Most of us have probably heard about communism. In modern politics, the word communism can be quite loaded. It is often surrounded by heated discussion, and it is often misused.
You may also know that countries like China and the Russian Soviet Union are communist countries. But what really is the definition of the word “communism?”
If you take out all of the heated emotions, what does this word mean? That is the question this article is going to answer. By the end, you’ll have a decent understanding of the true definition of communism so you can know when people are using it correctly or incorrectly. Let’s get started.
What Is the Definition of Communism?
Communism is a political system. It’s a far-left ideology regarding how a government should be run, and it was created by Karl Marx and further developed by Friedrich Engels.
It is almost impossible to fully encapsulate the complexities of communism in a simple description, but here is a brief definition of communism:
- A form of government that seeks to eliminate the idea of societal classes where all property, wealth, and means of production are owned by the public, not private individuals
The ideas of communism were birthed out of a desire to eliminate the struggles of the lower class. By pooling wealth together and having the state distribute it evenly so that all people benefit, the hope is that the poor would be able to survive and the wealthy elite would no longer be able to oppress them.
As mentioned earlier in this article, the word communism is often misused. Rgeww of the most common words that get roped into communism incorrectly are fascism, socialism, and Marxism.
Fascism is a system of government, while communism is more of an economic ideology. Fascism is a far-right system that is characterized by authoritarianism, militarism, and extreme nationalism. Most fascist nations believe in the superiority of their nation and people above all others and often also believe in the superiority of a specific leader.
While it is true that many communist countries have also been fascist (Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler, Italy and Benito Mussolini, and North Korea and Kim Jong-un), the two systems do not always coexist. In fact, Karl Marx would have vehemently opposed fascism.
Communism is also commonly confused with socialism. Socialism is another left-wing economic system, but it is not as extreme as communism. Like communism, socialism advocates for public ownership of the means of production; however, it does not advocate for the elimination of social classes or private property.
Marxism and communism are closely related, but there are some distinctions between them. Communism is an economic and governmental model, but Marxism is an economic theory about capitalism. Communism serves as the solution that Marxism points out.
Essentially, Marxism points out some flaws in capitalism (such as the oppression of the poor and the uneven distribution of wealth).
Marxism also theorizes about where capitalism could end up:Nnamely, that certain companies and private individuals, or capitalists would end up owning the vast majority of wealth, preventing the lower and even middle classes from amassing wealth or property.
Examples of Communism in Action
As of 2022, there are only five communist countries left in the world: China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, and Laos. Probably the most significant of these countries is the Communist Party in China.
Other examples include Nazi Germany during World War II and Soviet Russia under Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin. In Russia, the Bolsheviks implemented the Marxism-Leninism form of communism. Many forms of communism popped up in Eastern Europe and Asia during the 20th century.
Where Did Communism Come From?
As we said before, the idea of communism and the word itself came from Karl Marx, a German philosopher from the late 19th century. Marx laid out his ideas about Marxism and communism in his famous work, The Communist Manifesto.
The Communist Manifesto
In his Manifesto, Marx laid out the ideas of Marxism as his proposed solution to communism. In his critique of capitalism, Marx refers to the capitalists and “the bourgeoisie” and the lower class as “the proletariat.”
Marx lays out the class struggles that exist or will come to be under capitalism. He describes the wealthy elite hoarding wealth, resources, and the means of production while taking advantage of and abusing the working class. Much of these problems were caused by the industrial revolution.
The Marxist solution to these problems is that the proletariat would forcibly overthrow the bourgeoisie, installing leaders from the ranks of the proletariat to help ensure that wealth is not hoarded in the state. This would ensure that resources are distributed fairly so that they are truly owned by the masses.
The communist system would create a classless society, a social system where private ownership does not exist. This is all in the hopes of developing a utopia where every person has enough resources and time to develop their skills and products that would benefit society as a whole.
What Are Some Examples of Communism in a Sentence?
Here are some examples of the word communism used in a sentence. By seeing it in context, we can further understand its meaning and how to use it.
As an economist, I recognize that the communist system can indeed work. Historically, communism has been paired with fascism, making it a dangerous system to implement.
The one-party system of communism in China is dangerous, as it increases the likelihood of a regime developing.
I have many critiques of the capitalist system, and I am intrigued by the solutions communism offers.
The communist society of the USSR was tainted by authoritarianism and militarism.
What Are Some Synonyms of Communism?
Here are some synonyms for the word communism.
- State ownership
- Rule of the proletariat
What Are Antonyms of Communism?
Here is one antonym for communism.
An Economic System
At the end of the day, the word communism mostly refers to an economic system. Many types of communism suggest different means of achieving it and different governmental systems to operate it. At its core, communism is an economic/political system that places ownership of property, wealth, and the means of production in the hands of the state and the general public.
Now, you know the meaning of communism and how to use it in your writing and speech. If you need a refresher on communism and its definitions, come back to this article for a refresher.
COMMUNISM | Cambridge English Dictionary
Communism | National Geographic Society