We can explore the concept of communism from an economic angle as well as from a political perspective.
What is Communism?
Communism refers to a social system in which there is a common ownership of the means of production and distribution
– Leo Dare and Anthony Oyewole
Communism is based on class struggle concerned with the establishment of a communist society and is an ideology that is against capitalism as an economic system.
Politically, unlike in a democratic setting, there is usually just a single party on the scene that would take up the responsibility of governing and managing the whole country.
Even elections in such settings are single-party affairs (leaders emerge from the same communist party).
Economically also, such a society tilts towards a classless system where the means of production are not privately owned (private property is vehemently discouraged and curtailed) but common ownership of the means of production and distribution are the order of the day.
Classes of Group In Communism
There are two classes in the process of production in a communist society, according to proponents of the theory, they are:
These are the owners of means of production. They have the money or capital to get things done by exploiting the workers whom they have power over to operate the means of production.
These are the class of people, according to communism, that operates the means of production but do not own them. They are also called the exploited class.
Who Invented Communism?
Karl Marx in “The Communist Manifesto” (1848) gave popularity to the term communism, and the ideology was famously attached to him. The theory was later interpreted by Lenin, becoming known as Marxism-Leninism
However, even since as early as the 4th century BCE, several communities in various parts of the world have been practising communism.
For instance, the first Christians embraced a simple form of communism during their times.
However, Karl Marx with his friend, Friedrich Engels, intelligently dissected the foundational principles of communism in The Communist Manifesto published in 1848.
Nevertheless, a “real life” communist nation came to life after the famous Russian Revolution (1917) with the emergence of the Soviet Union.
At the height of the Soviet Union, several countries from different continents embraced communism as an ideology (in Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe), and it appears as if the system is destined to overwhelm democracy and capitalism.
However, the fall of the Soviet Union decreased the popularity of communism as an attractive ideology, and there are just five recognized communist countries in the world today.
Known communist leaders
Here are popular communist leaders across different dispensations:
- Vladimir Lenin (prime minister of Soviet Union)
- Mao Zedong (Chinese leader)
- Joseph Stalin (premier of Soviet Union)
- Nikita Khrushchev (premier of Soviet Union)
- Leon Trotsky (Russian revolutionary)
- Ho Chi Minh (president of North Vietnam)
- Josip Broz Tito (president of Yugoslavia)
- Lin Biao (Chinese military leader)
- Władysław Gomułka (Polish politician)
- Zhou Enlai (premier of China)
- Chen Duxiu (Chinese leader)
- Deng Xiaoping (Chinese leader)
- Slobodan Milošević (president of Yugoslavia)
- Kim Jong Il (North Korean political leader)
- Leonid Brezhnev (president of Soviet Union)
- Kim Il-Sung (president of North Korea)
- Jiang Qing (Chinese politician)
- Grigory Yevseyevich Zinovyev (Russian revolutionary)
- Joseph McCarthy (United States senator)
- Zhu De (Chinese military leader)
How Many Countries Are Communist States?
Only five (5) countries are communist states, they include:
- North Korea
China became a communist country in 1949 after the emergence of Mao Zedong into power, and the country has been consistent with being a communist one ever since.
The Communist Party of China has sole political control over the big country, and the country’s leaders are usually from its ranks.
The CCP has always been in control over the direction of the country, and a large chunk of its enterprises are owned and maintained by the state.
However, in recent decades, China employed flexibility via certain economic reforms where there is a splendid coexistence of public and collective enterprises with private capitalists, although the state-owned enterprises sector remained dominant.
North Korea became a communist country after the partition with the south and the installation of Kim Il-Sung as the leader, with the support of communist Russia.
While the current government of North Korea isn’t considering the country to be a communist one, a large chunk of the world won’t let go of the tag for obvious reasons.
The North Korean government, while using its indigenous form of communism based on the ideology of Juche, still embraced a command economy with total state control of industry. The country still retains collectivized farms and state-funded healthcare with education.
The Lao People’s Democratic Republic used to be a monarchy before the famous revolution in 1975, backed by the Soviet Union.
Therefore, communism came into Laos and it has been attached to its prominent principles ever since.
The government of the country (majorly military bigshots) still favored a one-party system and state ownership of many economic aspects.
Nevertheless, in recent decades, Laos also started permitting some measures of private ownership and is now a mixed economy where the leaders keep working to bring great liberty and flexibility to its domestic markets.
Fidel Castro took control following the revolution in 1953, and by 1965, the country became a communist country too.
It entered a deep alliance with the Soviet Union before its fall, amidst sanctions from the United States of America.
And even in recent times, while there is a measure of flexibility, the country is still a communist one to a large extent.
The Cuban economy is a mixed command one that is still very much dominated by state-run enterprises.
A large chunk of workers in Cuba are employees of the state, although the government is now promoting self-employment too.
In 1954, Vietnam was divided into two. The North, backed by the Soviet Union, embraced communism as expected.
The South, supported by the USA, opted for democracy. However, in 1976, there was a unification, with communism superseding democracy.
In other words, even after Vietnam became a whole country again, communism instantly became the order of the day.
However, in recent times, the country has deviated toward a market economy, and the principles of capitalism are continually adopted.
Although Vietnam is still popularly referred to as a communist country, there is massive support for entrepreneurs, and these reforms are productive to the country’s economy.
While the concept of Communism was properly dissected by Karl Marx in the 1800s, many earlier societies have been practising different forms of communism.
The rise of the Soviet Union however elevated the status of the ideology and made it so attractive, so much so that many countries decided to ditch democracy for communism.
However, today, there are just five known communist countries, and almost all of them have been embracing the principles of capitalism too.
Above all, the concept of communism is based on the class struggle within society.
The two classes of groups that exist in communism are the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.