Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Communism and Anarchism

anarchyCommunism vs Anarchism
Anarchism is a political ideology which is based upon the principle of individual liberty of citizens. According to the believers of anarchism, the ideal society should be one which would be bereft of any government, any constitutional authority, any law, or for that matter any police, or any other authority that could monitor or control or influence individuals or collective thoughts and actions of citizens. Thus the core of the doctrine of anarchism is opposition and rejection of any state authority over the will of the citizens. Rather anarchists believe in freedom and authority of individuals. The first anarchist philosopher and writer, Max Stirner declared in his famous book The Ego & His Own, “For me there is nothing above myself”.

Communism or Marxism, also known as Dictatorship of Proletariat as propagated by Karl Marx assisted by Friedrich Engel, is a historical as well as a political and an economic theory. The theory believes in historical materialism, which states that, the physical relationship between the factors of production builds the political and economic structure of the society, which ultimately shapes the cultural thought process of the people. As the relationship is manipulated by the owners of the capital and resources, other than the owners of labour, to earn more profit by exploiting the work-force, revolution led by the work-force is bound to happen, which would overthrow the capitalist-friendly government, and would establish a government where the state, run by a competition-less single political party, would own all the factors of product, undertake designing and implementing economic plans and would ensure equitable distribution of goods. This state of political system is what communists call dictatorship of proletariat.

Methodology: Marx has based the concept of the state reflecting dictatorship of proletariat, on the doctrine of historical materialism. According to Marx historical materialism is the driving force of the society. Anarchists, on the other hand views historical materialism as a tool among other tools for analysing the society. Some of the anarchist philosophers like Murray Bookchin dismisses historical materialism as not only untestable, but also for dehumanising human beings as agent of history.

Anarchism & Communism

Existence of Government: Anarchists believe an ideal society should not have any government or constitutional authority to rule thoughts and actions of individual citizens. Thus anarchists do not believe in existence of state, no individual is supposed to think of any authority to curtail her/his freedom rather people would be ruled by self governance. Communists on the other hand believe in a government run by only one communist party, and that the state should own all resources leaving nothing for private ownership. Communists firmly believe in a state ruled by proletariat through the party.

Ownership of Property: Communists believe the state that would be formed after revolution would abolish private ownership of property, and there would be collective ownership of property in the hands of the state. Anarchists, on the other hand believe in revolution to end state authority and private ownership of property.

Distribution of Resources & Goods: In communism it is believed that resources & output would be equitably distributed among the people based upon needs of individual persons. Anarchists are of the view that resources and output would be enjoyed by individuals based upon need as well as choice, and would stand on individual capacity.

Religious View: Pure communism as Marx and Engel envisaged is free from any concept of god and religion. Violent opposition to religious practices have been encouraged by communists at many places and times. However communists with faith in God and religion can be seen all over the world. Anarchists on the other hand have never shunned religion. They are against oppressive religions but welcome egalitarian religions. Many anarchist communities like Bauls in Hindus and Sufis in Islam are firmly religious. However some anarchists dream of a religion-free society, where as others view religion as distinctly private matter and has nothing to do with the society.

Nationalism: Anarchists believe nationalism divides people and is detrimental to equal freedom. They believe revolution would wipe out the geographical boundaries of states, and most ideal form of socialism would be internationalism. Communists, on the other hand firmly believe in separate states with international ideology of dictatorship of proletariat. Many communist states like China and Vietnam have indulged in imperialistic activities with the objective of expanding geographical territory.

Anarchism & Communism

Ways of Revolution: Communists propagate proletariat working class-led movement to oust capitalist government, in cases by armed revolution, and establish a class-less society, and the party-run government with absolute power. Anarchists, on the other hand, led by Bakunin reject any collective political organisation with centralised power to lead the movement for establishment of individual liberty based society. Bakunin proposed a selective team of 100 anarchists to work on international platform and spread the concept and thus build up revolution. This is the reason anarchism has been criticised by many as being suspicious and secretive theory of revolution.

