a theory or system of social organization based on the holding of all property in common, actual ownership being ascribed to the community as a whole or to the state.
(often initial capital letter) a system of social organization in which all economic and social activity is controlled by a totalitarian state dominated by a single and self-perpetuating political party.
(initial capital letter) the principles and practices of the .
Contemporary Examples

He was, after all, writing before the collapse of communism and the opening of the archives of various intelligence agencies.
Oliver Stone’s Junk History of the United States Debunked Michael Moynihan November 18, 2012

The mirror-image systems of communism and fascism promised to solve problems quickly through command and control.
Market Leninism vs. the West John Avlon March 29, 2014

Stack excoriates the IRS but gives a favorable nod to communism, as if the latter’s tax rates were somehow more manageable.
The Scary Rise of Anti-Government Attacks Lee Siegel February 18, 2010

That doctrine committed the United States to military alliances like NATO and aimed to stop the spread of communism.
Rand Paul Gives War a Chance Olivia Nuzzi August 17, 2014

After the collapse of communism, what is the utopian instinct amongst intellectuals and writers now?
The Politics of Literature: An interview with Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa Michael Moynihan October 9, 2013

Historical Examples

Much, no doubt, could be done even by what is now called communism, but what in earlier days was called Christianity.
Thoughts on Life and Religion Friedrich Max Mller

It is a race as to whether this peninsula will be captured by communism or capitalism.
Rosinante to the Road Again John Dos Passos

communism, Socialism abolish private property and push us back into Collectivism.
Egoists James Huneker

They are capable of fighting their own war, if war is necessary to protect them from communism.
The Invisible Government Dan Smoot

I hasten to say, that if Protection can be and ought to be likened to communism, it is not that which I am about to attack.
Protection and Communism Frederic Bastiat

advocacy of a classless society in which private ownership has been abolished and the means of production and subsistence belong to the community
any social, economic, or political movement or doctrine aimed at achieving such a society
(usually capital) a political movement based upon the writings of Marx that considers history in terms of class conflict and revolutionary struggle, resulting eventually in the victory of the proletariat and the establishment of a socialist order based on public ownership of the means of production See also Marxism, Marxism-Leninism, socialism
(usually capital) a social order or system of government established by a ruling Communist Party, esp in the former Soviet Union
(often capital) (mainly US) any leftist political activity or thought, esp when considered to be subversive
communal living; communalism

“social system based on collective ownership,” 1843, from French communisme (c.1840) from commun (Old French comun; see common (adj.)) + -isme (see -ism). Originally a theory of society; as name of a political system, 1850, a translation of German Kommunismus (itself from French), in Marx and Engels’ “Manifesto of the Communist Party.” Cf. communist. In some cases in early and mid-20c., a term of abuse implying anti-social criminality without regard to political theory.

Each [i.e. socialism, communism, anarchism] stands for a state of things, or a striving after it, that differs much from that which we know; & for many of us, especially those who are comfortably at home in the world as it is, they have consequently come to be the positive, comparative, & superlative, distinguished not in kind but in degree only, of the terms of abuse applicable to those who would disturb our peace. [Fowler]

An economic and social system envisioned by the nineteenth-century German scholar Karl Marx. In theory, under communism, all means of production are owned in common, rather than by individuals (see Marxism and Marxism-Leninism). In practice, a single authoritarian party controls both the political and economic systems. In the twentieth century, communism was associated with the economic and political systems of China and the Soviet Union and of the satellites of the Soviet Union. (Compare capitalism and socialism.)


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