Communism

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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]

Political science is a social science which deals with systems of governance, and the analysis of political activities, political thoughts, and political behavior. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics which is commonly thought of as determining of the distribution of power and resources. Political scientists "see themselves engaged in revealing the relationships underlying political events and conditions, and from these revelations they attempt to construct general principles about the way the world of politics works."

Social science is a category of academic disciplines, concerned with society and the relationships among individuals within a society. Social science as a whole has many branches. These social sciences include, but are not limited to: anthropology, archaeology, communication studies, economics, history, human geography, jurisprudence, linguistics, political science, psychology, public health, and sociology. The term is also sometimes used to refer specifically to the field of sociology, the original "science of society", established in the 19th century. For a more detailed list of sub-disciplines within the social sciences see: Outline of social science.

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets, and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

Contents

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]

Marxism economic and sociopolitical worldview based on the works of Karl Marx

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.

Anarchism is an anti-authoritarian political philosophy that advocates self-governed societies based on voluntary, cooperative institutions and the rejection of hierarchies those societies view as unjust. These institutions are often described as stateless societies, although several authors have defined them more specifically as distinct institutions based on non-hierarchical or free associations. Anarchism holds capitalism, the state, and representative democracy to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful.

Anarcho-communism a theory of anarchism which advocates the abolition of capitalism, wage labour and private property

Anarcho-communism is a political philosophy and anarchist school of thought which advocates the abolition of the state, capitalism, wage labour and private property in favor of common ownership of the means of production, direct 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".

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.

Social democracy is a political, social, and economic ideology that supports economic and social interventions to promote social justice within the framework of a liberal democratic polity and capitalist economy. The protocols and norms used to accomplish this involve a commitment to representative and participatory democracy; measures for income redistribution and regulation of the economy in the general interest; and welfare state provisions. Social democracy thus aims to create the conditions for capitalism to lead to greater democratic, egalitarian and solidaristic outcomes. Due to longstanding governance by social democratic parties and their influence on socioeconomic policy development in the Nordic countries, in policy circles social democracy has become associated with the Nordic model in the latter part of the 20th century.

Socialism is a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership and workers' self-management of the means of production as well as the political theories and movements associated with them. Social ownership can be public, collective or cooperative ownership, or citizen ownership of equity. There are many varieties of socialism and there is no single definition encapsulating all of them, with social ownership being the common element shared by its various forms.

History

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]

The French are an ethnic group and nation who are identified with the country of France. This connection may be ethnic, legal, historical, or cultural.

Victor dHupay French writer

Joseph Alexandre Victor d'Hupay (1746–1818) was a French writer and philosopher. He is best known as the first theorist of modern communism.

Projet de communauté philosophe is a book written by the French philosopher Victor d'Hupay, published in 1777.

Portrait of Victor d'Hupay (c. 1790), founder and first theoretician of modern communism Portrait de Victor d'Hupay (cropped).png
Portrait of Victor d'Hupay (c. 1790), founder and first theoretician of modern communism
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, theoretician of libertarian socialism Portrait Pierre-Joseph Proudhon.jpg
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, theoretician of libertarian socialism

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).

Richard Pipes American historian

Richard Edgar Pipes was a Polish American academic who specialized in Russian history, particularly with respect to the Soviet Union, who espoused a strong anti-communist point of view throughout his career. In 1976 he headed Team B, a team of analysts organized by the Central Intelligence Agency who analyzed the strategic capacities and goals of the Soviet military and political leadership. Pipes was the father of American historian and expert on American foreign policy and the Middle East, Daniel Pipes.

Ancient Greece Civilization belonging to an early period of Greek history

Ancient Greece was a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Roughly three centuries after the Late Bronze Age collapse of Mycenaean Greece, Greek urban poleis began to form in the 8th century BC, ushering in the Archaic period and colonization of the Mediterranean Basin. This was followed by the period of Classical Greece, an era that began with the Greco-Persian Wars, lasting from the 5th to 4th centuries BC. Due to the conquests by Alexander the Great of Macedon, Hellenistic civilization flourished from Central Asia to the western end of the Mediterranean Sea. The Hellenistic period came to an end with the conquests and annexations of the eastern Mediterranean world by the Roman Republic, which established the Roman province of Macedonia in Roman Greece, and later the province of Achaea during the Roman Empire.

