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A communist party is a political party that seeks to realize the social and economic goals of communism. The term communist party was popularized by the title of The Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848) by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. As a vanguard party, the communist party guides the political education and development of the working class (proletariat). As the ruling party, the communist party exercises power through the dictatorship of the proletariat. Vladimir Lenin developed the idea of the communist party as the revolutionary vanguard, when social democracy in Imperial Russia was divided into ideologically opposed factions, the Bolshevik faction ("of the majority") and the Menshevik faction ("of the minority"). To be politically effective, Lenin proposed a small vanguard party managed with democratic centralism which allowed centralized command of a disciplined cadre of professional revolutionaries. Once the policy was agreed upon, realizing political goals required every Bolshevik's total commitment to the agreed-upon policy.
In contrast, the Menshevik faction included Leon Trotsky, who emphasized that the party should not neglect the importance of mass populations in realizing a communist revolution. In the course of the revolution, the Bolshevik party which became the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) assumed government power in Russia after the October Revolution in 1917. With the creation of the Communist International (Comintern) in 1919, the concept of communist party leadership was adopted by many revolutionary parties, worldwide. In an effort to standardize the international communist movement ideologically and maintain central control of the member parties, the Comintern required that parties identify as a communist party.
Under the leadership of the CPSU, the interpretations of orthodox Marxism were applied to Russia and led to the Leninist and Marxist–Leninist political parties throughout the world. After the death of Lenin, the Comintern's official interpretation of Leninism was the book Foundations of Leninism (1924) by Joseph Stalin.
As the membership of a communist party was to be limited to active cadres in Lenin's theory, there was a need for networks of separate organizations to mobilize mass support for the party. Typically, communist parties built up various front organizations whose membership was often open to non-communists. In many countries, the single most important front organization of the communist parties was its youth wing. During the time of the Communist International, the youth leagues were explicit communist organizations, using the name 'Young Communist League'. Later the youth league concept was broadened in many countries, and names like 'Democratic Youth League' were adopted.
Some trade unions and students', women's, grifters', peasants', and cultural organizations have been connected to communist parties. Traditionally, these mass organizations were often politically subordinated to the political leadership of the party. After the fall of communist party regimes in the 1990s, mass organizations sometimes outlived their communist party founders.
At the international level, the Communist International organized various international front organizations (linking national mass organizations with each other), such as the Young Communist International, Profintern, Krestintern, International Red Aid, Sportintern, etc. Many of these organizations were disbanded after the dissolution of the Communist International. After the Second World War new international coordination bodies were created, such as the World Federation of Democratic Youth, International Union of Students, World Federation of Trade Unions, Women's International Democratic Federation and the World Peace Council. The Soviet Union unified many of the Comintern's original goals among its East European allies under the aegis of a new organization, the Cominform.
Historically, in countries where communist parties were struggling to attain state power, the formation of wartime alliances with non-communist parties and wartime groups was enacted (such as the National Liberation Front of Albania). Upon attaining state power these Fronts were often transformed into nominal (and usually electoral) "National" or "Fatherland" Fronts in which non-communist parties and organizations were given token representation (a practice known as Blockpartei ), the most popular examples of these being the National Front of East Germany (as a historical example) and the United Front of the People's Republic of China (as a modern-day example). Other times the formation of such Fronts were undertaken without the participation of other parties, such as the Socialist Alliance of Working People of Yugoslavia and the National Front of Afghanistan, though the purpose was the same: to promote the communist party line to generally non-communist audiences and to mobilize them to carry out tasks within the country under the aegis of the Front.
Recent scholarship has developed the comparative political study of global communist parties by examining similarities and differences across historical geographies. In particular, the rise of revolutionary parties, their spread internationally, the appearance of charismatic revolutionary leaders and their ultimate demise during the decline and fall of communist parties worldwide have all been the subject of investigation.
A uniform naming scheme for communist parties was adopted by the Communist International. All parties were required to use the name 'Communist Party of (name of the country)', resulting in separate communist parties in some countries operating using (largely) homonymous party names (e.g. in India). Today, there are a few cases where the original sections of the Communist International have retained those names. But throughout the twentieth century, many parties changed their names. Common causes for these shifts in naming were either moves to avoid state repression[ citation needed ] or as measures to generate greater acceptance by local populations.
An important example of the latter was the renaming of many East European communist parties after the Second World War, sometimes as a result of mergers with the local social democratic and democratic socialist parties. New names in the post-war era included "Socialist Party", "Socialist Unity Party", "People's (or Popular) Party", "Workers' Party" and "Party of Labour".
