What is Communism? Examples of Communist Countries

Contents

What is communism?

Communism is a social, political, and economic system in which the entire community in the state is in full ownership and control of all means of production. Each individual’s ability and needs determine their share or redistribution of wealth. In other words, each individual contributes according to his ability and receives (allocation of resources) according to his needs. Just like socialism, communism is a classless economy, this means that the higher class and the lower class do not exist, everyone is equal. This economic system basically has to do with communal ownership of property/resources and factors of production rather than individual ownership.

Aside from the fact that communism is an economic system, it is also a political system and ideology. This system positions itself in opposition to capitalism and liberal democracy. It advocates for a classless society where private ownership ceases to exist or is severely curtailed. The term is an umbrella that consists of a range of ideologies.

Who is a communist?

A communist refers to an individual who believes that the solution to economic challenges lies in the establishment of socialism. These economic challenges include economic depressions, recessions, inflation, poverty, etc. A communist believes in total equality which implies people having equal rights and opportunities irrespective of tribe, race, religion, or nationality. A communist also refers to someone who believes in, supports, or advocates for communism.

Communist countries

Communist countries that are presently in existence include the following;

  • China
  • Cuba
  • Laos
  • Vietnam (Socialist Republic of Vietnam)
  • North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea).

The historical background of communism

Though some people consider communism to be a type of socialism, many of the communist ideas are actually older. The idea of communal ownership of property is traceable back to ancient times.

Although many consider modern communism as a type of socialism, many of its ideas are actually older. We can trace the concept of the communal ownership of property back to ancient times.

In today’s sense, we can trace communism to the 19th century especially in the 1848 publication of the communist manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. The philosophy which they laid out is usually known as Marxism.

The basic thought running through this manifesto as Friedrich Engels wrote in a preface. He stated that all history has been a history of class struggles between the exploited and the exploiter, the dominated class and the dominant class at different stages of social evolution. He also stated that this struggle has gotten to a stage whereby the exploited/oppressed class (proletariat) can no longer set themselves free from the class exploiting and oppressing them (that is the bourgeoisie).

Engels dismissed socialism as a middle-class movement which social quacks led, those who professed to redress all sorts of social displeasure without any dangerous impact on capital and profit. In contrast, communism was a working-class movement that came about with the total aim of dismantling the power structure.

The problem of inequality was traced by Marx and Engel to the industrial revolution that started in the 18th century. They argued that the mechanization of production had worsened the case of social inequality thereby dividing the society into two different classes. That is those who owned and controlled the means of production and possessed wealth (the bourgeoisie) and the working class who were at their economic mercy (the proletariat).

In order to address this problem, they prescribed a system whereby the workers themselves would seize control of the industry and all branches of production alongside the abolition of private property ownership and then adopting the communal ownership of goods/property.

Following the Russian revolution in 1917, the leader of the victorious Bolsheviks, Vladimir Lenin expanded the principles of Marxism. Also, Lenin’s eventual successor, Joseph Stalin, did. These ideas eventually evolved into Marxism-Leninism which called for a single-party rule rather than watching the state wither away. This was the system that governed the Soviet Union until it collapsed in 1991.

In the present day, only five countries identify their government as a communist. These are China, Cuba, North Korea, Laos, and Vietnam.

Communism examples

The Soviet Union

Until after the death of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, their theories would not be tested in the real world. During the first world war in 1917, there was an uprising in Russia that overthrew the czar. This in turn sparked up a civil war that eventually saw a group of radical Marxists. Vladimir Lenin led this group and gained power in 1922. This group was referred to as the Bolsheviks. It was the group that founded the Soviet Union on the initial Imperial Russian territory. They attempted to put the theory of communism into practice.

Lenin had developed the Marxist theory of vanguardism even before the Bolshevik Revolution. This theory argued that a closely knitted group of enlightened political elites was needful to launch the higher stages of economic and political evolution, starting from socialism and finally communism. Shortly after the end of the civil war, Lenin died. His successor, Joseph Stalin led a group known as the Dictatorship of the proletariat which pursued brutal ethnic and ideological purges. They also forced the collectivization of agriculture. During Stalin’s rule, tens of millions died between 1922 and 1952, added to the tens of millions that died from the war with Nazi Germany.

