Communism seeks to make the means of production owned by all. It is a historical stage of humankind's evolution that purportedly leads inevitably to a utopian society in which each person will gain enough wealth for his or her needs while contributing diligently to society as best they can. It is not socialism, though socialism may be a stepping-stone to the more radical distributive elements of communism.
Vladimir Lenin, who founded Russian communism, created a sociopolitical framework for communism that espoused its implementation via a "vanguard party" that would safeguard the movement while leading the proletariat toward communism's utopian goals.
Though communism has been largely discredited in the West, it was a muscular movement in the 19th and 20th centuries. Even today the political elites of countries such as Cuba, China, Vietnam and North Korea espouse forms of communism, though if one looks closely at these countries, one sees that the reality of communism is far different than its theoretical presentation.
What has happened in varying degrees in these countries – and in countries that have ultimately given up communism – is that the mass of the citizenry develop various gray and black markets based on barter and trade. This is in keeping with the way that human beings relate to each other.
Meanwhile, the political, business and military elites of such countries tend to monopolize the financial and economic elements around which society is structured. Thus it develops that communism eventually – no matter the sincerity with which it is adopted – merely becomes a pretext for elite control of society. At the top there is repression and monopoly, at bottom there is savage competition between the impoverished masses.
There are certainly valid criticisms that one can make about free markets and especially capitalism, and communism makes those criticisms eloquently. Unfortunately, in practice, communism creates repressive rather than free societies historically speaking and instead of providing prosperity tends to continually reduce living standards to the lowest common denominator. In North Korea, for instance, citizens under that authoritarian rule are treated very badly. In communist China and the Soviet Union, mass starvation was used as a political tool.
The idea of a classless, stateless society in which the "collective" makes decisions that benefit all sounds wonderful in theory but seems to provide genocidal terror in practice. Karl Marx, one of the founders of modern communism never spelled out how a society would evolve toward a communist utopia, though he did offer up a 10-point plan, including various kinds of wealth and land redistributions that would provide a basis for the transition. Interestingly, much of what Marx provided simply endowed the state itself – and the state's inevitable vanguard – with enormous power. Marx's recipe for utopia turns out to be a justification for state authoritarianism and worse.
Communism has a long history, and one could make the argument that the Greek philosopher Plato was one of the first to espouse communism with his idea of a utopian society led by enlightened despots. And despite communism's failures and lack of modern adherents, the criticisms of capitalism itself inherent in communist theory continue to strike a chord.
What also can be argued is that many Western states have adopted much of the 10-point platform that Karl Marx advocated, including a graduated income tax and state-ownership (or control) of resources. Again, what this means in practice is that a small vanguard of society's power-elite end up controlling a vast amount of society's resources.
At the Daily Bell, we argue that Western society has, over the past several hundred years, developed a secret social and cultural organization that is in control of societies that have been structured to be much like communism. A secretive Anglo-American power elite that traces its power and wealth back through generations actually controls most of the means of production – and the fruits of that production – without publicizing this state of affairs.
This hierarchy of mostly banking families and their facilitators (the church, corporations, political elites, mainstream media enterprises, etc.) is located primarily in the City of London and Washington DC. It is said by some conspiratorial historians that Marx's work was funded by this elite group and that communism is merely a restatement of the authoritarian model that these elites use to manage Western societies – and increasingly the wider world. Thus it could be said that communism – which in reality is nothing more than a tyrannical configuration of state authoritarianism driven by money power – has actually won out over other political systems. It is only in the truth-spawning era of the Internet that we have finally been able to glimpse the terrible reality of this system and its aggressive implementation, intergenerationally, by Western elites.