Updated on January 25, 2024
Article byAswathi Jayachandran
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What is Communism?

Communism is an ideology that bases itself on the belief that the means of production in a society should belong to the state. Through central ownership, it aims for a classless society with economic equality between individuals. The history of communism began in the second half of the nineteenth century in Europe.

For a classless society to exist, the social structure should be egalitarian with no differences in the social strata. There will be no stark differences between the working class and the rich in such societies. Communism believes that the best way to achieve this is by owning production control.

Key Takeaways

  • Communism is a socio-economic and political system that aims to achieve a classless society. It aims for a society in which all community members have equal access to resources and opportunities.
  • In this system, the state or government in the center owns the means of production and distributes them to the community members.
  • It was initially conceptualized by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, who are considered pioneers of communism
  • Even though it previously existed in many countries, communism can now only be found in a few countries like China, Cuba, North Korea, Laos, and Vietnam.

Communism Explained

Communism Characteristics

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Communism was based on a motto that states, ‘From each according to his abilities to each according to his needs.’ The slogan arose from the idea that surplus production of goods and services in a communist society shall be able to serve every individual’s needs equally.

In a communist state, the commune members shared the full proceeds of their labor, as well as all of the commune’s dwellings and facilities among themselves. It aims to replace private property and profit-driven economies with public ownership. As a result, the community has control over the principal means of production and the natural resources available. Therefore, it can be seen as a more advanced type of socialism. It is an economic and political ideology created in the second part of the nineteenth century by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Thus one can say that the history of communism began here.

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Origin of communism

Marx, the German political critic and philosopher classified people into social groups according to the production process. He considered this classification crucial rather than segregating people into groups of religion, language, nationality, or other similar elements. He believed that people in similar social positions in the production process would eventually form a class because they shared similar interests and objectives due to the prevailing conditions. When production technology and social relations change, it has an impact on the mode of production. This results in tension and conflicts between the classes.

For example, when the feudal agricultural system was destroyed, the lands of many serfs and small peasants were taken away. They lost their livelihoods. They roamed the cities in search of a way to survive and had no other way but to work in newly built factories. The factories were a result of the capitalistic mode of production. All the workers within the production process will come together to be grouped into a class. In capitalism, the owners were called bourgeoisie (people who owned all the means of production, such as investible capital, land, factories, machinery, etc.).

The worker classes, or proletariat, were people who had lost access to all the means of production that they owned or had access to in the past. The differences will gradually increase and lead to conflicts, and the rich class will gradually start dominating the worker class. Communism aims to oppose this arising difference. It wants the state to own the production and distribution. An egalitarian approach will reduce, if not destroy, the differences and lead to a classless society.


The communist leadership, especially the one in communist Hungary, gave the people of the country a good life. The government guaranteed employment, good education, and free healthcare. Violent crimes were down. People were part of a community. They trusted each other, and an overriding sense of camaraderie prevailed. The government opened up even leisure and holiday opportunities for all. There were state-owned companies, and the factories had holiday camps. There were educational opportunities for the young and evening schools for adults (and children). People lived good lives. However, a few things, including travel to the west, were severely restricted. The freedom to criticize the government was also limited.


The idea of communism as a philosophy of government or society is predominantly based on the ideas of Karl Marx. It shares its ideals with MarxismMarxismMarxism is a social, economic, and political doctrine developed by German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1848 to describe the class struggle between capitalists and more or socialism. Given below are a few characteristics of the ideology:-

Classless society

A classless society is where there are no differences between the rich and the poor. Society is otherwise divided into the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, who are the owner class and the worker class, respectively.

Common ownership of all resources

For society to be classless, people need to abolish the existing system of control and division. Common ownership is the best way to achieve this goal. Therefore, the community as a whole produces, and the community as a whole enjoys its benefits.

Private property

When private people enter production, they tend to focus more on profit. As their earning capacity increases, their quality of life changes, resulting in dramatic lifestyle changes. Obviously, this will be different for those who do not have money. Therefore, abolishing private property is an essential characteristic of communist ideology.

Social equality

The basis of the communist ideology is the achievement of social equality. In other words, an egalitarian society in which there are no differences or discrimination between the rich and the poor.

Against democracy

Democracy involves the liberty to enter private organizations or players into the market, among other things. Communist ideology does not accept privatization as it is a deterrent in the path of a classless society. Communism in China is an example where they oppose the idea of democracy.

List of Communist Countries

Only five examples of Communist countries exist at present. Nevertheless, they have adopted communism as their standard form of government: communism in China is one of the most popular examples. Other examples include North Korea, Laos, Cuba, and Vietnam. None of these, however, satisfies the true definition of communism. Instead, they are more in being a transition between the end of capitalism and the beginning of communism.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is communism good?

 Like every other ideology, Communism has its perks too. The classless, egalitarian society aimed by communism can ensure job security, education, and healthcare for everyone regardless of societal differences. Countries such as China and Vietnam are a few such Communism examples.

Is communism socialism?

In socialism, individuals can own personal property, but a democratically elected government owns and manages all industrial and production capacity. While in communism, individuals do not own any personal belongings or assets. Both concepts are therefore inherently different.

Who started communism?

Communism leadership under Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels developed ideologies of the system in the latter part of the nineteenth century. They opined that social divides may lead to conflicts and want to create a system where the state owns the means of production.

Why is communism better than capitalism?

Capitalism concentrates on making profits. The ultimate aim of such a system is to realize people’s highest aspirations through making money. It leads to the development of quality of life and gives people the chance to achieve their highest potential. On the other hand, communism focuses on making society classless.

This has been a guide to What is Communism and its definition Here we discuss its characteristics, list of communist countries, & its origin with an example. You can learn more from the following articles – 

Reader Interactions


  1. Kylie liku says

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