What Are the Major Ideological Components of Marx's Communism?

Karl Marx, co-author of
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Karl Marx's socio-economic philosophies had a far-reaching influence that helped shaped nations like China, Russia, Cuba, Vietnam and North Korea. Marx's “The Communist Manifesto” co-authored with Friedrich Engels, and published in 1848, is a summary of human history from a socioeconomic and political point of view proclaiming communism as the last stage of human economic evolution. Though many critics argue that Marx was vague in his outline of communism, he did set up a few guidelines to describe the ideology.

1 The Stages of Economic Development

Marx's "The Communist Manifesto" outlines five stages of socioeconomic organization: 1) hunter-gatherers 2) feudalism 3) capitalism 4) the beginning stages of communism, often defined as socialism, and 5) communism. According to Marx, the progression from one stage to the next may require a revolutionary overthrow. Marx erroneously predicted that these revolutions would first occur in wealthier, more educated countries, but in fact, the first attempts at the beginning stages of communism were in developing nations.

2 Self Government

According to Marx, the overthrow of government during the transition from capitalism to beginning stage communism would result in the formation of a strong centralized government controlled by the workers. He refers to this phase as "the dictatorship of the proletariat." After this phase, Marx's vision of pure communism is the end of all organized government and state-controlled facilities and the disappearance of all borders and nationalities, giving way to a world population capable of self-governing.

3 A Classless Society

According to Marx, all the social classes that have ever existed -- lord and serf, slave and slave-owner, worker and employer -- and all forms of social class structure and inequality would become obsolete under communism. His ideas about work and workers' responsibilities under communism can be summed up in his statement that goods would be produced and distributed "from each according to ability, to each according to need.'' In a communist society, the divisions between the have and have-nots would be erased and each individual would share the fruits of communal labor and effort.

4 A Society Without Money

Marx believed that after capitalism fell and the first stages of communism began, society would still be “stamped with its birthmarks” of capitalism and a system of accountability of labor would be put into place in which workers would earn vouchers for their labor which they could exchange for food and other items. In pure communism, vouchers or accountability for labor would no longer be used. The concept of money would become obsolete and each citizen would have the right to consume goods according to needs and regardless of labor.

Lynn Blanch is a writer, translator and educator. She is the co-founder of an educational/cultural nonprofit in Brazil, speaks fluent Portuguese and has published a travel blog. She holds a bachelor's degree in liberal arts from Sarah Lawrence College.