Mazdak Iranian philosopher

Mazdak was a Zoroastrian mobad (priest), Iranian reformer, prophet and religious activist who gained influence during the reign of the Sasanian emperor Kavadh I. He claimed to be a prophet of Ahura Mazda and instituted communal possessions and social welfare programs. He has been seen as a proto-socialist.

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]

Thomas More English Renaissance humanist

Sir Thomas More, venerated in the Catholic Church as Saint Thomas More, was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman, and noted Renaissance humanist. He was also a councillor to Henry VIII, and Lord High Chancellor of England from October 1529 to 16 May 1532. He wrote Utopia, published in 1516, about the political system of an imaginary, ideal island nation.

<i>Utopia</i> (book) book by Thomas More

Utopia is a work of fiction and socio-political satire by Thomas More (1478–1535) published in 1516 in Latin. The book is a frame narrative primarily depicting a fictional island society and its religious, social and political customs. Many aspects of More's description of Utopia are reminiscent of life in monasteries.

Common ownership refers to holding the assets of an organization, enterprise or community indivisibly rather than in the names of the individual members or groups of members as common property.

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 Soviet Union - Russian SFSR (1922).svg
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

Countries by GDP (nominal) per capita in 1965 based on a West German school book (1971)
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Countries by GDP (nominal) per capita in 1965 based on a West German school book (1971)
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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 Communism.svg
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.

Marxist communism

Marxism

A monument dedicated to Karl Marx (left) and Friedrich Engels (right) in Shanghai, China Marx et Engels à Shanghai.jpg
A monument dedicated to Karl Marx (left) and Friedrich Engels (right) in Shanghai, China

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. [33] 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. [34] 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. [35] 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. [36] 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". [37] This has led some Marxist groups and tendencies to label states such as the Soviet Union—based on nationalization—as state capitalist. [38]

Leninism

Vladimir Lenin's statue in Kolkata, West Bengal Lenin-statue-in-Kolkata.jpg
Vladimir Lenin's statue in Kolkata, West Bengal

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 [39]

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, Stalinism and Trotskyism

Marxism–Leninism and Stalinism

Joseph Stalin, 1942 JStalin Secretary general CCCP 1942 flipped.jpg
Joseph Stalin, 1942

Marxism–Leninism is a political ideology developed by Joseph Stalin, [40] 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. [41] It also contains aspects which according to some are deviations from Marxism, such as "socialism in one country". [42] [43] 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. [44]

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. [38] 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. [45] Additionally, according to Engels state property by itself is private property of capitalist nature [46] unless the proletariat has control of political power, in which case it forms public property. [47] 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, [48] 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

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

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, [49] emerged in opposition to Marxism–Leninism [50] and its derivatives, such as Stalinism, Maoism and Trotskyism. [51] Libertarian Marxism is also critical of reformist positions, such as those held by social democrats. [52] Libertarian Marxist currents often draw from Marx and Engels' later works, specifically the Grundrisse and The Civil War in France , [53] 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. [54] Along with anarchism, libertarian Marxism is one of the main currents of libertarian socialism. [55]

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. [56] 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

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

Rosa Luxemburg Rosa Luxemburg.jpg
Rosa Luxemburg

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). [57]

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). [58]

Non-Marxist communism

The dominant forms of communism are based on Marxism, but non-Marxist versions of communism (such as Christian communism and anarcho-communism) also exist.

Anarcho-communism

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, [59] [60] 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". [61] [62]

Peter Kropotkin, main theorist of anarcho-communism Kropotkin2.jpg
Peter Kropotkin, main theorist of anarcho-communism

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". [63] In this way, it tries to avoid the reappearance of "class divisions and the need for a state to oversee everything". [63]

Some forms of anarcho-communism such as insurrectionary anarchism are egoist and strongly influenced by radical individualism, [64] [65] [66] 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. [67] [68] [69]

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

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

Criticism of communism can be divided into two broad categories: that which concerns itself with the practical aspects of 20th century communist states [7] and that which concerns itself with communist principles and theory. [70]

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. [71] [72] [73]

See also

Related Research Articles

Leninism political, social, and economic theory espoused by Vladimir Lenin

Leninism is the political theory for the organisation of a revolutionary vanguard party and the achievement of a dictatorship of the proletariat as political prelude to the establishment of socialism. Developed by and named for the Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, Leninism comprises socialist political and economic theories, developed from Marxism and Lenin's interpretations of Marxist theories, for practical application to the socio-political conditions of the Russian Empire of the early 20th century.

