Communism is a political movement, ideology and philosophy that was particularly popular throughout the 20th century. Its main aim is to achieve a communist society, in which the means of production are owned commonly. The phrase 'seize the means of production' implies that the government should take control of the means of production (factories, businesses, etc.) and use them for the greater good instead of personal gain. Another key aspect of communism is an absence of social classes, currency, and the 'state' as we know it. Branching from communism is the idea of socialism, in which the workers control the means of production. Both these ideologies, according to communist thinking, would abolish many problems seen in society today. With the absence of a class system would come absence of power abuse, oppression, famine, and greed. Work would not be something a person needs to do to survive, but rather something people would choose to do. This classless system is theoretically achievable through removing the power of the bourgeoisie, or the upper class. The proletariat, or the working class, should then rise to power.
One of the most famous sources of communist writing is the communist manifesto, written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1848. It is a very concise book, yet provides one of the most effective descriptions of communism. To this day, the communist manifesto is still used, and its ideas arguably transcend time periods and are still relevant almost two centuries later. In his book, Karl Marx wrote about a change in society. This change would be necessary in order to establish a communist way of living. This change would involve a society governed by the proletariat, a form of governing necessary in order to bring about the equality preached in communist thought. Marx was interested in the Paris commune of 1870, during which the working class of Paris took control of the city after the defeat of the French army by the Prussian army. This real-life experience was to Marx, more important than the theoretical views of other radical groups.
Marx’s ideas were popular throughout the late 19th and early 20th century. By the early 1900’s, a worldwide movement had developed called the Social Democracy, a group that was apparently influenced by his ideas. The group believed that the workers throughout different nations had more in common with each other than they did with the upper class of their own nation, and should unite. By 1917, Lenin, and Trotsky led a group in Russia called the Bolsheviks. In the October Revolution they got rid of the temporary government in Russia to put in power the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics – more commonly known as the USSR. The Soviet Union therefore became the first country to establish a state owned by the proletariat.