(i) Communists believe historical materialism brings forth revolution. Anarchists discard this as untestable and consider it as a tool to analyse society.
(ii) Communists propagate class-less society and party-run government. Anarchists do not believe in necessity of states and governments.
(iii) In a communist state all resources would be owned by the government or state. Anarchists want private property to be owned by individuals.
(iv) In communism output to be distributed among the people according to need. In anarchism individuals will have right to output according to need as well as choice.
(v) Pure communism does not believe in God or religion. Anarchists view these as personal choice and appreciate egalitarian religion.
(vi) Communists believe in geographical states and specified boundaries. Anarchists believe in internationalism with no geographical boundaries.
(vii) Communists suggest working-class based political party led movement to up-root capitalist government with the objective of establishing a class-less society. Anarchists reject political party and suggest spreading revolution by a secret team of chosen anarchists.


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  1. this is entirely based on the soviet unions practice of state socialism and the misconception of the meaning of anarchism as a political ideology.

    Please actuallty do some reading on the thoughts of communist and anarchist thinkers like MArx and Bakunin.

  2. I would say that the essential thread of communism is a classless society where there is no money, the means of production are commonly owned, there is no private property and everyone contributes products and services to a collective storehouse from which everyone is free to forage when needed From each according to his ability to each according to his need. Communism encompasses a variety of sub-movements, some anarchist, some not.

    Anarchism is the general skepticism of any kinds of authority, whether they are private tyrannies, oppressive governments or some such thing. Anarchism mandates that these authorities either justify their existence or be dismantled. That is about the only common motif that runs through out all anarchist-based sociopolitical movements. Anarchism has its own “political spectrum”, with individualist anarcho-capitalism and right libertarianism on the far right, and movements such as anarcho-communism, collectivist anarchism, left libertarianism et al. on the far left.

    That is the difference as far as I see it.

  3. Uh, except for those communists who are anarchists, and those anarchists who are communists – like Kropotkin and Goldman, not to mention the whole contemporary libcom.org folks today.

    Communism is a form of social organization – a way to embody the values of socialism, so anarchists (non-state socialists) can be communists or syndicalists or agorists/mutualists, or another mode of organization.

  4. Whoever wrote this has very little comprehension of either system and absolutely no concept of what anarchism is whatsoever. Apparently there has been no attempt to research it.

    Anarchism is not “chaos” nor is it the promotion of a system that leads to chaos. The nuances can get pretty complicated, but in very simplified terms anarchism is the belief in a society which is not governed by a state. The reason is pretty much that when one person or organization has power over others, there is necessarily injustice. One group governs another simply because they have the means of forcing others to comply (police, prisons, weapons, military). The governors have economic privilege and are not bound by the law to the same extent as the governed. The people always eventually lose what say they may have had in the decision-making processes, and policies develop against their interests. Violence, war, oppression, and economic inequality ensue.

    Don’t be misled into thinking it is simply the negation of the current establishments. Anarchism posits a number of alternative methods to social/political/economic organization, all of which (as far as I know) are centered on DEMOCRACY (self-rule by the people). As stated in the comments above, there are different ideologies within anarchism. There are conservative anarchists and liberal anarchists. Captialist and socialist anarchists. Due to the stateless and democratic nature of an anarchy, it is (conceivably) possible for all of these systems to exist simultaneously (though perhaps separately). I’m sure some would disagree, and perhaps have valid points.

    Ignore the above article. It is altogether misinformed.

  5. I agree with the above commenters. This is horrible. The author has no idea of what anarchism is. “Anarchism believes in individual ownership.” Where the hell did they get that from? Anarchism is explicitly anti-capitalist, as capitalist property relations depend on coercion.

