Compare and Contrast Communism, Socialism, and Capitalism

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What is communism? Communism is a term used broadly to designate a ‘theory or system of social organization based on the holding of all property in common, actual ownership being ascribed to the community as a whole or to the state.’ It refers to the doctrine which underlines the revolutionary movement which aims to abolish capitalism and ultimately to establish a society in which all goods will be socially owned, all economic activates socially planned and controlled, and in which all distributions will be in accordance with the maxim. German author Emil Ludwig described the maxim as “for each according to his capacity, to each according to his need.”(1) It is to be distinguished from socialism which aims by constitutional and democratic methods to nationalize gradually only the essential means of production and to organize distribution on the basis of a just reward to each person for the amount and quality of his or her work.

In its early forms the term “communism” first came into use in France, after 1840; the general idea being that private property is the source of all social ills which can be cured only by a community of goods and interest. In the Greco- Roman world, Plato expounded the idea in his book The Republic in the 4th century and to stoics implied it in their doctrine of natural right or as they called it “jus natural” which means according to which natured created all men free and equal and private property was unknown to the original state of nature. (2) According to Karl Marx, this is the final stage towards development of egalitarian society. Here all the resources are state-owned and it determines its distribution based on the needs in an effort to bring about equality. Communism is conservative. Fewer and fewer people have any say in how the economy works. By using state coercion to fulfill unmet demands, it restricts individual freedom. Communism necessarily takes the form of totalitarianism or the tyranny of all over one since it’s up to the state to decide who gets what. Historically, communist societies have been characterized by the absolute rule of a revolutionary party leader, beneath whom everyone is equally subservient. It becomes very difficult for such an economy to survive in a large population when it becomes difficult for equal distribution of resources. (5)

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels are the ones responsible for the theoretical foundations of the modern communism. In their time together Marx and Engels wrote several pieces of documentations and books which started in 1848 with The Communist Manifesto, 1850 Marx’s Class Struggles in France, 1867 The First Volume of Das Kapital, 1871 Civil War in France, 1875 Critique of the Gotha Programme, and in 1877 Engels so called Anti-Dühring. Marx and Engels took over and modified the current concepts of materialism, the Hegelian view of historic evolution as dialectical process moving from thesis through antithesis to synthesis, the labor theory of value of David Ricardo, The critique of capitalism of the ‘Utopian “by French socialist, and tactics of Blanqui. In later writings, Marx and Engels described the ideal communist society only in general terms such as “a system of social ownership under which production would be carried on by voluntary associations of workers, distribution would be in accordance with the needs, the state would cease to be an instrument of force and “wither away” and the individual would live in freedom and in harmony with society. Marx and Engels thought that the social revolution they aimed at could be carried out by peaceful means in some countries like England and The United States. (2) Marx and Engels used the term “communism” to distinguish their program from socialism which in the 1840’s meant economic and social reform. Some countries that are, or have been communist are the former U.S.S.R, China, Germany, Guatemala, Cuba, Greece, Africa, Some parts of the United States, Turkey, Suez, Israel, North...
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