Styles of Communism

Communism is not strictly black or white. There are different styles and types that focus on the main idea. Four men particularly stand out with their "versions" of communism: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin, and Joseph Stalin. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels had their version of communism addressed in the Communist Manifesto, while Lenin and Stalin had their versions named after them respectively.

Communist Manifesto

Karl Marx

Marxist theories included the breakdown of capitalism, the triumph of the working class (by the transfer of ownership of the means of production to the workers), the end of class struggles, and the end of class rule. Marxism became dominant in Europe during the 19th century and had a strongly international outlook. Marx and Engels combined the last stage of socialism to the term communism so that all class differences would disappear and all of humankind would then live harmoniously (Croan). Socialist representatives were eventually elected to national legislatures as socialist parties grew rapidly throughout. The Russian Revolutions divided the people into the group which longed for the Russian path and that which desired the democratic tradition, thus splitting the Marxist followers.


Vladamir Lenin

A system for professional revolutionists where flexibility in tragedies and tactics are preached was the basis of Lenin's thoughts. His goal was to gain the support of peasants and other minorities without giving up the ultimate goal of communism. Lenin eventually did give up this idea (Croan). The communist party became even stricter as other parties were outlawed. He was able to instigate the New Economic Policy that was formed to legalize private trade, encourage small scale enterprises, and attempt to loosen the government's grip on the agricultural production. 


Joseph Stalin

Since Stalin believed the U.S.S.R. could build Socialism itself and that they had to become an industrial power to refrain from being demolished by the capitalist west, he utilized totalitarianism (Croan). Stalin used it to control every possible aspect of soviet life, yet his controls were somewhat relaxed in order to gain support for the WWII effort. Control tightened as soon as the war ended. When Stalin died, Nikita Khrushchev took over the leadership role and the party actually loosened its grip. Khrushchev's goal was to raise living standards by diverting resources from industry to agriculture. He was later unseated and replaced by Leonid Brezhnev and Alexsei Kosygin.

* The different variations of the color red in the preceding table shows the level of true communism- the darker the red being the more extreme version of communism.

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