Before the onset of industrialisation, the society at large, around the world was feudal in nature. It was characterised by class antagonism and widespread oppression of the underprivileged. However, with the colonisation of Asia and Africa, trade, commerce, navigation and industry blossomed, making it difficult for the feudal lords to maintain monopoly over industry. Rising market demands paved the path for a modern industry driven by steam and machinery. This created a new section of industrial millionaires, called the modern bourgeoisie. This rising social class, attained a very cosmopolitan identity with the modes of production and consumption around the world being controlled and manipulated by them. The evolution of communism traces its roots to the rise of this bourgeoisie society. The bourgeoisie society is said to have drawn even the most remote and savage nations into civilisation, thereby increasing their outreach of industrial production. Cities and towns mushroomed and became increasingly reliant on the countries with the bourgeoisie. The theory of communism accuses the bourgeoisie of centralising means of production and concentrating property and wealth in the hands of a few. This kind of economic centralisation was closely followed by political centralisation.
The bourgeoisie had also given rise to the modern working class, called the proletariat. Communism decries the manifestation of the proletariat as a means to generate and enhance capital for only the bourgeoisie. According to it, the individual character and charm of the workman had been lost due to the protracted use of machinery. During those times, the worker was considered nothing but a facilitator for using the machine who survives on subsistence remuneration with an objective to propagate his race. The working class had been enslaved by the modern industry, the bourgeoisie, where they were paid by the hour. Gradually, traders, craftsmen, woodcutters, artisans and peasants, all coalesced into the proletariat as their specialised skillsets were rendered worthless due to the growth of new means of production. The increasing competition among the bourgeois and rapid automation not only led to fluctuating income, but also made many human jobs redundant (referred to as structural unemployment). This fomented unrest in the proletariat population and they directed their attacks not against the bourgeoisie conditions of production, but against the instruments of production, which directly competed with their human labour. Factories were set ablaze and machinery smashed. The working class, at this juncture underwent a transition from a scattered set of population to a consolidated workers union.
The philosophy of communism supports the importance of such an inflection point wherein there is a violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie by the proletarian class. It may be worth noting that the bourgeoisie harnessed their power under feudalism. However, the modern labourer on the other hand, instead of developing with the industrial process sunk deeper and deeper suffering from issues such as poverty and backwardness among others.
Communism revolves around creating a state solely dedicated to the proletarian class, by overthrowing the bourgeoisie supremacy and through the annexation of political power by the proletariat. One of the core tenets of communism is the abolition of private property. Communists believe that wage labour creates capital, which is the collective product of the hard work of proletarians. And hence, capital is not personal, but a social power. So when capital is converted into property, ‘property’ loses its class character.
The objective of theoretical communism is to completely remove individuality in all forms, to a stage where labour and capital, the prime drivers of an economy are incapable of being monopolised. As aptly stated in the Communist Manifesto, “Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that it does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labour of others by means of such appropriations.” In its very conceptual form, communism does not even believe in the concept of a nation, as working people or the proletariat cannot belong to one particular country’s boundary.
The following are the core principles of communism, according to the communist manifesto:
- Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
- A heavy progressive income tax.
- Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
- Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
- Centralisation of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
- Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.
- Equal liability of all to work with establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
- Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.
- Free education for all children in public schools. Combination of education with industrial production.
Though different countries in the world today are practising different versions of Communism, this article is just an interpretation of the Communist Manifesto, given by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in the mid 19th century. In many ways, they are considered as the fathers of this concept of Communism.