The Soviet Union became a powerful single-party institution rather than withering away. It prohibited dissent and occupied the economy’s commanding heights. Because of this, the banking sector and other sectors of the economy were subject to quotas and price controls that were laid out in the series of Five Year Plans. The system of central planning facilitated rapid industrialization. Also, between 1950 and 1965, the GDP of the Soviet Union outgrew that of the United States although its economic growth was slower than its capitalist and democratic counterparts.

One major factor that dragged the nation’s economic growth was weak consumer spending. The emphasis of central planners on heavy industry resulted in chronic shortages of production of consumer goods. Also, even in the period of relative prosperity, there were long lines at grocery stores that were understocked. There were thriving black markets which some academics termed as the second economy.

These markets catered to demand products like cigarettes, shampoo, beverages, and clothes and smuggled them in from the West. Although these networks were not legal, they were essential to the functioning of the party as they reduced the severity of shortages that were left unchecked. This threatened to spark up another Bolshevik Revolution, providing party propagandists with a scapegoat for shortages. It also lined the pockets of the party officials who would either take payoffs to looks to the other side or grow rich by running black market operations themselves.

In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed, following the push for the reformation of the economic and political system and the provision of a greater room for private enterprise and free expression. These reform pushes were known as the perestroika and glasnost respectively. This did not stop the Soviet Union’s economic decline suffered in the 1980s and likely hastened the end of the communist state by loosening its grip on dissent sources.

 China

Following over 20 years of war with the Chinese Nationalist Party and Imperial Japan in 1949, Mao Zedong’s Communist Party gained control over China to form the world’s second major Marxist-Leninist state. Mao joined the country together with the Soviet Union but the de-Stalinization policies of the Soviets and peaceful coexistence with the capitalist West amounted to a diplomatic split with China in 1956.

Mao’s rule in China looked like that of Stalin as it contained violence, deprivation, and insistence on ideological purity. In the course of the Great Leap Forward between 1958band 1962, the communist party ordered that the rural population produces enormous quantities of steel in an effort to commence the industrial revolution in China.

Mao coerced families to build backyard furnaces where they melted scrap metals and household items, converting them into low-quality pig iron and provided little domestic utility, and help no sense of appeal for export markets. Since rural labor was unavailable for the harvesting of crops, Mao maintained his stance on the exportation of grains to demonstrate the success of his policies, food became scarce. The Great Chinese Famine killed at least 15 million people and probably more than 45 million. The Cultural Revolution (an ideological purge) killed at least 400,000 people, which lasted from 1966 until the death of Mao in 1976.

After the death of Mao, Deng Xiaoping introduced a series of market reforms that remained in effect under the leadership of his successors. Before the death of Mao, The United States began to normalize its relations with China when Nixon visited in 1972. The Chinese Communist Party remained in power and presided over a largely capitalist economic system though state ownership of enterprises continued to form a vast part of the economy. The system significantly curtailed the freedom of expression. It also banned elections with the exception of the British colony of Hong Kong where the party must approve candidates. Also, the system tightly controls the voting rights of people and gives no permission for meaningful opposition to the party.

1991 marked the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War that was in place between that power and the United States.

Cuba

Fidel Castro formally organized the Communist Party of Cuba and this remains the only political party permitted to function in Cuba. The latest revised Cuban constitution of 1992defined the party as the organized vanguard of the Cuban nation. Different accounts stated that communism has left Cuba as one of the least free countries in the world. According to the analysis of the independent Heritage foundation, Cuba ranks the 175th economic-free nation, just one spot above Venezuela. However, before the takeover of Castro Cuba was one of the wealthiest countries in the Western Hemisphere.

