What is the difference between communism and socialism

Lexicon: communism and socialism

The term "communism" comes from the Latin word "communis", which means "together". "Socialism" is often used synonymously and is in the real sense as a preliminary stage to the communist end goal: the "ideal society". The basic idea of ​​this form of society is community and equality. There should be no distinction between "poor" and "rich", and private property is largely turned over to the state. The so-called means of production such as buildings, usable areas and machines are common to all.

The political ideas of communism gained popularity in the 19th century when the process of industrialization began and many people worked hard in factories for little money. At that time, more and more workers lived in poverty and miserable conditions. Industry grew and factory owners became more and more wealthy, but at the same time large sections of society were impoverished (one also speaks of "pauperism"). The thinker and philosopher Karl Marx, who counts as a pioneer of communism, demanded that the exploitation of the workers by the increasingly wealthy "capitalists" should be put to an end. He was of the opinion that there should be no more private property, but that in a "classless society" with equal rights, everything should be declared jointly owned. Marx published the communist goals together with Friedrich Engels in "The Communist Manifesto" in 1848.

These ideas were the basis of various forms of political rule in the 20th century. The Russian Lenin continued the political goals of communism, and under his leadership the October Revolution of 1917 took place in Russia. After the communists' victory in the Russian Civil War, the Socialist Soviet Union was founded in 1922. After the Second World War, the Soviet Union took power in Albania, Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, so that these countries were also ruled by communism. After the division of Germany, the GDR was founded in 1949, which was also under Soviet rule. In 1991 the Soviet empire disintegrated and with it the greatest socialist power in the world. But also in some other countries the form of rule of communism or socialism prevailed - for example in Cuba and China. These countries are still run in a socialist way today.

The original idea of ​​communism initially sounds fair - all people are treated equally, and there should be no one who lives at the expense of others. However, many critics are convinced that the ideals of communism cannot be implemented. Because in the socialist states a great deal of power and coercion was and is exercised on the citizens - there, too, there is a government that has the say and determines the people. For example, in the GDR and in other countries under the rule of the Soviet Union, people were persecuted and punished who rebelled against politics and the system. The citizens felt unfree, there were bans everywhere. The GDR leadership monitored and spied on the people in order to keep them under their control and to eliminate "public enemies". Many people were wiretapped, arrested and tortured by the secret service of the Stasi ("State Security").

One was only allowed to receive certain radio and television stations, read only certain newspapers and books, and popular propaganda was carried out via the media in the socialist countries. This means that one had very one-sided, uncritical reporting in which communist politics and the government were only portrayed positively. However, there was massive agitation against the "political enemies" of the state. As in a democracy, people did not have the opportunity to participate in political decisions. There were no free elections and only one ruling party in the country. From the beginning, the GDR was under the leadership of the SED, the "Socialist Unity Party of Germany". Even in China and Cuba there is still no freedom of the press, political opponents are persecuted and punished and the people are very unfree.