The Basics of Socialism and Communism
The radical political essay, Communist Manifesto- written by the German revolutionary philosopher Karl Marx, addresses numerous sociological problems of the 1800’s. In it, Marx basically calls for a proletariat, or working class, revolt and the installation of communism. Communism, also known as “scientific socialism”, like the latter name points out, is derived from socialism. These two complicated theories both yield a government that as autonomous political system has the responsibility to govern its country with the people's best interest as the priority. The Communist Manifesto and these ideas, however, can be best understood with an explanation of socialism and communism.
Socialism, which preceded communism, began in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. Utopian socialists such as Charles Fourier, Robert Owen, and Charles Dana were some of the founders of socialist thought. These visionaries had notions that human society could be organized into ideal communities of all the different occupations, including capitalists in some cases. They thought these communities would be stable and self-sustaining.[i] In addition, socialism calls for “state ownership and control of the fundamental means of production and distribution of wealth, to be achieved by reconstruction of the existing capitalist or other political system of a country through peaceful, democratic, and parliamentary means.”[ii] It also promotes protecting public welfare with the national government. One of the significant differences between socialism and communism is that along with state corporation ownership, socialism allows and encourages smaller businesses to be owned privately. The ultimate goal of all socialists, however, is a “classless cooperative commonwealth in every nation of the world.”[iii]
Subsequently, socialism developed into moderate movement in 1884 held by the Fabian Society, a group of middle-class intellectuals who were very much against the idea of war in Europe. Nevertheless, socialism never really progressed into a governing political system because the wealthy capitalists that resulted from the Europe’s Industrial Revolution were benefiting from the class inequalities. Likewise, uneducated and oppressed workers were not able to understand and therefore support socialism.[iv]
Meanwhile, in the mid 1800’s Karl Marx, who originally was a socialist collaborated with Frederich Engels and together the two wrote first official communist document, the Communist Manifesto. However, the origins of Marx and Engels ideas date back to Plato. In his book, The Republic, Plato thought that to best pledge allegiance to the state, one “would own no private property and would live communally.” [v] Later, Thomas Moore, the Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant, Louis Blanc, and Britain’s Robert Owen all came to the conclusion that the workers of the world should establish equal and...