Communism is a political and economic ideology that seeks to establish a classless, stateless society in which the means of production are owned and controlled collectively by the community as a whole. The ideology was developed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the mid-19th century, and it has since become one of the most influential and controversial political movements in the world.
At its core, communism is based on the idea that capitalism is an inherently exploitative and unjust system that [concentrates wealth and power in the hands of a small minority](https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/economics/inequality-definition/) at the expense of the vast majority of people. In a communist society, this inequality would be eliminated through the abolition of private property and the establishment of a planned economy, in which production and distribution are controlled by the community as a whole rather than by private individuals or corporations.
According to communist theory, the state would eventually wither away as the need for it diminishes, and society would be organized along democratic lines, with decisions made collectively by the people themselves. In this way, communism aims to eliminate the oppression and exploitation of workers and to create a society in which everyone is able to participate equally and fully in the social, economic, and political life of their community.
## Back in the USSR
While communism has been implemented in various forms in a number of countries over the past century, the most well-known example is the Soviet Union, which was founded in 1922 and lasted until its collapse in 1991. Other notable communist states have included China, Cuba, Vietnam, and North Korea. However, the implementation of communism has been fraught with controversy, and many critics argue that the [ideology](https://foundations.doctorparadox.net/Ideologies/%F0%9F%A7%A0+Ideologies+Home) has led to widespread [[human rights]] abuses, economic inefficiencies, and political repression.
One of the primary criticisms of communism is that it fails to account for the complexities of human nature and the ways in which individuals differ from one another in terms of their skills, motivations, and desires. Critics argue that communism's emphasis on collective ownership and planning is inherently flawed, as it ignores the benefits of competition, innovation, and individual initiative, and fails to provide adequate incentives for hard work or creativity.
## Balancing equality and freedom
Furthermore, critics argue that communism's focus on economic equality can lead to a stifling of personal freedom and creativity, as individuals may be discouraged from pursuing their own interests or talents in favor of conformity and uniformity. This has led many proponents of communism to argue that a balance must be struck between economic equality and personal freedom in order for the ideology to be successful.
Communism in actual practice has been universally a disaster -- the Soviet Union collapsed after decades of famine, mismanagement and brutal repression; North Korea is an isolated cult of personality; and the most successful communist country still standing is China, which arguably has achieved much of its success by adopting wide swaths of capitalist policy within its centrally-planned state.
Yet the anti-communist hysteria in the West since even prior to the Cold War seems often to mistake any of the shades of gray between individualist and collectivist extremes as apocalyptic apostasy. From the Red Scare of the 1920s to the [[John Birch Society (JBS)]] of the 1950s and 60s to the oddly anachronistic resurrection of virulent anti-communist rhetoric in modern [right-wing](https://doctorparadox.net/tag/right-wing/) American politics, the paranoid fear of almost anything designed to help the general public feels histrionically over the top.
The [Republican](https://doctorparadox.net/the-gop-is-3-cults-in-a-trenchcoat/) habit of misrepresenting democratic policy as socialist and the people who support them as communists is a bad faith caricature designed to smear -- not to bring about reasoned debate. The hyperbolic anti-communist rhetoric felt extreme even to [[William F. Buckley, Jr.]] in the early 1960s -- and it feels even more ridiculously nonsensical today.