The failure of communism in Cuba boiled over as thousands of angry Cubans began to protest against shortages of food, medical facilities, and energy, and the response of the Cuban government to the COVID-19 pandemic. The government killed at least one protester, arrested journalists, and cut short access to social media and other internet sites that protesters had been using to communicate. This was in response to the factors that were the largest demonstrations witnessed by the nation over the decades. Many analysts agreed that while the protests would amount to few immediate changes to the single-party communist rule of Cuba, they mounted an unprecedented level of pressure on the government to be swift about economic and social reforms.

North Korea

Robert Service, an Oxford University Scholar referred to North Korea as the modern nation that closely follows the communist principles that Karl Marx established. The country strictly goes with the indigenous communist ideology known as Juche which the founder of modern North Korea, Kim Il-sung, first formulated. The idea of Juche promotes self-reliance and total independence from the rest of the world. Because of this, other nations regard North Korea as one of the most isolative and secretive countries in the world. Alongside keeping with Juche, the government on behalf of the people openly had control over the economy of the country.

In the 1990s, there were series of natural disasters that combined with poor agricultural policies and economic mismanagement led to a famine that led to the death of between 240,000 and 3,500,000 North Koreans. Instead of addressing the basic and obvious needs of the people, the government administration kept on investing heavily in its military. They believed in military development or otherwise obtaining nuclear weapons.

Presently, the North Korean government functions as a totalitarian dictatorship under the administration of the current audacious leader, Kim Jong-un. Like his predecessors, the people are trained to give total reverence to Kim as a quasi-deity. In this case, the news media undergoes strict government control. The government does not allow internet access to be generally available to the people. By implication, the ordinary North Koreans almost do not have a way of connecting to the outside world. The system quickly crushes down any form of dissent in a punishable manner alongside the violation of human rights. The economy of North Korea remains under strict control of the present communist regime while Kim has instituted some minor reforms.

Features of communism

Government control

Communism is a centralized economic system, the government is in total control of all means of production. Furthermore, the government controls every sector of the economy that is the banking/financial sector, manufacturing industry, the health sector, educational sector, market, etc.

Abolishes private property

The communist economic system abolishes the concept of private property ownership as well as all means of production. Under this system, no individual can own anything except the basic necessities of life. Also, no individual is allowed to run private business enterprises.

Collective ownership

Under the communist economic system, all the state owns and controls all means of production such as farms, land, construction, trade, mines, construction, and communication.

Central planning

The utilization of natural resources, production, and distribution of commodities, take place through comprehensive and central planning. In other words, the act of effecting a balance between supply and demand does not take place through the price mechanism. This implies that it is central planning that balances the forces of supply and demand.

Equality/classless society

The economic system helps in eliminating unfair income gaps and inequalities that exist between the rich and the poor. It abolishes revenue, interest, and private profit. In turn, this causes the distribution of wealth to be on a fair basis. That is, each individual receives according to his needs and contributes to societal growth according to his ability.

Provision of necessities of life

The state is responsible for making provisions for work and compensation based on the capabilities of everyone.

Stateless community

When the establishment of communism has fully taken place, the need for the state to be in existence would not be in place. This is according to the people that propounded the principle of communism. These propounders had the feeling that the need for state arises due to the presence of class struggles. According to them, since class struggles would be absent in communism, then there should be no need for the existence of the state.

Dictatorship

In a communist economy, the government has total control over everything thereby amounting to excessive levels of power. This will therefore amount to dictatorship as the administration can do what it wishes to.

Social goals

Communism greatly prioritizes social goals above the goals of few people. In other words, the system places more importance on social welfare and benefits rather than on personal interests. When it comes to political decisions, lobbying for the benefit of just a few people is absent. In this case, the government ensures the availability of general benefits in society. Therefore, communism is a great strategy through which the needs of the masses are presented thereby avoiding lobbying in political decision-making.

No individual freedom

The system does not grant individual freedom ranging from the ownership of private property, private enterprises, etc., down to the freedom of expression and speech. Because of its dictatorial characteristics, anyone caught violating any of these rules may face imprisonment or even a death sentence. No open opposition or criticism is tolerated under this economic system.

Government interference

In this system, there is heavy government interference in the activities of the people. The people will do nothing without the consent of the government.