  6. I think the above two comments dont actually know what Anarchy is.
    Anarchy in simple form means chaos. The term Chaos is always seen negatively, but Anarchist see it possitively. Chaos is the lack of unity, essentially. That is also what Anarchy is, the person is in control of himself and no one else, nobody is above the person and the person is above no one.
    Communism is the community, all people working together for one another, instead of for themselves. This is where the misconception takes place. You can be a person for the people as an Anarchist, anarchistic communist, but a community can not be for a person, a communistic anarchist.

    • “Anarchy in simple form means chaos. The term Chaos is always seen negatively, but Anarchist see it possitively.”

      No. Anarchy does NOT mean “chaos” –
      ἀναρχία (anarkhiā), from ἀν- (an-, “not”), + ἀρχή (arkhē, “power, authority”).

      Absence of authority does NOT mean or imply absence of order.

      And anarchists do NOT “see chaos positively”, they see self-organization positively. Self-organization only appears as chaos from the standpoint of a power wishing to impose another order.

      • I think ‘Anarchy’ means two different things, and the article mixes them up:

        1.A state of disorder due to absence or nonrecognition of authority. (in other words, chaos)

        2.Absence of government and absolute freedom of the individual, regarded as a political ideal. (what the article should have been talking about)

  7. Doesn’t Anarchism seem sort of Capitalist and Opportunistic when compared to Communism?

    • “Doesn’t Anarchism seem sort of Capitalist and Opportunistic when compared to Communism?”

      Not at all. Read the people cited above. Communism *is* anarchism, whether set in practice by the immediate abolition of the state (Kropotkin, Bakunin, Goldman), or through the eventual withering away of the state as its class function becomes obsolete and disappears (Marx).

      There is nothing anarchistic about capitalism, since capitalism is built on wage labor, and thus requires hierarchy and inequality to function.

  8. This article is wrong in almost every way that it is possible to be wrong in.

  9. Contraty to what they are trying to convince, I think these commenters have it wrong and this article is pretty spot-on to say the least, especially the person that said Anarchism is Communism. Communism is for dictatorship while Anarchism is against dictatorship; about the only thing these two movements have in common is that they are against capitalism. Even the founder of Anarchism Mikhail Bakunin opposed Communism for this exact same reason.

  10. Author do not seem to have any idea about what anarchism is
    every individual have rights to decide what is right;no one should believe earth is flat just because whole community thinks so;
    communism is a monster;essentially evil practically,it is only good in utopian (theoretical) societies.anarchists are liberators they believe that even if you have to stand alone you must.it echoes
    ‘Ekla Cholo Re’.

  11. The definition of a communist society here is disgustingly inaccurate. First of all, a communist society is not in need of a government as well (like anarchy), in what Marx describes as the “withering away of the state” where the state gradually diminishes in value and need and eventually becomes obsolete and irrelevant to the needs of society.

    A communist society is one in which the means of production is common property, and goods are distributed by need. The state in which a communist-led government is merely a communist state and is not the full realization of communism. This “communist state” is not meant to be permanent and should wither away when true communism is reached. In simple terms, a communist state is a mere stepping stone towards a fully communist society.

  12. This is not accurate. Communism does not rely on any type of government as wrongly stated. Soviet union was not a communist society, but a state socialism system instead. This article is therefore misleading regarding the true defining of communism.

  13. This is a terrible comparison and the person who wrote it is utterly unqualified. Not once does it mention that a core tenant of anarchism is anti-capitalism. The way it describes anarchism is more like Libertarianism which is definitely not anarchism. Moreover, anarcho-capitalism does NOT exist; it is a contradiction in terms, like saying you’re a vegan meat-eater.

  14. Susan, I assure you anarcho-capitalism does exist and is in no way a contradiction of terms. I consider myself within this exact class of thought. As an anarchist I believe in individual rights and freedom and I fight non-violently against government and oppressive social constructs. But we can not deny that there is an economy and an entire international structure that needs tending too. That’s why I believe in the idea of a free market society where everyone enters into voluntary contracts. This is the only way anarchism will work in the real world because we will need businesses to support infastructure, perform emergency services, etc.

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