Communism is a left-wing materialistic and often violently atheistic ideology created to justify the overthrow of Capitalism, replacing free market economics and democracy with a "dictatorship of the proletariat". Under Communism, the political system replaces the private ownership of the means of production with "collective ownership" of the economy, this is to be accomplished through direct "democratic" control by the workers. Twentieth century Communism was based on Karl Marx's manifesto which proposed to establishment of a "classless society." However, all Communist societies have had a class structure, notably the USSR, which was dominated by a self appointed Nomenklatura.
In the belief that "people cannot change", governments under the banner of Communism have caused the death of somewhere between 40 million to 260 million human lives. Dr. R. J. Rummel, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Hawaii, is the scholar who first coined the term democide (death by government). Dr. R. J. Rummel's mid estimate regarding the loss of life due to communism is that it caused the death of approximately 148,286,000 people between 1917 and 1987.
|“||What I am describing now is a plan and hope for the long term -- the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people.||”|
Today, communism continues to rule over at least one-fifth of the world's people.
- 1 Communist Theory and Practice
- 2 Communism and militant atheism
- 3 Atrocities and Repression
- 4 Similarities between Communism, Nazism and liberalism
- 5 Communists cite scripture
- 6 Communists shared totalitarian ideals with facism and nazism
- 7 Cuban communism
- 8 Asian communism
- 9 Collapse of the Soviet bloc
- 10 American communism
- 11 Notorious communists
- 12 Further reading
- 13 See also
- 14 Notes and references
- 15 External links
Communist Theory and Practice
Communism is based upon Marxism, a philosophy which uses materialism to explain all physical and social phenomena. The theory of evolution influenced the thinking of the Communists, including Marx, Engels, Vladimir Lenin, and Joseph Stalin. Marx wrote, "Darwin's book is very important and serves me as a basis in natural science for the class struggle in history." Marx offered to dedicate the second German edition of his polemic "Das Kapital" to Charles Darwin, but Darwin declined the "honour."  
Economically, communism advocates a socialist economy in which the government owns the means of production. In countries where communism has been imposed, the government has taken ownership of farms, factories, stores and so on in the name of the people; see "dictatorship of the proletariat". This drives all market-based economic activity underground and leads to inefficiencies and shortages. In both the Soviet Union and Red China, the number of people who starved to death when the government confiscated their farm products (animals and grain) is estimated in the tens of millions.
Even more important, one party controls every organization from the local labor union to the the army to the national government. The party is not elected. Its top officials (the "Politburo") select replacements when there is a vacancy. usually a dictator (like Stalin, Mao or Castro) controls the Politburo, but sometimes power is shared among five or six people. No dissent is allowed--all news media are controlled, and the Internet is heavily censored.
Elites do not disappear. Members of the ruling party (see Nomenklatura) have special stores in which ordinary people are barred, stores which are allegedly immune to the shortages which the lower class must endure.
Various communist doctrines have evolved or been adapted to the time and place they have been implemented. Marxism, developed by Karl Marx, and its modifications under Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong, advocates the overthrow of the existing order by a revolution of the proletariat, the social group which does not control the means of production. The goal of Marxism is supposedly to create a classless society which would result in no longer the need for any government (Communism).
The most famous government to label itself "communist" is the former USSR or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; the Communist Party controlled its government from 1918 to 1991. This government was officially atheist and attempted to suppress all religion until World War II, when it discovered religion was needed to rally the people against the Nazi invaders. Like all authoritarian regimes, it tried to cultivate reverence for the state as a psychological substitute for religion.
Marxist theory is intended to appeal to its adherents with the phrase, "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs", which essentially states point blank a worker does not get paid according to his abilities, and there is no incentive within the economic theory. Another quote by Marx was, "The theory of the Communism may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property," or as some have phrased it, legalized theft.
Communism and militant atheism
See also: Atheism and communism
Karl Marx believed atheism to be a key part of communism. He is often very famously quoted as saying, "Religion ... is the opium of the masses." His full quote was: "Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people." He believed it was part of the "superstructure," a false culture built to maintain the status quo. Thus he denigrated Christianity as a fictional religion. Instead, Marx was an avowed atheist, as he wrote, "Communism begins from the outset with atheism; but atheism is at first far from being communism; indeed, that atheism is still mostly an abstraction."
