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Communism vs. Socialism: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Communism is a political and economic ideology advocating for a classless society with common ownership of all property, while socialism is a broader spectrum advocating for social ownership and democratic control of the means of production.
Communism vs. Socialism

Key Differences

Communism proposes eliminating private property, aiming for a classless society.
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Nov 18, 2023
Socialism allows for private property but emphasizes social ownership of production.
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Communism envisions a stateless society after a transitional period.
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Socialism often involves state management or regulation of the economy.
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Communism is seen as the end goal of socialist development, a completely egalitarian society.
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Socialism is a broader concept, existing in various forms, from democratic to more authoritarian systems.
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Communism was exemplified by the former Soviet Union and Maoist China.
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Socialism has been implemented in various forms, from Nordic social democracies to the Venezuelan model.
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Communism is based on Marxist-Leninist theory, advocating for a proletarian revolution.
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Socialism has a wider range of foundations, including Marxist, democratic, and ethical viewpoints.
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Comparison Chart

Property Ownership

No private property, common ownership.
Social ownership, but allows private property.
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State Role

Eventual aim for a stateless society.
State involvement in regulating economy.
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Implementation

Final stage of socialism, classless society.
Various forms, from mild to radical reforms.
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Historical Examples

Soviet Union, Maoist China.
Nordic countries, Venezuela.
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Ideological Basis

Marxist-Leninist theory.
Broader, includes Marxism, democratic socialism.
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Communism and Socialism Definitions

Communism

Common Ownership
In communism, all property is commonly owned by the community.
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Socialism

Social Ownership
Socialism advocates for the social ownership of the means of production.
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Communism

Marxist Ideology
Communism is rooted in the ideas of Karl Marx.
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Socialism

Economic Equity
Socialism aims to reduce economic inequality through redistribution.
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Communism

Classless Society
Communism aims for a society without class distinctions.
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Socialism

Democratic Socialism
Socialism can be practiced in a democratic framework.
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Communism

Proletarian Revolution
Communist revolutions seek to overthrow capitalist systems.
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Socialism

Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy.
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Communism

Stateless Society Goal
Communism envisions a future without the need for a state.
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Socialism

The stage in Marxist-Leninist theory intermediate between capitalism and communism, in which the means of production are collectively owned but a completely classless society has not yet been achieved.
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Communism

A theoretical economic system characterized by the collective ownership of property and by the organization of labor for the common advantage of all members.
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Socialism

Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.
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Communism

A system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy and a single, often authoritarian party holds power, claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people.
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Socialism

A system of social and economic equality in which there is no private property.
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Communism

The Marxist-Leninist doctrine advocating revolution to overthrow the capitalist system and establish a dictatorship of the proletariat that will eventually evolve into a perfectly egalitarian and communal society.
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Socialism

A system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state.
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Communism

Any far-left political ideology or philosophy advocating holding the production of resources collectively, especially by seizing it through revolution.
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Socialism

(Marxism-Leninism) The intermediate phase of social development between capitalism and communism in Marxist theory in which the state has control of the means of production.
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Communism

Any political social system that implements a communist political philosophy.
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Socialism

Any of a group of later political philosophies such democratic socialism and social democracy which do not envisage the need for full state ownership of the means of production nor transition to full communism, and which are typically based on principles of community decision making, social equality and the avoidance of economic and social exclusion, with economic policy giving first preference to community goals over individual ones.
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Communism

The international socialist society where classes, money, and the state no longer exist.
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Socialism

Any left-wing ideology, government regulations, or policies promoting a welfare state, nationalisation, etc.
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Communism

A scheme of equalizing the social conditions of life; specifically, a scheme which contemplates the abolition of inequalities in the possession of property, as by distributing all wealth equally to all, or by holding all wealth in common for the equal use and advantage of all.
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Socialism

A theory or system of social reform which contemplates a complete reconstruction of society, with a more just and equitable distribution of property and labor. In popular usage, the term is often employed to indicate any lawless, revolutionary social scheme. See Communism, Fourierism, Saint-Simonianism, forms of socialism.
[Socialism] was first applied in England to Owen's theory of social reconstruction, and in France to those also of St. Simon and Fourier . . . The word, however, is used with a great variety of meaning, . . . even by economists and learned critics. The general tendency is to regard as socialistic any interference undertaken by society on behalf of the poor, . . . radical social reform which disturbs the present system of private property . . . The tendency of the present socialism is more and more to ally itself with the most advanced democracy.
We certainly want a true history of socialism, meaning by that a history of every systematic attempt to provide a new social existence for the mass of the workers.
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Communism

A form of socialism that abolishes private ownership
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Socialism

A political theory advocating state ownership of industry
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Communism

A political theory favoring collectivism in a classless society
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Socialism

An economic system based on state ownership of capital
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Socialism

State Regulation
In socialism, the state plays a role in managing the economy.
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Socialism

Welfare State
Socialism supports the idea of a strong welfare state for social security.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

Does communism allow for individual wealth?

In communism, the concept of individual wealth is replaced by communal ownership.
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Is communism a form of socialism?

Yes, communism is considered an advanced form of socialism with specific goals.
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What is the role of the state in socialism?

In socialism, the state often has a role in regulating or managing the economy.
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How do communists view the state?

Communists see the state as a temporary structure that will eventually become unnecessary.
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Can socialism have private property?

Yes, socialism allows for private property but emphasizes social ownership of key sectors.
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Can socialism be democratic?

Yes, democratic socialism combines political democracy with social ownership of the economy.
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What are some examples of communist countries?

Historically, the Soviet Union and Maoist China were examples of communist states.
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How is socialism defined?

Socialism is a political and economic theory advocating for social ownership and democratic control of production.
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How does socialism view capitalism?

Socialism often views capitalism critically, seeking to reform or replace it with a fairer system.
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What is communism?

Communism is an ideology advocating for a classless, stateless society with common ownership of resources.
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What is a welfare state in socialism?

A welfare state in socialism refers to government-provided social services and protection.
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What is Marxist-Leninist communism?

Marxist-Leninist communism is a branch of communism based on the teachings of Marx and Lenin.
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What's the difference in property ownership between communism and socialism?

Communism abolishes private property, while socialism allows it but with social control of major sectors.
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Are all socialists also communists?

Not all socialists are communists; socialism has a broader range of ideologies.
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Does communism advocate for a global revolution?

Many communist ideologies support the idea of a worldwide proletarian revolution.
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Are there different types of socialism?

Yes, socialism includes a range of types, from reformist social democracy to revolutionary socialism.
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How do socialists view equality?

Socialists advocate for economic and social equality through redistribution and social ownership.
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Can socialism coexist with a market economy?

Market socialism combines elements of socialism with a market-based economy.
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Do communist societies have governments?

Initially, communist societies have governments, but they aim to progress towards a stateless structure.
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What is the main goal of communism?

The main goal of communism is to create a classless and stateless society where resources are shared equally.
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Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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