August 19, 2022

Communism (from the French communisme, derived from commun "common") is an ideology composed of a set of economic, philosophical, social and political ideas aimed at the creation of a communist society, or a society characterized by the abolition of social classes, of private ownership of the means of production, from the complete emancipation of all humans, participation of the people in government, progressively, to the extinction of the state. Communism first theorized in the 19th century by the two German thinkers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels underwent several transformations and interpretations based on the time and place in which it was reworked or implemented. Within the communist spectrum coexist numerous interpretations such as Marxism, Luxemburgism, councilism, Eurocommunism, anarcho-communism, Guevarism, Trotskyism, Leninism, Marxism-Leninism, Stalinism, Castroism, the Maoism, Juche, Christian Communism, Chruščëvism, Magonism and many others also in open conflict with each other.

History of the term

Although the idea of ​​a communist society has developed since ancient times, the terms socialism and communism are of eighteenth-century origin and only become commonly used with the affirmation of the industrial revolution. Despite this, the term communism is often used to describe all theories, even before the birth of the term, which envisage the collective possession of the means of production and the abolition of private property. Many of these theories, however, lack some characteristics of modern and contemporary communism, in particular the absence of overcoming the division into classes and egalitarianism. In these cases, therefore, different terms are also used to mark this difference: we speak of "communist" theories or "communism ante litteram". Until the publication of the Communist Manifesto in 1848, the terms socialism and communism were considered synonymous and therefore interchangeable. In the work, (public manifesto of the Bund der Kommunisten, in charge of the drafting inherent to the second congress, 29 November 8 December 1847) Marx and Engels operate the division between "utopian socialism" and "scientific socialism", which they also call communism. We wanted to polemically highlight the differences between the socialist theories then widespread (Saint-Simon, Fourier, Proudhon and Owen) and those of the Bund der Kommunisten, which proposed to be scientific by wanting to be based on facts and laws, and not on ideas or utopias. In the Manifesto it is written: Despite these claims, many have criticized that socialism can be "scientific": in particular Karl Popper, who bases his criticism on the non-falsifiability of socialist theories. In any case, the term communism continued to be a synonym of socialism throughout the nineteenth century: just remember that the parties that took part in the Second International, all of Marxist inspiration, were all called socialists or social democrats. The definitive separation of the two terms took place on the initiative of Lenin: in 1917 the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party, to highlight the gap between the positions of reformist socialism and revolutionary socialism, took the name of the Russian Communist Party. Since then, all parties of revolutionary inspiration have been defined as communists, while socialists or social democrats have defined themselves as the parties supporting an advanced reform program. The latter can remain in the bed of capitalist society without setting themselves the goal of a socialist transformation of society or promoting laws aimed at changing the social system from capitalist to socialist.

Use of the term

The term communism has been variously interpreted throughout history, often leading to politically conflicting situations between