The name originates from the 1848 Manifesto of the Communist Party by Marx and Engels. Communism comes from the Latin word communis, which means “shared” or “belong to all”.

Communism is applied to the movement that aims to overthrow the capitalist order by revolutionary means and to establish a classless society in which all goods will be socially owned. 

In theory, it aims to end the inequality between the rich and the poor, end racial discrimination, make men and women equals, and often shuns religion and other institutions that cause divisions and social inequality.

In practice, Communism is a state-controlled economic system in which property is collectively owned and work is performed for the advantage of all members of the society. It is a type of totalitarian government (“dictatorship of proletariat”) in which the state operates under a one-party political system declaring allegiance to Marxism-Leninism, with the state, in turn, claiming that it represented the interests of the working classes. 

The Conspiracy of Equals (1796)

The voice of one French revolutionary François Babeuf was strongly raised against economic inequality and the power of private property. He has been considered the first modern “communist”. Babeuf with  his “Conspiracy of Equals  (Conjuration des égaux) is credited with providing a model (Babouvism) for revolut-ionary groups of the 19th century.Although he was guillotined, his movement lived on, and the organization of his secret revolutionary society on the “cell” system was to be developed later as a means of militant revolution.

The Communist Manifesto (1848)

The year 1848 was also marked by the appearance of The Communist Manifesto of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It postulated the inevitability of a communist society, which would result when economic forces caused the class war; in this struggle the exploited industrial proletariat would overthrow the capitalists and establish the new classless order of social ownership.

The Paris Commune (1871)

The “Paris Commune”  (French: La Commune de Paris) was a government that briefly ruled Paris in 1871. The Commune was the result of an uprising in Paris after France was defeated in the Franco-Prussian War of 1871. The war with Prussia, initiated by Napoleon III turned out disastrously for France, and Paris itself was under siege. The gap between rich and poor in the capital had widened during the preceding years, and then food shortages, military failures, and, finally, a Prussian bombardment of the city contributed to a widespread discontent. Karl Marx, in his important pamphlet The Civil War in France (1871), written during the Commune, praised the Commune’s achievements, and described it as the prototype for a revolutionary government of the future emancipation of the proletariat.

The Paris Commune has been regarded with awe by many Communist leaders. Mao would refer to it often. Lenin, along with Marx, judged the Commune a living example of the “dictatorship of the proletariat.” At his funeral, Lenin’s body was wrapped in the remains of a red and white flag preserved from the Commune.

It was the Bolsheviks, the revolutionary opponents of “evolutionist” Menshevists,  who seized power in the Russian Revolution of 1917 and became the Communist party of the USSR (Russia). Thereafter, revolutionary socialism (or communism), and evolutionary (or democratic) socialism were two separate and frequently mutually antagonistic movements.

Historical materialism

“Historical materialism” started from a basic reality of human existence: that in order for human beings to survive and continue existence from generation to generation, it is necessary for them to produce and reproduce the material requirements of life. Marx then asserted that society is defined by “production relations” and its history is defined by stages when the dominant class is displaced by a new emerging class. This takes place in the form of revolutions, whereby the underclass “liberates” the productive forces with new relations of production, and social relations.

It started with “primitive communism” where humans first lived together – in small tribes where everything was shared. No-one owned land. Eventually a group comes to power – this leads to “Feudalism” (ended by the French Revolution), then to “Capitalism” (bourgeois society). The “final stage” would be “Communism”, an idealistic free society with no division or alienation, where mankind is free from oppression and scarcity. A communist society would have no governments, countries, or class divisions.

The “dictatorship of proletariat”

Definition: The proletariat (from Latin proletari-us, a citizen of the lowest class) is a term used to identify a lower social class, usually the working class; a member of such a class is proletarian.

In Marxist theory, “socialism” means  the “dictatorship of the proletariat”, a revolutionary stage from capitalism to communism. It refers to a socialist state in which the proletariat, or the working class, has total control of the political power and of society.  Marxists argue that it is a transitional phase that emerges out of the “dictatorship of the bourgeoisie” (or capitalist society), in which the private ownership of industry and resources leads to a monopoly of economic power by the capitalist class. ( it has  been taken from the making history relevant.


Posted on September 17, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 38 Comments.

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