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Political Philosophies – Communism Part 3 – World History – Free PDF Download


Marx – An Assessment:

  • The ideas of Marx acts as the gospel of revolution and the Communist Manifesto is the Handbook of revolutionaries around the world.
  • However, the Marxian theory is plagued by several methodological and conceptual problems.
  • The most distinct characteristic of modern capitalism has been the emergence of large, ‘Contended and Conservative’ middle class consisting of managerial, professional, supervisory and technical personnel.
  • Modern Corporations entail a separation between ownership and control; the capitalists who own the instruments of production are not necessarily the effective decision makers.
  • Also a widespread ownership of the means of production through investment in stocks, and the great expansion of government role in the regulation of big businesses, redistribution of wealth and general social functions were not anticipated by Marx.
  • Today’s capitalism does not justify a Marxist belief that class conflict is essentially revolutionary in character and that structural changes are always the product of violent upheavals rather than organized labor has been able to sway the balance of power and affect profound structural changes without violent revolution.
  • Marx’s theory of Labor and the deductive reasoning that flows from it of the pauperization of the masses is not very acceptable as it has been observed that the socialist countries before the end of the Cold War had a higher percentage of accumulation than the capitalist countries.
  • Marx misjudged the extent of alienation in the average worker.
  • The great depth of the alienation and frustration, which Marx witness among the workers of his day is not typical of today’s capitalism or its worker who tends to identify increasingly with a number of meaningful groups viz. Religious, ethnic, occupational and local.
  • This is not the deny alienation, but the point is that in modern societies, alienation results more from the structure of the bureaucracy and of mass society than from the economic exploitation.
  • Marx also overemphasized the economic base of political power and ignored other important sources of power.
  • Moreover Marx’s prediction about the downfall of capitalism has not come true.
  • Contrary to his belief, socialism in the past years had triumphed more in the agrarian peasant societies rather than the capitalist societies, which showed no sign of a destructive class war.
  • Further, Marx’s classless and stateless society is a utopia; there can be no society without an authority or a regulatory mechanism which inevitably leads to a crystallization of social relations between the rulers and the ruled, with inherent possibilities of internal contradiction and conflict.
  • Today’s Marxist will, however blame imperialism for the failure of the Marxian prophecy.
  • They argue that advanced industrial nations have been able to fortify their capitalist economies by exploiting the rest of the world through colonialism and sovereign multinational corporations.
  • Proponents of Marxist thought have made effective use of Marxian theoretical schema to explain the process of class conflict and revolutionary movements around the world.
  • Conflicts between landless peasantry and landed aristocracy, between incongruent status groups in newly emerging industrial societies, populist movements and conservative counter revolutions, colonialism and imperialism, international conspiracies and ideological warfare and between socialism and democracy.

Types of communism:

  • Leninism:
  • Leninism builds upon and elaborates the ideas of Marxism, and served as the philosophical basis for the ideology of Soviet communism after the Russian revolution of 1917 and the establishment of Soviet Union.
  • Vladimir Ilyich Lenin( 1870- 1924) argued in his pamphlet “What is to be done?” of 1902 that the proletariat can only achieve a successful revolutionary consciousness through the efforts of a “Vangaurd Party” composed of full-time professional revolutionaries and through a form of disciplined organization known as “Democratic Centralism”( whereby decisions are made with internal democracy but then all party members must externally support and actively promote that decision).
  • It holds that capitalism can only be overthrown by revolutionary means, and any attempts to reform capitalism from within are doomed to fail.
  • The goal of a Leninist party is to orchestrate the overthrow of the existing government by force and seize power on behalf of the proletariat, and then implement a dictatorship of the proletariat, a kind of direct democracy in which workers hold political power through local councils known as Soviets.


  • It is a communist ideological stream that emerged as the mainstream tendency amongst communist parties in the 1920s as it was adopted as the ideological foundation of the Communist International during the era of Joseph Stalin, with whom it is mainly associated.
  • The term Marxism-Leninism is most often used by those who believe that Lenin’s legacy was successfully carried forward by Stalin, although it is debatable to what extent it actually follows the principles of either Marx or Lenin.


  • It is a more pejorative term for Joseph Stalin’s vision of communism( which Stalin himself described as Marxism-Leninism).
  • Proper links of the term argue that it includes an extensive use of propaganda to establish a personality cult around an absolute dictator, as well as extensive use of a secret police to maintain social submission and silence political dissent, all of which are trappings of totalitarianism.


  • It is the theory of Marxism advocated by Leon Trotsky, who considered himself an Orthodox Marxist and Bolshevik Leninist, and argued for the establishment of a Vanguard party.
  • Trotsky’s politics had differed sharply from Marxism Leninism of Josef Stalin, particularly in declaring the need for an International Proletarian revolution( as opposed to Stalin’s socialism in one country), and unvarying support for a true dictatorship of the proletariat based on direct Democratic principles.
  • One of the defining characteristics of Trotskyism is the theory of permanent revolution to explain how socialist revolutions could occur in societies that had not yet achieved advanced capitalism( which according to Marx was a prerequisite for socialist revolution).


