Features of Communism – Characteristics / Criticism
Communism is a political, economic and social philosophy that seeks to establish joint ownership of the means of production and the elimination of social classes.
Communism emerges as a critique of the capitalist system that promoted the accumulation of capital as a mechanism to generate wealth, private ownership of the means of production and the use of the market as a mechanism for allocating resources.
According to communism, capitalism is responsible for social inequality and injustice. This causes a great gap to be generated between social classes. In this way, it proposes joint ownership of productive resources in such a way that there is no division between rich and poor.
Founder of Communism
The foundations of communism were developed by Karl Max and Friedrich Engels in the late 19th century.
- Karl Max was a German philosopher and economist who developed the idea that capitalism generated an oppression that would lead to a war of social classes and a subsequent revolution. His main works related to communism are: Manifesto of the Communist Party (co-authored with Engels) and Capital.
- Friedrich Engels was a German philosopher, political leader and revolutionary who maintained a long friendship and collaboration with Karl Max. They shared the criticism of the capitalist system and jointly developed the work “Capital”.
Origin of Communism
According to Marxist theory, the so-called primitive communism existed when human beings were engaged in hunting and gathering. In those times, property was communal and, only when our species began to practice sedentary life, could capital accumulation and private property begin.
It can also be said that there were practices that can be identified with communism in certain ancient societies (although this approach is debated by experts). For example, in pre-Columbian Inca culture, there was an agricultural system that then ordered the distribution of crops from a central authority.
However, communism as such had its origin in the work of Marx and Engels, as we explained in the previous section. These thinkers gave a theoretical basis to this current of thought.
We must also note that perhaps one of the most important attempts to put the ideas of communism into practice was the creation in 1922 of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) where private property practically disappeared, trying to plan the economy from the State .
Features of Communism
The main characteristics of communism are the following:
- It is based on Marxism, taking it to a final or extreme state.
- It aspires to a society where social classes are eliminated, so that, in theory, there are no people with greater privileges than others.
- It proposes that the entire economy be planned from a central entity, from where it will be determined how much to produce and at what price to sell.
- It does not admit political pluralism , but rather a one-party government that carries out reforms towards a communist model.
- It proposes the disappearance of private property in the means of production. In this way, the theory maintains, the exploitation of the proletariat and the appropriation of surplus value by the capitalists would be avoided.
- It has different currents such as Leninism, Trotskyism and Maoism.
How does Communism work?
According to communism, private property generates a social class struggle between workers and owners of the means of production. This class struggle leads to internal and cyclical crises that can only be resolved through the workers’ revolution. In this sense, the workers must, according to communism, appropriate the resources and declare their joint ownership.
To achieve this, a communist political party must be created that dominates the State so that it establishes the so-called “Dictatorship of the Proletariat”. Goods and services will be produced according to a centralized planning mechanism where there will be no competition or free market.
During this phase, social classes will be extinguished until reaching a point where the State will no longer be necessary and therefore it will be abolished.
Criticism of Communism
There are several criticisms of communism, among the most relevant are:
- New social classes: Some authors have criticized communism, pointing out that the elimination of social classes is a utopia. Communism will only generate new social classes where workers will also differ in their degree of power and control over resources.
- Inefficiency: Central planning and the elimination of entrepreneurship lead to productive inefficiency. Thus, many of the scarce resources are lost or underutilized.
- Lack of incentives: Because individual effort or initiative is not rewarded, people and companies stop striving to be more productive, reduce costs, or innovate. This leads to a stagnation of the economy and the consequent suffering of people.