Portal:Communism

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Marx + Engels + Lenin .svg THE COMMUNISM PORTAL Marx + Engels + Lenin .svg

Introduction

The hammer and sickle is a common theme of communist insignia. This is an example of a hammer and sickle and red star design from the flag of the Soviet Union.

Communism (from Latin communis, 'common, universal') is a far-left philosophical, social, political, and economic ideology and movement whose goal is the establishment of a communist society, namely a socioeconomic order based on the idea of common ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange—allocating products to everyone in the society. It can involve the absence of social classes, money, and the state. Communism, while sometimes used as a synonym of socialism, is mainly a specific, yet distinct, form of socialism. Communists often seek a voluntary state of self-governance, but disagree on the means to this end. This reflects a distinction between a more libertarian approach of communization, revolutionary spontaneity, and workers' self-management, and a more vanguardist or communist party-driven approach through the development of a constitutional socialist state followed by Friedrich Engels' withering away of the state.

Variants of communism have been developed throughout history, including anarcho-communism and Marxist schools of thought, among others. Communism includes a variety of schools of thought which broadly include Marxism, Leninism, and libertarian communism as well as the political ideologies grouped around both. All of these different ideologies share the analysis that the current order of society stems from capitalism, its economic system and mode of production, namely that in this system there are two major social classes, the relationship between these two classes is exploitative, and that this situation can only ultimately be resolved through a social revolution. The two classes are the proletariat (the working class), who make up the majority of the population within society and must work to survive, and the bourgeoisie (the capitalist class), a small minority who derives profit from employing the working class through private ownership of the means of production. According to this analysis, revolution would put the working class in power and in turn, establish common ownership of property which is the primary element in the transformation of society towards a communist mode of production.

In the 20th century, ostensibly Communist governments espousing Marxism–Leninism and its variants came into power in parts of the world, first in the Soviet Union with the Russian Revolution of 1917, and then in portions of Eastern Europe, Asia, and a few other regions after World War II. Along with social democracy, communism became the dominant political tendency within the international socialist movement by the early 1920s. During most of the 20th century, around one-third of the world's population lived under communist governments. These governments were characterized by one-party rule and suppression of opposition and dissent. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, several communist governments repudiated or abolished communism altogether. Afterwards, only a small number of communist governments remained, namely China, Cuba, Laos and Vietnam. While the emergence of the Soviet Union as the world's first nominally Communist state led to communism's widespread association with the Soviet economic model, several scholars posit that in practice, the model functioned as a form of state capitalism.

Public memory of 20th-century Communist states has been described as "a battleground." between the communist sympathetic political left and the anti-communist political right. Many authors have written about excess deaths under Communist states and mortality rates, such as excess mortality in the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin. (Full article...)

Selected article

Cover of the Communist Manifesto’s initial publication in February 1848 in London
The Communist Manifesto, originally titled Manifesto of the Communist Party (German: Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei) is a short 1848 book written by the German Marxist political theorists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It has since been recognized as one of the world's most influential political manuscripts. Commissioned by the Communist League, it laid out the League's purposes and program. It presents an analytical approach to the class struggle (historical and present) and the problems of capitalism, rather than a prediction of communism's potential future forms.

The book contains Marx and Engels' Marxist theories about the nature of society and politics, that in their own words, "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." It also briefly features their ideas for how the capitalist society of the time would eventually be replaced by socialism, and then eventually communism.

Selected biography

Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx (5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) was a German philosopher, political economist, historian, political theorist, sociologist, communist, and revolutionary, whose ideas are credited as the foundation of modern communism. Marx summarized his approach in the first line of chapter one of The Communist Manifesto, published in 1848: "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles."

Marx argued that capitalism, like previous socioeconomic systems, would inevitably produce internal tensions which would lead to its destruction. Just as capitalism replaced feudalism, he believed socialism would, in its turn, replace capitalism, and lead to a stateless, classless society called pure communism. He argued that capitalism will end through the organized actions of an international working class.

While Marx remained a relatively obscure figure in his own lifetime, his ideas and the ideology of Marxism began to exert a major influence on workers' movements shortly after his death. This influence gained added impetus with the victory of the Bolsheviks in the Russian October Revolution in 1917, and few parts of the world remained significantly untouched by Marxian ideas in the course of the twentieth century. Marx is typically cited, with Émile Durkheim and Max Weber, as one of the three principal architects of modern social science.

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Cpicongress2005inag.jpg
Flag-hoisting ceremony at the 19th congress of the Communist Party of India.

Photo credit: Soman

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It is a strange fact. In spite of all the tall talk and all the immense literature, for the last 60 years, about emancipation of labor, no sooner do the working men anywhere take the subject into their own hands with a will, than uprises at once all the apologetic phraseology of the mouthpieces of present society with its two poles of capital and wages-slavery (the landlord now is but the sleeping partner of the capitalist), as if the capitalist society was still in its purest state of virgin innocence, with its antagonisms still undeveloped, with its delusions still unexploded, with its prostitute realities not yet laid bare. The Commune, they exclaim, intends to abolish property, the basis of all civilization!

Yes, gentlemen, the Commune intended to abolish that class property which makes the labor of the many the wealth of the few. It aimed at the expropriation of the expropriators. It wanted to make individual property a truth by transforming the means of production, land, and capital, now chiefly the means of enslaving and exploiting labor, into mere instruments of free and associated labor. But this is communism, “impossible” communism! Why, those members of the ruling classes who are intelligent enough to perceive the impossibility of continuing the present system – and they are many – have become the obtrusive and full-mouthed apostles of co-operative production. If co-operative production is not to remain a sham and a snare; if it is to supersede the capitalist system; if united co-operative societies are to regulate national production upon common plan, thus taking it under their own control, and putting an end to the constant anarchy and periodical convulsions which are the fatality of capitalist production – what else, gentlemen, would it be but communism, “possible” communism?

— Karl Marx (1818-1883)
The Civil War in France , 1871

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