Communism (from Latin communis - common, universal) is a revolutionary socialist movement to create a classless, moneyless, and stateless social order structured upon common ownership of the means of production, as well as a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of this social order. This movement, in its Marxist–Leninist interpretations, significantly influenced the history of the 20th century, which saw intense rivalry between the "socialist world" (socialist states ruled by communist parties) and the "western world" (countries with capitalist economies).
Marxist theory holds that pure communism or full communism is a specific stage of historical development that inevitably emerges from the development of the productive forces that leads to a superabundance of material wealth, allowing for distribution based on need and social relations based on freely associated individuals. The exact definition of communism varies, and it is often mistakenly, in general political discourse, used interchangeably with socialism; however, Marxist theory contends that socialism is just a transitional stage on the road to communism. Leninism adds to Marxism the notion of a vanguard party to lead the proletarian revolution and to secure all political power after the revolution for the working class, for the development of universal class consciousness and worker participation, in a transitional stage between capitalism and socialism.
Council communists and non-Marxist libertarian communists and anarcho-communists oppose the ideas of a vanguard party and a transition stage, and advocate for the construction of full communism to begin immediately upon the abolition of capitalism. There is a very wide range of theories amongst those particular communists in regards to how to build the types of institutions that would replace the various economic engines (such as food distribution, education, and hospitals) as they exist under capitalist systems—or even whether to do so at all. Some of these communists have specific plans for the types of administrative bodies that would replace the current ones, while always qualifying that these bodies would be decentralised and worker-owned, just as they currently are within the activist movements themselves. Others have no concrete set of post-revolutionary blueprints at all, claiming instead that they simply trust that the world's workers and poor will figure out proper modes of distribution and wide-scale production, and also coordination, entirely on their own, without the need for any structured "replacements" for capitalist state-based control.
In the modern lexicon of what many sociologists and political commentators refer to as the "political mainstream", communism is often used to refer to the policies of communist states, i.e., the ones totally controlled by communist parties, regardless of the practical content of the actual economic system they may preside over. Examples of this include the policies of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam where the economic system incorporates "doi moi", the People's Republic of China (PRC) where the economic system incorporates "socialist market economy", and the economic system of the Soviet Union which was described as "state capitalist" by non-Leninist socialists and later by communists who increasingly opposed the post-Stalin era Soviet model as it progressed over the course of the 20th century (e.g., Maoists, Trotskyists and libertarian communists)—and even at one point by Vladimir Lenin himself.
Famous quotes containing the word communism:
“Christ in this country would quite likely have been arrested under the Suppression of Communism act.”
—Joost de Blank (19081968)
“The crusade against Communism was even more imaginary than the spectre of Communism.”
—A.J.P. (Alan John Percivale)
“By intervening in the Vietnamese struggle the United States was attempting to fit its global strategies into a world of hillocks and hamlets, to reduce its majestic concerns for the containment of communism and the security of the Free World to a dimension where governments rose and fell as a result of arguments between two colonels wives.”
—Frances Fitzgerald (b. 1940)