  • It is a specific revolutionary theory within communism, based on the writings of Rosa Luxemburg.
  • Her politics diverged from those of Lennin and Trotsky mainly in her disagreement with their concept of Democratic centralism, which she saw as insufficiently Democratic.
  • Luxemburgism resembles anarchism in its avoidance of an authoritarian society by relying on the people themselves as opposed to their leaders, however, it also sees the importance of a revolutionary party and the centrality of the working class in the revolutionary struggle.
  • It resembles Trotskyism in its opposition to the totalitarianism of Stalin and to reformist politics of modern social democracy, but differs in arguing that Lenin and Trotsky also made undemocratic errors.


  • It is a variant of communism derived from the teachings of Chinese leader Mao Zedong, and practice in the People’s Republic of China after the Chinese revolution of 1949.
  • Maoism developed from the Marxism-Leninism of Stalin, but introduced new ideas such as Social Imperialism( Mao accused the Soviet Union of dominating and exploiting the smaller countries in its sphere to the point of organizing their economies around Soviet, not domestic, needs), the Mass Line( a method of leadership that seeks to learn from the masses and immerse the political leadership in the concerns and conditions of the masses-“from the masses, to the masses”), People’s War and New Democracy.
  • The ‘Great Leap Forward’ of 1958, an attempt to industrialize and improve China’s economy proved to be disastrous and million died from the resulting famine.
  • The Cultural Revolution, begun in 1966 under the so-called ‘Gang of Four’ in an attempt to rid the country of any remaining liberal bourgeoisie elements, resulted in further social, political and economic chaos, eventually bringing the entire country to the brink of civil war.
  • Since Mao’s death in 1976, his original ideology has been radically altered, marginalized and reformed in China and has become known as socialism with Chinese characteristics( which is actually closer to key nation capitalism and communism).
  • Maoist parties exist in Peru, Nepal, India and Philippines.

Left Communism:

  • It is a range of communist viewpoints held by the communist left, which claims to be more authentically Marxist and proletarian then the views of Leninism and its successors.
  • Left communist supported the Russian revolution, but did not accept the subsequent methods of the Bolsheviks.
  • The Russian, Dutch German and the Italian traditions of the left communism all share an opposition to nationalism, all kinds of National Liberation movements, Fromntism( uniting with anyone against a common enemy) and parliamentary systems.

Council Communism:

  • It is a radical left movement, originating in Germany and the Netherlands in the 1920s, and continuing today as a theoretical and activist position within both left wing Marxism and liberation Socialism.
  • It sees worker’s councils, arising in factories and municipalities, as the natural form of working class organization and governmental power.
  • It opposes the idea of revolutionary party on the grounds that are revolution led by a party will necessarily produce a party dictatorship.
  • Anarchist Communism( Anarcho-Communism or Libertarian-Communism):
  • It advocates the complete abolition of the state and capitalism in favor of a horizontal network of voluntary associations, workers councils and/ or Commons through which everyone will be free to satisfy their needs.
  • The movement was led by Russians Mikhail Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin.


  • It was a trend in the 1970s and 1980s within various western European communist parties to develop a theory and practice of social transformation that was more relevant in a western European democracy and less aligned to the party line of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

Religious Communism:

  • It is a form of communism centered on religious principles, whether they be Christian, Taoist, Jain, Hindu or Buddhist.
  • It usually refers to a number of egalitarian and utopian religious societies practicing their voluntary dissolution of private property, so that societies benefits are distributed according to a person’s needs, and every person performs labor according to their abilities.
  • Christian communism, for example, takes the view that the teachings of Jesus Christ compel Christians to support communism as the ideal social system.
  • Although the Marxian prophecy of the downfall of capitalism has not come true, Marx’s concept of revolution which is at once a historical concept and the dialectical concept is relevant in two different contexts:
  • In the capitalist countries there is a standing opposition between those groups whose members are drawn from the ghetto population and the middle class intelligentsia, especially among the students.
  • These groups are vocal; they reject the system, form counter cultures and profess adherence to radical political beliefs and new lifestyles, yet they cannot become agents of revolutionary change unless they are actively supported by a political articulate working class freed from the shackles of bureaucratic trade unions and establishment oriented party machinery.
  • In the predominantly developing societies, there are peasant movements and other movements.
  • These movements can be somewhat attributed to the internal contradictions of the global capitalist system and the colonialism and economic exploitation perpetrated by the corporate capitalism.
  • This position is simply supported by Andre Gunnar Frank, whose extensive research in Latin America has led him to conclude that the underdevelopment of the backward countries is initiated and aggravated by the capitalist system of the developed world which have satellized and exploited these countries.
  • Thus the radical protest in capitalist countries and the revolutionary tendencies in the developing countries are closely relative in their opposition to multinational corporate capitalism and their orientation to the imperatives of a global revolution.


World History | Free PDF