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date: 19 September 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter traces pre-Marxist ideas of a communist society before outlining the main elements of the Communist doctrine of Marx, Engels, and Lenin. Particular attention is paid to the theory and practice of Communist parties in power. The Soviet Union, China, and Yugoslavia developed models which varied both over time and from each other. Nevertheless, six defining characteristics of Communist ideology are identified and elaborated—the monopoly of power of the ruling Communist party; democratic centralism; state ownership of the means of production; centrally planned rather than market economy; membership of an international Communist movement; and the aspiration, in principle, to move eventually to a stateless, classless communist society. During the Soviet perestroika all six of these features were discarded. In contemporary China only the first two of the six remain. Communism no longer exists as a serious ideological and political force.

Keywords: Communist parties, communism, democratic centralism, Soviet Union, China, Yugoslavia, Marx, Engels, Lenin, perestroika

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