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Communism is an economic and political way of looking at the world. In "The Communist Manifesto," Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels described ten ideas central to communism: no private property, no rights to inherit, steep progressive income tax, no property rights, a central bank, government-owned transportation/communication/agriculture/factories, government in charge of labor and education, cooperative farms and area planning. Communism also requires the elimination of religion and morality based upon religion.
Furthermore, it's important to note that the government has the final say in society. There is little room for dissent.
The ideal communist government strives to instill equality throughout all ranks of society. This means that there is no room for aristocracy or privately-owned businesses. Throughout history, communists believe that the rich have lived off the work of the poor without doing much, if any, work themselves. That is why the people own their own labor in communist theory. All this also means that the government strives for equal access to and equal-quality education, health care, and other social services for all citizens.
Communism is a system of government and economics in which the good of the whole society is preferred to the good of individuals. Let us look at ways in which communism’s features or tenets make this so.
A main feature of communism is that the means of production are to be owned by the government. Communism holds that it is bad for private people to own things like factories. Instead of letting private citizens own these things, a communist system would feature government ownership.
A second feature of communism is its belief that wage labor exploits workers. Communists believe that all of the value in a product comes about because of the labor that goes into making it. People who own factories (or those who manage companies) do not participate in making products and yet they get paid more than the workers who do make things. To communists, the owners and managers are exploiting the workers by taking money that the workers have created and keeping it for themselves.
Politically, communism does not really believe in democracy. Communists believe that (at least in the early stages of communism) the government has to have complete power. Communists do not think that the people necessarily know what is best for them. Therefore, they believe that the communist party should run things because it knows best.
Finally, communists believe that societies always engage in class struggle. They think that (in our system today) things like race and sex should not be relevant. All that should matter is whether you are a worker or someone who makes money off of workers. All of our politics and society are created by the conflict between people of different classes.
Of course, there are many other features and tenets of communism, but these are the most important.
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