What is Communism? | Success and Failures of Communism

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Greetings friends! Communism! Capitalism! Socialism! Liberalism! You must have heard these words quite often.

But do you know,

What is the real meaning of these ideologies in their genuine sense?
What has been their impact on our world?
What are their advantages and disadvantages?

Welcome to my new article,

I will explain such concepts, topics and things in simple language, about which we talk frequently, but only some of us have tried to go in-depth to understand their meaning.

I want to write this article on,

Understanding What is Communism and Communist (Karl Marx, Lenin, Stalin) ideology, Foundations, Practical Implementations, Successes, and Failures. Explore the impact of this ideology on the world throughout history.”

Table of Contents

What is Communism?

In one line, Communism means, “From each according to his ability, To each according to his needs.”

They mean a society where every person works according to their ability. If one person is fitter, muscular and can lift heavyweight, he works according to his ability.

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If another person is weak, disabled and cannot work extensively, he works according to his ability and contributes to society.

And such a society where every person gets things according to their need. You will say here, “Bro, this is a strange kind of society. Being a fit and healthy individual, I will work hard and in return, I will only get some money that fulfils my need!”

But Communism is a society, or you can say that it is a way of structuring people where there is no money.

  • It is a moneyless society.
  • It is a stateless society.
  • There are no countries.
  • No borders have been drawn between countries.
  • It is a classless society without discriminating between the rich and the poor.

Such a society where the means of production, such as land, farms, industries, and factories, all of them are operated and owned by the labourers, by the common public.

Whenever we hear Communism, Karl Marx, the Soviet Union, and countries like China come to our minds.

But in reality, if you go through the basic definition of Communism, the foundational ideas of Communism are thousands of years old. Throughout human history, you will get to see these examples.

Think about 10 000 years ago. How did humans live? Humans lived a hunter-gatherer lifestyle in tribes. Many anthropologists believe that it was a primitive form of Communism.

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When you live in jungles in tribes, there is no concept of money or country. No country exists. Many tribes might have had class or hierarchy, but some tribes might not have even that.

All people existed together. There would be no private ownership. It isn’t that one individual from the tribe can say that this thing is mine and JUST mine.

In these tribes, you shared with everyone when you searched for food or hunted. The shelters were also shared with everyone. Most of the things were shared by everyone. Everyone lived in a closed community.

If you want to know more about it, I recommend reading the book ‘Sapiens‘.

It tells us everything about human history. But these are old tales.

Karl Marx, father of Communism.

In today’s era, Karl Marx is called the father of Communism. Karl Marx was a German philosopher. Who published the Communist Manifesto in 1848.

But what was written in this Communist Manifesto?

Before we understand this, we need to understand Karl Marx’s era. What were the conditions around him?

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Karl Marx grew up when the industrial revolution had just begun. Industrial Revolution brought about big machines and factories. The labourers in these factories often worked in terrible conditions.

The owners of these factories were often rich people who exploited their workers.

The owners of these factories made their workers work for the maximum hours while giving them the least amount of payment.

The profit coming out of these factories, most of it was taken away by these factory owners.

So basically, according to Karl Marx, there were two classes here;

  1. The class of rich factory owners took away most of the profits.
  2. The second class is workers/labourers who work in the factories for hours but get nothing in return.

As a solution to the problems, Karl Marx imagined such a society, Where there are no differences between the rich and the poor.

Karl Marx imagines Utopia Communism. society

In a way, he imagined a utopia. Utopia is a perfect society that doesn’t exist in reality. And he named this utopia Communism.

In his communist manifesto, he revealed how Communism can be achieved. He said that workers together could overthrow the monarchy, whoever the king or whichever government exists.

Such a society will be built where the means of production. A single owner will not own the factories or the farms but the entire public.

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According to this communist manifesto, In a communist society,

  • There won’t be any class or discrimination between rich and poor based on race or religion.
  • Free education and healthcare would be provided.
  • There would be no inherited wealth.
  • If someone is rich, then that doesn’t mean all his future generations will be rich.
  • No concept of Inherited Wealth
  • There will be no concept of private ownership. No person can say that this farm or land is mine.
  • Everyone will own all the land and all the factories.
  • There will be an even distribution of wealth.
  • There won’t be rich or poor. There will be equality.

So, these things are pretty idealistic, but at the end of the day, everything is entirely theoretical.

Implementation of Karl Marx’s utopia Communism concept in the Russian Revolution of 1917

You will ask how these things can be practically implemented. It is nice, but how can it be done in reality?

Karl Marx was just a philosopher. He did not see the practical implementation of Communism.

Practical implementation in reality in the true sense was majorly seen after the Russian Revolution of 1917.

In Russia, communist workers together overthrew the Russian monarch. Who used to be called the Czar at that time. And their leader Lenin for the first time, implemented communist ideas on a big scale.

