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List of communist ideologies: Wikis


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Self-identified communists hold a variety of views, including Leninism, Trotskyism, Council communism, Luxemburgism, Anarchist communism, Christian communism, and various currents of Left communism. However, the offshoots of the Leninist interpretations of Marxism are the most well-known of these and have been a driving force in international relations during most of the 20th century.[1]

This list includes ideologies which are or were

  • communist in the sense of maintaining the ideal of common ownership and control of at least the means of production (and possibly of other property) regardless whether the word 'communism' is used by the adherents of the ideology or not;
  • notable enough to be either mentioned in a non-trivial way in more than one scholarly work about history of communism, or to be an official ideology of a party at least represented in a parliament of a country with more than 1,000,000 citizens.

Besides the principal communist ideologies (like Marxism or Anarchocommunism), the list may contain also branches limited in their theoretical scope (e.g. Lysenkoism) or in their regional extent (e.g. Kadarism), provided they fulfil the above conditions.


Marxist schools of communism



Marxism, developed by Marx and Engels from 1840's into the 1890s, became the principal form of Leftist thought during the lives of its fathers, and with the exception of USA it remained in this position well until 1960's. Most of other influential Leftist and socially critical theories either develop Marxism further (e.g. classical Social Democracy, Leninism and Maoism), or completely drop the term "communism" and do not try to create a new classless society (e.g. the modern Feminism, New Labour, Environmentalism). Therefore the words "Marxism" and "Communism" are often understood as synonymous.

The Communist manifesto, London 1848

Marx and Engels saw capitalism as based on the exploitation of workers. According to Marx, the main characteristic of human life in class society is alienation, while communism entails the full realization of human freedom.[2] Marx here follows Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in conceiving freedom not merely as an absence of restraints but as action with content.[3] Marx believed that communism would give people the power to appropriate the fruits of their labor while preventing them from exploiting others. Whereas for Hegel the unfolding of this ethical life in history is mainly driven by the realm of ideas, for Marx, communism emerged from material forces, particularly the development of the means of production.[3]

Marxism holds that a process of class conflict and revolutionary struggle will result in victory for the proletariat and the establishment of a communist society in which private ownership is abolished over time and the means of production and subsistence become the property of society. Marx himself wrote little about life under communism, giving only the most general indication as to what constituted a communist society. The German Ideology (1845) was one of Marx's few writings to elaborate on the communist future:

"In communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic."[4]

In the late 19th century, the terms "socialism" and "communism" were often used interchangeably. However, Marx and Engels argued that communism would not emerge from capitalism in a fully developed state, but would pass through a lower phase in which productive property was owned in common but people would be allowed to take from the social wealth only to the extent of their contribution to the production of that wealth. The "lower phase" would eventually evolve into a "higher phase" in which the antithesis between mental and physical labor has disappeared, people enjoy their work, and goods are produced in abundance, allowing people to freely take according to their needs. Lenin frequently used the term "socialism" to refer to Marx and Engels' "lower phase" of communism and used the term "communism" interchangeably with Marx and Engels' "higher phase" of communism.


Marxism-Leninism is a version of communism adopted by the Soviet Union, and some Communist Parties across the world today. It shaped the Soviet Union and influenced Communist Parties worldwide. It was heralded as a possibility of building communism via a massive program of industrialization and collectivization. Historically, under the ideology of Marxism-Leninism the rapid development of industry, and above all the victory of the Soviet Union in the Second World War occurred alongside a third of the world being lead by Marxist-Leninist inspired parties. Despite the fall of the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries, many communist Parties of the world today still lay claim to uphold the Marxist-Leninist banner. Marxism-Leninism expands on Marxists thoughts by bringing the theories to what Lenin and other Communists considered, the age of capitalist imperialism, and a renewed focus on party building, the development of a socialist state, and democratic centralism as an organizational principle.


