are all distinct from Marxist–Leninists (whom they largely view as merely the left-wing of capital), from anarchist communists (some of whom they consider internationalist socialists) and from various other revolutionary socialist tendencies (see De Leonists, whom they tend to see as being internationalist socialists only in limited instances).Left communism breaks from Leninist ideas, believing that communists should not participate in capitalist parliaments or participate in conservative trade unions. However, many left communists split over their criticisms of Leninism. Of left communists, the council communists criticized the Bolsheviks for their elitist party functions and emphasized a more autonomous organization of the working class while others like Bordiga emphasized political parties and criticized multi-party states.Although she was killed in 1919 before left communism properly crystallized, Rosa Luxemburg has heavily influenced most left communists, both politically and theoretically. Proponents of left communism have included Amadeo Bordiga, Onorato Damen, Jacques Camatte, Herman Gorter, Antonie Pannekoek, Otto Rühle, Sylvia Pankhurst and Paul Mattick.List of political ideologies
In social studies, a political ideology is a certain set of ethical ideals, principles, doctrines, myths or symbols of a social movement, institution, class or large group that explains how society should work and offers some political and cultural blueprint for a certain social order. A political ideology largely concerns itself with how to allocate power and to what ends it should be used. Some political parties follow a certain ideology very closely while others may take broad inspiration from a group of related ideologies without specifically embracing any one of them. The popularity of an ideology is in part due to the influence of moral entrepreneurs, who sometimes act in their own interests. Political ideologies have two dimensions: (1) goals: how society should be organized; and (2) methods: the most appropriate way to achieve this goal.
An ideology is a collection of ideas. Typically, each ideology contains certain ideas on what it considers to be the best form of government (e.g. democracy or autocracy) and the best economic system (e.g. capitalism or socialism). The same word is sometimes used to identify both an ideology and one of its main ideas. For instance, socialism may refer to an economic system, or it may refer to an ideology which supports that economic system. The same term may also be used to refer to multiple ideologies and that is why political scientists try to find consensus definitions for these terms. For instance, while the terms have been conflated at times communism has come in common parlance and in academics to refer to Soviet-type regimes and Marxist–Leninist ideologies whereas socialism has come to refer to a wider range of differing ideologies which are distinct from Marxism–Leninism. Political ideology is a term fraught with problems, having been called "the most elusive concept in the whole of social science". However, ideologies tend to identify themselves by their position on the political spectrum (such as the left, the centre or the right), though this is very often controversial. Finally, ideologies can be distinguished from political strategies (e.g. populism as it is commonly defined) and from single issues around which a party may be built (e.g. opposition to European integration or the legalization of marijuana), although either of these may be central to a particular ideology. There are several studies that show that political ideology is heritable within families.The following list is strictly alphabetical and attempts to divide the ideologies found in practical political life into a number of groups and each group contains ideologies that are related to each other. The headers refer to names of the best-known ideologies in each group. The names of the headers do not necessarily imply some hierarchical order or that one ideology evolved out of the other. They are merely noting that the ideologies in question are practically, historically and ideologically related to each other. One ideology can belong to several groups and there is sometimes considerable overlap between related ideologies. The meaning of a political label can also differ between countries and political parties often subscribe to a combination of ideologies.Marxism
Marxism is a method of socioeconomic analysis that views class relations and social conflict using a materialist interpretation of historical development and takes a dialectical view of social transformation. It originates from the works of 19th-century German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
Marxism uses a methodology, now known as historical materialism, to analyze and critique the development of capitalism and the role of class struggles in systemic economic change.
According to Marxist theory, class conflict arises in capitalist societies due to contradictions between the material interests of the oppressed proletariat—a class of wage labourers employed to produce goods and services—and the bourgeoisie—the ruling class that owns the means of production and extract their wealth through appropriation of the surplus product (profit) produced by the proletariat.
This class struggle that is commonly expressed as the revolt of a society's productive forces against its relations of production, results in a period of short-term crises as the bourgeoisie struggle to manage the intensifying alienation of labor experienced by the proletariat, albeit with varying degrees of class consciousness. This crisis culminates in a proletarian revolution and eventually leads to the establishment of socialism—a socioeconomic system based on social ownership of the means of production, distribution based on one's contribution and production organized directly for use. As the productive forces continued to advance, Marx hypothesized that socialism would ultimately transform into a communist society; a classless, stateless, humane society based on common ownership and the underlying principle: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs".
