What Is the Difference Between Marxism and Communism?

One of the biggest differences between Marxism and communism is that communism is a real political system that has been put into effect in places such as China and Russia, formerly known as the Soviet Union, while Marxism is a political theory upon which many communist systems are developed. Marxism refers to the social, economic and political theories of the scholar Karl Marx; these theories provide the basis for most communist systems and theories, although some communist governments developed beyond Marxist theory. For example, communism under specific leaders can take on different characteristics and can become characterized by the leader’s name, as in Leninism or Stalinism.

Although most forms of communism are derived in some way from Marx’s writings, there are some forms of communism that are non-Marxist in origin, including Christian communism and anarchist communism. Marx believed that capitalism was a necessary historical step on the road to communism, a system that theoretically offers equal rights for all members of a communist state through the abolishment of capital and personal property. However, Marxism advocates a strong central government, while some forms of communism, including anarchist communism, call for the total abolishment of all government. Additionally, Marx’s work focused heavily on class stratification and called for a world without class divisions, something that may not have been accomplished in actual communist practice.