"Stalinism" is a political term with a variety of uses. Most commonly, it is used as a pejorative shorthand for Marxism-Leninism (see above) by a variety of competing political tendencies, such as capitalism and Trotskyism. Although Stalin himself repudiated any qualitatively original contribution to Marxism, the communist movement usually credits him with systematizing and expanding the ideas of Lenin into the ideology of Marxism-Leninism as a distinct body of work. In this sense, Stalinism can be thought of as being roughly equivalent to Marxism-Leninism, although this is not universally agreed upon.

At other times, the term is used as a general umbrella term, again pejoratively, to describe a wide variety of political systems and governments, including the Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact countries of Europe, Mongolia, the Peoples Republic of China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Laos, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Albania, Angola, and others. In this sense, it can be seen as being roughly equivalent to actually existing socialism, although sometimes it is used to describe "authoritarian" governments that are not socialist.

At any rate, some of the contributions to communist theory that Stalin is particularly known for are:


Trotsky and his supporters organized into the Left Opposition and their platform became known as Trotskyism. Stalin eventually succeeded in gaining control of the Soviet regime and Trotskyist attempts to remove Stalin from power resulted in Trotsky's exile from the Soviet Union in 1929. During Trotsky's exile, world communism fractured into two distinct branches: Marxism-Leninism and Trotskyism.[1] Trotsky later founded the Fourth International, a Trotskyist rival to the Comintern, in 1938.

Trotskyist ideas have continually found a modest echo among political movements in some countries in Latin America and Asia, especially in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia and Sri Lanka. Many Trotskyist organizations are also active in more stable, developed countries in North America and Western Europe. Trotsky's politics differed sharply from those of Stalin and Mao, most importantly in declaring the need for an international proletarian revolution (rather than socialism in one country) and unwavering support for a true dictatorship of the proletariat based on democratic principles.

However, as a whole, Trotsky's theories and attitudes were never accepted in worldwide mainstream Communist circles after Trotsky's expulsion, either within or outside of the Soviet bloc. This remained the case even after the Secret Speech and subsequent events critics claim exposed the fallibility of Stalin.

Some criticize Trotskyism as incapable of using concrete analysis on its theories, rather resorting to phrases and abstract notions.[6][7][8]


Maoism is the Marxist-Leninist trend of Communism associated with Mao Zedong and was mostly practiced within the People's Republic of China. Khrushchev's reforms heightened ideological differences between the People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union, which became increasingly apparent in the 1960s. As the Sino-Soviet Split in the international Communist movement turned toward open hostility, China portrayed itself as a leader of the underdeveloped world against the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union.

This poster shows Mao Zedong as continuing the legacy set by former Communist leaders.[9]

Parties and groups that supported the Communist Party of China (CPC) in their criticism against the new Soviet leadership proclaimed themselves as 'anti-revisionist' and denounced the CPSU and the parties aligned with it as revisionist "capitalist-roaders." The Sino-Soviet Split resulted in divisions amongst communist parties around the world. Notably, the Party of Labour of Albania sided with the People's Republic of China. Effectively, the CPC under Mao's leadership became the rallying forces of a parallel international Communist tendency. The ideology of CPC, Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought (generally referred to as 'Maoism'), was adopted by many of these groups.

After Mao's death and his replacement by Deng Xiaoping, the international Maoist movement diverged. One sector accepted the new leadership in China; a second renounced the new leadership and reaffirmed their commitment to Mao's legacy; and a third renounced Maoism altogether and aligned with Albania.


Another variant of anti-revisionist Marxism-Leninism appeared after the ideological row between the Communist Party of China and the Party of Labour of Albania in 1978. The Albanians rallied a new separate international tendency. This tendency would demarcate itself by a strict defense of the legacy of Joseph Stalin and fierce criticism of virtually all other Communist groupings as revisionist. Critical of the United States, Soviet Union, and China, Enver Hoxha declared the latter two to be social-imperialist and condemned the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia by withdrawing from the Warsaw Pact in response. Hoxha declared Albania to be the world's only state legitimately adhering to Marxism-Leninism after 1978. The Albanians were able to win over a large share of the Maoists, mainly in Latin America such as the Popular Liberation Army and Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador, but also had a significant international following in general. This tendency has occasionally been labeled as 'Hoxhaism' after him.

