Difference Between Communism and Anarchism

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What is the Difference Between Communism and Anarchism?

Communism and anarchism differ in the way of achieving an egalitarian society based on the absence of the State, on free association between people and on the extinction of private property.

For communism, the construction of a classless society takes place through the intensification of the contradictions of capitalism, giving rise to a process of transformation in the mode of production. This change necessitates in a transition period called socialist.

As for anarchism, the State is based on hierarchization and coercion, which would prevent the construction of a fair and egalitarian society.

Communism vs. Anarchism | The Differences

Communism Anarchism
Meaning Political, social and economic system based on a classless society, without private property and without the presence of the State. Revolutionary political ideology based on the extinction of the State for the construction of an egalitarian society, without hierarchy or authority.
Features Abolition of private property, social classes and the State; internationalism and free association. Extinction of the State, abolition of all forms of authority and coercion; internationalism and free association.
Ideas of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, Gramsci, Lukacs, Franz Fanon, etc. Proudhon, Bakunin, Malatesta, Kropotkin, Emma Goldman, Mary Wollstonecraft, etc.

What is Communism?

Communism is a social, political and economic system, based on the principles developed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. The system proposes the abolition of private property and the state and the development of a classless society.

hammer and sickle and red star are symbols of communism
The hammer and sickle is the main symbol of communism. Represents the union between workers in the field (scythe) and the city (hammer), the red star is also used

According to communist thinkers, the history of humanity develops through class struggle. A minority ruling class controls the mode of production, imposes itself and exploits the majority. Starting with the development of capitalism, the class struggle takes the form of an antagonism between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.

The mode of production is defined with the objective of generating profit for the owners of the means of production and, consequently, of capital. The dissolution of this model starts from the awareness of the exploited class through a process of social transformation.

The development of communism presupposes a socialist phase in which the means of production are collectivized, organized by the state. This phase is also marked by a process of education and abandoning the habits built by capitalism.

For some currents of communism, such as that developed by Leon Trotsky, this transition is gradual, also called “permanent revolution”. For others, such as Marxism-Leninism, a revolutionary process that definitively breaks with the capitalist system is needed.

The revolution would start the “dictatorship of the proletariat”, a transition period in which social classes continue to exist. However, they come to be defined and controlled by the working class.

What is Anarchism?

Anarchism is a political ideology based on free association and the end of all forms of hierarchy and authority. Unlike communism, anarchism proposes that any real transformation of society requires the extinction of the state.

The prefix “anarcho” is used to affirm any system that is based on the absence of authority and free association between individuals. It is also used in a pejorative way, as it associates “anarcho” with a chaotic and ruleless model.

the 'A' and the black flag, symbols of anarchism
the “A” and the black flag are symbols of anarchism

For anarchism, the State fulfills a coercive function that impedes progress towards an egalitarian society. Thus, the anarchist movement affirms the need to create an immediate system of equality, achieved by the revolution.

Some fundamental thinkers of anarchism, such as Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, develop the idea that the State is a historically necessary evil.

Thus, abolition is a necessary condition for individuals to act freely without being subjected to an external authority.

Other thinkers were important for the development of anarchist thought and the construction of some currents of anarchism:

  • Mikhail Bakunin (collectivist anarchism)
  • Piotr Kropotkin and Errico Malatesta (anarcho-communism)
  • Mary Wollstonecraft and Emma Goldman (anarchofeminism/anarcho-syndicalism)
  • Henry David Thoreau (civil disobedience/anarcho-pacifism)
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