From Citizendium
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This article is developing and not approved.
Main Article
Related Articles  [?]
Bibliography  [?]
External Links  [?]
Citable Version  [?]
To learn how to update the categories for this article, see here. To update categories, edit the metadata template.
 Definition A political ideology, and also a system of government, according to which the means of production (including all large business concerns) should be controlled by the government. [d] [e]
Checklist and Archives
 Workgroup categories Politics, History and Economics [Editors asked to check categories]
 Talk Archive none  English language variant American English

Seeing as Ed Poor had stopped working on stuff a few hours ago, I've put up a skeleton on which to flesh out an article. I'll have sources for my claims, though most of them are widely-known and uncontroversial, except to Communists. But this is a huge topic, and what I've started is probably less than 10% of what should be in this article. ...said Anthony Argyriou (talk) (Please sign your talk page posts by simply adding four tildes, ~~~~.)

Lumping all communist regimes together?

The tone of this article seems to lump together every communist government, from hardline regimes of yesteryear to modern states - as though they're all in it together to kill as many as possible (e.g. "..countries which came under Communist rule"). While not disputing the massacres that have taken place under regimes practicing communism, I think the article needs to make some distinctions over how much is actually linked to the pursuit of communism and how much has more in common with dictatorship, authoritarianism etc. generally. Also, perhaps it shouldn't accept at face value sources such as the Black Book of Communism, which has been favourably reviewed in the Western press but remains a tome many on the far left have criticised. But I'm not an expert so I don't plan to edit this page; just wanted to signal a note or two of caution. John Stephenson 03:48, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

As I unpack my books, I'll work on getting better references. The Black Book was justifiably criticized for trying to get a round 100 million, but other scholarly sources have estimated Communism's death toll at between 60 million and 120 million. Far-left critique of anything criticizing communism is utterly unreliable, as it is clear from the historical record that people on the far left will distort the truth and flat-out lie to defend communism.
The history is very compressed; it needs to be expanded greatly. I've added a section header for the history of Communist states, so that can be kept distinct from the history of communist parties and communist theory. As that section gets filled out, distinctions can be made, such as the difference between the mass liquidations of the collectivization period and the forced famine in Ukraine and the far less deadly Brezhnev period, or between existing Communist states such as Cuba, which doesn't kill very many people and North Korea, which is starving millions.
The "... countries which came under Communist rule" line is worded that way because almost no Communist government came to power via free elections; Communism was imposed at the point of a gun almost everywhere. Anthony Argyriou 10:56, 29 May 2007 (CDT)
Fair enough, but I would add that any right-wing source is unreliable as well; perhaps the article will later distinguish between communism as an ideology which invites totalitarianism and the dictatorships which practiced forms of communism, adding other beliefs such as Stalinism to the mix. John Stephenson 20:51, 29 May 2007 (CDT)
Equating "far-left" sources with all "right-wing" sources is unacceptably biased, and in the case of study of Communism, counterfactual as well. Most honest reporting of the reality of Communist government and Communist party activity comes from "right-wing" sources, such as Robert Conquest, Jean-Francois Revel, Richard Pipes, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Vaclav Havel, Arthur Koestler, Whittaker Chambers, and Milovan Djilas, among others. Anthony Argyriou 00:22, 30 May 2007 (CDT)

This article should deal only with communism as an ideology, with cross-references to other articles. Aside from that, the devil is in the details; there are innumerable errors of fact. Marx did not espouse dialectical materialism but instead historical materialism. Engels extended historical materialism to dialectical materialism (which includes theories of how physical nature works, whereas historical materialism limited its scope to human history). The Soviet Union was not established in 1918 but in 1922. (Even the Bolshevik Revolution was still in 1917.) There are a number of important non-Marxist precursors of communism, who espoused what they called communism before the term acquired the connotation it has today (e.g., Etienne Cabet, the utopian French socialist; Wilhelm Weitling, the German who called himself a communist before Marx, etc.). Socialist and communist parties did not split apart over the question of supporting World War I but over the question of supporting Soviet power, as Lenin's "Twenty-One Conditions" founding the Third (Comnmunist) International make clear. I will stop enumerating the errors here. I regret to say that there are other errors of interpretation, sourcing (problems, for example, with the /Black Book of Communism/ have already been correctly noted), and fact, making this text -- there is no other word for it -- unsuitable. My criticisms will seem harsh because they are direct, and I wish to emphasize that they are directed at the text and not at the author. To repeat the basic theme of this post: This article should deal only with communism as an ideology (rather than asserting that Lenin and then Stalin wrote "many theoretical works"), and nearly everything else should be linked to separate articles, and the whole should avoid blanket declamations and be more closely vetted. Respectfully, Robert M. Cutler 05:08, 19 January 2007 EST