Lenin took some revolutionary steps for his time. Soviet Communism

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  • The human rights of the labourers were recognized.
  • The working week was limited to 8 hours daily and 5 days a week. Before this, workers worked 12, 13, and 14 hours in the factories. But Lenin first introduced the 8 hours and 5 days, which is quite common today.
  • Everyone works Monday to Friday for 8 hours per day.
  • Women were introduced to education.
  • For farming, the land was taken away from rich landowners and redistributed amongst the farmers.
  • The factories were nationalized they were taken under the control of the government.

But if you remember, the original ideas are written in the communist manifesto, and it wasn’t written that the government would control everything. Instead, it said that the public will control everything.

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So, you can say that the Communism implemented by Lenin was different from the ideas thought out by Marx.

Lenin established a one-party state.

Now think about it, friends, if such significant steps will be taken in such a big country as the Soviet Union.

It isn’t possible that every person living there would agree to it. Some people will say that what the government is doing, we disagree with it. Or disagree with the way of doing it.

But Lenin believed that what he was doing was an absolute right. He could not take criticism.

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For this reason, he banned the rest of all political parties and established a one-party state.

A state where it was not allowed to criticize the party. Secret police used to spy on the people; if anyone criticized the government, he was imprisoned.

Any person opposing Communism or suspected of speaking against it used to be jailed, deported, or executed.

So, this Marxist-Leninist political structure is called Soviet Communism.

Today, most people associate Communism with this Soviet Communism. But obviously, every Communist did not agree with this Leninism.

There was a very famous Polish communist Rosa Luxembourg, who was strictly against Leninism. She used Libertarian Marxism.

Polish communist Rosa Luxembourg
Polish communist Rosa Luxembourg

Rosa Luxembourg SAY, Such a Marxism philosophy where people are given freedom of speech.#

But anyway, Lenin died in 1924.

Stalin’s Communism ideology is the State of Capitalism.

After Lenin came to Stalin, Stalin implemented his ideas of Communism which were worse than Lenin’s.

Stalin’s communist ideology went farther away from the Marxist ideology. Stalin tried to increase the output of the factories.

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For that, he tried to make the labourers work more. And the workers started working under the same conditions that Marx had initially mentioned.

The only difference was that this time, the factory owners were not any wealthy business owners but rather the government.

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Soviet Union government kept their workers in the same dire conditions, and the economic conditions were so bad that millions of people died due to famine and hunger.

Because of this, many people call Stalin’s ideology State Capitalism.

It doesn’t have much to do with Communism. Instead, it was a structure of capitalism that was state-controlled.

After Stalin, came Mao brought Maoism.

His communist ideology was much more extreme and all the more violent. There is a famous dialogue of his, “All political power comes from the barrel of the gun.”

In some way or the other, he advocates for violence. His ideology is called Maoism, and the word Maoist comes from here only.

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The Naxal-Maoists who have picked up weapons in India believe in his ideology. It isn’t surprising that they are so violent.

Many countries worldwide tried to implement Communism.

Inspired by the Soviet Union, many countries worldwide tried to implement Communism. In all these countries, their own ideas of Communism were implemented.

But one thing was common in all these countries. All these countries had dictatorships. Most of the communist countries transformed into dictatorships.

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But millions of people died because of this. On the one hand, dictators like Stalin and Mao killed people because they thought they were against Communism.

On the other hand, Hitler in Germany, Mussolini in Italy, and Franco in Spain killed people in their own countries without the doubt of them being a communist.

It is said about Hitler and Mussolini that one technique they used to come to power scared people of Communism. It was to scare people into believing they were the only ones to protect them from the evils of Communism.

This is how these people came to power and became dictators.

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On the one hand, is Communism and capitalism and on another are dictatorship and supporting freedom and democracy. So some dictators, such as Stalin, are communists but also dictators but some dictators, such as Hitler, are on the side of capitalism but are still dictators.

And some other such people who believe in capitalism and support democracy will come under this section.

Successful ideas that the world has borrowed from Communism.

You can say such ideas turned out to be successful in Communism, and the rest of the world has implemented them today.

1. Classless society

The first idea is of a classless society, one where there is no class difference. There is no discrimination between upper caste and lower caste or the rich and poor.

Today everyone generally accepts that racism, casteism, and sexism are bad. It is a bad thing to discriminate between people. It is a good thing to give equal opportunity to every person.

Although, I would definitely say that some communist countries have taken this idea to the very extreme.

They took “no discrimination between people” to mean that there should be no difference between people.

Every person will be given the same house, car and standard of living. There should be no difference in beliefs among people. No one should believe in a specific religion or ideology.

This is the reason why communist dictatorships came into being. If you focus on the architecture in communist countries, you would see such buildings styled quite like a boring dystopia.

There is no creativity, and people are not given a chance to express their beliefs.

