Updated: Jan 6
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when I say the words “communism” or “socialism”? Most probably your answer would be Karl Marx, but what if I told you that Marx was not the creator of such concepts? In our modern world Marx could be referred to as the most respected authority and reference point to understand such concepts, however, socialism and communism still have various meanings and applications.
In the first half of the 19th century, when the Industrial Revolution was at its peak and workers increasingly grew poor, social reformers like Robert Owen and Charles Fourier came up with their own models wherein the free market controlled the supply and demand of goods and which was based on the principles of cooperation and community. However, Karl Marx with his collaborator Friedrich Engels, published their COMMUNIST MANIFESTO in 1848, which clearly mentioned that such socialist models by the reformers mentioned above was simply an unrealistic “utopian” dream.
Now talking about Marx’s interpretation, Marx simply believed that communism comes after capitalism. Marx was quite confident about the overthrow of all segments of capitalism irrespective of the violence or turmoil caused in the society. However, the major thing that troubled Marx was the process towards communism once the bourgeoisie (Marx’s term for the capitalists who owned the major part of society’s wealth) had been desposed. According, to the Marxist writers, a single revolution cannot simply transform the entire society. As a result, a long period of transition is necessary wherein the remnants of capitalism shall be completely abolished. This phase has been named as “Dictatorship of the Proletariat”.
Once there is a successful transition from the bourgeois’ institutions to the workers institutions, the concept of socialism steps in. In the “first phase of communism” (Socialism) also known as the premature form of communism, Wherein private property has been completely replaced by property of the entire society and products and services shall be provided according to the amount of labour. Once this happens, Marx’s “perfect stage of communism” steps in. According to him, there is no scope of injustice or inequality in this stage. The opposition by the bourgeois shall be done away with in such a stage and all individuals shall be equal in terms of using social means of production. The most fascinating feature of this stage is that an individual’s usefulness shall no longer determine his/her wealth, instead, the rule of distribution shall be based on the fulfillment of needs, in simpler words, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”
Now taking on the case of contemporary world, it is intriguing to see that a perfectly “communist” or a purely “socialist” country has never existed. “Communism” exists in China, Cuba, Laos and Vietnam but they are not “communist states” because not even one of them have been successful in eliminating private property, money or class systems. Similarly, socialist states like Norway, Sweden and Denmark have successfully retained capitalist sectors.
A general inference after viewing the concept of communism as well as socialism is that such concepts are idealistic. We must understand that such concepts were born at a time when people were exhausted by the exploitation of the aristocracies. As a result, people started aspiring for a “perfect” society wherein they would govern themselves, completely ignoring the human nature of wanting more. Today, almost 300 hundred years from when this concept was born, people have in the most dignified manner manipulated this beautiful concept for their personal gains. Thus, we have “communism” which was born in order to do away with dictators and aristocracies has given rise to a country like “China”.