After the fall of the Communist government in Albania, the pro-Albanian parties are grouped around an international conference and the publication 'Unity and Struggle'.


Elements of Titoism are characterized by policies and practices based on the principle that in each country, the means of attaining ultimate communist goals must be dictated by the conditions of that particular country, rather than by a pattern set in another country. During Tito’s era, this specifically meant that the communist goal should be pursued independently of (and often in opposition to) the policies of the Soviet Union.

The term was originally meant as a pejorative, and was labeled by Moscow as a heresy during the period of tensions between the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia known as the Informbiro period from 1948 to 1955.

Unlike the rest of East Europe, which fell under Stalin's influence post-World War II, Yugoslavia, due to the strong leadership of Marshal Tito and the fact that the Yugoslav Partisans liberated Yugoslavia with only limited help from the Red Army, remained independent from Moscow. It became the only country in the Balkans to resist pressure from Moscow to join the Warsaw Pact and remained "socialist, but independent" right up until the collapse of Soviet socialism in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Throughout his time in office, Tito prided himself on Yugoslavia's independence from Russia, with Yugoslavia never accepting full membership of the Comecon and Tito's open rejection of many aspects of Stalinism as the most obvious manifestations of this.


Since the early 1970s, the term Eurocommunism was used to refer to moderate, reformist Communist parties in western Europe. These parties did not support the Soviet Union and denounced its policies. Such parties were politically active and electorally significant in Italy (PCI), France (PCF), and Spain (PCE).[10]


Luxemburgism is a specific revolutionary theory within Marxism and communism, based on the writings of Rosa Luxemburg.

Council communism

Council communism is a far-left movement originating in Germany and the Netherlands in the 1920s. Its primary organization was the Communist Workers Party of Germany (KAPD). Council communism continues today as a theoretical and activist position within both left-wing Marxism and libertarian socialism.

The central argument of council communism, in contrast to those of social democracy and Leninist Communism, is that democratic workers' councils arising in the factories and municipalities are the natural form of working class organisation and governmental power. This view is opposed to both the reformist and the Leninist ideologies, with their stress on, respectively, parliaments and institutional government (i.e., by applying social reforms), on the one hand, and vanguard parties and participative democratic centralism on the other).

The core principle of council communism is that the government and the economy should be managed by workers' councils composed of delegates elected at workplaces and recallable at any moment. As such, council communists oppose state-run authoritarian "State socialism"/"State capitalism". They also oppose the idea of a "revolutionary party", since council communists believe that a revolution led by a party will necessarily produce a party dictatorship. Council communists support a worker's democracy, which they want to produce through a federation of workers' councils. Council communism (and other types of "anti-authoritarian and Anti-leninist Marxism" such as Autonomism) are often viewed as being similar to Anarchism because they criticize Leninist ideologies for being authoritarian and reject the idea of a vanguard party.


In 1992, Juche replaced Marxism-Leninism in the revised North Korean constitution as the official state ideology. Juche is based on Marxism-Leninism: "the world outlook of the materialistic dialectics is the premise for the Juche philosophy."[11] After the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union (North Korea’s greatest economic benefactor), all reference to Marxism-Leninism was dropped in the revised 1998 constitution. The establishment of the Songun doctrine in the mid-1990s has formally designated the military, not the proletariat or working class, as the main revolutionary force in North Korea.

According to Kim Jong-il's On the Juche Idea, the application of Juche in state policy entails the following:

  1. The people must have independence (chajusong) in thought and politics, economic self-sufficiency, and self-reliance in defense.
  2. Policy must reflect the will and aspirations of the masses and employ them fully in revolution and construction.
  3. Methods of revolution and construction must be suitable to the situation of the country.
  4. The most important work of revolution and construction is molding people ideologically as communists and mobilizing them to constructive action.[12]

Non-Marxist schools

The most widely held forms of communist theory are derived from Marxism, but non-Marxist versions of communism (such as Christian communism and anarchist communism) also exist and are growing in importance since the fall of the Soviet Union.