Communism pros and cons

1) Advantages of communism

Equality

Communism helps in narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor thereby eliminating all forms of class distinctions. This in turn results in a classless society and economy. In most countries of the world, there is a very wide gap that exists between the rich and the poor. This causes only a minority group of people to be able to gather almost all the wealth, leaving the general public or the masses with little or almost nothing. This causes the whole operation to look unfair and this calls for the bridging of this gap.

The introduction of the communist idea is a possible way of narrowing this gap. Introducing this system will make the individuals own almost nothing. In other words, the minority groups who have accumulated wealth will have to lose their wealth so that the masses will enjoy the benefits of wealth distribution.

Food and medical supply assured

In communism, the government guarantees food supply, medical facilities, and other social amenities to the people. When a health emergency occurs, there will be no cause to worry as the system has assured the availability of medical facilities. Also, as the system assures food supply, the people will need not worry about the subject matter of hunger. All these are in place because the state is in total control of all production activities. In essence, the government can decide to expand its production to facilitate the even distribution of food and health services. In this case, the people will not struggle to survive under this system.

Education and infrastructural enhancement

Aside from having total control over production and the market, the state also has full control over education. They take responsibility for the funding of educational institutions thereby assuring an enhanced level of education. This in turn provides the people with low-income opportunities to also enjoy the privilege of accessing adequate education. So, we can conclude that communism facilitates a higher level of education equality.

Investments in infrastructure

Because the concept of private property ownership is almost not in existence, the government is responsible for maintaining and expanding infrastructure within the locality. It is absolutely beneficial to the general public. In this case, the government considers the most important projects more to be achievable within a short period of time. Certainly, infrastructural development is geared towards societal benefits rather than just a few interest groups.

Greater priority on social goals

Communism greatly prioritizes social goals and societal benefits above the interests of few people. Social benefits are more important than personal interests. In this economic system, lobbying in political decisions, for the benefit of just a few people, is absent. The government makes sure that the general public enjoys these benefits. This makes communism to become a great means of presenting public needs and avoiding lobbying.

Lower unemployment rates

No individual is unemployed as everyone is meant to have their own share of contributing to the benefit of the general public. This implies that everyone has the capacity to contribute in their own unique ways. With this, everyone can remain busy contributing immensely to improving the overall standard of living within an economy.

Overall safety level improvement

The state is also in total control of the country’s overall safety and security level. For instance, certain benefits can be waived for individuals who violate the laws in place or engage them in jobs that do not have a conducive and favorable working environment. The aim of adopting this strategy is to discourage law violations.

Avoidance of corporate monopolies

In the capitalist economy, there are higher tendencies of corporate monopolies due to the low level of economic and political regulations. These monopolies are usually harmful to a country’s economy and the people. When corporate monopolies are in place, the prices of goods and services will shoot up, and this also implies a loss of social welfare. Introducing communism is an important tool for the prevention of this unfavorable circumstance. In turn, this will help to increase social welfare by lowering the prices of products and services.

Minimal discrimination

As a classless society is a significant attribute of communism, discrimination is being reduced to its nearest minimum. This is because every individual in society enjoys equal opportunities. Communism helps in curtailing the problem of discrimination against certain groups of people. Individuals will easily have the opportunity to succeed and access proper education. Here, the minority groups will have greater chances in different areas of life.

In essence, everyone enjoys equal/similar opportunities to succeed in life regardless of whether they are disabled and handicapped or not, no one will be left behind. Communism helps in providing more opportunities for disabled people to enable them to have a better and more comfortable life.

2) Disadvantages of communism

Free market malfunctioning

The free market can no longer function or run effectively under the communist economy. The major determinants of the price level of goods and services are the forces of supply and demand. This is not so in the communist economy. In this case, the government is fully in control of prices. The government determines the price to be charged for goods and services.

This economic system pursues social welfare but when the forces of free-market cease to work, there is a tendency of serious loss of economic welfare. Usually, this effect manifests in the long run which lowers the efficiency of a country’s production processes.

