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Communism Lesson

Communism Lesson

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INTRO – “Communism used to mean a lot of different things (political system, economic system, theory, etc., different types) – CONFUSING -- so sort through meanings today and discuss ideas….

RESPECT – important that everyone can freely express views today without insults or put-downs – controversial discussion class

Class Exercise:

  • I will read some statistics about state of world today. You go to a corner of room to indicate:
  • Governments should do something to change this.
  • Governments should not do anything to change this.
  • Unsure.

State of World Today:

  • More than 25% of the world’s population does not have access to safe drinking water
  • If all the food in the world were divided evenly, everyone would have enough to eat. Because it is not divided evenly, 60% of world’s population is always hungry, 16% go to sleep often without enough to eat, and only 24% always have enough to eat.
  • More than 2/3 of the world’s population has to survive on less than $500/year (or less than $2/day)
  • 27,000,000 people in the world today live in slavery
  • The richest 350 people in the world have incomes greater than the poorest 45% of the world’s population combined.
  • In many countries today (including the U.S.) the gap between the rich and poor is growing wider (rich becoming richer and poor becoming poorer)


  • Communists would answer yes to all those Q’s. ……..that govt’s SHOULD do something to change that? Does that mean that the people who answered yes for a lot of those are communists?
  • “Communist” today is used in this country as pejorative term / used as insult – provokes fear and hostility – “He’s a commie….”
  • Q – Why do you think it has such a negative connotation today? Where did that come from? * Cold War, McCarthy era, Red Scare, USSR and China, collapse of USSR

INTRO QUESTIONS / Answer in Groups – 10 min discuss / 5 min. REVIEW with whole class:

Define authoritarian socialism, and give two examples of countries under this system.

  • Government owns ALL of economy / No private property
  • Violent revolution
  • No human rights / No real elections
  • E.g. USSR and China under Mao

Define democratic socialism, and give two examples of countries under this system.

  • Government owns part of economy / Private property is allowed
  • no need for violent revolution
  • Human rights and civil liberties guaranteed
  • Elections for leaders
  • Norway, Sweden, Finland, many European countries, France
  • Tend toward Higher Taxes, more Govt. services – Free Healthcare, Free Higher Education, Extensive Welfare if no job
  • It’s a spectrum…..(even Britain to some extent although moving away from it)

Summarize 5 key points made by Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto.

  • History is a history of class struggle between rich and poor
  • Capitalism leads to two classes, the bourgeosie and the proletariat. (Q – what are those?)
  • Trend - Capitalists gain wealth while workers sent deeper into poverty
  • Violent revolution inevitable -- Workers have nothing to lose
  • “Dictatorship of Proletariat” = Period where people are educated to work cooperatively
  • Eventually government disappears. . .
  • Classless society = Communism

How did Marx’s definition of communism differ from authoritarian socialism? Did the Soviet Union practice communism under Marx’s definition?

  • Government never disappeared in Russia or China
  • Believed in basic human rights – people give voluntarily (AFTER dictatorship of proletariat)
  • Classless society – all equal / Never happened in USSR or China which had privileged elites running govt.

About this Document

I use this lesson to introduce the ideal of communism in our Industrial Revolution unit.

Tags: Grade 10, Lesson Plans, Social Sciences, Teachers

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