Marx had predecessors

Marx obviously is the biggie, but he had important predecessors such as Saint-Simon. Furthermore, in Russia, Lenin was (is?) regarded along with Marx as one of the great theoreticians of communism. So, strictly speaking, this is an oversimplification:

Communism as a political ideology is derived from the works of Karl Marx, who with Friedrich Engels wrote The Communist Manifesto in 1848, setting forth a program for a revolutionary socialist movement.

Maybe "derived especially" or "mainly derived." --Larry Sanger 11:26, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

There should probably be a separate article on non-Marxist communism as a philosophy, as it extended back to ancient Greece, and continued (anemically) after Marx. Marx definitely drew on earlier communist philosophy, but even philosophically, represents a break from that tradition. Within Marxian thought, Lenin is still important as a theoretician. I'll think about how to clean that up today. Anthony Argyriou 14:48, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

History of Communist States

I've written a section about this, but would appreciate it if people augmented it with more information on Asian communism in particularly, as well as generally. --Vincent Garton 14:36, 22 September 2007 (CDT)

I realise that you have only just started on this, and the rest of the article is rather weak in my view, but a couple of pointers... First, I would recommend grouping the former communist countries into types. That should be your choice, but obviously the satellite Soviet states would be one, another should be Yugoslavia which is not even mentioned anywhere in the article (!!), Albania, China. etc etc
Secondly, you should deal only with the historical issues, i.e. up to roughly 1989. We need another section, or maybe article on contemporary communist states.
Thirdly, don't include the 1989 revolutions here. This is such a major topic it must be written as a separate article. Feel free to start it, if you are in an adventurous mood:-)
Finally, don't rely on other people coming in with help on, for example. Asian communism. THe best thing is to do some basic research, write something, and if anyone with that specific expertise arrives they will correct it. Of course, it is only polite to ask, in the first place, as you have done.
I hope this helps a bit. It would be nice to get a good article on this major topic, but there is much work to be done on it. --Martin Baldwin-Edwards 15:23, 22 September 2007 (CDT)
To be fair, I mentioned Yugoslavia (though admittedly just once!). The reason I haven't gone into detail is because I wanted to provide a broad overview of the history of Communist states in general rather than the history of each individual Communist state. As for Asian Communism, I consider it a very different area from European Communism, which is the reason I've only touched on it slightly.
You mention it should go up to 1989. However, that would leave out the August Coup and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, which is pretty important!
I take your advice though. We should discuss this set of articles more thoroughly. --Vincent Garton 15:54, 22 September 2007 (CDT)
You are right to quibble about the exact date to end: it is debatable, so end somewhere in the early 1990s. My feeling is that this article should be a VERY broad overview of this history of communism. Avoid too much detail, and try to identify patterns. Yu was really competely isolated from the USSR after its expulsion from Cominform in 1948; and Albania allied itself with China around that time. So although there was an East European Communism, there was a distinct Balkan communism separate from USSR [although it had started off with the same ideology]. Moreover, unlike USSR communism, the Balkan type originated from the people, and was not so much elite-driven: the CPY under Tito succeeded in minimising ethnic differences under the umbrella, and we saw the results of its dissolution with the most horrific atrocities in Europe since 1945.
I am not competent to talk about Asian communism, but it has to be included.
I suggest a whole separate article on USSR. Start with a short stub, and put an outline on the Talk page, ig you are interested to do this. I also think we need a separate article on the breakup and transformation of communist states: this will be tough to write, I guess.--Martin Baldwin-Edwards 16:17, 22 September 2007 (CDT)

removing poor sections

I think the sections on Communist Parties and History of Communist states are so poor that they have to be rewritten from scratch, so I propose they be erased. The author Vincent Garton was active in CZ for only 2 days last Sept and seems to have moved on. Any objections?


Seems like the definition is not consistent with the lede. I could live with it for [Marxist]-Leninism, but, as the definition exists, it seems to include only the top-down socialist model calling itself Communism.

While I don't think it is practical, doesn't "Communism" have to include the "dictatorship of the proletariat" rather than government dictatorship? --Howard C. Berkowitz 20:11, 24 April 2010 (UTC)