Communism and democracy are often described as opposing political systems. However, communism is largely viewed as an economic structure and not a political theory. Both ideologies purport to be based on equality and fairness but they utilize very different methods. To adequately compare communism and democracy, it is helpful to take a look at the structures of politics, economics and citizen autonomy that generally accompany each system.
Difference Between Communism and Democracy
Democracy is a political system with the power of the government is vested in the people. Democratic governments are elected by their citizens. The structure of the democratic government may take various forms but the common variable among democracies is that officials are voted into office based on some kind of majority rule. These rules of elected positions within a democracy can lead scholars to label it the opposite of communism. No set rules regarding government guide a communist country. Communists countries are most often led by totalitarian governments with a political regime exercising complete control over the state and its citizens.
Differences in Economic Systems
Just as a communism government does not require any specific government structure, democracy does not require any specific economic structure. However, many democracies do utilize a capitalist economic system, which is characterized by private or corporate ownership of goods. Another difference between communism and democracy is that in a capitalist society, private ownership of goods is generally proportional to individual earnings. The more a citizen owns, the richer they probably are. Communism prohibits most private ownership. Instead, goods are collectively owned by all citizens. The government controls all production facilities and manages them to provide for the population's needs.
Free Market Labor Analysis
Examining systems of labor withing a democratic and communist government also reveals profound differences. Under communism, the governing body sets all laborer wages and regulates the payments so that no one earns considerably more or less than another person. In a true communist society, all wealth is distributed equally among the citizens. Democratic nations tend to embrace a free market system where private companies set their own wages and individuals can earn as much as the market allows. This type of democratic structure can lead to large variations of income within the society.
Free Choice for Citizens?
Democratic nations generally encourage free choice among their citizens. Under a democratic system, people have the right to choose their representatives and actively participate in the political process. They also have the right to live where they want and worship as they see fit with very few limitations placed on religious activities. By contrast, communist governments assert their citizens are better off without having to make such choices for themselves. In a communist government, citizens are assigned jobs and told where they are going to live. Communist nations also tend to practice only one religion with all other religions being expressly prohibited by the governing body.
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