Marxism has developed into many different branches and schools of thought, though now there is no single definitive Marxist theory. Different Marxian schools place a greater emphasis on certain aspects of classical Marxism while rejecting or modifying other aspects. Many schools of thought have sought to combine Marxian concepts and non-Marxian concepts, which has then led to contradictory conclusions. However, lately there is movement toward the recognition that historical materialism and dialectical materialism remains the fundamental aspect of all Marxist schools of thought, which should result in more agreement between different schools.
Marxism has had a profound and influential impact on global academia and has expanded into many fields such as archaeology, anthropology, media studies, political science, theater, history, sociology, art history and theory, cultural studies, education, economics, ethics, criminology, geography, literary criticism, aesthetics, film theory, critical psychology and philosophy.Marxism–Leninism
In political science, Marxism–Leninism was the official state ideology of the Soviet Union (USSR), the political parties of the Communist International, and of contemporary Stalinist political parties. Combining Leninist political praxis and Marxist socio-economics, the purpose of Marxism–Leninism is the two-stage revolutionary development of a capitalist state into a socialist state, guided by the leadership of a vanguard party of professional revolutionaries from the working class and the proletariat. The socialist state is instituted and governed by way of the dictatorship of the proletariat, which determines policy with democratic centralism.Politically, the Marxist–Leninist communist party is the political vanguard for the organisation of society into a socialist state, which is the lower stage of socio-economic development and progress towards the upper-stage communist society, which is stateless and classless; yet features organised public ownership of the means of production and accelerated industrialisation, pro-active development of the productive forces of society and nationalised natural resources.In the late 1920s, after the death of Lenin, Stalin established universal ideologic orthodoxy in the Communist Party, the USSR, and the Communist International, with his coinage Marxism–Leninism, a term which redefined theories of Lenin and Marx to establish universal Marxist–Leninist praxis for the exclusive, geopolitical benefit of the USSR. In the late 1930s, Stalin's official textbook The History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks) (1938), made the term Marxism–Leninism common, political-science usage among communists and non-communists.Critical of the Stalinist models of socialism and government in the Soviet Union, the American Marxist Raya Dunayevskaya and the Italian Marxist Amadeo Bordiga dismissed Marxism–Leninism as a type of state capitalism, because: (i) state ownership of the means of production is a form of state capitalism; (ii) the dictatorship of the proletariat is a form of democracy, therefore, single-party rule is undemocratic; and (iii) Marxism–Leninism is neither Marxism nor Leninism nor a philosophic synthesis, but a personal artifice that Stalin used to determine what is communism and what is not communism among the Eastern bloc.Red Scare
A "Red Scare" is promotion of widespread fear by a society or state about a potential rise of communism, anarchism, or radical leftism. The term is most often used to refer to two periods in the history of the United States with this name. The First Red Scare, which occurred immediately after World War I, revolved around a perceived threat from the American labor movement, anarchist revolution and political radicalism. The Second Red Scare, which occurred immediately after World War II, was preoccupied with the perception of national or foreign communists infiltrating or subverting U.S. society or the federal government.Revolutions of 1989
The Revolutions of 1989 formed part of a revolutionary wave in the late 1980s and early 1990s that resulted in the end of communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe and beyond. The period is sometimes called the Fall of Nations or the Autumn of Nations, a play on the term Spring of Nations that is sometimes used to describe the Revolutions of 1848.
The events of the full-blown revolution first began in Poland in 1989 and continued in Hungary, East Germany, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and Romania. One feature common to most of these developments was the extensive use of campaigns of civil resistance, demonstrating popular opposition to the continuation of one-party rule and contributing to the pressure for change. Romania was the only Eastern Bloc country whose citizens overthrew its Communist regime violently. Protests in Tiananmen Square (April–June 1989) failed to stimulate major political changes in China, but influential images of courageous defiance during that protest helped to precipitate events in other parts of the globe. On 4 June 1989, the trade union Solidarity won an overwhelming victory in a partially free election in Poland, leading to the peaceful fall of Communism in that country in the summer of 1989. Also in June 1989, Hungary began dismantling its section of the physical Iron Curtain, leading to an exodus of East Germans through Hungary, which destabilised East Germany. This led to mass demonstrations in cities such as Leipzig and subsequently to the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, which served as the symbolic gateway to German reunification in 1990.