Vladimir Lenin similarly wrote: "A Marxist must be a materialist, i. e., an enemy of religion, but a dialectical materialist, i. e., one who treats the struggle against religion not in an abstract way, not on the basis of remote, purely theoretical, never varying preaching, but in a concrete way, on the basis of the class struggle which is going on in practice and is educating the masses more and better than anything else could."
The atheism in communist regimes has been and continues to be militant atheism and various acts of repression including the razing of thousands of religious buildings and the killing, imprisoning, and oppression of religious leaders and believers.
Marxists justification for its persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church was based upon the claim that the Church was a "willing tool of Tsarism."
The clergy openly stated its support for the counter-revolution (White Revolution). Lenin proclaimed that a communist regime must show itself to be merciless toward the question of religion. There was no place for the church in Lenin's regime. This led to anti-religious decrees and propaganda. All church property was expropriated by the new Soviet government. 
During the late 1930's and later 1940's the restrictions on church activity were loosened as Stalin needed all the support he could get for the war. This doctrine of co-operation between the church and state continued through out the existence of the Soviet republics and the other Warszawa pact nations. Though never going as far as a leader of the Soviet Union asking god to bless the country the clause in the Soviet Unions constitution addressing the separation of church and state was rendered useless.
Dr. Martin Luther King said, "for the Communist there is no divine government, no absolute moral order, there are no fixed, immutable principles; consequently almost anything - force, violence, murder, lying - is a justifiable means." 
Atrocities and Repression
Communist regimes have engaged in mass killings on a scale of millions of individuals. A work entitled The Black Book of Communism published by the Harvard Press focuses on the crimes, terror, and repression of modern communist regimes over a 70 year period. This book is fairly controversial partly due to the various estimates regarding the millions of people who died under communist regimes. 
Similarly, a influential book which concerns itself with Russian communist torture, repression and atrocities is Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago which won Solzhenitsyn a Nobel Prize. In 1983, Alexander Solzhenitsyn in which he gave his explanation of the cause of why millions of people died under Russian communism:
|“||Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: "Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened. Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: "Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.||”|
In communist North Korea, abuse and killing in prison camps is occurring today. In addition, the North Korean government practices brutal repression and atrocities against North Korean Christians.
In 1999, the publication Christian Century reported that "China has persecuted religious believers by means of "harassment, prolonged detention, and incarceration in prison or `reform-through-labor' camps and police closure of places of worship." In 2003, owners of Bibles in China were sent to prison camps and 125 Chinese churches were closed. China continues to practice religious oppression today.
Similarities between Communism, Nazism and liberalism
|Communist Manifesto||Nazi Party Platform||Analysis|
|1||"Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes."||"We demand an agrarian reform in accordance with our national requirements, and the enactment of a law to expropriate the owners without compensation of any land needed for the common purpose. The abolition of ground rents, and the prohibition of all speculation in land."||The stripping away of land from private owners. Liberalism today demands "eminent domain" on property.|
|2||"A heavy progressive or graduated income tax."||"We demand the nationalization of all trusts...profit-sharing in large industries...a generous increase in old-age pensions...by providing maternity welfare centers, by prohibiting juvenile labor...and the creation of a national (folk) army."||The points raised in the Nazi platform demand an increase in taxes to support them. Liberalism today demands heavy progressive and graduated income taxes.|
|3||"Abolition of all rights of inheritance."||"That all unearned income, and all income that does not arise from work, be abolished."||Liberalism today demands a "death tax" on anyone inheriting an estate.|
|4||"Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels."||"We demand that all non-Germans who have entered Germany since August 2, 1914, shall be compelled to leave the Reich immediately."||The Nuremburg Laws of 1934 allowed Germany to take Jewish property.|
|5||"Centralisation of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly."||"We demand the nationalization of all trusts."||Central control of the financial system.|
|6||"Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State."||"We demand that there be a legal campaign against those who propagate deliberate political lies and disseminate them through the press...editors and their assistants on newspapers published in the German language shall be German citizens...Non-German newspapers shall only be published with the express permission of the State...the punishment for transgressing this law be the immediate suppression of the newspaper..."||Central control of the press. Liberals today demand control or suppression of talk radio and Fox News.|
