How Communism Started

Communism is a political and economic system in which the most important decisions about resources and production are made by the community as a whole rather than by individuals.

The word “communism” comes from the Latin word “communis,” meaning common or shared. In theory, communism means that everyone within a society works according to their ability, but receives income based on their needs. In this way, it’s meant to be an alternative to capitalism, where workers are paid for the value of their work (and not necessarily their actual time).

Historically, many communist movements have been opposed to liberal democracy.

Currently, only a handful of countries are considered Communist states including Cuba, China, Laos and Vietnam.

There are many different versions of communism.

Communism is a political philosophy that is based on the idea that all people are equal and should share the wealth. The most common form of communism was created by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in their book The Communist Manifesto, which they published in 1848.

Marxist-Leninism was developed by Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin; Maoism came from Chinese leader Mao Zedong’s ideas about how to implement communism. These two versions of communism are sometimes referred to as “militant” forms because they suggest violent revolution as an effective means for changing society for the better.

Karl Marx defined communism as a system where the working class, or proletariat, own the means of production.

Karl Marx was a German philosopher and revolutionary socialist. He is famous for his theory of historical materialism, which states that all human history can be understood as a conflict between the haves and the have-nots.

Marxism is a political philosophy based on the ideas of Karl Marx. It endorses class struggle and dialectical materialism, which holds that social change occurs because of class conflict—that action by workers against their bosses produces revolution; it also holds that capitalism’s internal contradictions will lead to its collapse as economic relations become too exploitative.

The Soviet Union was the first country to establish a communist state.

The Soviet Union was the first country to establish a communist state.

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In 1922, the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic was organized into a federation of 15 republics: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus (or Byelorussia), Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kirgizia (later Kyrgyzstan), Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova (later Moldova/Republic of Moldova), Tajikistan (later Turkmenistan), Turkestan (later Uzbekistan), Ukraine and Russia. The capital city of this federation was Moscow and its government was known as the Council of People’s Commissars. In 1991 it dissolved into independent countries such as Russia and Ukraine that still use communism but with other political systems such as democracy.

China became communist during the Chinese Civil War.

The Chinese Civil War was fought between the Communist Party of China and the Nationalist Party of China from 1927 to 1949. The war ended with victory for Mao Zedong and his communist party, who established the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Mao Zedong was a member of the Communist Party of China. He led them in their victory during the Chinese Civil War, establishing himself as Chairman of the PRC on October 1st 1949.

North Korea is led by a Communist Party.

North Korea is led by a Communist Party. The ruling party of North Korea, the Communist Party of North Korea (CPC), is the only legal political party in the country. It was founded in 1946 and took power following World War II and divided into two separate countries after the Korean War ended in 1953. Today, it’s led by Kim Jong Un, who took over from his father Kim Jong Il in 2011 and has carried out several purges against those who oppose him within his own party—including his uncle Jang Song Thaek—and among other factions within North Korea’s government.

The CPC claims to be guided by principles laid out by its founder Kim Il Sung; however, critics argue that it has become increasingly authoritarian since taking power after WWII when it began implementing policies based on Marxism-Leninism rather than democratic ideals as originally envisioned by Karl Marx himself.*

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Vietnam established communism after decades of conflict with France and the United States.

  • The Vietnam War was a conflict in Southeast Asia that began in 1959 and ended with the victory of North Vietnam over South Vietnam.
  • It was a proxy war between the United States and Soviet Union, where each nation supported different factions in their battle for control of the country.
  • When it became clear that North Vietnam would win, both sides stopped fighting and signed an agreement to end hostilities. However, this did not stop them from fighting against each other again later on during skirmishes between North and South Vietnamese soldiers along their border until 1975 when they finally agreed on terms which allowed all troops from both nations to withdraw back home peacefully (while also allowing any Americans who wanted to leave).

Cuba’s communist revolution occurred in 1959 under Fidel Castro.

Cuba’s communist revolution occurred in 1959 under Fidel Castro. Spain ruled Cuba from 1492 to 1898, but it was an independent country until 1902. At that time, the United States took control of Cuba and ruled it as a colony until 1959—a period known as the “American century” or “the big stick policy.” During this time period, Cuban citizens were able to vote and own businesses independently and participate in their government through elections and other forms of civic engagement.

In 1953, Fulgencio Batista led a coup d’état against Cuba’s president Ramon Grau San Martin (1934-1940). Batista then served as president of Cuba until he was ousted by Fidel Castro’s revolutionary movement in 1959.

Laos followed Vietnam’s lead on communism in 1975.

  • In 1975, Laos came under communist control for the first time in its history.
  • Laos had been a French colony until 1954, when it gained independence and became neutral during the Vietnam War.
  • In 1975, it was invaded by forces from Vietnam and Cambodia (which were also communist countries).
  • A new government made up of members of the Laotian Communist Party took power, with one member becoming president. The country remained under this system until 1991, when they held elections again and elected a new prime minister who wasn’t affiliated with any political party or group.*
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Currently, only a handful of countries are considered Communist states including Cuba, China, Laos and Vietnam

Today, only a handful of countries are considered Communist states. Cuba, China, Laos and Vietnam are the most well-known examples. North Korea also claims to be a Communist state but it is more authoritarian than truly communist. Other countries such as Laos and Vietnam have adopted some aspects of communism into their governments’ policies but do not consider themselves to be fully communist.


If you’re curious about how communism works, there are plenty of resources on the internet including videos, articles and even books that explain what communism is and how it operates. This information can also be found in libraries or your local bookstore.

If you’re interested in learning more about communism as a political system or its history in general, we recommend visiting any one of these sites: – A comprehensive entry detailing communism’s origins and main tenets, including examples of communist countries around the world today (e.g., China) plus their respective leaders’ names/titles such as Xi Jinping (President). Britannica’s Encyclopedia Britannica: Communism – An advanced encyclopedia article with historical background information on communist revolutions throughout history from Russia’s 1917 Bolshevik Revolution led by Vladimir Lenin all the way back to Karl Marx’s famous Communist Manifesto published two centuries earlier (1848). NY Times’ Archived Articles About Communism – A list of New York Times articles about communism dating back decades ago during America’s ‘Cold War’ era with former Soviet Union leader Nikita Khrushchev up until more recent news stories involving North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un threatening nuclear war against President Donald Trump after declaring himself “the world’s greatest rocket scientist.”

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