Communalism refers to a government or system where communes act as independent states. The nation that the states form is a federation of those states.
Communal often refers to groups or people that focus on the benefits of their community, rather than society as a whole. Communes, for instance, will often provide food and resources only to those people who are part of the group. On the other hand, a democracy provides support and resources to all people.
Even in today's society, communes still exist. While they are difficult to come by compared to in the past, they are appealing because people feel like they make a bigger impact on the community.