Communism is a social structure in which classes are abolished and property is commonly controlled, as well as a political philosophy and social movement that advocates and aims to create such a society.
Karl Marx posited that communism would be the final stage in society, which would be achieved through a proletarian revolution and only possible after a transitional stage develops the productive forces, leading to a superabundance of goods and services.
"Pure communism" in the Marxian sense refers to a classless, stateless and oppression-free society where decisions on what to produce and what policies to pursue are made democratically, allowing every member of society to participate in the decision-making process in both the political and economic spheres of life. In modern usage, communism is often used to refer to the policies of the various communist states, which were authoritarian governments that had centrally planned economies and ownership of all the means of production. Most communist governments based their ideology on Marxism-Leninism.
As a political ideology, communism is usually considered to be a branch of socialism, a broad group of economic and political philosophies that draw on various political and intellectual movements with origins in the work of theorists of the Industrial Revolution and the French Revolution. Communism attempts to offer an alternative to the problems with the capitalist market economy and the legacy of imperialism and nationalism.
Marx states that the only way to solve these problems is for the working class (proletariat), who according to Marx are the main producers of wealth in society and are exploited by the Capitalist-class (bourgeoisie), to replace the bourgeoisie as the ruling class in order to establish a free society, without class or racial divisions. The dominant forms of communism, such as Leninism, Stalinism, Maoism and Trotskyism are based on Marxism, as well as other forms of communism (such as Luxemburgism and Council communism), but non-Marxist versions of communism (such as Christian communism and Anarchist communism) also exist.
Karl Marx never provided a detailed description as to how communism would function as an economic system, but it is understood that a communist economy would consist of common ownership of the means of production, culminating in the negation of the concept of private ownership of capital, which referred to the means of production in Marxian terminology.
The crimes by communist regimes have been condemned by the Council of Europe (2006) and several international declarations including the Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism (2008) and the Declaration on Crimes of Communism (2010).
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