A political party described as a Communist party includes those that advocate the application of the social principles of communism through a communist form of government. The name originates from the 1848 tract Manifesto of the Communist Party by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
A Communist party is, at least according to Leninist theory, the vanguard party of the working class, whether ruling or non-ruling, but when such a party is in power in a specific country, the party is said to be the highest authority of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Lenin's theories on the role of a communist party were developed as the early 20th-century Russian social democracy divided into Bolshevik (meaning "majority") and Menshevik (meaning "minority") factions.
Vladimir Lenin, leader of the Bolsheviks, argued that a revolutionary party should be a small vanguard party with a centralized political command and a strict cadre policy; the Menshevik faction, however, argued that the party should be a broad-based mass movement. The Bolshevik party, which eventually became the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, took power in Russia after the October Revolution in 1917. With the creation of the Communist International, the Leninist concept of party building was copied by emerging communist parties worldwide.
There currently exist hundreds of communist parties throughout the world. Their success rates vary widely: some are growing; others are in decline.
The Chinese Communist Party is the world's largest political party, claiming nearly 78 million members at the end of 2009 which constitutes about 5.6% of the total population of mainland China.
Communist parties are illegal in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Indonesia, Romania and Turkey.
Famous quotes containing the words communist and/or party:
“I am a communist because I believe that the Communist idea is a state form of Christianity.”
—Alexander Zhuravlyov (b. 1924)
“The real grounds of difference upon important political questions no longer correspond with party lines.... Politics is no longer the topic of this country. Its important questions are settled... Great minds hereafter are to be employed on other matters.... Government no longer has its ancient importance.... The peoples progress, progress of every sort, no longer depends on government. But enough of politics. Henceforth I am out more than ever.”
—Rutherford Birchard Hayes (18221893)