Communist party

Last updated

In political science, a communist party is a political party that seeks to realize the social and economic goals of Communism through revolution and state policy. 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. Lenin developed the role 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 policy was agreed upon, realizing political goals required every Bolshevik's total commitment to the agreed-upon policy.

A political party is an organized group of people who have the same ideology, or who otherwise have the same political positions, and who field candidates for elections, in an attempt to get them elected and thereby implement the party's agenda.

In political and social sciences, communism 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, and the state.

<i>The Communist Manifesto</i> 1848 publication written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

The Communist Manifesto, originally the Manifesto of the Communist Party, is an 1848 political pamphlet by the German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Commissioned by the Communist League and originally published in London just as the Revolutions of 1848 began to erupt, the Manifesto was later recognised as one of the world's most influential political documents. It presents an analytical approach to the class struggle and the conflicts of capitalism and the capitalist mode of production, rather than a prediction of communism's potential future forms.

Contents

In contrast, the Menshevik faction included Trotsky, who said that the party should not neglect the importance of the mass populations in realizing a communist revolution. In the course of revolution, the Bolshevik party became the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), and 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 effort to ideologically standardize the international Communist movement and maintain central control of the member parties, the Comintern required that parties identify as a Communist party. In the CPSU, the interpretations of Orthodox Marxism to Russia produced Leninist and Marxist–Leninist political parties. After the death of Lenin, the official interpretation of Leninism in the USSR was the book Foundations of Leninism (1924), by Joseph Stalin.

Communist Party of the Soviet Union Ruling political party of the Soviet Union

The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) was the founding and ruling political party of the Soviet Union. The CPSU was the sole governing party of the Soviet Union until 1990, when the Congress of People's Deputies modified Article 6 of the most recent 1977 Soviet constitution, which had granted the CPSU a monopoly over the political system.

October Revolution Bolshevik uprising during the Russian Revolution of 1917

The October Revolution, officially known in Soviet historiography as the Great October Socialist Revolution and commonly referred to as the October Uprising, the October Coup, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Bolshevik Coup or the Red October, was a revolution in Russia led by the Bolshevik Party of Vladimir Lenin that was instrumental in the larger Russian Revolution of 1917–23. It took place through an armed insurrection in Petrograd on 7 November 1917.

Orthodox Marxism body of Marxist thought that emerged following the death of Karl Marx which became the official philosophy of the socialist movement

Orthodox Marxism is the body of Marxism thought that emerged after the death of Karl Marx (1818–1883) and which became the official philosophy of the socialist movement as represented in the Second International until the First World War in 1914. Orthodox Marxism aims to simplify, codify and systematize Marxist method and theory by clarifying the perceived ambiguities and contradictions of classical Marxism.

Communist parties are illegal in Estonia, Indonesia, Iran, Latvia, Lithuania, Myanmar, Romania, [1] [2] [ better source needed ] Georgia and Hungary. In the U.S., the Communist Party USA is banned under authority of the Communist Control Act of 1954, which was never enforced.

Estonia Republic in Baltic Region of Northern Europe

Estonia, officially the Republic of Estonia, is a country in Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland with Finland on the other side, to the west by the Baltic Sea with Sweden on the other side, to the south by Latvia (343 km), and to the east by Lake Peipus and Russia (338.6 km). The territory of Estonia consists of a mainland and 2,222 islands in the Baltic Sea, covering a total area of 45,227 km2 (17,462 sq mi), water 2,839 km2 (1,096 sq mi), land area 42,388 km2 (16,366 sq mi), and is influenced by a humid continental climate. The official language of the country, Estonian, is the second-most-spoken Finnic language.

Indonesia Republic in Southeast Asia

Indonesia, officially the Republic of Indonesia, is a country in Southeast Asia, between the Indian and Pacific oceans. It is the world's largest island country, with more than seventeen thousand islands, and at 1,904,569 square kilometres, the 14th largest by land area and 7th in the combined sea and land area. With over 261 million people, it is the world's 4th most populous country as well as the most populous Muslim-majority country. Java, the world's most populous island, is home to more than half of the country's population.

Iran Islamic Republic in Western Asia

Iran, also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. With 82 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 18th most populous country. Its territory spans 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi), making it the second largest country in the Middle East and the 17th largest in the world. Iran is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to the west by Turkey and Iraq. Its central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance. Tehran is the political and economic center of Iran, and the largest and most populous city in Western Asia with more than 8.8 million residents in the city and 15 million in the larger metropolitan area.