The Soviet Union dissolved in December 1991, resulting in eleven new countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan) which had declared their independence from the Soviet Union in the course of the year while the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) regained their independence in September 1991. The rest of the Soviet Union, which constituted the bulk of the area, became the Russian Federation in December 1991. Albania and Yugoslavia abandoned Communism between 1990 and 1992. By 1992, Yugoslavia had split into five successor states, namely Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which was later renamed Serbia and Montenegro in 2003 and eventually split in 2006 into two states, namely Serbia and Montenegro. Serbia was then further split with the breakaway of the partially recognised state of Kosovo in 2008. Czechoslovakia dissolved three years after the end of Communist rule, splitting peacefully into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1992. The impact of these events made itself felt in several Socialist countries. Communism was abandoned in countries such as Cambodia (1991), Ethiopia (1990), Mongolia (which in 1990 democratically re-elected a Communist government that ran the country until 1996) and South Yemen (1990).
During the adoption of varying forms of market economy, there was a general decline in living standards for many former Communist countries. Political reforms were varied, but in only four countries were Communist parties able to retain a monopoly on power, namely China, Cuba, Laos and Vietnam (North Korea went through a constitutional change in 2009 that made it nominally no longer Communist, but still de facto organised on Stalinist lines). Many communist and socialist organisations in the West turned their guiding principles over to social democracy and democratic socialism. Communist parties in Italy and San Marino suffered and the reformation of the Italian political class took place in the early 1990s. In South America, the Pink tide had instead begun, starting with Venezuela in 1999 and sweeping through the early 2000s. The European political landscape changed drastically, with several former Eastern Bloc countries joining NATO and the European Union, resulting in stronger economic and social integration with Western Europe and the United States.Rock Against Communism
Rock Against Communism (RAC) was the name of white power rock concerts in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The lyrics usually focus on racism and antisemitism.Stalinism
Stalinism is the means of governing and related policies implemented from around 1927 to 1953 by Joseph Stalin (1878–1953). Stalinist policies and ideas as developed in the Soviet Union included rapid industrialization, the theory of socialism in one country, a totalitarian state, collectivization of agriculture, a cult of personality and subordination of the interests of foreign communist parties to those of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, deemed by Stalinism to be the leading vanguard party of communist revolution at the time.Stalinism promoted the escalation of class conflict, utilizing state violence to forcibly purge society of the bourgeoisie, whom Stalinist doctrine regarded as threats to the pursuit of the communist revolution. This policy resulted in substantial political violence and persecution of such people. "Enemies" included not only bourgeois people, but also working-class people with counter-revolutionary sympathies.Stalinist industrialization was officially designed to accelerate the development towards communism, stressing the need for such rapid industrialization on the grounds that the Soviet Union was previously economically backward in comparison with other countries and asserting that socialist society needed industry in order to face the challenges posed by internal and external enemies of communism. Rapid industrialization was accompanied by mass collectivization of agriculture and by rapid urbanization. Rapid urbanization converted many small villages into industrial cities. To accelerate the development of industrialization, Stalin imported materials, ideas, expertise and workers from Western Europe and from the United States and pragmatically set up joint-venture contracts with major American private enterprises, such as the Ford Motor Company, which under state supervision assisted in developing the basis of the industry of the Soviet economy from the late 1920s to the 1930s. After the American private enterprises had completed their tasks, Soviet state enterprises took over.The Communist Manifesto
The Communist Manifesto (originally Manifesto of the Communist Party) is an 1848 political pamphlet by the German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Commissioned by the Communist League and originally published in London (in German as Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei) just as the Revolutions of 1848 began to erupt, the Manifesto was later recognised as one of the world's most influential political documents. It presents an analytical approach to the class struggle (historical and then-present) and the conflicts of capitalism and the capitalist mode of production, rather than a prediction of communism's potential future forms.
The Communist Manifesto summarises Marx and Engels' theories concerning the nature of society and politics, namely that in their own words "[t]he history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles". It also briefly features their ideas for how the capitalist society of the time would eventually be replaced by socialism. Near the end of the Manifesto, the authors call for "forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions", which served as the justification for all communist revolutions around the world. In 2013, The Communist Manifesto was registered to UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme along with Marx's Capital, Volume I.