Political theory advocating community ownership of all property, the benefits of which are to be shared by all according to the needs of each. The theory was principally the work of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Their Communist Manifesto (1848) further specified a dictatorship of the proletariat, a transitional stage Marx called socialism; communism was the final stage in which not only class division but even the organized stateseen by Marx as inevitably an instrument of oppressionwould be transcended (see Marxism). That distinction was soon lost, and communist began to apply to a specific party rather than a final goal. Vladimir Ilich Lenin maintained that the proletariat needed professional revolutionaries to guide it (see Leninism). Joseph Stalin's version of communism (see Stalinism) was synonymous to many with totalitarianism. Mao Zedong mobilized peasants rather than an urban proletariat in China's communist revolution (see Maoism). European communism (see Eurocommunism) lost most of its following with the collapse of the Soviet Union (1991). See also Communist Party, dialectical materialism, First International, Second International.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.For the full entry on communism, visit Britannica.com.
What made you look up communism? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.