What is Communism?

Communism (from Latin communis – common, universal) is a revolutionary socialist movement to create a classless, moneyless[1][2] and stateless social order structured upon common ownership of the means of production, as well as a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of this social order. 3] This movement, in its Marxist–Leninist interpretations, significantly influenced the history of the 20th century, which saw intense rivalry between the “socialist world” (socialist states ruled by communist parties) and the “Western world” (countries with capitalist economies). [4]

According to Marxist theory, higher-phase communism is a specific stage of historical development that inevitably emerges from the development of the productive forces that leads to access abundance to final goods, allowing for distribution based on need and social relations based on freely associated individuals. 5][6] Marxist theory holds that socialism, or lower-phase communism, being the new society established after the overthrow of capitalism, is a transitional stage in human social evolution and will give rise to a fully communist society, in which classes and the state are no longer present. Leninism adds to Marxism the notion of a vanguard party to lead the proletarian revolution and to secure all political power after the revolution for the working class, for the development of universal class consciousness and worker participation, in the transitional stage between capitalism and communism.

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Council communists and non-Marxist libertarian communists and anarcho-communists oppose the ideas of a vanguard party and a transition stage, and advocate for the construction of full communism to begin immediately upon the abolition of capitalism. There is a very wide range of theories amongst those particular communists in regards to how to build the types of institutions that would replace the various economic engines (such as food distribution, education, and hospitals) as they exist under capitalist systems—or even whether to do so at all.

Some of these communists have specific plans for the types of administrative bodies that would replace the current ones, while always qualifying that these bodies would be decentralised and worker-owned, just as they currently are within the activist movements themselves. In the modern lexicon of what many sociologists and political commentators refer to as the “political mainstream”, communism is often used to refer to the policies of communist states, i. e. the ones totally controlled by communist parties, regardless of the practical content of the actual economic system they may preside over. Examples of this include the policies of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam where the economic system incorporates “doi moi”, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) where the economic system incorporates “socialist market economy”, and the economic system of the Soviet Union which has been described as “state capitalist”

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