Marxism–Leninism political ideology

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.

State capitalism is an economic system in which the state undertakes commercial economic activity and where the means of production are organized and managed as state-owned business enterprises, or where there is otherwise a dominance of corporatized government agencies or of publicly listed corporations in which the state has controlling shares. Marxist literature defines state capitalism as a social system combining capitalism with ownership or control by a state—by this definition, a state capitalist country is one where the government controls the economy and essentially acts like a single huge corporation, extracting the surplus value from the workforce in order to invest it in further production. This designation applies regardless of the political aims of the state and some people argue that the modern People's Republic of China constitutes a form of state capitalism and/or that the Soviet Union failed in its goal to establish socialism, but rather established state capitalism.

Libertarian Marxism economic and political philosophies that emphasize the "anti-authoritarian" aspects of Marxism

Libertarian Marxism refers to a broad scope 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, Ceaușism and Maoism. Libertarian Marxism is also often critical of reformist positions, such as those held by social democrats. Libertarian Marxist currents often draw from Karl Marx and Friedrich 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.

Democracy in Marxism

In Marxist theory, a new democratic society will arise through the organised actions of an international working class enfranchising the entire population and freeing up humans to act without being bound by the labour market. In such a utopian world there would also be little if any need for a state, the goal of which was to enforce the alienation. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels stated in The Communist Manifesto and later works that "the first step in the revolution by the working class, is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class, to win the battle for democracy" and universal suffrage, being "one of the first and most important tasks of the militant proletariat". As Marx wrote in his Critique of the Gotha Program, "between capitalist and communist society there lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat". He allowed for the possibility of peaceful transition in some countries with strong democratic institutional structures, he suggested that in other countries in which workers can not "attain their goal by peaceful means" the "lever of our revolution must be force", stating that the working people had the right to revolt if they were denied political expression. In response to the question "What will be the course of this revolution?" in Principles of Communism, Friedrich Engels wrote:

Above all, it will establish a democratic constitution, and through this, the direct or indirect dominance of the proletariat.

Two-stage theory

The two-stage theory a Marxist-Leninist political theory which argues that underdeveloped countries, such as Tsarist Russia, must first pass through a stage of capitalism before moving to a socialist stage. The two-stage theory was applied to countries worldwide which had not passed through the capitalist stage.

Ideology of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

The ideology of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) was Marxism–Leninism, an ideology of a centralised, planned economy and a vanguardist one-party state, which was the dictatorship of the proletariat. The Soviet Union's ideological commitment to achieving communism included the development socialism in one country and peaceful coexistence with capitalist countries while engaging in anti-imperialism to defend the international proletariat, combat capitalism and promote the goals of communism. The state ideology of the Soviet Union—and thus Marxism–Leninism—derived and developed from the theories, policies and political praxis of Lenin and Stalin.

Free association is a relationship among individuals where there is no state, social class, authority, or private ownership of means of production. Once private property is abolished, individuals are no longer deprived of access to means of production enabling them to freely associate to produce and reproduce their own conditions of existence and fulfill their individual and creative needs and desires. The term is used by anarchists and Marxists and is often considered a defining feature of a fully developed communist society.

Marxist schools of thought

Marxism is a method of socioeconomic analysis that frames capitalism through a paradigm of exploitation, analyzes class relations and social conflict using a materialist interpretation of historical development and takes a dialectical view of social transformation. While it originates from the works of 19th century German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Marxism has had several different schools of thought.

State socialism is a classification for any socialist political and economic perspective advocating state ownership of the means of production either as a temporary measure in the transition from capitalism to socialism, or as characteristic of socialism itself. It is often used interchangeably with state capitalism in reference to the economic systems of Marxist–Leninist states such as the Soviet Union to highlight the role of state planning in these economies, with the critics of said system referring to it more commonly as "state capitalism". Libertarian and democratic socialists claim that these states had only a limited number of socialist characteristics. However, Marxist–Leninists maintain that workers in the Soviet Union and other Marxist–Leninist states had genuine control over the means of production through institutions such as trade unions.

