What is Communism, Communist Ideology, and History of Communism Explained
The simple definition of communism is 'each according to his ability, to each according to his needs'. That means a society where every person works according to his ability and every person gets things according to his needs.
So communism is basically a society, or it is a way of structuring people where there is no money concept, or we can say a moneyless, classless, and stateless society where there is no discrimination between rich and poor.
Communist society is the society where workers or the public operates or owns the means of production such as land, farm, industry, factory.
When we hear the word communism, communist countries like the Soviet Union and China come to our mind, but if you go through the basic definition of communism, the founding ideas of communism are actually thousands of years old.
Let's discuss history of communism and communist revolution.
Karl Marx is the father of communism, he was a German philosopher who published the Communist Manifesto in 1848.
Karl Marx grew up in an era when the Industrial Revolution started. The Industrial Revolution introduced large machines and factories.
The workers working in these factories were used to work in very poor conditions. The owners of these factories were often wealthy people who exploited their workers. The owners of these factories used their workers to work for maximum hours while paying the least. And the factory owners originally took the profits from these factories away.
As a solution to these problems, Karl Marx imagined such a society where there will be no difference between the rich and poor.
He imagined a utopia. Utopia is a perfect society that doesn’t exist in reality. This utopia named Communism.
In his Communist Manifesto, he revealed details of how communism can be achieved. He said that we will create a society where the means of production i.e. factory, land, and farms, etc. will be owned by the entire public rather than by a single owner.
Communist Manifesto Summary
- There won’t be any class or discrimination between rich and poor or based on race and religion.
- Free education will be provided.
- Free health care would be provided.
- There would be no inherited wealth.
- No concept of private ownership. Everyone will own all the land and factories.
- Even distribution of wealth.
- There won’t rich or poor. There would be equality. Everyone would be the owners of everything. Everyone owns everything.
But these are sound quite idealistic and theoretical because Karl Marx was a philosopher, he did not see the practical implementation of communism.
But we largely saw practical implementation of communism after the Russian Revolution of 1917.
In Russia, communist activists together overthrew the Russian emperor who was then called Czar. And their leader Lenin implemented communist ideas on a large scale for the first time.
Lenin's Communist Revolution
- They recognized the human rights of the labors.
- They limited the working week to 8 hours per day and 5 days a week.
- Women were introduced to education.
- For farming, they took away the land from rich landowners and redistributed amongst the farmers.
- The factories were nationalized and taken under government control.
But wait a minute!
The original ideas written in the Communist Manifesto did not say that the government would control everything, rather it was said that the public would control everything.
So you can see that the ideas implemented by Lenin differed from Karl's.
When these steps were taken, some people disagreed with Lenin's communist ideology.
But Lenin believed that what he was doing was perfect. He did not have the ability to take criticism.
For this reason, he banned all political parties and established a one-party state. Therefore, no one could criticize the party. The secret police used to spy on people. If anyone criticized the government, they put them in jail. Anyone opposing communism or speaking out against communism was imprisoned or deported or killed.
So this Marxism-Leninism political structure named Soviet Communism. Today, most people associate communism with this Soviet communism.
But, apparently, not every communist agreed with this Leninism.
For example, a very famous Polish communist was Rosa Luxembourg who was strongly against this Leninism. She supported Libertarian Marxism where people were given freedom to speak; It gives them their freedom.
Lenin died in 1924!
After Karl, Stalin came to power, who implemented his ideas of Communism, which were worse than Lenin.
Stalin's communist ideology went far beyond the Marxist ideology. Stalin tried to increase production of factories.
For that, he tried to force the laborers to do more work, and the laborers started working in the same condition that Marx had initially mentioned. The only difference was that the government was the owner of the factory rather than any rich business owner.
The government of the Soviet Union put its workers in the same terrible condition, and the economic situation was so bad that millions died because of famine and hunger.
Because of this, many people call Stalin's ideology as state capitalism. It has nothing to do with communism; rather it was the structure of capitalism which was controlled by the state.
Then came Mao. Mao's communist ideology was much more extreme and violent. There is a very famous dialogue of him “All political power comes from the barrel of the gun, the communist party must command all the guns, that way, no guns can ever command the party.”
Mao advocated violence and his ideology named Maoism and the term Maoist has come from here.
Naxalite-Maoists who take up weapons in India believe in Mao's communist ideology; it is therefore not surprising that they are so violent.
Inspired by the Soviet Union, many countries around the world tried to implement communism. All these countries implemented their ideas of communism.
But all these countries had one thing in common; all these countries had dictatorship. Most countries turned into dictatorships. Millions of people died because of communism.
Dictators like Stalin and Mao killed people because they thought those people were against communism.
On the other hand, there were Hitler in Germany, Mussolini in Italy, Franco in Spain, who killed people in their own countries suspected of being communists.
Some dictators such as Stalin are communists, but also dictators, but some are on the side of capitalism but still dictators.
In our next article, we will discuss the successful ideas of communism and failure of communism.
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