2. No inheritance

The second idea is of no inheritance. Each one of us raises our voice against nepotism, dynasty politics.

It is quite something similar to Karl Marx’s thoughts. Karl Marx had said that there should be no inheritance.

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And if we look at the implementation in reality, then in many democratic countries in Europe, there exists an inheritance tax.

If you are wealthy, and you are gifting that wealth to your children and letting them inherit it, then that wealth would be taxed.

3. Worker rights

The third idea is worker rights. Exploitation Karl Marx talked about; we get to see that in many places. For this reason, in most democratic countries, we get to see workers’ unions and labour unions.

For example, the farmer’s protest has many farmer unions participating. What are these farm unions? All the workers come together and raise their voices together. Whenever they feel that they are being exploited, then all these unions stand together to amplify the voice of the workers or the farmers.

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Karl Marx also said that most factory owners exploit their workers. They make them work the maximum hours and give them the minimum payment.

To avoid this, the concept of minimum wage exists in most countries. A lesser salary than this would not be given to any worker.

4. Free education and free healthcare

Similarly, ideas of free education and free healthcare have been successfully implemented in many developed countries.

Why was Communism failed?

What was the reason that whenever it tried to implement Communism, it always kept failing?

What are the fundamental problems of this communist ideology?

The biggest problem of Communism, in my opinion, lies in its basic definition. Every person will work according to their ability but get things according to his need.

1. Philosophical reason

Now think about it yourself. If I am a fit and healthy person and work hard according to my ability, what do I get in return?

I get the same thing that everyone else is getting. What is then my incentive to do more hard work?

If I work less, then I would get the same payment. Work even lesser, I’d still get the same. No reason exists to improve my work.

What will I get If I am more efficient and innovative? I will get nothing. I will get what I have been getting since always.

Now think about it, if every person living in society starts thinking like this, there will be no competition in society. There would be no development in technology or any other field.

2. Practical reason

The practical reason is that when you try to make a classless society in a reality where everyone owns everything, This society has a power vacuum.

The space at the top is empty, and there is no one to lead. Due to this power vacuum, there will always be space for a dictatorship.

One person who will tell direct the way of work. And he will then become a dictator. Through this very dictatorship, one-party rule is established.

People’s freedom is snatched away. There is no democracy. And if anyone speaks against the party, they are arrested or killed.

On top of it, when this dictatorship is established, the government will control all factories, lands, all distribution processes.

The things which are to be distributed amongst the people will be under the control of the government. When one person or party controls everything, then what will happen? Corruption.!

The people in power will keep getting corrupt. Because they have so much control over that, they can decide everything about the public.

What kind of houses will people live in?

How much land will they get?

How many factories will they get?

In reality, whenever there have been efforts to implement Communism practically, it ceases to be Communism.

Some party dictates how things will work, which is quite different from the original definition.

What is the principal definition of Communism? The original definition is that every person is the owner of everything. But if one party, one government, tries to control everything, then it ceases to be Communism.

It will now be called socialism.

What is socialism? I will explain it in detail in the next article.

A successful practical example of Communism exists?

After hearing all this, one question will come to your mind. Does a successful practical example of Communism exist?

Where has Communism been implemented in the true sense?

Where did it not turn into a dictatorship?

The answer to this question is yes, but only in small communities. Whenever the scale gets bigger up to the level of a country, then Communism is always seen to be failing. Communism has thrived in small communities in some places.

The biggest example of this, as I told you at the beginning of the article, was early humans who lived in tribes and worked together when there was no concept of money.

In today’s modern world too,

There are a few examples of it where it has worked in small communities.

For example, OSHO’s ashram in the US

OSHO’s ashram in the USOn which a Netflix documentary series has also been made. People lived in a small commune together. Everyone worked with each other. There was no concept of money. It was called Rajnishpuram.

You can call it a successful implementation of Communism. But it is not right to call it successful even.

Because if you look at what happened to it in the end, you will know it also turned out to be a big failure.

But in India, there is still one example of it.

There is a community in Puducherry named Auroville. 2000 people live in a community where there is no concept of private ownership of land, housing and business.

All the people living there work for everyone and care for the entire community. Everyone has been assigned their work, and there is not much concept of money either.

FAQS ANSWER

  1. What is Communism, and how is it defined in its genuine sense?

    Communism is an ideology that envisions a society where everyone works according to their ability and receives resources and goods according to their needs. It advocates for a classless, stateless, and moneyless society, where the means of production are collectively owned and operated by the public.

  2. How does Communism differ from Capitalism and Socialism?

    Communism is distinct from Capitalism and Socialism in its approach to ownership and distribution of resources. In Communism, there is no private ownership, and everything is owned collectively, while Capitalism involves private ownership and a free-market economy. Socialism, on the other hand, supports collective ownership but allows for some level of private property and market intervention.

