What is communism?

This is the communist emblem. The image shows a hammer and a sickle overlaping each other. The hammer is a symbol of the workers' party, while the sickle represents peasantry.
This is the communist emblem. The image shows a hammer and a sickle overlaping each other. The hammer is a symbol of the workers' party, while the sickle represents peasantry.

  • By definition, communism is:

  • a theory or system of social __organization__ based on the holding of all property in common, actual ownership being ascribed to the __community__ as a whole or to the state.

  • a system of social organization in __which__ all economic and social activity is controlled by a totalitarian state dominated by a single and self-perpetuating political party.


Goals of communism

  • Removal of private property
  • Removal of rights of inheritance
  • Confiscation of property rights
  • Government ownership of communication and transport
  • Government ownership of factories and agriculture
  • Government control of education


Who came up with it?

  • The shortened version of communism is enclosed in two main books: The Communist Manifesto published in 1848 by Karl Marx, and Principles of Communism by Friedrich Engels. These were said to be the first people who came up with communist ideas, however, there are many others, such as English writer Thomas More, who also portrayed the concepts of having private property abolished. The one, true person who came up with this ideology is unknown and debatable
  • Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Marxist revolutionary and a big supporter of communism. He was the leader of the **October revolution** and he formed the Soviet Russian state. He was the mastermind behind the Bolshevik takeover of power in Russia in 1917. His hard work and radical ideas would create the first communist state in the world



Communism in early 20th century:
Background on Russia
  • Before the rise of communism, Russia was an absolute monarchy and a feudal state, meaning that the king had all the power. This nation used to have a hierarchy system. This means that the lives and the destinies of people were decided by what social class they were in. About 80% of the population were peasants (which is a lot considering how large the entire country is), not to mention the development of the country was slow compared to western Europe. Agriculture was the mains source of income, yet farming methods were primitive, using horses and ploughs, not tractors. There was a sudden population boom, and the people were facing starvation. The Tsar (king) of Russia at that time was Tsar Nicholas II, the last king of Russia. He did nothing to improve the fact that his people were starving and that bread prices had risen. This lead to the revolution that would turn Russia (and many more countries) into the Soviet Union.

This image shows the Russian social structure in early 20th century


What role did communism play in WWII?

  • Communism was much hated in the western world. The rich and powerful countries such as the UK, France and Germany depended on capitalism, the exact opposite of communism. Capitalism is an economic system in which the means of production and distribution are privately or corporately owned, not to mention the fact that workers earn less money than the owners of the factories. The ideas of communism (equality for all people) would encourage workers to revolt and turn that country into a communist state which would as a result decrease the wealth of the rich. The western powers were determined to stop the rise of communism.

Communism in other countries
  • The rise and fight for communism from Lenin was a huge success, however it was not contained only in the Soviet Union. Marx had claimed that communism had to be spread worldwide to reach utopia.

Some countries adopted this, such as members of the Warsaw Pact:
Other non-members of the Warsaw Pact were communist states as well:
-North Vietnam


Communism today
Reign of communism of the nations listed above, however, did not last for long. For example communist Yugoslavia ended in 1992, North Vietnam after 1976 (although technically still communist after the unification of Vietnam), Yemen in 1990, Somalia in 1991, and Cambodia in 1989.

This is a world map, showing the existing Communist countries today (in red) and ex-Communist countries (in orange)