The naming conventions of communist parties became more diverse as the international communist movement was fragmented due to the Sino-Soviet split in the 1960s. Those who sided with China and Albania in their criticism of the Soviet leadership, often added words like 'Revolutionary' or 'Marxist-Leninist' to distinguish themselves from the pro-Soviet parties.
In 1985, approximately 38 percent of the world's population lived under communist governments (1.67 billion out of 4.4 billion). The CPSU's International Department officially recognized 95 ruling and nonruling communist parties. Overall, if one includes the 107 parties with significant memberships, there were approximately 82 million communist party members worldwide. Given its world-wide representation, the communist party may be counted as the principal challenger to the influence of liberal-democratic, catch-all parties in the twentieth century. However, in the Capitalist counter-revolutions of 1989–1991 in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, most of these parties either disappeared or were renamed and adopted different goals than their predecessors.
In the twenty-first century, only four ruling parties on the national level still described themselves as Marxist-Leninist parties: the Chinese Communist Party, the Cuban Communist Party, the Communist Party of Vietnam, and the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party.
As of 2017, the Chinese Communist Party was the world's largest political party, million.holding nearly 89.45
Although the historical importance of communist parties is widely accepted, their activities and functions have been interpreted in different ways. One approach, sometimes known as the totalitarian school of communist studies, has implicitly treated all communist parties as the same types of organizations. Scholars such as Zbigniew Brzezinski and Francois Furet have relied upon conceptions of the party emphasizing centralized control, a top-down hierarchical structure, ideological rigidity, and strict party discipline.In contrast, other studies have emphasized the differences among communist parties. Multi-party studies, such as those by Robert C. Tucker and A. James McAdams, have emphasized the differences in both these parties' organizational structure and their use of Marxist and Leninist ideas to justify their policies.
Another important question is why communist parties were able to rule for as long as they did. Some scholars have depicted these parties as fatally from their inception and only remained in power their leaders were willing to use their monopoly of power to crush all forms of opposition.In contrast, other studies have emphasized these parties’ ability to adapt their policies to changing times and circumstances.
Leninism is a political ideology developed by Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin that proposes the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, led by a revolutionary vanguard party, as the political prelude to the establishment of Communism. The function of the Leninist vanguard party is to provide the working classes with the political consciousness and revolutionary leadership necessary to depose capitalism in the Russian Empire (1721–1917). Leninist revolutionary leadership is based upon The Communist Manifesto (1848) identifying the communist party as "the most advanced and resolute section of the working class parties of every country; that section which pushes forward all others." As the vanguard party, the Bolsheviks viewed history through the theoretical framework of dialectical materialism, which sanctioned political commitment to the successful overthrow of capitalism, and then to instituting socialism; and, as the revolutionary national government, to realize the socio-economic transition by all means.
Marxism–Leninism was the official state ideology of the Soviet Union and other ruling parties making up the Eastern Bloc as well as the political parties of the Communist International after Bolshevisation. Today, Marxism–Leninism is the ideology of Stalinist and Maoist political parties around the world and remains the official ideology of the ruling parties of China, Cuba, Laos and Vietnam. As a political philosophy, it seeks to establish a socialist state to develop further into socialism and eventually communism, described as a classless social system with common ownership of the means of production, with full social and economic equality of all members of society. Marxist–Leninists espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of orthodox Marxism and Leninism, but they generally support the idea of a vanguard party, a communist party-led state, state-dominance over the economy, internationalism and opposition to capitalism, fascism, imperialism and liberal democracy. As an ideology, it was developed by Joseph Stalin in the late 1920s based on his understanding and synthesis of both orthodox Marxism and Leninism.
Trotskyism is the name given to the political ideology of Russian revolutionary Marxist Leon Trotsky. Trotsky self-identified as an orthodox Marxist and Bolshevik–Leninist. He supported founding a vanguard party of the proletariat, proletarian internationalism and a dictatorship of the proletariat based on working class self-emancipation and mass democracy. Trotskyists are critical of Stalinism as they oppose Joseph Stalin's theory of socialism in one country in favor of Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution. Trotskyists also criticize the bureaucracy that developed in the Soviet Union under Stalin.
Amadeo Bordiga was an Italian Marxist, a contributor to communist theory, the founder of the Communist Party of Italy (PCd'I), a leader of the Communist International (Comintern) and later a leading figure of the International Communist Party. Bordiga was originally associated with the PCd'I, but he was expelled in 1930 after being accused of Trotskyism.
The Communist International (Comintern), known also as the Third International (1919–1943), was an international organization that advocated world communism. The Comintern resolved at its Second Congress to "struggle by all available means, including armed force, for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie and the creation of an international Soviet republic as a transition stage to the complete abolition of the state". The Comintern had been preceded by the 1916 dissolution of the Second International.
