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Communism (from Latin communis, 'common, universal') is a left-wing to far-left sociopolitical, philosophical, and economic ideology within the socialist movement, whose goal is the establishment of a communist society, a socioeconomic order centered around common ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange that allocates products to everyone in the society. Communist society also involves the absence of private property, social classes, money, and the state. Communists often seek a voluntary state of self-governance but disagree on the means to this end. This reflects a distinction between a more libertarian approach of communization, revolutionary spontaneity, and workers' self-management, and a more vanguardist or Communist party-driven approach through the development of a constitutional socialist state followed by the withering away of the state. As one of the main ideologies on the political spectrum, communism is placed on the left-wing alongside socialism, and communist parties and movements have been described as radical left or far left.

Variants of communism have been developed throughout history, including anarcho-communism, Marxist schools of thought, and religious communism, among others. Communism includes a variety of schools of thought, which broadly include Marxism, Leninism, and libertarian communism, as well as the political ideologies grouped around those. All of these different ideologies generally share the analysis that the current order of society stems from capitalism, its economic system, and mode of production, that in this system there are two major social classes, that the relationship between these two classes is exploitative, and that this situation can only ultimately be resolved through a social revolution. The two classes are the proletariat (the working class), who make up the majority of the population within society and must sell their labor to survive, and the bourgeoisie (the capitalist class), a small minority that derives profit from employing the working class through private ownership of the means of production. According to this analysis, a communist revolution would put the working class in power, and in turn establish common ownership of property, the primary element in the transformation of society towards a communist mode of production.

Communism in its modern form grew out of the socialist movement in 19th-century Europe, who blamed capitalism for the misery of urban factory workers. In the 20th century, several ostensibly Communist governments espousing Marxism–Leninism and its variants came into power, first in the Soviet Union with the Russian Revolution of 1917, and then in portions of Eastern Europe, Asia, and a few other regions after World War II. As one of the many types of socialism, communism became the dominant political tendency, along with social democracy, within the international socialist movement by the early 1920s. During most of the 20th century, around one-third of the world's population lived under Communist governments. These governments, which have been criticized by other leftists and socialists, were characterized by one-party rule and suppression of opposition and dissent. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, several previously Communist governments repudiated or abolished Communist rule altogether. Afterwards, only a small number of nominally Communist governments remained, which are China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam.

While the emergence of the Soviet Union as the world's first nominally Communist state led to communism's widespread association with the Soviet economic model, several scholars posit that in practice the model functioned as a form of state capitalism. Public memory of 20th-century Communist states has been described as a battleground between anti-anti-communism and anti-communism. Many authors have written about excess deaths under Communist states and mortality rates, such as excess mortality in the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin, which remain a controversial, polarized, and debated topic in academia, historiography, and politics when discussing communism and the legacy of Communist states. (Full article...)

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Manifestation in Paris, October 2010
The French Communist Party (French: Parti communiste français, PCF ; French pronunciation: ​[paʁ.ti.kɔ.my.nist.fʁɑ̃.'sɛ]) is a left-wing political party in France which advocates the principles of communism. Founded in 1920 by the majority faction of the socialist French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO), it participated in three governments. It was also once the largest French left-wing party in a number of national elections, from 1945 to 1960, before falling behind Socialist Party in the 1970s.

Although its electoral support has declined in recent decades, the PCF retains a strong influence in French politics, especially at the local level. In 2012, the PCF claimed 138,000 members including 70,000 who have paid their membership fees.This would make it the third largest party in France in terms of membership.

Selected biography

Khalid Bakdash
Khalid Bakdash (1912–1995; occasionally spelled Khalid Bagdash, Arabic: خالد بكداش) was the leader of the Syrian Communist Party (SCP) from 1936 until his death. In 1954 Bakdash became the first member of a communist party to be elected to an Arab parliament. He has since been called the "dean of Arab communism."

Bakdash was a Damascus native of Kurdish origin. He was first recruited to the communist cause at the age of 18, while a student at Damascus University. He was subsequently active in student agitation against the French occupation of Syria, and came to the attention of the police. In 1933 the party judged it best that he leave the country, and in 1934 he enrolled in the Communist University of the Toilers of the East in Moscow.

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Flag-hoisting ceremony at the 19th congress of the Communist Party of India.

Photo credit: Soman

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Equally unjustified in my view is the legend widely disseminated in the West that if Trotsky had come to power there would have been a more democratic development than under Stalin. It suffices to think of the discussion on the trade unions in 1921 to understand that this is a pure legend. ... I don’t want to deal with this problem at length. But it is certain that, in the years that followed, Stalin followed de facto ... Trotsky’s line and not that of Lenin. If Trotsky later on sometimes reproached Stalin for appropriating his program, we can readily concede that he was in many respects right. It follows, according to my judgment of the two personalities, that what we today regard as despotic and undemocratic in the Stalin period has quite close strategic connections with the fundamental ideas of Trotsky. A socialist society under Trotsky’s leadership would have been at least as undemocratic as that of Stalin, but it would have faced the dilemma: a catastrophic policy or capitulation. ... (The personal impressions which I received from my meetings with Trotsky in 1931 aroused in me the conviction that he as an individual was even more inclined to the “cult of the personality” than Stalin.) ...

Let us return to the main subject. With his well-deserved victories in the discussions of the twenties the difficulties in Stalin’s position did not disappear. What was objectively the central problem, that of sharply accelerating the tempo of industrialization, was in all probability hardly to be resolved within the framework of normal proletarian democracy. It would be useless today to ask whether ... Lenin would have found a way out. We can see in retrospect on the one hand the difficulties of the objective situation, and on the other the fact that to overcome them Stalin, as time went by, went farther and farther beyond the limits of what was strictly necessary. It must be the task of ... Soviet science to bring to light the exact proportions. Closely bound up with this problem (but not identical with it) is that of Stalin’s position in the Party. It is certain that he built up little by little during and after the period of the discussions that pyramid of which I spoke at the beginning. But it is not enough to construct such a mechanism—it must be kept in continuous working order; it must always -react in the desired way, without possibility of surprises, to day-to-day problems of every kind. This is the way in which little by little the principle, which today is usually called the “cult of the personality,” must have been elaborated. The history of this too should be radically re-examined by Soviet scholars in command of all the material (including material so far unpublished). What could be observed even from outside was, in the first place, the systematic suppression of discussion within the Party; in the second place, the growing use of organizational measures against opponents; and in the third place, the transition from these measures to procedures of a judicial and administrative character. This last development was naturally received with silent dread. During the second stage the traditional sense of humor of the Russian intelligentsia was still active. “What is the difference between Hegel and Stalin?” people asked. The answer was “in Hegel there are thesis, antithesis and synthesis, in Stalin report, counter-report, and organizational measures..”..

— György Lukács (1885-1971)
Reflections on the Cult of Stalin , 1962


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