Mass organizations

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 have built up various front organizations whose membership is often open to non-Communists. In many countries the single most important front organization of the Communist parties has been 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.

Communist International International political organization

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 Young Communist League (YCL) is the name used by the youth wing of various Communist parties around the world. The name YCL of XXX originates from the precedent established by the Communist Youth International.

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. However, in many contemporary cases mass organizations founded by communists have acquired a certain degree of independence. In some cases mass organizations have outlived the Communist parties in question.

A trade union is an association of workers forming a legal unit or legal personhood, usually called a "bargaining unit", which acts as bargaining agent and legal representative for a unit of employees in all matters of law or right arising from or in the administration of a collective agreement. Labour unions typically fund the formal organization, head office, and legal team functions of the labour union through regular fees or union dues. The delegate staff of the labour union representation in the workforce are made up of workplace volunteers who are appointed by members in democratic elections.

The Vietnamese Communist Party's propaganda poster in Hanoi, Vietnam HanoiPropagandaPoster.JPG
The Vietnamese Communist Party's propaganda poster in Hanoi, Vietnam

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. These organizations were dissolved in the process of deconstruction 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.

Young Communist International

The Young Communist International was the parallel international youth organization affiliated with the Communist International (Comintern).

Profintern organization

The Red International of Labor Unions (RILU), commonly known as the Profintern, was an international body established by the Communist International with the aim of coordinating Communist activities within trade unions. Formally established in 1921, the Profintern was intended to act as a counterweight to the influence of the so-called "Amsterdam International", the Social Democratic International Federation of Trade Unions, an organization branded as class collaborationist and an impediment to revolution by the Comintern. After entering a period of decline in the middle 1930s, the organization was finally terminated in 1937 with the advent of the Popular Front.

Krestintern

The Peasant International, known most commonly by its Russian abbreviation Krestintern (Крестинтерн), was an international peasants' organization formed by the Communist International in October 1923. The organization attempted to achieve united front relations with radical peasant parties in Eastern Europe and Asia, without lasting success. After failing to make headway with important initiatives in Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and China in the 1920s, the organization was placed on hiatus at the end of the decade. The so-called Red Peasant International was formally dissolved in 1939.

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. [3]

Naming

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 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. A common causes for these shifts in naming were either moves to avoid state repression [7] 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 parties. [8] 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.

Membership

In 1985, approximately 38 percent of the world's population lived under communist regimes (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. [4] 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. [5] However, in the democratic 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 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, [2] holding nearly 89.45 million. [6]

Views

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. [7] 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. [8]

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. [9] In contrast, other studies have emphasized these parties’ ability to adapt their policies to changing times and circumstances. [10]

See also

Related Research Articles

Leninism political, social, and economic theory developed 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.

In political science, Marxism–Leninism was the official state ideology of the Soviet Union (USSR), of the parties of the Communist International after Bolshevisation and it is the ideology of Stalinist political parties. The purpose of Marxism–Leninism is the revolutionary transformation of a capitalist state into a socialist state, by way of two-stage revolution, which is led by a vanguard party of professional revolutionaries, drawn from the proletariat. To realise the two-stage transformation of the state, the vanguard party establishes the dictatorship of the proletariat, which determines policy through democratic centralism.

Amadeo Bordiga Italian politician

Amadeo Bordiga was an Italian Marxist, a contributor to communist theory, the founder of the Communist Party of Italy (CPd'I), a leader of the Communist International (Comintern) and later a leading figure of the International Communist Party. Bordiga was originally associated with the CPd'I, but he was expelled in 1930 after being accused of Trotskyism.

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.

Bordigism current of left communism influenced by the thought of Amadeo Bordiga

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.

Democracy in Marxism

While Marxists propose replacing the bourgeois state with a proletarian semi-state through revolution, which would eventually wither away, anarchists warn that the state must be abolished along with capitalism. Nonetheless, the desired end results, a stateless, communal society, are the same.

The ideology of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) was Marxism–Leninism, an ideology of a centralised command economy with a vanguardist one-party state to realise 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.

