Communism is a political theory which was derived from the work of Karl Marx. He advocated for class war within a society which would eventually lead to all properties being state-owned instead of private ownership. Then each person would be paid according to the needs of their community and their unique skills and abilities.
Marx took his theories from ideas posed in the 18th century by French writer and philosopher Victor d’Hupay.
This form of government falls within the spectrum of socialism structures. Instead of common ownership belonging to the people, however, the government retains absolute control over every national resource. That reduces the impact of social classes and money, but it also limits individual freedom and decision-making opportunities.
These are a list of the most significant advantages and disadvantages which come from this form of government.
List of the Advantages of Communism
1. It reduces the impact of socioeconomic differences in society.
When Communism is enforced by the government, everyone except the top tier of government officials is on the same footing. There are few distinctions between urban or rural households. Each person plays a contributing role to the success of the country. The differences between all labor forms experience removal too, which means there are no “white collar” or “blue collar” positions. Everyone works within the industry at which they are needed, creating efficiency levels which are higher because the differences are smaller.
2. People start life off with the same opportunities.
Marx believed that democracy creates destruction over time because the “haves” would eventually stop the “have-nots” from having access to needed resources. Lower socioeconomic groups would go to “war” with the elites in society over income, property, and wealth. Communism eliminated those factors, basing it on the concept that everyone should have the same chances to create a life for themselves.Although there are exceptions to classism in Communism (namely oligarchs and high-level government officials), you don’t get a head start in life because your family is wealthy. You work based on what you’re good at doing and what others require.
3. Employment opportunities abound in Communism structures.
Everyone who wants a job under Communist supervision gets a job. Some people are compelled to work because their skills are necessary for the greater good. You don’t get to stop working because you want to live an alternative lifestyle. You do what the government tells you to do, which is usually what you’re best at doing. There are no roles considered superior over others in this government format. You’re either giving the instructions, setting the policy, or implementing what you’re told to do.
Some might argue that this concept, taking from socialism, offers more equality than what a free-market system dictates.
4. Educational opportunities increase during Communist rule.
The top priority for a Communist government when it comes to power is to offer educational opportunities to the general public. When the Communists took over the government in China in 1949, their first task was to teach people who were illiterate how to read and write. They brought vocational skills to urban and rural communities, showing people how to be productive in manufacturing, agricultural, and industrial positions. This process gave people practical skills which could be used to improve their overall quality of life – though granted, that improvement came at the discretion of the government.
5. It creates a stronger social community.
The design of Communism works toward the full inclusion of every family structure. It eliminates the idea of cultural or ethnic ideology as a minority, working toward the creation of a “new man” instead. When people focus on social cohesion through their work and role in society, they theoretically work toward a stronger nation.
List of the Disadvantages of Communism
1. Public ownership structures are easily manipulated by others.
Because there is no private ownership involved with communism, the public nature of all properties creates a higher risk of abuse. Those who are at the highest levels of government within this structure control the most resources. If they decide to make changes within society, then no one can do anything to stop them. You are always at the mercy of what the governing officials decide to do with your property, your job, and your resource accessibility.
2. Most employment opportunities are in the agricultural sector.
Communist governments restrict trade and commerce unless the needs of the State require additional resources. When the Soviet Union existed, their trade activities with the Western industrialized countries (the U.S., Canada, Japan, and Australia) involved either a direct exchange of one item for another or purchases made on cash or credit. They might decide to trade vodka for soft drinks, for example, or offer a direct cash payment for specific items they would import.
That means most employment opportunities involve the agricultural sector under Communism. There is no society if food resources are scarce. Everyone might have a job and do something that they’re great at, but it almost always involves this sector in some way.
3. Individual rights are not a top priority under Communist rule.
The goal of Communism, and socialism to some extent, is to increase the well being of the entire community. This goal occurs when everyone works together for the common good. The difference between Communism and socialism is that the latter still respects individual rights.
Communism dictates almost every goal or need of the individual. You are only free to pursue your interests if they contribute to the welfare of the whole. Individuals receive role assignments that shift whenever the needs of the government change. Socialism permits individuals to pursue whatever ventures they wish after their work for the community is finished because the group self-governs themselves without a secondary central authority in the mix.
