In political and social sciences, communism (from Latin communis, "common, universal")[1][2] 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,[3][4] and the state.[5][6]

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[7] and those concerning themselves with communist principles and theory.[8]

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.


Early communism

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".[9]

Portrait of Victor d'Hupay (c. 1790), founder and first theoretician of modern communism

According to Richard Pipes, the idea of a classless, egalitarian society first emerged in Ancient Greece.[10] 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.[11][12] At one time or another, various small communist communities existed, generally under the inspiration of Scripture.[13] 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.[14] In his 1895 Cromwell and Communism,[15] 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.[15] 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.[16]

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.[17] 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).[17]

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.[17]

Communism in the Soviet Union

The Russian SFSR as a part of the USSR in 1922

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.[18][19][20] 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.[21]

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.[22] 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.[23] 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.[24]

Cold War

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.[25] Communism was seen as a rival of and a threat to western capitalism for most of the 20th century.[26]

Dissolution of the Soviet Union

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.[27] 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.[28]

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.[29][30]

Present situation

Countries of the world now (red) or previously (orange) having nominally Marxist–Leninist governments

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.[31] 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.[32] 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.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Kommunisme
Alemannisch: Kommunismus
አማርኛ: ኰሙኒስም
العربية: شيوعية
aragonés: Comunismo
অসমীয়া: সাম্যবাদ
asturianu: Comunismu
azərbaycanca: Kommunizm
تۆرکجه: کومونیسم
বাংলা: সাম্যবাদ
Bân-lâm-gú: Kiōng-sán-chú-gī
башҡортса: Коммунизм
беларуская: Камунізм
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Камунізм
Bikol Central: Komunismo
български: Комунизъм
Boarisch: Kommunismus
bosanski: Komunizam
brezhoneg: Komunouriezh
буряад: Коммунизм
català: Comunisme
čeština: Komunismus
dansk: Kommunisme
davvisámegiella: Kommunisma
Deutsch: Kommunismus
eesti: Kommunism
Ελληνικά: Κομμουνισμός
español: Comunismo
Esperanto: Komunismo
estremeñu: Comunismu
euskara: Komunismo
فارسی: کمونیسم
Fiji Hindi: Samyawaad
føroyskt: Kommunisma
français: Communisme
Frysk: Kommunisme
Gaeilge: Cumannachas
Gàidhlig: Co-mhaoineas
galego: Comunismo
贛語: 共產主義
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Khiung-sán chú-ngi
한국어: 공산주의
հայերեն: Կոմունիզմ
हिन्दी: साम्यवाद
hrvatski: Komunizam
Ilokano: Komunismo
Bahasa Indonesia: Komunisme
interlingua: Communismo
íslenska: Kommúnismi
italiano: Comunismo
עברית: קומוניזם
Basa Jawa: Kumunisme
Kabɩyɛ: Komiinism
къарачай-малкъар: Коммунизм
ქართული: კომუნიზმი
қазақша: Коммунизм
Kiswahili: Ukomunisti
kurdî: Komûnîzm
Кыргызча: Коммунизм
لۊری شومالی: کومونیست
Latina: Communismus
latviešu: Komunisms
Lëtzebuergesch: Kommunismus
лезги: Коммунизм
lietuvių: Komunizmas
Limburgs: Communisme
lingála: Kominisimɛ
Lingua Franca Nova: Comunisme
la .lojban.: kaurpo'esi'o
lumbaart: Comunism
magyar: Kommunizmus
македонски: Комунизам
Malagasy: Kômonisma
മലയാളം: കമ്യൂണിസം
Malti: Komuniżmu
मराठी: साम्यवाद
მარგალური: კომუნიზმი
مصرى: شيوعيه
مازِرونی: کمونیسم
Bahasa Melayu: Komunisme
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Gê̤ṳng-sāng-ciō-ngiê
Mirandés: Quemunismo
монгол: Коммунизм
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ကွန်မြူနစ်ဝါဒ
Nederlands: Communisme
Nedersaksies: Kommunisme
नेपाली: साम्यवाद
नेपाल भाषा: साम्यवाद
日本語: 共産主義
norsk: Kommunisme
norsk nynorsk: Kommunisme
Nouormand: Commeunisme
occitan: Comunisme
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Kommunizm
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਕਮਿਊਨਿਜ਼ਮ
پنجابی: کمیونزم
پښتو: کمونيزم
Patois: Kamiunizam
Picard: Conmunnime
Piemontèis: Comunism
Plattdüütsch: Kommunismus
polski: Komunizm
português: Comunismo
română: Comunism
rumantsch: Communissem
Runa Simi: Kumunismu
русиньскый: Комунізм
русский: Коммунизм
саха тыла: Коммунизм
संस्कृतम्: समानतावादः
Scots: Communism
Seeltersk: Kommunismus
Sesotho: Bokôminisii
shqip: Komunizmi
sicilianu: Cumunismu
Simple English: Communism
slovenčina: Komunizmus
slovenščina: Komunizem
Soomaaliga: Shuuciyad
کوردی: کۆمۆنیزم
српски / srpski: Комунизам
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Komunizam
suomi: Kommunismi
svenska: Kommunism
Tagalog: Komunismo
татарча/tatarça: Коммунизм
తెలుగు: కమ్యూనిజం
тоҷикӣ: Коммунизм
Türkçe: Komünizm
тыва дыл: Коммунизм
удмурт: Коммунизм
українська: Комунізм
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: كۇممۇنىزم
vèneto: Comunismo
Võro: Kommunism
文言: 共產主義
Winaray: Komunismo
吴语: 共产主义
ייִדיש: קאמוניזם
粵語: 共產主義
Zazaki: Komunizm
žemaitėška: Komunėzmos
中文: 共产主义