What are some things communism got right
In the "Communist Manifesto" of 1848, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote down their ideas for changing society. (& copy ZB - photo report)
Means of production should belong to everyoneThe term "communism" goes back to the Latin word "communis", which means "together". Communism has a certain idea of what an ideal human society should look like: all people should have what is necessary for a living. These are the so-called "means of production". This includes, for example, equipment and machines, but also the land on which wheat, vegetables and other things are planted. The animals that people live on are also part of it, as well as the houses in which people live. According to this idea, which already existed in ancient times, all things that are manufactured together should also be distributed fairly among each other.
Beginnings in the 19th centuryAs a political doctrine, communism emerged in the 19th century when industrialization began. Back then, more and more people had to work in the factories for little wages. Those who owned the machines and factories were the so-called "capitalists". They got richer and richer, but without letting the workers share in this prosperity.
Karl Marx and Friedrich EngelsKarl Marx (1818-1883) was the most important exponent of communist ideas. He thought about how to make the economy and technical progress fair. In his book “The Communist Manifesto”, which Karl Marx wrote together with Friedrich Engels, he called for an end to the “exploitation of man by man”. Private property should be abolished. Technological progress should benefit everyone, not just a few. In this way, sooner or later, a classless society would emerge in which all people would have equal rights. No particular group in society would be preferred. The teaching of Marx was called "Marxism".
The bronze sculpture of Karl Marx (seated) and Friedrich Engels by the sculptor Ludwig Engelhardt stands on the site of the former Marx-Engels-Forum in Berlin. (& copy picture alliance / dpa)
Communism in the 20th centuryThe basic idea of Marx and Engels was further developed by other thinkers (for example Vladimir Ilyich Lenin). In the 20th century it became the basis of various forms of political rule. After the so-called Russian October Revolution in 1917, in which Lenin played a leading role, a state and social order emerged in the Soviet Union with the ultimate goal of a communist society. On the way to such a society, socialism should be realized as a preliminary stage.
Reign of terrorIn fact, there was terror, arbitrariness and terrible injustice in communist states, that is, states that wanted to implement communism. In the dictatorship of the Soviet Union, which was one of the greatest communist powers, many millions of people lost their lives because they disagreed with the rulers. In addition to the Soviet Union, there were many other countries that tried in different ways to achieve communism. With the end of the Soviet Union (1991), the idea of communism as a political system has largely lost its importance. The People's Republic of China has adopted ideas from communism, but has changed a lot in political practice.
Source: Gerd Schneider / Christiane Toyka-Seid: The young politics encyclopedia from www.hanisauland.de, Bonn: Federal Agency for Civic Education 2021.
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