4. Opposition is not permitted in Communism unless the central authority authorizes it.
Only one entity, the oversight state, controls the agenda, messaging, and performance of society under Communist rule. The government controls the law at all times. They can instantly decide if actions or conduct of individuals should become illegal, then apply those changes retroactively if they so choose. This government format uses absolute rule over all commercial or industrial production unless they authorize someone else to control those components of society. If you do not receive authority to offer opposition, engage in innovation, or pursue entrepreneurism, then there is a good chance that you have violated the law (or will be found in violation in the future).
The result meant actions like profiteering could be viewed as a counter-revolutionary activity, which would result in a death penalty declaration. The Soviet Civil Code (much of which is still used today by governments in China, Cuba, and other Communist states) abolished civil liberties, protection of law, and the rule of law.
5. Communism makes no distinction between propaganda and education.
Offering education to everyone sounds like an advantage under Communism, but it creates results in reverse. Indoctrination, education, and propaganda work together to change the perspectives of the general population. Everything from textbooks to newspaper articles is carefully directed, managed, and monitored to produce results. They might offer reading and writing essentials to the general population, but in return, they ask for compliance in every aspect of life.
6. Dissent is not permitted under Communist rule.
There are three notable uprisings against the Chinese government since 1949, including the Tibetan uprising, the Tiananmen Square protests, and the Falun Gong practitioners. Tens of thousands of people were involved in this surge of dissent, so the government pursued a combination of censorship, imprisonment, suppression, and “labor re-education” to stop the activities of activists or dissidents.
Dissidents in the Soviet Union faced an even worse fate, including forced admittance to mental hospitals, entry to a labor camp, or general exile. Because dissent was considered a criminal act, it could result in lengthy prison sentences too.
7. There is no way to change the behaviors of the ruling group from within.
Communism bases its ideas on a totalitarian system. There are no mechanisms within that kind of government to create change from the inside. That leaves people with two options if they find their circumstances are growing worse: encourage an epiphany within the government or become outspoken about the issues. When Communism encounters a voice which doesn’t support it, the first effort involves immediate suppression through repression. People disappear frequently, even today, because of how the government is perceived.
Forced disappearances occur when the state secretly imprisons or abducts someone, then refuses to acknowledge their whereabouts or fate. That places the individual outside of the protection which global laws provide. Under Communist rule, forced disappearance implies either murder or long-term forced labor with plausible deniability.
8. It reduces levels of meaningful employment in society.
Communism doesn’t earn you a paycheck. It gives you the right to continue living with the basic essentials and not much more. You’re not permitted hobbies because that is labor which does not benefit society. The goal is to have you help everyone else in exchange for not needing to worry about basic needs. The Soviet Union enforced this structure so thoroughly that they even enacted “jean crimes” because people wanted denim clothing instead of what the government provided everyone.
Life noted in 1972 that a single pair of jeans could sell on the black market in the Soviet Union for a full month’s salary for the average Soviet worker.
9. Individuals are given income limits to follow.
Wealth belongs to the government when following the teachings of Communism. That means you have limits on the amount of cash you’re able to save for a rainy day. Once you earn your capped salary level from your employment, the remainder goes to the government for redistribution unless specific exemptions are authorized. That provides less incentive to work harder than needed since you’re guaranteed a specific income and nothing more. Families push their children toward specific careers which may not have those exemptions to help them live a better life than they are because of this structure.
10. The outcome of Communism is often poverty.
Communism might suggest that everyone benefits from its structure, but it is the opposite which occurs most often. The government can change the rules at any time to help themselves. They declare how much economic growth occurs, who benefits from it, and industrial emphasis in each community. This might give the government ways to respond quickly during emergency situations, but it also puts the population at the mercy of the whims of the State. Most people live in poverty under Communism unless free-market exceptions, like those passed in recent decades by China, allow for some freedoms under the structure.
The pros and cons of Communism were first offered as a way to counter the negative impacts of democracy and free-market systems. As part of the socialism spectrum, it is arguably the most invasive and dangerous form of government still in use today. Although there are some potential benefits to look at from an outside perspective, the reality of this governing type is that it hurts more people than it ever tries to help.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Masters Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.