  3. What are the foundational ideas of Communism, and how do they trace back to ancient history?

    The foundational ideas of Communism are rooted in the concept of a classless society and common ownership of resources. These ideas can be traced back to primitive hunter-gatherer societies where sharing and equality were prevalent, leading some anthropologists to consider it a primitive form of Communism.

  4. Who is considered the father of Communism, and what were his main contributions to the ideology?

    Karl Marx is considered the father of Communism. He co-authored the Communist Manifesto in 1848, where he laid out the principles of Communism and advocated for the working-class (proletariat) to overthrow the capitalist system.

  5. How did the Russian Revolution of 1917 impact the implementation of Communism?

    The Russian Revolution of 1917 led to the overthrow of the Russian monarchy and the establishment of a Communist government led by Vladimir Lenin. It became one of the first attempts to implement Communist principles on a large scale.

  6. What are the key differences between Lenin’s and Stalin’s interpretations of Communism?

    Lenin focused on implementing socialist policies and worker rights, while Stalin’s interpretation went further away from Marxist ideas. Stalin pursued a more centralized and authoritarian approach, leading to a dictatorship and state-controlled economy.

  7. How did other countries try to implement Communism, and why did it often lead to dictatorships?

    Many countries attempted to implement Communism, but often the process was accompanied by power struggles, corruption, and centralized control. The power vacuum created by the dissolution of traditional systems allowed for the rise of dictators who suppressed dissent and opposition.

  8. What were the reasons behind the failure of Communism in various attempts?

    Communism faced challenges due to its theoretical nature, lack of incentives for hard work and innovation, corruption, and power concentration. The practical implementation of the ideology proved difficult, leading to economic and political turmoil in many cases.

  9. How did the philosophical and practical aspects of Communism contribute to its struggles?

    The philosophical aspect of Communism, focusing on a classless society and common ownership, clashed with the practical challenges of governance and human behavior. In practice, the concentration of power often led to corruption and the emergence of dictatorships.

  10. What are the successful ideas borrowed from Communism that are implemented in other systems today?

    Some successful ideas borrowed from Communism include the promotion of worker rights, minimum wage laws, free education, and healthcare. These concepts have been incorporated into various democratic systems worldwide.

  11. How does the concept of a classless society in Communism create a lack of incentive for hard work?

    The concept of a classless society in Communism can create a lack of incentive for hard work as individuals may not be rewarded differently based on their efforts or skills. This can result in reduced motivation to excel or innovate.

  12. Why is the practical implementation of Communism prone to power vacuums and dictatorships?

    The practical implementation of Communism can lead to power vacuums because the ideology aims to eliminate traditional power structures. In such situations, authoritarian figures often emerge to fill the void and concentrate power, leading to dictatorships.

  13. How does corruption become a challenge in Communist systems with centralized control?

    In Communist systems with centralized control, the government has significant influence over the distribution of resources and wealth. This concentration of power can lead to corruption, as those in control may exploit their positions for personal gain.

  14. Is there a successful practical example of Communism existing today in any community?

    Auroville, a community in Puducherry, India, is often cited as an example of a small-scale implementation of some Communist principles. The community operates with collective ownership and a focus on cooperation rather than individual wealth.

  15. What are the key differences between true Communism and the socialist systems observed in various countries?

    True Communism aims for a moneyless, stateless, and classless society, whereas socialist systems retain some level of private property and market mechanisms. In practice, many countries implement socialist policies while maintaining a mixed economy.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Communism, as an ideology, has captivated minds and sparked debates for centuries. Its core principle of “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” aims to create a classless, moneyless, and stateless society where wealth and resources are shared equally among all members. However, the practical implementation of Communism has faced significant challenges and resulted in various failures.

Throughout history, attempts to realize Communism on a national scale have often led to the rise of dictatorships and the suppression of individual freedoms. The concentration of power within a single ruling party and the absence of a competitive market have frequently resulted in corruption and economic inefficiency. Furthermore, the lack of incentives for individuals to work harder and innovate has hindered technological progress and economic growth.

While some aspects of Communism, such as the pursuit of a classless society and worker rights, have influenced modern democratic societies, large-scale implementations have been fraught with difficulties. Successful examples of Communism have mostly been limited to small communities, while broader attempts have often devolved into dictatorships or totalitarian regimes.

The quest for an ideal society continues, and lessons from the successes and failures of Communism can inform future endeavors to create fairer and more equitable systems. However, it is essential to strike a balance between collective welfare and individual freedom while remaining vigilant to avoid the pitfalls that history has revealed in attempts to achieve the vision of Communism. Only through thoughtful reflection and open discourse can we navigate the complexities of societal organization and strive for a better future for all.

So that if you did not understand something in this article, you would understand them in those articles. Comment below about your opinion.

What are the successful ideas of Communism, and what are its failures?

Thank you so much.

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