Communism Basics: It’s Not a Dirty Word

Featured image: Image by svekloid on Shutterstock. Edited in Affinity Photo and Designer.


4 for Now

It may surprise some people to know that Marx was a democrat (in the true sense of the word, not the distorted meaning the US gives it). He felt leaders should be elected, recallable, and paid like the average worker. So why are his ideas so scary to USians? Read on for some communism basics.

In a true democracy, the people have the power [YouTube]. But as we watch people we didn’t vote for get elected and do things we haven’t asked them to—or worse, the opposite of what we ask for—we see that only people with money (lots of money) have power in the US.

Democracy is an inherent feature in communism. You’ll notice that “communism” and “community” are similar words. (The root originates from the Latin word communis, meaning “common.”) Marx believed solidarity was achieved through collaboration. People working together. Like a community.

Lenin expounded Marx’s ideas, and while what he achieved wasn’t quite communism (more on that in a future post), he agreed that communism was the way to liberate the working class.

Communism Basics: Terms

Lenin defined these terms in his book, State and Revolution (text available at

  • Socialism is a stage of communism, where the proletariat takes over the state. (To achieve full communism, there is no state. To skip the stage of socialism and eliminate the state immediately is anarchism.)
  • The proletariat is the working class: those who don’t own any means of production, and who depend on wages for survival.
  • The bourgeoisie is the owning (and, at the moment, the ruling) class. In the US, that would be Bezos, Musk, and the rest of the 1%.
  • The petite bourgeoisie are the small business owners who, though barely getting by on their tiny share of the means of production, side with the bourgeoisie. This, while the bourgeoisie continue to manipulate them and steal their wealth. Some may call them “middle class,” but they are class traitors to the proletariat. (It’s important to note that white people—even if they do not benefit financially from capitalism—can still be petite bourgeoisie when they side with the bourgeoisie and receive power or other perks by doing so.)

What Communism Wants

I wrote a post about things I believe in. I never used the word communism, but that’s where I was coming from in compiling that list. Here’s another, shorter list:

  • Widespread universal social welfare.
  • Universal education with a focus on developing the proletariat with knowledge, class consciousness, and historical understanding.
  • The emancipation of women and the ending of their exploitation.
  • All people treated equally.
  • Everyone has enough work opportunities to live and survive.
  • An internally stable economic system.
  • Strong social communities.
  • Elimination of competition. Work, responsibility, and rewards are shared equally.
  • Cooperation, which would allow for efficient resource distribution (including in emergencies).

Lumen Learning has an article that explains this list further.

If communism still sounds like a bad thing, stay tuned. Next month, I’ll explore some nations the US calls communist, and explain how we’re wrong.


4 for Later

  1. Get to know communism better. You could read old school theory. Or you could watch cool streamers on Twitch [Notion page] talk in plain (and modern) terms about the ideas communism espouses.
  2. Talk about it (view the rest of the video I linked above for tips). Let people know what communism really is. Correct them when they spread misinformation. We, as a nation, will keep fearing it if we continue to misunderstand it.
  3. Engage in mutual aid. See who in your area is already doing the work, and volunteer some time to help.
  4. Join the Communist Party of the USA. (Dues are $60/year, or $24/year for low income folks). [Full disclosure: I am a current member of the CPUSA, but this is not a sponsored link or post.] Not really feeling the communism thing? You can still help the country move towards true democracy by joining the Socialist Party. (Dues run from $50/year to $240+/year, depending on income bracket.)