The Party of Labour of Albania (PLA), sometimes referred to as the Albanian Workers' Party (AWP), was the vanguard party of Albania during the communist period (1945–1991) as well as the only legal political party. It was founded on 8 November 1941, as the Communist Party of Albania, but its name was changed in 1948. In 1991, the party was succeeded by the Socialist Party of Albania. For most of its existence, the party was dominated by its First Secretary, Enver Hoxha, who was also the de facto leader of Albania.
The history of communism encompasses a wide variety of ideologies and political movements sharing the core theoretical values of common ownership of wealth, economic enterprise and property. Most modern forms of communism are grounded at least nominally in Marxism, a theory and method conceived by Karl Marx during the 19th century. Marxism subsequently gained a widespread following across much of Europe and throughout the late 1800s its militant supporters were instrumental in a number of failed revolutions on that continent. During the same era, there was also a proliferation of communist parties which rejected armed revolution, but embraced the Marxist ideal of collective property and a classless society.
In political ideology, a deviationist is a person who expresses a deviation: an abnormality or departure. In Stalinist ideology and practice, deviationism is an expressed belief which does not accord with official party doctrine for the time and area. Accusations of deviationism often led to purges. Forms of deviationism included revisionism, dogmatism, bourgeois nationalism, and rootless cosmopolitanism.
Bordigism is a variant of left communism espoused by Marxist Amadeo Bordiga, who was a founder of the Communist Party of Italy and a prominent figure in the International Communist Party. Bordigists in the Italian Socialist Party would be the first to refuse on principle any participation in parliamentary elections.
Communism is a is a form of far-left philosophical, social, political, economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of a communist society, namely a socioeconomic order structured upon the ideas of common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money and the state.
Marxism is a method of socioeconomic analysis that originates in the works of 19th century German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Marxism analyzes and critiques the development of class society and especially of capitalism as well as the role of class struggles in systemic economic, social and political change. It frames capitalism through a paradigm of exploitation and analyzes class relations and social conflict using a materialist interpretation of historical development - materialist in the sense that the politics and ideas of an epoch are determined by the way in which material production is carried on.
People's democracy was a theoretical concept within Marxism–Leninism and a form of government in communist states which developed after World War II and that allowed in theory for a multi-class, multi-party democracy on the pathway to socialism.
In the context of the theory of Leninist revolutionary struggle, vanguardism is a strategy whereby the most class-conscious and politically advanced sections of the proletariat or working class, described as the revolutionary vanguard, form organizations in order to draw larger sections of the working class towards revolutionary politics and serve as manifestations of proletarian political power against the bourgeois.
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 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 to its hopes of achieving peace with the United States.
A communist revolution is a proletarian revolution often, but not necessarily, inspired by the ideas of Marxism that aims to replace capitalism with communism. Depending on the type of government, socialism can be used as an intermediate stage to Communism. The idea that a proletarian revolution is needed is a cornerstone of Marxism; Marxists believe that the workers of the world must unite and free themselves from capitalist oppression to create a world run by and for the working class. Thus, in the Marxist view, proletarian revolutions need to happen in countries all over the world.
A socialist state, socialist republic, or socialist country, sometimes referred to as a workers' state or workers' republic, 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 one-party socialist states governed by Marxist–Leninist communist parties, despite these countries being officially socialist states in the process of building socialism. These countries never describe themselves as communist nor as having implemented a communist society. Additionally, a number of countries that are multi-party capitalist states make references to socialism in their constitutions, in most cases alluding to the building of a socialist society, naming socialism, claiming to be a socialist state, or including the term socialist republic or people's republic in their country's full name, although this does not necessarily reflect the structure and development paths of these countries' political and economic systems. Currently, these countries include Algeria, Bangladesh, Guyana, India, Nepal, Nicaragua, North Korea, Portugal, Sri Lanka and Tanzania.
Anti-Leninism is opposition to the political philosophy Leninism as advocated by Vladimir Lenin.
A united front is an alliance of groups against their common enemies, figuratively evoking unification of previously separate geographic fronts and/or unification of previously separate armies into a front—the name often refers to a political and/or military struggle carried out by revolutionaries, especially in revolutionary socialism, communism or anarchism. The basic theory of the united front tactic among socialists was first developed by the Comintern, an international communist organization created by communists in the wake of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. According to the thesis of the 1922 4th World Congress of the Comintern:
The united front tactic is simply an initiative whereby the Communists propose to join with all workers belonging to other parties and groups and all unaligned workers in a common struggle to defend the immediate, basic interests of the working class against the bourgeoisie.