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Communism is a political ideology that seeks to establish a future without social class or formalized state structure, and with social organization based upon common ownership of the means of production. It can be classified as a branch of the broader socialist movement. Communism also refers to a variety of political movements which claim the establishment of such a social organization as their ultimate goal.

Early forms of human social organization have been described as "primitive communism". However, communism as a political goal generally is a conjectured form of future social organization which has never been implemented. There is a considerable variety of views among self-identified communists, including Maoism, Trotskyism, council communism, Luxemburgism, and various currents of left communism, which are in addition to more widespread varieties. However, various offshoots of the Soviet and Maoist forms of Marxism–Leninism comprise a particular branch of communism that had been the primary driving force for communism in world politics during most of the 20th century. Template:/box-footer

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Marxism is the philosophy, social theory and political practice based on the works of Karl Marx, a 19th century German socialist philosopher, economist, journalist, and revolutionary. Marx, often in collaboration with Friedrich Engels, drew on G. W. F. Hegel's philosophy, the political economy of Adam Smith and David Ricardo, and theorists of 19th century French socialism, to develop a critique of society which he claimed was both scientific and revolutionary. This critique achieved its most systematic (albeit unfinished) expression in his most famous work, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, more commonly known as Das Kapital.

Marx defined history on a strictly economic basis, stating that history had 6 steps (Tribe, Slavery, Feudalism, Capitalism, Socialism and Communism), where economic inequility caused each step to be replaced over time. He as a communist believed that a violent revolution would be the catalyst in the transformation from capitalism to socialism. Since its inception and up to the present day, Marxism has been situated largely outside the political mainstream, although it has played a major role in history. Today, Marxist political parties of widely different sizes survive in most countries around the world.

Selected biography

François-Noël Babeuf (23 November 1760 - 27 May 1797), known as Gracchus Babeuf (in tribute to the Roman tribunes of the people and reformers, the Gracchi brothers, and used alongside his self-designation as Tribune), was a French political agitator and journalist of the Revolutionary period. In spite of the efforts of his Jacobin friends to save him, Babeuf was arrested, tried, and convicted for his role in the Conspiracy of the Equals. Although the words "anarchist"and "communist" did not exist in Babeuf's lifetime, they have all been used to describe his ideas, by later scholars. The word "communism" was coined by Goodwyn Barmby in a conversation with those he described as the "disciples of Babeuf".

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Against the third point, Comrade X advances the objection that the confiscation of the monasterial (and we would willingly add: church) estates and the royal demesnes as proposed by us would mean that the capitalists would grab the lands for next to nothing. It would be precisely those who plunder the peasants, he says, who would buy up these lands on the money they had plundered. To this we must remark that, in speaking about the sale of the confiscated estates, Comrade X draws an arbitrary conclusion that our programme does not contain. Confiscation means alienation of property without compensation. It is only of such alienation that our draft speaks. Our draft programme says nothing as to whether these lands are to be sold, and if so to whom and how, in what manner and on what terms. We are not binding ourselves, but reserve judgement as to the most expedient form in which to dispose of the confiscated properties when they are confiscated, when all the social and political conditions of such confiscation are clear. In this respect Comrade X’s draft differs from our draft in demanding, not only confiscation, but the transference of the confiscated lands “to the democratic state for their most advantageous utilisation by the population.” Thus, Comrade X excludes one of the forms of the disposal of what has been confiscated (sale) and does not suggest any definite form (since it remains unclear just what constitutes or will constitute or should constitute the “most advantageous” utilisation, and just what classes of the “population” will receive the right to this utilisation and on what terms). Hence, Comrade X fails in any case to bring complete definiteness into the question of how the confiscated lands should be disposed of (nor can this be determined in advance), while he wrongly excludes their sale as one of the methods. It would be wrong to say that, under all circumstances and at all times, the Social-Democrats will be opposed to the sale of the land. In a police-controlled class state, even if it is a constitutional state, the class of property-owners may not infrequently be a far stauncher pillar of democracy than the class of tenant farmers dependent on that state. That is on the one hand. On the other hand, our draft makes for greater provision than Comrade X’s draft does against confiscated lands being turned into “gift& to the capitalists” (insofar as any provision against this can be spoken of in general in the wording of a programme). And indeed, let us imagine the worst: let us imagine that, despite all its efforts, the workers’ party will be unable to curb the capitalists’ wilfulness and greed. In that, case, Comrade X’s formulation affords free scope for the “most advantageous” utilisation of the confiscated lands, by the capitalist class of the “population.” On the contrary, our formulation, while it does not link up the basic demand with the form of its realisation, nevertheless envisages a strictly definite application of sums received from such realisation. When Comrade X says that “the Social-Democratic Party cannot undertake in advance to decide in what concrete form the popular representative body will utilise the land which it will have at its command,” he is confusing two different things: the method of realising (in other words: “the form of utilising”) this land and the application of the sums received from this realisation. By leaving the question of the application of these sums absolutely indefinite and tying his hands, even in part, in the question of the method of realisation, Comrade X introduces a double impairment into our draft.
— Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924)
To the Rural Poor , 1903

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Dutch communist leader Marcus Bakker speaking at rally, 1970.

Photo credit: Joost Evers





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