Communism is a political ideology that promotes a classless and stateless worldwide society in which all property is communally owned. Communist theory is expressed in the "Manifesto of the Communist Party," published by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1848. According to the Manifesto, all of history is marked by a progression of the struggle between the "proletariat" -- that is, the working class, particularly the industrial working class -- and those who exploit them, the bourgeoisie. True communism is the end-game, in which the workers of the world have overthrown the ruling classes and established a society based on the idea of a classless, stateless society.
All for All
The central tenet of communism is that all private property should be abolished. In a true communist society, no one would own anything. All property and all means of agricultural and industrial production would be collectively owned by society as a whole. Each member of a true communist society would be expected to contribute as able and would be allowed to take what needed.
No More States
Communists theorize that the working people must unite and overthrow the governments in their countries. Most communists believe that the state must continue to exist in order to enforce social and economic equality until true communism is reached. Theoretically, true communism would eliminate the need for the state and ruling class, allowing the working class to decide matters democratically in a manner beneficial to society as a whole.
International in Scope
Communism as outlined by Marx and Engels is a global movement, designed to bring the entire world into a Utopian worker's paradise. From its inception, the Communist Party has viewed itself – at least in theory – as an international party representing the workers of the world. Many communists believe that true communism can only last if it becomes the driving force for the entire world.
The Final Frontier
In Marxist thinking, communism is the final stage in the struggle between the working class and the ruling class. (Ref 3) The Communist Manifesto teaches that all of society must pass from feudal or monarchial rule to industrial revolution and capitalism and eventually to the overthrow of capitalists by the workers. (Ref 1,3) True communists teaches that the workers' revolution will usher in two stages of communism. (Ref 2, II) The first is the "rule of the proletariat" in which the Communist Party rules on behalf of the workers, building a foundation for the workers to eventually be able to govern themselves with true communism. (Ref 2,II) Even though the Communist Party came to power in several countries during the 20th century, true communism has never been achieved. (Ref 1)
- Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images