Inefficient spending

There is a likelihood of inefficient government spending under the communist economy. By implication, the government will always spend in a wasteful manner. In other words, the government tends to spend funds on unnecessary projects thereby leading to the misplacement of priority. Another thing is that government projects are often expensive compared to private companies. This also means that the government is bound to spend the funds of taxpayers inefficiently.

Sovereign default

The emergence of communism in a nation can amount to sovereign defaults which are unsustainable in the long run. Too many frictions will result in this case. There are higher chances for the state to run into bankruptcy in the future if the government fails to stop spending its funds in an inefficient manner.

Currency problems

Usually, communist countries face currency problems as their currencies are usually weak and unstable. This causes institutional investors to lose the trust they have in such currencies and instead of buying these currencies, they sell them. The local population also tends to lose trust in their own currency. As a result of these currency problems faced by communist countries, they try to exchange these currencies. They carry out this exchange to protect themselves against currency depreciation.

Communism may deter international investors

It is usually difficult for international investors to invest their capital in communist economies. This happens as a result of the fact that private individuals have almost nothing and this lowers the GDP of such countries. Most times, business enterprises such as private corporationssole proprietorshipspartnerships, and private limited liability companies cease to exist. Because of this, there is almost no place for foreign investors as their investments will fail totally or yield nothing. These investors are usually afraid as the government of the communist countries may confiscate these private properties for public use. By effect, the rate of overall private investment becomes low. It is certain that no one desires to lose his wealth as problems usually arise in this case. Communist governments face difficulties in running important projects because they have poor financial opportunities.

Difficulties in wealth accumulation

It is almost not possible to accumulate wealth in a communist economy because the system does not permit the ownership of personal assets. It is not an added advantage to work for longer hours as it will yield no special reward. Individuals do not pay attention to saving because there is no room for them to acquire and accumulate wealth. As a result of this, biased consumption decisions will be in place. The long-run effect of this is that it is bound to hurt the overall welfare of a country.

Lack of incentives

Under communism, the people do not have the incentives or motivation to work hard as the system does not permit individual wealth accumulation. The nature of this system causes people to lose their zeal towards putting in their best. In the long run, it will result in a massive loss of working power. No individual will wish to invest his time and energy in working hard without getting any reward for it.

Confinement of overall freedom

the communist economic system confines the freedom of individuals. Generally, there is no freedom of choice of occupation because it is the state that allocates job vacancies to the people. The people face coercion to work in certain places for a lifetime. Even if you are not interested in a particular job, you may need to work in that area under compulsion. Communism also confines the freedom of speech of the people as they may face imprisonment for expressing their opinions especially when this goes contrary to the decisions of the government.

Self-fulfillment difficulty

For people under a communist economy to obtain self-fulfillment because they can hardly do things, they desire to do. The rule is that every individual is meant to do only the things that will benefit the community and the government administration. By implication, pursuing individual interests does not go according to the goals of the community. The system greatly deprives self-fulfillment.

A narrow view of the world

Oftentimes, people under a communist government have a narrow view of what life is generally all about. The current political regime tries to configure the people’s behaviors in a specific manner as no one is permitted to question the decisions of a dictator. Children grow in a specific doctrine and mindset that causes them not to accept other lifestyles. Myopic thoughts are being built in people’s minds.

Poor international trade relationships

The nature of communism causes people to lose interest in countries that operate under the system. This is because of the existing conflicts in values and lack or loss of trust in such administrations. We can trace poor international trade relationships to currency problems and this is bound to make the economy suffer thereby reducing its economic power.

Migration

The many restrictions that are common with communist countries cause individuals to make efforts to migrate to other countries. This in turn amounts to a significant decrease with a corresponding decrease in the overall GDP of a country. Other economic challenges will emerge.

Information handicap

A communist government restricts the flow of information because the government is in full control of all the media channels. The government permits the press to release only the information that will be sustainable to the current government administration. This implies that any information that will not benefit the political leaders will not be available to the general public. As a result of the fact that the press media withhold certain information, the people lack a clear understanding of life in general. By this, the people’s perspective about the world is being polarized.