Left communism political ideology

Left communism, or the communist left, is a position held by the left wing of communism, which criticises the political ideas and practices espoused by Marxist–Leninists and social democrats. Left communists assert positions which they regard as more authentically Marxist than the views of Marxism–Leninism espoused by the Communist International after its Bolshevization by Joseph Stalin and during its second congress.

Hoxhaism variant of anti-revisionist Marxism–Leninism that developed in the late 1970s due to a split in the Maoist movement

Hoxhaism is a variant of anti-revisionist Marxism–Leninism that developed in the late 1970s due to a split in the Maoist movement, appearing after the ideological dispute between the Communist Party of China and the Party of Labour of Albania in 1978. The ideology is named after Enver Hoxha, a notable Albanian communist leader.

Dictatorship of the proletariat Marxist political concept

In Marxist philosophy, the dictatorship of the proletariat is a state of affairs in which the working class hold political power. Proletarian dictatorship is the intermediate stage between a capitalist economy and a communist economy, whereby the government nationalises ownership of the means of production from private to collective ownership. The socialist revolutionary Joseph Weydemeyer coined the term "dictatorship of the proletariat", which Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels adopted to their philosophy and economics. The Paris Commune (1871), which controlled the capital city for two months, before being suppressed, was an example of the dictatorship of the proletariat. In Marxist philosophy, the term "Dictatorship of the bourgeoisie" is the antonym to "dictatorship of the proletariat".

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 organisations in order to draw larger sections of the working class towards revolutionary politics and serve as manifestations of proletarian political power against its class enemies.

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. Because different political trends trace the historical roots of revisionism to different eras and leaders, there is significant disagreement today as to what constitutes anti-revisionism. As a result, modern groups which describe themselves as anti-revisionist fall into several categories. Some uphold the works of Stalin and Mao Zedong and some the works of Stalin while rejecting Mao and universally tend to oppose Trotskyism. Others reject both Stalin and Mao, tracing their ideological roots back to Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. In addition, other groups uphold various less-well-known historical leaders such as Enver Hoxha.

Marxism–Leninism–Maoism is a political philosophy that builds upon Marxism–Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought which was first formalised in 1988 by the Communist Party of Peru.

Communist revolution Type of revolution

A communist revolution is a proletarian revolution often, but not necessarily inspired by the ideas of Marxism that aims to replace capitalism with communism, typically with socialism as an intermediate stage. 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 single-party socialist states governed by Marxist–Leninist, or Titoist in case of Yugoslavia political 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 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 opposition to Leninism

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

References

  1. Domeinnaam niet ingeschakeld
  2. "Nieuws". PVDA. Archived from the original on 10 November 2013. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
  3. McAdams, A. James. Vanguard of the Revolution: The Global Idea of the Communist Party. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017.
  4. These calculations are based on parties for which sufficient data is available. See Richard Starr, "Checklist of Communist Parties in 1985," Problems of Communism 35 (March–April 1986): 62–66, and the V-Dem (Varieties of Democracy) Dataset at https://v-dem.net/en/data/.
  5. See A. James McAdams, Vanguard of the Revolution: The Global Idea of the Communist Party (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2017), pp. 3–4.
  6. "Why the Communist Party is alive, well and flourishing in China". The Telegraph. 31 July 2017. ISSN 0307-1235.
  7. See Carl Joachim Friedrich and Zbigniew K. Brzezinski, Totalitarian Dictatorship and Autocracy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1965); François Furet, et.al., The Passing of an Illusion: The Idea of Communism in the Twentieth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999); Martin Malia, The Soviet Tragedy: A History of Socialism in Russia, 1917–1991 (New York: Free Press, 1995).
  8. Franz Borkenau, World Communism (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1962); Robert C. Tucker, The Marxian Revolutionary Idea (New York: W. W. Norton), 1969; McAdams, Vanguard of the Revolution;
  9. Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Failure: The Birth and Death of Communism in the Twentieth Century (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1989); Martin Malia, The Soviet Tragedy; and Andrzej Walicki, Marxism and the Leap to the Kingdom of Freedom: The Rise and Fall of the Communist Utopia (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 1997).
  10. See George Breslauer, Five Images of the Soviet Future: A Critical Review and Synthesis (Berkeley, CA: Center for International Studies, 1978); Stephen F. Cohen, Rethinking the Soviet Experience (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986; and Martin K. Dimitrov, ed., Why Communism Did Not Collapse: Understanding Authoritarian Regime Resilience in Asia and Europe (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013)