|7||"Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, &c, &c."||"In order to make it possible for every capable and industrious German to obtain higher education, and thus the opportunity to reach into positions of leadership, the State must assume the responsibility of organizing thoroughly the entire cultural system of the people. The curricula of all educational establishments shall be adapted to practical life. The conception of the State Idea (science of citizenship) must be taught in the schools from the very beginning. We demand that specially talented children of poor parents, whatever their station or occupation, be educated at the expense of the State. "||Central control of education, with an emphasis on doing things their way. Liberals today are doing things their way in our schools.|
Communists cite scripture
Some Communist ideology has made its way into the Church as a Social Gospel, interpreting the Gospel as less redemptive of sin and more of a public works campaign and activism. They often cite Jesus feeding the masses and warnings to the wealthy who believed self-seeking is all this world has to offer. Communists often cite the Acts of the Apostles, as early Christians practicing some form of sharing for the common good:
|“|| And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. (Acts 2:44-45, KJV)
Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,
Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.(Acts 4:34-7, KJV)
But as Arnold Toynbee has pointed out, this Marxist view denies the most crucial points,
|“||The passage in the Acts represents the philanthropy of the primitive Christian Society as flowing from a God-given grace which was the fruit of a belief in the divinity of Jesus. In other words, the charity which is here depicted as moving the primitive Christians to go—in their mutual concern for one another's welfare—to the extreme length of sharing all their worldly goods is not a mere love of Man for Man (which is the limited literal meaning of the word ‘philanthropy’), but is a spiritual relation to which God is a party as well as His human creatures. In fact, this Christian Socialism is a practical application, on the economic surface of life, of the fundamental religious truth that the brotherhood of man is a consequence of the fatherhood of God - a truth which is driven home with special force by a religion which teaches that God is not only the Father and Creator of man, but also his Savior, Who has been incarnate in human shape and has suffered, and triumphed over, death.||”|
Adolf Hitler noted that Communists made excellent converts to Nazism, because the same personality type was attracted to both. "[T]here is more that binds us to Bolshevism than separates us from it. There is, above all, genuine, revolutionary feeling, which is alive everywhere in Russia except where there are Jewish Marxists. I have always made allowance for this circumstance, and given orders that former Communists are to be admitted to the party at once. The petit bourgeois Social-Democrat and the trade-union boss will never make a National Socialist, but the Communists always will." Josef Stalin also recognized that ex-Nazis and ex-fascists were natural recruits for post-war Communist regimes. As Stanley Payne notes in his A History of Fascism: 1914-1945, "All over Soviet-occupied eastern Europe (should be: Central and Eastern Europe), most rank-and-file former fascist party members, together with many lower-level leaders, were welcomed to fill the ranks of the initially exiguous local Communist parties. The psychological transition seems to have been an easy one, for obvious reasons."
Cuba remains a communist state controlled by the Castro brothers since 1960 and under U.S economic sanctions.
The CCP in China retains an autocratic regime controlled by the Communist party, which allows no democracy or dissent. However it does allow capitalism, and has experienced a very rapid growth of the private sector and the middle class. Observers expect that the regime's efforts to control public opinion and forestall the will of the people will be more and more difficult.
Collapse of the Soviet bloc
The shooting down by the Soviets on Sept. 1, 1983 of Korean Airlines Flight 007 may have been a contributing factor for the downfall of the Soviet Union as well as for the whole Soviet block. It being a catalyst for the collapse of the Soviet Union may be inferred from the fact that NATO had decided, under the impetus of the U.S. administration, to deploy Pershing II and cruise missiles in Europe, primarily West Germany. This deployment would have placed missiles just 6-10 minutes striking distance from Moscow. But support for the deployment was wavering and many doubted that the missile deployment would find enough support to effect it. When the Soviet Union shot down Flight 007 with 269 people aboard, including conservative Democratic Congressman Larry McDonald —an act which U.S. President Ronald Reagan characterized as a "massacre"—enough support was galvanized for the deployment. The deployment caused great resources of the Soviet Union to be diverted from inner economic use to military expenditures to counter the U.S. and NATO missile deployment. Between 1989 and 1991, many communist governments fell. The Berlin Wall in Germany, which had become a symbol for the division between the communist states and the rest of Europe, was torn down largely in response to Ronald Reagan in 1989, and there was also a large revolution against Romanian dictator Nicolaie Ceausescu. In 1991, the USSR broke up into several countries - each which reformed to capitalism. Some of these remained under autocratic governments, but some have embraced democracy. With the collapse the remnants of Communist parties have dropped their old names and ideologies, but still operate on the left of the political spectrum.