General public manipulation

The biased flow of information makes it easier for the government to manipulate the people under this system. Through the press media, the political leaders suggest certain actions to the people, and these actions are usually unfavorable to the masses. This is to favor the government administration alone. In this system, the government has to manipulate the people for it to sustain its current regime.

Dictatorship

Because the government has control over everything in a communist economy, they tend to have excessive levels of power. This will certainly amount to dictatorship since the government in power can do whatever it wants. A government possessing too much power has a negative effect on an economy. As dictators feel they have the right to do anything, they do whatever they desire. Excessive levels of power amount to unfair political outcomes in the long run.

Slow technological progress

In a communist economy, technological progress is usually slowed down. Since there is no room for expansion, private investments are often absent. low financial capacity poses great limitations to the country’s overall technology. Communist countries usually lose their competitive edge over their capitalist counterparts. In turn, this weakens a country’s economic position.

Communism in practice

As a result of all the troubles and wars that communism has caused, true communism as Marx end Lenin envisioned is no longer in existence as a serious political force and may never have. At the height of the cold war around 1985, only one-third population of the world lived under communism. This was most prominent in the Soviet Union as well as its Eastern European satellite republics. However, modern scholars doubt that any of these countries ever practiced true communism as they significantly deviated from most of the basic components of the Marxist principles. These Scholars have argues that the failure of these cold war governments to follow the actual communist ideals in combination with their trend towards left-wing authoritarianism contributed directly to the failure of communism in the late 20th century.

Presently, only five countries of the world list communism as their official system of government. These are China, North Korea, Laos, Cuba, and Vietnam. The only reason why these countries can be classified as communists is that in them all, the central government is in control of every aspect of the economic and political system. However, none of these countries have succeeded in eliminating the elements of capitalism such as the ownership of personal property, money, or socio-economic class systems as the true communist ideology requires.

Professors Stephen A. Resnick and Richard D. Wolff were specialists in Marxian economics. In their2002 book Class Theory and History: Capitalism and Communism in the USSR, argue that the gut-wrenching tensions of the Cold War were an ideological struggle between the Western private capitalism and the state-controlled capitalism of the Soviet Union.

Resnick and Wolff drew a conclusion that the war between pure communism and pure capitalism never took place. They wrote that “The Soviets didn’t establish communism….They thought about it, but never did it”.

Communist party

A communist party refers to a political party that seeks to achieve communist social and economic goals. The title of The Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848) which Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels developed popularized the term communist party. As a vanguard party, the communist party provides guidance on political education and developing the working class known as the proletariat. Since the communist party is a ruling party,  it exercises the power it has through the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Vladimir Lenin brought about the idea of the communist party as the vanguard for revolution when social democracy was divided into ideologically proposed factions, that is the Bolshevik faction ( which is of the majority), and the Menshevik faction (which is of the minority). For political effectiveness, Lenin proposed a small party managed with democratic centralism which provided room for a centralized command of a disciplined framework for professional revolutionaries. At the agreement of the policy, realizing political goals required every total commitment of the Bolshevik to be the policy agreed upon.

Communism vs socialism

Below are some of the differences between communism and socialism;

While communism is totalitarian in nature where no one has a say in running the economy, socialism is a liberal system and the people have a say in running the economy. This implies that communism is the extreme form of socialism. That is, socialism is more flexible than communism.

While communism cannot coexist alongside other political systems, socialism can. This is because, though both systems are classless, communism is a stateless society.

Communism eliminates all forms of class distinctions while socialism diminishes class distinctions.

While communism involves the communal ownership and control of factors of production, socialism has to do with state ownership of means of production. Socialism allows the people to enjoy some levels of private ownership of property for personal use, communism does not. A communist society is like a military barracks where the people only enjoy usage rather than ownership. While people are their own employees, under socialism, the people are the employees of the government.

Communism abolishes the idea of religion and proposes that it should be combated, socialism on the other hand grants the freedom of religion.

Under communism, everyone is to contribute according to his ability but receive according to his needs while socialism proposes that everyone is to contribute according to his ability and each individual is to receive according to his contribution.

The distribution of wealth under communism is based on the needs of the people while under communism, it is based on the people’s contribution.

