A communist revolution
is a proletarian revolution
inspired by the ideas of Marxism
that aims to replace capitalism
, typically with socialism
-run means of production
) as an intermediate stage. The idea that a proletarian revolution is needed is a cornerstone of Marxism
; Marxists believe that the workers of the world must unite and free themselves from capitalist oppression to create a world run by and for the working class
. Thus, in the Marxist view, proletarian revolutions need to happen in countries all over the world; see world revolution
Leninism argues that a communist revolution must be led by a vanguard of 'professional revolutionaries' - that is, men and women who are fully dedicated to the communist cause and who can then form the nucleus of the revolutionary movement. Some Marxists disagree with the idea of a vanguard as put forth by Lenin, especially left communists but also including some who continue to consider themselves Marxist-Leninists despite such a disagreement. These critics insist that the entire working class - or at least a large part of it - must be deeply involved and equally committed to the socialist or communist cause in order for a proletarian revolution to be successful. To this end, they seek to build massive communist parties with very large memberships.
See the articles on communism and communist states for further discussion regarding the goals and results of some of these revolutions.
Communist revolutions throughout history
The following is a list of communist revolutions throughout history. The most significant ones are marked in bold. Among the lesser known revolutions, a number of borderline cases have been included which may or may not have been communist revolutions. The nature of unsuccessful revolutions is particularly contentious since one can only speculate as to the kinds of policies that would have been implemented by the revolutionaries had they achieved victory.
- The creation of the Paris Commune in 1871, considered by Karl Marx to be the first attempt by the working class to establish a communist society.
- The 1917 communist revolution in Russia, known as the October Revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution. It resulted in the victory of the Bolsheviks and the creation of Soviet Russia, the predecessor of the Soviet Union.
- The German Revolution of 1918-1919, led by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, which ended in defeat for the communists.
- The creation of the short-lived Bavarian Soviet Republic in 1919, which was defeated within a month by the German army and Freikorps.
- The Hungarian revolution of 1919, led by Béla Kun, which was also eventually defeated.
- The Chinese Revolution, final stage of the Chinese Civil War (1926-1949), that resulted in the victory of the Communist Party of China on mainland China in 1949.
- 1941-1945 People's Liberation War in Yugoslavia is waged by the Yugoslav Partisans under the command of Josip Broz Tito with Allied support against the invading forces of Nazi Germany and the pro-Nazi Croatian Ustase. The victorious partisans establish the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
- The August Revolution 1945 creating the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
- The Proclamation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in 1948, when the Soviet-backed Workers Party of Korea, led by Kim Il-sung, announced the formation of the state of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
- The Cuban Revolution of 1959, in which Fidel Castro and the July 26 Movement overthrew the regime of Fulgencio Batista.
- Internal Conflict in Peru (1980-present) Comprised two rebellions by two different Marxist organizations. The Communist Party of Peru, also known as the "Shining Path" fought a bloody war beginning in 1980 with successive Peruvian governments both democratic and authoritarian in nature and independent paramilitaries organized by the government known as Ronda Campesina. The Shining Path attempted to enforce a very extreme brand of communism inspired by the beliefs of Mao Zedong the leader of the People's Republic of China from 1949-1976. The Shining Path opposed any form of democracy and committed numerous human rights violations. Another organization, known as the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA), named after an Incan warrior Tupac Amaru began their own rebellion in 1982. The MRTA did not adhere to Maoism like the Shining Path, claimed to be fighting for democracy, believed in a more mainstream version of communism and modelled their movement on other leftwing guerrilla groups in Latin America. The MRTA and Shining Path quickly became bitter enemies and fought one another as well as the government of Peru. During the war atrocities were committed on all sides, but mostly by the Shining Path and the Peruvian military. Fighting goes on today with a small number of Shining Path cadres, however the movement has mostly been crushed and only operates in a very remote jungle region. Since the capture of Shining Path leader Abimael Guzman the organization has lost most of its earlier support. the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement was largely destroyed in 1997 after the Japanese embassy hostage crisis.
- The Indonesian revolution and Communist Party of Indonesia support for President Sukarno, which ended when Indonesian General Suharto removed President Sukarno from power and defeated the Communist Party of Indonesia, in 1965-1966.
- The First Indochina War in Vietnam that resulted in the defeat of the French at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, 1954, and brought the Communist Party of Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh to power in North Vietnam a victory followed closely by the protracted guerrilla warfare-dominated Vietnam War (1957-1975), which in turn led to the Fall of Saigon and the driving-out of occupying U.S. military forces there, and the unification of North and South Vietnam by communist guerrilla forces into the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The conflict drastically changed neighboring Laos and Cambodia.
- The victory of the communist Pathet Lao/Lao People's Revolutionary Party in Laos by 1975, elinmating a coalition government with anti-communists led to the establishment of the communist-administered Lao People's Democratic Republic.
- The victory of the communist Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in 1975, establishing the Maoist regime known as "Democratic Kampuchea," with Pol Pot as dictator. In 1979 it was overthrown by former allies: communist neighbor Vietnam and another communist party faction, reconstituted as the Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Party.
- The Malayan Emergency when the Malayan Communist Party and communist guerillas fought against, and were defeated by, British and Malayan forces, 1948-1960.
- The Marxist-led Guinea-Bissauan Revolution in Guinea-Bissau, Africa, against Portugal, 1959-1974.
- The victory of the communist Mozambican Liberation Front in Mozambique, 1964-1975.
- Maoist-styled "Protracted People's War" in the Philippines, launched by the New People's Army in 1969 and continuing at present
- The victory of the communist Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola in Angola, 1975-2002, under Agostinho Neto and José Eduardo dos Santos.
- The overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia by Mengistu Haile Mariam who then set up one-party Marxist-Leninist rule in Ethiopia by the communist Workers' Party of Ethiopia, 1977-1991, until they were defeated and expelled by the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front during a subsequent civil war.
- The 1978 Saur Revolution that brought the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan to power in Afghanistan. They were overthrown by the mujahedin in 1992.
- The overthrow of Eric Gairy that brought the New Jewel Movement to power in Grenada from 1979 until 1983, when they were deposed by a U.S.-led invasion.
- The overthrow of Anastasio Somoza Debayle that brought the Sandinista National Liberation Front to power in Nicaragua from 1979 - 1990. They lost the February 25, 1990 elections and peacefully surrendered power. The Sandinistas where re-elected into office in 2006, their first electoral win since 1984. In 2006, the FSLN and their presidential candidate, former president Daniel Ortega ran on a democratic socialist political platform, void of earlier Marxist-Leninist rhetoric from two decades earlier.
- The 1981-1992 rebellion by the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front or FMLN in El Salvador against successive military and civilian governments, ending with a peace treaty. Like the FSLN (Sandinistas]], the FMLN where not an entirely Marxist organization. Instead they existed as a coalition of numerous leftwing groups opposed to El Salvador's government. Today the FMLN exists as a democratic socialist political party, the second largest party in El Salvador.
- From 1996-2006, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) fought a fairly successful revolutionary war against the autocratic King of Nepal. In 2006 peace was declared, and an agreement was reached that the Maoist would join an interim government.
- In India, various Maoist-oriented factions (generally called Naxalites) have waged armed struggles since Naxalbari rebellion of 1967. Today, the most prominent Naxalite group is the Communist Party of India (Maoist).