Peter Kropotkin's The Conquest of Bread, first published in 1892, provided early arguments in favor of anarcho-communism.

Some of Marx's contemporaries espoused similar ideas, but differed in their views of how to reach to a classless society. Following the split between those associated with Marx and Mikhail Bakunin at the First International, the anarchists formed the International Workers Association.[13] Anarchists argued that capitalism and the state were inseparable and that one could not be abolished without the other. Anarchist-communists such as Peter Kropotkin theorized an immediate transition to one society with no classes. Anarcho-syndicalism became one of the dominant forms of anarchist organization, arguing that labor unions, as opposed to Communist parties, are the organizations that can change society. Consequently, many anarchists have been in opposition to Marxist communism to this day.

Christian communism

Christian communism is a form of religious communism centered on Christianity. It is a theological and political theory based upon the view that the teachings of Jesus Christ urge Christians to support communism as the ideal social system. Christian communists trace the origins of their practice to teachings in the New Testament, such as this one from Acts of the Apostles at chapter 2 and verses 42, 44, and 45:

42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and in fellowship [...] 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things in common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. (King James Version)

Christian communism can be seen as a radical form of Christian socialism. Also, due to the fact that many Christian communists have formed independent stateless communes in the past, there is also a link between Christian communism and Christian anarchism. Christian communists may or may not agree with various parts of Marxism.

Christian communists also share some of the political goals of Marxists, for example replacing capitalism with socialism, which should in turn be followed by communism at a later point in the future. However, Christian communists sometimes disagree with Marxists (and particularly with Leninists) on the way a socialist or communist society should be organized.



  1. ^ a b "Communism". The Columbia Encyclopedia (6th ed.). 2007.  
  2. ^ Stephen Whitefield. "Communism." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics. Ed. Iain McLean and Alistair McMillan. Oxford University Press, 2003.
  3. ^ a b McLean and McMillan, 2003.
  4. ^ Karl Marx, (1845). The German Ideology, Marx-Engels Institute, Moscow. ISBN 978-1-57392-258-6. Sources available at The German Ideology at
  5. ^ "Marxism and the National Question"
  6. ^ On Trotskyism
  7. ^ Swedish FRP on anti-Marxist-Leninist dogmas of Trotskyism
  8. ^ What's Your Line?
  9. ^ This poster has been jokingly referred to as "The History of Shaving" Stefan Landsberger's Chinese Propaganda Poster Pages-Ideological Foundations
  10. ^ Colton, Timothy J. (2007). "Communism". Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia.  
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Marshall, Peter. "Demanding the Impossible  — A History of Anarchism" p. 9. Fontana Press, London, 1993 ISBN 978-0-00-686245-1

Further reading

  • Reason in Revolt: Marxism and Modern Science By Alan Woods and Ted Grant
  • Forman, James D., "Communism from Marx's Manifesto to 20th century Reality", New York, Watts. 1972. ISBN 978-0-531-02571-0
  • Books on Communism, Socialism and Trotskyism
  • Furet, Francois, Furet, Deborah Kan (Translator), "The Passing of an Illusion: The Idea of Communism in the Twentieth Century", University of Chicago Press, 2000, ISBN 978-0-226-27341-9
  • Daniels, Robert Vincent, "A Documentary History of Communism and the World: From Revolution to Collapse", University Press of New England, 1994, ISBN 978-0-87451-678-4
  • Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels, "Communist Manifesto", (Mass Market Paperback - REPRINT), Signet Classics, 1998, ISBN 978-0-451-52710-3
  • Dirlik, Arif, "Origins of Chinese Communism", Oxford University Press, 1989, ISBN 978-0-19-505454-5
  • Beer, Max, "The General History of Socialism and Social Struggles Volumes 1 & 2", New York, Russel and Russel, Inc. 1957
  • Adami, Stefano, 'Communism', in Encyclopedia of Italian Literary Studies, ed. Gaetana Marrone - P.Puppa, Routledge, New York- London, 2006

External links


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