What is the difference between Marxism and Communism


Ideologically, the two main currents of left-wing extremism, communism and anarchism, essentially fall back on the French economist and sociologist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865). In the context of the exploitation of the workers during the industrial revolution of 1840, Proudhon posed the question in his work of the same name: "What is property?". His answer to the question is still world-famous today: "Property is theft." Proudhon's goal was a domination-free, decentrally organized society in which everyone only owns what he has produced through his own or collective work or acquired through exchange. The teachings of Karl Marx and Michail Bakunin, the pioneers of Marxism and anarchism, respectively, were significantly influenced by the ideas of Proudhon.

All left-wing extremist ideologies pursue the goal of overcoming the ruling state system that has been defamed as imperialist or capitalist and replacing it with a socialist, communist or anarchist form of society. There are differences between the ideologies with regard to the paths to be taken to achieve this goal.


Anarchism is a collective term for political views and endeavors aimed at the abolition of all rule of people over people. All anarchist currents have in common the demand to want to abolish the state as an institution of rule - regardless of its democratic or dictatorial orientation. Such a view often includes a fundamental rejection of any form of institution.

Anarchists see bureaucracies, churches, parties, parliaments and associations as institutions that oppose a voluntary association of emancipated and responsible people. This rejection of hierarchy and subordination has the consequence that anarchists can usually only poorly organize themselves, only form loosely structured groupings and reject the establishment of an anarchist party.

One of the most famous masterminds of anarchism was Mikhail Alexandrowitsch Bakunin (1814-1876), a Russian revolutionary and anarchist who lived in Western Europe and from there worked worldwide. Bakunin strived for a domination-free, decentralized society. To implement his ideals, he relied on violent revolutions. From the ideas of Bakunin, so-called “anarcho-syndicalism” developed at the end of the 19th century, a system in which unions administer the workers in a decentralized manner, independently of the state or industrialists.

With the beginning of the First World War, the communist revolution in Russia, the rise of fascism in Italy and during the Second World War, anarchism increasingly lost its importance. He experienced an upswing in the meantime in the context of the “68” student movement, which also referred to anarchism in its demand for total freedom. There are currently only a few small anarchist organizations in Bavaria such as the Anarchist Group Munich or ADS.



The teachings of Karl Marx (1818–1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820–1895) are the ideological basis for the thoughts and actions of most left-wing extremists. The entire political, intellectual and cultural life of a society is therefore determined by the economic structures and conditions. According to Marxist doctrine, in capitalism the exploiting class of the bourgeois capitalists - the owners of the means of production - and the exploited class of the working class - the so-called proletarians - face each other. According to Marxist doctrine, the added value of a manufactured product created by the workers passes into the possession of the capitalists and thus leads to wage pressure, impoverishment and ultimately impoverishment of the proletariat. The consequences are class struggles that lead to a revolution and finally to the dictatorship of the proletariat with the ultimate goal of a communist society.

Marxism's image of man is fundamentally different from that of free democracies. The focus is not on the individual with their guaranteed rights, but on the working class. According to this point of view, it is permissible to relativize or even abrogate basic and human rights in favor of the socialist collective and a communist goal.



Marxism-Leninism was the official worldview of the former Soviet Union. It is based on the teachings of Marx and Engels (Marxism), which Vladimir I. Lenin (1870–1924) developed into the state doctrine of the Soviet Union and for the international class struggle he propagated.

According to the Marxist-Leninist view, capitalism must be fought. Lenin saw the highest stage of capitalism in so-called imperialism. Accordingly, capitalism seeks in an exploitative way to extend its sphere of power and influence to other states, which inevitably leads to wars. A new society must follow capitalism: socialism. In turn, Lenin saw socialism as a preliminary stage to communism. Marxism-Leninism inevitably leads to a revolutionary upheaval.

However, after Lenin the working class does not have the necessary political-revolutionary consciousness. This must be conveyed through a cadre party made up of professional revolutionaries (avant-garde claim of the communist party). In this party, in accordance with the principle of “democratic centralism”, no dissenting opinions on party decisions by parliamentary groups or internal party currents are permitted.

For Marxist-Leninist cadre parties like the German Communist Party (DKP), Marxism-Leninism plays a major role, and for openly extremist structures within the DIE LINKE party. at least a formative role.



Stalinism is Josef W. Stalin's (1878–1953) theoretical further development of Marxism-Leninism into the dictatorial-bureaucratic system of rule of the Soviet Union. Contrary to the Marxist assumption that a common revolution of the proletarians of all countries was necessary for the victory of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie ("bourgeoisie"), Stalin assumed that socialism under the leadership of the Soviet Union would first have to be implemented there in an exemplary manner. With the building up and rebuilding of the Soviet Union into a socialist social order driven by Stalin, among other things legitimized the “Stalinist purges” to which millions of people have fallen victim.

In Germany, the Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany (MLPD) and the Workers' Union for the Reconstruction of the KPD (AB) also refer to Stalin's ideas.



The model of socialism going back to Leon Trotsky (1879–1940) is not a self-contained, independent doctrine, but a modification of Marxism-Leninism. It arose primarily from Trotsky's opposition to Stalin. Essential elements are the theory of the “permanent revolution”, the belief in the world revolution (in contrast to Stalin's “socialism in one country”), the goal of establishing a “dictatorship of the proletariat” in the form of a council democracy and the adherence to “proletarian internationalism” ".

The characteristic strategy of Trotskyist associations is entryism. H. they try to deliberately penetrate other organizations and influence political decisions. In this way their own ideology is spread through the infiltrated organization.



Under the leadership of Mao Tse-tung (1893–1976), after the communist victory of 1949 in China, Marxism-Leninism was interpreted in a way that deviated from Soviet Russia and further developed as a communist ideology. Maoism sees the rural population in China and not the urban workers as the agents of the political upheaval.

The world revolution was to be triggered in a third world country by a guerrilla war by peasant partisans. In a series of political campaigns ("Cultural Revolution"), Mao Tse-tung tried to educate Chinese society about the party's revolutionary goals. The ideological terror and the associated "cleansing operations" claimed millions of lives.

Mao's ideas were a model for large sections of the 1968 movement, especially the New Left (so-called K groups) that had emerged in Western Europe. Today only the Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany (MLPD) is publicly committed to Mao Tse-tung.