Communism vs capitalism

Capitalism is said to be the opposite of communism, the differences between communism and capitalism are as follows;

Communism is a system in which the entire community owns and controls all means of production. Capitalism on the other hand is a system in which private individuals own and control all means of production.

While communism focuses on the principle of community rights, capitalism focuses on individual rights.

While communism opposes class distinctions and promotes a classless society, capitalism on the other hand gives room for class distinctions and conflicts.

Communism operates based on the totalitarian system of government, capitalism possesses a democratic form of government. In other words, communism does not provide any room for the expression of feelings, that is, the people have little or no authority, while capitalism grants the people the freedom to express their public opinion.

In the communist society, there is total government interference. On the other hand, there is little or no government interference in the capitalist economy.

The distribution of wealth is based on the contribution and the needs of the people. On the other hand, capitalists work for themselves to create and accumulate wealth.

Competition is absent in the communist society as the state fully controls the market and production processes. Capitalism on the other hand is a free and competitive market where every individual competes to obtain the consumers’ money and patronage.

Under communism, the government determines the occupations and employers of the people. A capitalist economy on the other hand grants the freedom for people to choose their jobs and employers.

Communism does not grant people the right to own business enterprises, capitalism on the other hand does.

Communism vs democracy

Below are comparisons between communism vs democracy;

While communism operates in a totalitarian and authoritative manner, democracy is democratic in nature just as the name implies.

Communism eliminates all forms of class distinction and makes everyone to be equal in society. Though democracy is meant to resist all forms of class separation, class distinctions are pronounced due to the presence of capitalism.

Communism gives no room for any form of private property ownership, it introduces communal ownership. Democracy on the other hand generally permits private ownership of property and enterprises.

While communism rejects all forms of religion and metaphysics, democracy generally permits the practice of religion.

Free choice is usually absent under the communist system while it is present under democracy just as the name implies.

While communism effects change through the decisions of a dictator, democracy effects change through the casting of votes of the people.

Communists believe that that war is good for the economy and it is a normal thing that leads to the healthy functioning of an economy. Democracy on the other hand views war as inferior and obsolete and a cause of economic and political instability.

Frequently asked questions

What is the simple definition of communism?

Communism is simply defined as a social, political, and economic system in which the entire community in the state is in full ownership and control of all means of production.

What is the difference between communism and socialism?

First of all, communism is the extreme form of socialism. While communism is totalitarian in nature, socialism is a liberal system. Communism cannot coexist alongside other political systems, socialism can.

Socialism allows the people to enjoy some level of private ownership such as cars, furniture, etc., but they should not be used for productive purposes. Communism on the other hand only allows the people to use these properties, not to own them.

Communism abolishes the idea of religion while socialism on the other hand grants the freedom of religion.

The distribution of wealth under communism is based on the needs of the people while under communism, it is based on the contributions of the people.

What are the 5 main characteristics of communism?

The major characteristics of communism are;

  • Government control and intervention
  • Abolition of private property
  • Collective ownership
  • Central planning
  • A classless and stateless society

Government control and intervention

The government is in total control of the economy, that is trade and industry. Therefore, it is involved in every operation of the economy.

Abolition of private property

Communism totally rejects the concept of private assets and factors of production. No individual can possess any property aside from the basic necessities of life. Also, no individual has the right to own private business enterprises.

Collective ownership

It is the community that owns and controls every means of production such as farms, land, construction, trade, mines, construction, and communication.

Central planning

The utilization of natural resources, production, and distribution of commodities, take place through comprehensive and central planning. In other words, the act of effecting a balance between supply and demand does not take place through the price mechanism. It is the central planning that creates a balance between the forces of supply and demand.

Equality/classless society

The economic system eliminates unfair income gaps and inequalities between the rich and the poor. This takes place through the abolition of revenue, interest, and private profit and causes wealth distribution to be on a fair basis. That is, each individual receives according to his needs and contributes to societal growth according to his ability.

What’s a communist society?

A communist society is a society that practices communism. Here, private ownership is abolished, individual freedom is absent, and the government takes over the ownership and control of all means of production.

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