Like so many words, communism has multiple meanings. In one sense, it means the economic theory or system of community ownership. In this sense of the word, communism means about the same thing as socialism, which stands for social ownership. In another sense of the word, communism stands for a more revolutionary change in society, rather than mere reform. Friedrich Engels in his Preface to the 1888 edition of The Communist Manifesto explained why he and Marx chose not to entitle this work, written in 1847, “The Socialist Manifesto.” According to Engels, in that year socialists were regarded as utopians or mere social reformists. However, those in the working class movement that had become convinced a total social revolution was necessary were calling themselves communists. 1 The difference between socialism and communism here is a small one. Communism sounded more radical than socialism, and stood for a more revolutionary approach to change. Yet the two words do not as of yet really signify two completely different ideologies. Indeed, in later years, Marx and Engels freely called themselves socialists.
A third meaning of the word communism was not used until the late 1880s. At this time, communism came to mean a stage beyond that of socialism. The idea of an advanced stage had been around for some time, but only in the 1880s was it labeled communism as opposed to socialism. Now socialism came to imply the idea of a first stage beyond that of capitalism, where compensation for work would be paid to the worker. This idea was
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Publication information: Book title: Communism in History and Theory: From Utopian Socialism to the Fall of the Soviet Union. Contributors: Donald F. Busky - Author. Publisher: Praeger. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 2002. Page number: 157.
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