Revolutionary socialism is the socialist doctrine that social revolution is necessary in order to bring about structural changes to society. More specifically, it is the view that revolution is a necessary precondition for a transition from capitalism to socialism. Revolution is not necessarily defined as a violent insurrection; it is defined as seizure of political power by mass movements of the working class so that the state is directly controlled or abolished by the working class as opposed to the capitalist class and its interests. Revolutionary socialists believe such a state of affairs is a precondition for establishing socialism and orthodox Marxists believe that it is inevitable but not predetermined.

Dictatorship of the proletariat political ideology

In Marxist sociopolitical thought, the dictatorship of the proletariat is a state of affairs in which the proletariat, or the working class, has control of political power. According to this theory, it is the intermediate system between capitalism and socialism or communism, when the government is in the process of transferring the ownership of the means of production from private to collective ownership, and the existence of any state implies the dictatorship of one social class over another. The term, coined by Joseph Weydemeyer, was adopted in the 19th century by the central figures of Marxism, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Both of them argued that the short-lived Paris Commune, which ran the French capital for over two months in 1871 before being suppressed, was an example of the dictatorship of the proletariat. "Dictatorship of the bourgeoisie" is thus used as an antonym of "dictatorship of the proletariat".

Anti-revisionism position within Marxism–Leninism which emerged in the 1950s in opposition to the reforms of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev

Anti-revisionism is a position within Marxism–Leninism which emerged in the 1950s in opposition to the reforms of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. Where Khrushchev pursued an interpretation of Leninism that differed from his predecessor Joseph Stalin, the anti-revisionists within the international communist movement remained dedicated to Stalin's ideological legacy and criticized the Soviet Union under Khrushchev and his successors as state capitalist and social imperialist due largely to its hopes of achieving peace with the United States. The term "Stalinism" is also used to describe these positions, but it is often not used by its supporters who opine that Stalin simply synthesized and practiced Leninism.

Socialism in One Country political theory by Joseph Stalin

Socialism in one country was a theory put forth by Joseph Stalin and Nikolai Bukharin in 1924 which was eventually adopted by the Soviet Union as state policy. The theory held that given the defeat of all the communist revolutions in Europe in 1917–1923 except Russia, the Soviet Union should begin to strengthen itself internally. That turn toward national communism was a shift from the previously held position by classical Marxism that socialism must be established globally. However, proponents of the theory argue that it contradicts neither world revolution nor world communism. The theory was in opposition to Leon Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution.

A socialist state, socialist republic, or socialist country is a sovereign state constitutionally dedicated to the establishment of socialism. The term "Communist state" is often used interchangeably in the West specifically when referring to single-party socialist states governed by Marxist–Leninist political parties despite being officially socialist states in the process of building socialism; these countries never describe themselves as communist nor as having achieved a communist society. Additionally, a number of countries which are not single-party states based on Marxism–Leninism make reference to socialism in their constitutions; in most cases these are constitutional references alluding to the building of a socialist society that have little to no bearing on the structure and development paths of these countries' political and economic systems.

Anti-Leninism

Anti-Leninism is opposition to the political philosophy Leninism as advocated by Vladimir Lenin.

Proletarian internationalism Marxist social class concept

Proletarian internationalism, sometimes referred to as international socialism, is the perception of all communist revolutions as being part of a single global class struggle rather than separate localized events. It is based on the theory that capitalism is a world-system and therefore the working classes of all nations must act in concert if they are to replace it with communism. Proponents of proletarian internationalism often argued that the objectives of a given revolution should be global rather than local in scope—for example, triggering or perpetuating revolutions elsewhere.

Permanent revolution is a term within Marxist theory, coined by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels by at least 1850, but which has since become most closely associated with Leon Trotsky. The uses of the term by different theorists are not identical. Marx used it to describe the strategy of a revolutionary class to continue to pursue its class interests independently and without compromise, despite overtures for political alliances, and despite the political dominance of opposing sections of society.

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Bibliography

Further reading