Visions of communism throughout history

The Britannica Encyclopedia of Communism

The early Christians practiced a simple form of communism as a way of expressing their contempt for worldly possessions. Later, monastic orders encouraged their members to share their meager possessions with the poor.

Anarchists, including William Godwin in England and Mikhail Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin in Russia (though they spent much of their lives in exile), advocated communal ownership of property and the abolition of the state.

Early visions of communism

While the term “communism” did not emerge until the 1840s, visions of a society that could be considered communist have been around for thousands of years. The ancient Greek philosopher Plato, for example, envisioned in his Republic a state where a ruling class of philosophically trained “guardians” shared property—even spouses and children—with all citizens. Later, English humanist Thomas More portrayed in his Utopia a city-state where money was abolished and citizens shared all property.

In the 19th century, as industrialization accelerated and poverty in the West worsened, socialist and communist ideas gained currency. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ The Communist Manifesto sounded a call for proletarian revolution that would lead to the overthrow of capitalism and its hierarchies. Their motto, “Workers of all countries, unite!” became a rallying cry.

Marx and Engels feared the injustice of a world where the rich exploited the poor while maintaining their own wealth. They also viewed the current system of production as unsustainable. They envisioned a future in which all citizens would participate equally in the productive process and share in the ownership of the products of their labor—from food to education, from medical care to cultural facilities.

These early leftist visions converged on some key elements, including social equality (in the form of the right to work but not property); economic planning, industrialization, electrification, and agricultural collectivization; free education; a combination of educational and industrial production; social and cultural facilities available to all; and public housing.

These visions were often linked to a rejection of traditional religion and a belief in the power of science. They also reflected the widespread recognition that government should play a constructive role in securing economic and social justice. By 1920, rules set by the Comintern allowed communist parties to be formed afresh or else by splitting existing socialist or other social democratic groups and being accountable to Moscow rather than their domestic constituencies.

Marxist communism

Karl Marx (1818-83) and Friedrich Engels (1820-95) developed a theory of revolution that formed the basis for modern communism. It was a materialist view of history that viewed changes in society mainly through economic factors and predicted a revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and the development of a classless communist society. Marxist ideas also formed the theoretical foundation of the socialist movement and influenced many strands of heterodox economics.

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Europe experienced a technological and economic revolution that raised productivity and generated great wealth for factory owners. However, those gains benefited only a tiny bourgeoisie minority while millions of workers struggled to live in poverty and disease. Marx and his contemporaries were convinced that these class struggles, which had dominated human history, were leading inevitably to the collapse of capitalism and the rise of a new social order in which all could enjoy prosperity through collective ownership of the means of production.

Marx and his followers, known as Marxists or proletarians, favored the formation of a government that combined executive, legislative and judicial functions. They also favored the use of openly elected representatives, which they called soviets. These bodies, based on worker councils, would form the core of the new governing structure. The legislature, or supreme state institution, would be the organ that oversaw these democratically chosen bodies and could not be prevented from interfering in any of the other state institutions unless expressly prohibited by law.

After the deaths of Marx and Engels in 1883 and 1895, the international following for their ideas split into two camps. One group, called revisionists, favored a peaceful and gradual transition to socialism. The other, which became the proletarian leadership of the Russian Revolution in 1917, remained true to the original vision of violent revolution. A third group, which embraced the ideas of both camps, was called council communists, and they advocated the formation of a governing body, or federation, made up of workers’ councils.

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Revolutionary Struggle and Ideology of the Communist Party of the Philippines

What is Communist Party of the Philippines?

The CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, fight for the immediate and basic wants of the workers, peasants and other elements exploited by capitalists. It combines the armed struggle with mass base building and organs of political power in the countryside.

In 1968 the Party launched a “second rectification movement” to criticize and correct the deviations of leading cadres from its fundamental principles. These deviations led to a number of grave setbacks in the revolutionary struggle.


The CPP upholds and creatively applies Marxism-Leninism in the concrete practice of the Philippine revolution. It develops legal mass organizations of workers, peasants and youth, establishes guerrilla zones in selected strategic areas nationwide and carries out criticism and self-criticism with the aim of firming up unity and heightening the revolutionary struggle.

The armed struggle hews to the strategic line of encircling the cities from the countryside over a protracted period of time, until sufficient forces are accumulated in the countryside to smash the city defenders. This is compatible with the development of the basic worker-peasant alliance and the organs of political power in the countryside.

The CPP seeks whatever moral and material support it can from abroad, but is conscious of its independence and utmost self-reliance. It upholds proletarian internationalism and supports all anti-imperialist and progressive forces worldwide. The revolutionary movement should be prepared to thwart any escalation of US aggression and shift from a civil war to a people’s war in case of an outright war of aggression.


Since its reestablishment in 1968, the CPP has built the New People’s Army and peasant movement as the basic working-class and peasant alliance in carrying out armed struggle and building the organs of political power in the countryside; based on this it waged legal and illegal struggles; and developed a general line on a people’s war against US imperialism and local reactionaries. This solved in practice and theoretically the particular problem of waging people’s war in an archipelagic country, converting the initial disadvantage of encircling cities from the countryside into a long-term strategic advantage.

The CPP has exposed the semicolonial and semifeudal character of Philippine society; laid bare the general class line of national democratic revolution against US imperialism and local reactionaries; criticized and repudiated the erroneous lines of the Lavas and Tarucs; and built itself on the theory of Marxism–Leninism and the general line of proletarian internationalism. It seeks from abroad whatever moral and material support is possible, but always on the basis of self-reliance and the principle of the greatest possible autonomy for the revolutionary struggle in the Philippines.


The CPP is guided by the theory of Marxism-Leninism. It has waged revolutionary armed struggle and led the New People’s Army, and now it leads the national democratic front in its drive for total victory over the US-installed fascist dictatorship through protracted people’s war.

The party has the greatest mass base of all revolutionary forces in the Philippines. It is able to mobilize millions of workers and peasants to join the national democratic revolution.

Thousands of Party cadres have deep understanding of the basic analysis of dialectical and historic materialism, the critique of capitalism and modern imperialism and the theory of scientific socialism. They are ready to issue propaganda and conduct agitation in their specific areas of work. They can analyze issues and make decisions based on the concrete conditions of the Philippine revolution. This enables them to lead the NPA and other revolutionary mass organizations, alliances and local organs of political power in the drive for total victory over the dictatorship.

Political Activity

In its political work, the CPP is guided by its theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism. It is conscious of the oppression and exploitation of national minorities and upholds their right to self-determination as a fundamental basis for united front work. It integrates their struggle into the overall revolution. It has built the New People’s Army and organs of political power in the countryside, realizing the basic worker-peasant alliance.

The party’s guerilla warfare is conducted through its revolutionary mass organization, the National Democratic Front, which embraces urban-based legal masses and the underground mass movement. It is based on the principle of organs of political power built at the village level and the formation of united front committees at higher levels. It also seeks to mobilize the masses of the Filipino people of different nationalities and ethno-linguistic groups to carry out a national democratic revolution and advance toward socialist revolution.

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