What is Communism?
Communism is a political, economic and social doctrine that aspires to the equality of social classes through the elimination of private ownership of the means of production (land and industry). It is usually classified as an ultra-left doctrine due to the radical nature of its approaches.
This doctrine is founded on the theories of the Germans Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, for whom the capitalist model, based on private ownership of the means of production, was responsible for the class struggle, that is, for social inequality.
Communism proposes that the means of production be handed over to the working class or proletariat, which would allow establishing relations of equality between the different social actors, as well as guaranteeing an equitable distribution of wealth and the goods produced. The final stage of communism would be the disappearance of the state.
Characteristics of communism
Hammer and sickle, one of the symbols of communism.
Among some of the characteristics of communism we can name the following:
- It is based on the theory of class struggle.
- It proposes the elimination of private property from the means of production.
- It is anti-individualistic
- It is collectivist.
- It conceives of the State as the sole legitimate interpreter of the people, while aspiring to a subsequent disappearance of the State.
- Promote one-party.
- Centralize power.
- It tends towards totalitarianism.
Origin of communism
Communist doctrine was born as a criticism of the model of industrial capitalism, fully established in the first half of the 19th century, although its beginnings date back to the 18th.
Industrialization had brought consequences such as the abandonment of the countryside, migration to the cities, the formation of the working class or proletariat and the separation of the bourgeoisie into petty bourgeoisie and high bourgeoisie.
With this, a greater social gap ensued between the popular sectors (peasantry and proletariat) and the upper bourgeoisie, which concentrated the means of production, the media and capital.
Since the publication of the Communist Party Manifesto in 1848, popularly known as the Communist Manifesto, Communist doctrine made a great impact on European society. The text was written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels on behalf of the London Communist League .
Later, the issues of capital and capitalism were extensively studied in Karl Marx’s Capital , published in 1867, which has served as the basis for different interpretations of communism.
Establishment of communism
Communism was first established in Russia thanks to the so-called Russian Revolution of 1917. This was a consequence of the crisis of the Tsarist regime, aggravated with the advent of the First World War. The process gave rise to the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), which only disintegrated in 1989.
The influence of Marxist thought, especially of the work Capital , has been decisive in the Russian formulation of Marxism-Leninism, developed by Vladimir Lenin, and of Stalinism, developed by Joseph Stalin.
In addition to Russia, communism was also implanted in countries like Korea (1948); China (1949); North Vietnam (1945); South Vietnam after reunification (1976); Cuba (1959); Laos (1975) and the Moldovan Republic of Transnistria (1990).
Communism in Latin America
In Latin America there are various experiences of communism, although each of them has different characteristics. For this reason, the identification and classification of such experiences usually raises great controversies.
After the triumph of the Russian Revolution in 1917, in Latin America the foundation of various communist parties was attended, such as the Communist Party of Argentina (1918), that of Uruguay (1920), that of Cuba (1925), that of Mexico (1929) and Venezuela (1931), among others.
Some communist parties were born from the transformation of socialist parties, as is the case of Chile. The leadership of Salvador Allende was decisive for this.
The most emblematic case of the application of the communist model in the region is Cuba, where communism was established after the 1959 Cuban Revolution, led by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.
In the region, communist-inspired movements in Latin America have manifested themselves in two major trends: one that bets on armed revolution and the other that proposes to take power by democratic means.
Among some of the armed movements we can mention:
- Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) in Nicaragua;
- National Liberation Movement-Tupamaros (MLN-T) or Tupamaros in Uruguay;
- Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) in Mexico;
- Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and National Liberation Army (ELN) in Colombia;
- Shining Path in Peru.
Among the movements that came to power through democracy , the cases of Chile during the government of Salvador Allende (1970-1973), and Venezuela, with Chavismo-Madurismo (1999-present), stand out. However, in the latter case, it is necessary to specify that the democratic path was explored only after the failure of the military uprising on February 4, 1992.
Primitive communism is the name that Marx gave to a primary phase of the historical processes of economic and social formation. According to Marx, this phase was characterized by the common ownership of the tools of production, a low level of the productive force and an equal distribution of the result of production.
For the author, this type of communism corresponded to the most primitive form of production, prior to the time of the division of labor, and would be a consequence of the state of defenselessness of the individual when institutionalized forms of society did not yet exist.
Communism and socialism
Although there is a tendency to identify socialism and communism, both doctrines differ widely in their objective and in the means to achieve it.
For communism, the goal is the elimination of social classes and the establishment of absolute social equality, which would result in the disappearance of the state. The only means of achieving this is the elimination of private ownership of the means of production.
Socialism proposes the regulation of the balance between the different social classes, as well as the regulation of state power through citizen participation.
Even though socialism admits the Marxist principle of class struggle insofar as it mobilizes social change, it does not question private property.