- Main article : Committees of Correspondence
With the collapse of Soviet communism and the conversion of Chinese communism to "state run capitalism," the spiritual and ideological center of world of communism and the Marxist-Leninist tradition shifted to the United States. Several prominent American communists, rudderless without Moscow direction, formed a new organization in 1992 called the Committees of Correspondence for Democratic Socialism.
The initial organizational conference was held in Berkeley, California, July 17-19, 1992. Charlene Mitchell, a former leader of the California Communist Party, speaking at the conference said, "the collapse of socialism in Central Europe and the Soviet Union left the United States in a near unchallenged position of world leadership." Mitchell continued,
|“||What began as a moment to take stock and ponder where to go from there has now become a very different entity. People from the Communist Party, from CrossRoads, from the Democratic Socialists of America, from NCIPA [National Committee for Independent Political Action], from Solidarity, from the Socialist Organizing Network and many others, including independent leftists and independent socialists, have come together here in Berkeley.||”|
Criticizing U.S. actions in the First Gulf War, Mitchell stated,
|“||progressive forces were nearly powerless in the face of an onslaught of demagogic, patriotic jingoism and yellow ribbons. This war, fought for no legitimate reason, was the crowning height of President [George H.W.] Bush's New World Order. Previously, the Soviet Union helped to provide a certain balance to rein in the crazies in this country. Now, that balance is no longer there. It is now up to us, the American people, to rein in our own crazies. The left must take a major responsibility in organizing this task.||”|
Well known communists include:
- Salvador Allende
- William Ayers
- Fidel Castro
- Raul Castro
- Hugo Chavez
- Carl Davidson
- Frank Marshall Davis
- Bernardine Dohrn
- Friedrich Engels
- Che Guevara
- Benjamin Jones
- Van Jones
- Kim Il Sung
- Kim Jong Il
- Kim Jong Un
- Lazar Kaganovich
- Vladimir Lenin
- Mao Zedong
- Karl Marx
- Ho Chi Minh
- Pol Pot
- Paul Robeson
- Joseph Stalin
- Yakov Sverdlov
- Leon Trotsky
- Genrikh Yagoda
- Yakov Yurovsky
- Pipes, Richard. Communism: A History (2003), by a leading conservative historian
- Pipes, Richard. History of Communism: A Brief History (2002)
- Priestland, David. The Red Flag: A History of Communism (2009)
- 100 Things You Should Know About Communism
- List of Communist States
- Communist Party of the United States of America
- Cold War
- Iron Curtain
- Progressives for Obama
- Social Effects of the Theory of Evolution
- Korean Airlines Flight 007 for the connection of the shootdown by the Soviets of KAL 007, with 269 people aboard, on Sept. 1, 1983 with the heightened U.S./Soviet confrontations of 1983-4.
- The Soviet/ U.S naval confrontation over KAL 007
- KAL 007 and the Soviet Top Secret Memos
Notes and references
- The Black Book of Communism
- The Black Book of Communism
- Source List and Detailed Death Tolls for the Twentieth Century Hemoclysm
- Memory and Ideology
- The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression
- President Ronald Reagan Speech to the British Parliament, June 8, 1982. Retrieved from International Republican Institute 05/24/07.
- Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, Documenting Communism's Crimes Against Humanity.
- Karl Marx's Social and Political Thought, Bob Jessop, ISBN 0415193265 (pg 476)
- Marx, K. Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right (Classic Quotations) (Standard translation from the original German).
- Marx, Karl, Private Property and Communism, 1944.
- Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich, Proletary, No. 45, May 13 (26), 1909, translated by Andrew Rothstein and Bernard Issacs, quote from .
- Noebel, David, The Battle for Truth, Harvest House, 2001.
- Stride Toward Freedom : The Montgomery Story, Martin Luther King, Jr., Harper and Rowe, New York, 1958, p. 92.
- Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History, Annex II to Vol. V, Part C (i) (c) 2, p. 585, Marxism, Socialism, and Christianity.
- quoted in Hermann Rauschning, Hitler Speaks