Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Communism Definition:

A utopian state of government where specified property or means of production are owned by the state and not citizens or persons, and which may also provide for a form of equal distribution of national production.

Related Terms: Federalism, Fascism, Socialism

A form of government which arose from the revolution in Russia, circa 1917 and which explicitly distinguished itself from socialism.

Communism, as a concept, had initially been formulated by Karl Marx who saw it as a process of sudden change or reform of the capitalist system, especially laws which sustained private property; socialism being the means, communism the end.

Bogdanor writes that the other nations in the world have modeled the Russian model of communism (China and Cuba, in particular) and that it is characterized by the:

"... monolithic unity of the organization demanded the total subordination of the minority to the majority and the prohibition of factions and fractions.

The Oxford Dictionary of Politics puts it more succinctly, describing communism as an ultimate perhaps utopian end to achieve:

"... a classless, socialist society in which private ownership has been abolished and the means of production and subsistence belong to the community."

CCCP postage stampCommunism is a utopian state of government never fully attained by socialist states. From Hawkesworth and Kogan:

"None of the communist states ever claimed to have reached communism. According to their official spokespersons, most were at various stages of socialism."

This is perhaps not surprising. A Chilean government official once said:

"Socialism can only arrive by bicycle."

In his 1950 book, Cornelia Le Boutellier wrote of the comparison between communism and facism:

"It would seem, that in order to endure, both communism and fascism, wherever they have appeared, have had to be bolstered from within by intensive and reckless propaganda. ·This links them more closely. All citizens have been intensively indoctrinated, but especially youth, in the precepts and practices of that particular government. Furthermore, besides positive propaganda employed intramurally, both have waged fierce, negative propaganda in the attempt to undermine opposed types of state and statecraft. These similarities, however, do not alter the fact that the two political forms are, in their basic theories of association, diametrically opposed. One comes into being as an expression of man's faith in man; the other as an expression of man's distrust in man."


  • Bogdanor, Vernon, The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Science (Oxford, Blackwell Publishers, 1991), p. 122.
  • Hawkesworth, M. and Kogan, M., Encyclopedia of Government and Politics (London: Routledge, 2004)
  • Le Boutellier, Cornelia, American Democracy and Natural Law (New York: Columbia University Press, 1950), page 42.
  • McLean, I., and McMillan, A., Oxford Concise Dictionary of Politics, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), p. 96.
  • Postage stamp being that of the Soviet Union, CCCP being an abbreviation for ???? ????????? ???????????????? ?????????; in English, the USSR, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

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