I'm not an expert in politics so there are a few gaps in my understanding of the subject, but I was thinking that all the so called communist countries that have been around don't seem to me to be particularly communist.

To my knowledge, Communism is where everyone is equal and has equal rights, but surely introducing an unequal element, like a dictator, corrupts the whole purpose of Communism?

In Das Kapital a friend told me it said that some form of organizer was needed to start the process but it did not say for how long.

If Communism does have a dictator then as I understand it, that makes it not Communist anymore - but a dictator-run machine disguised as Communism, such as Soviet Russia.

I ask this question because I find it odd when I watch the occasional (Cold War era) American screaming about how he wants to kill Communists and that Communism is the enemy; but under the microscope it seems the the Cold War era of so called "Communism" wasn't in fact Communist. Instead a government which started out a Communist but ended up as dictator-driven thus giving it a major step back in being Communist.

In cold war-era America it was normal to push the message that Communism was evil - and understandably to gain votes and to justify actions and countermeasures:

Do you reckon the United States government knew that Russia was not truly communist but a hijacked nation?

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    There's politics in theory, and then there's politics in practice. In practice, rarely is anything considered as pure as the theory. Humans tend to add too many unpredictable variables.
    – user1530
    Nov 19, 2014 at 23:57
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    Your knowledge of Communism is lacking knowledge, and your wording is sorely lacking precision. As such, your question isn't answerable.
    – user4012
    Nov 20, 2014 at 5:25
  • your title, and main question at the end don't match Nov 24, 2014 at 2:46
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    There's never been, nor will there ever be a pure <insert your political system of choice>, other than dictatorship. This is because humans are involved. No matter which system you pick, some people will gain more "power" than others. Being that those who aim for that "power" tend to be the most desirous for keeping that "power" means that they will corrupt the system using whatever "power" they have in order to ensure they maintain that "power". That's just humans being humans and most of those people legitimize their "power" abuses by deluding themselves with it's for the greater good.
    – Dunk
    Nov 24, 2014 at 22:53

3 Answers 3


To answer as succinctly as possible, the Warsaw pact countries or Yugoslavia mostly referred to themselves as “socialist countries”. From the perspective of their own official ideology, ‘communism’ was supposed to come later.

Historically, there have also been many other movements that had other interpretations of what ‘communism’ might be or how to achieve it and some of these were also very critical of the Soviet Union but none of them went very far in implementing their ideology.

But at the same time the state party in the Soviet Union and its client countries was often (but not always) called “communist party” as were allied political parties around the world and they did officially proclaim to take their inspiration from Marx so that the word ‘communism’ became closely associated with marxism-leninism. Whether those states really achieved ‘communism’ in some theoretical sense is moot when it comes to evaluating the legacy of that body of thought and it's not absurd to use that label to designate them.

In this context, it does not seem very fruitful to try to determine who is “truly” communist without being more specific about what you mean by that.

Incidentally, the reality of the “socialist countries” also came short of what early theorists and militants hoped socialism to be. Thus, during most of the existence of the German Democratic Republic, there were a few dissidents and critics who called, not for reunification with West Germany or a transition to capitalism or to the Western model, but for a “democratic socialism”.

In response, the regime started to call the GDR “real existierender Sozialismus” (meaning something like “really-existing socialism”). The subtext being that it was the only socialism to be had and that people who questioned the power of the party or wanted to create some other form of socialism were dangerous dreamers and utopians.

But beyond the labels and the propaganda, the US government was obviously very interested and keenly aware of the nature of the Soviet Union, its power networks, its structure and its capabilities (cf. Kremlinology).

  • You possibly missed one thing, the "war Communism" which was claimed to exist for several years during the Civil War. But in no way considered a desirable model for the future.
    – Anixx
    Nov 26, 2014 at 16:41

Do you reckon the United States government knew that Russia was not truly communist but a hijacked nation?

Leaving aside all the inaccuracies of your wording, the answer is: Irrelevant.

The ONLY thing that US government needed to know was that Soviet Union (not Russia) had a state level policy goal of exporting socialist revolution to the rest of the world, USA included, and thus to overthrow US government.

Whether that was in service of real communism, socialism, fake communism, highjacking by whoever, is absolutely and utterly irrelevant to a practical concern of opposing USSR's plans/wishes for such a government overthrow.

  • Yes, I rather doubt anyone other that Western Fellow Travellers cared about whether the USSR's international conduct was driven by Communism or Hijacked-Communism. The question is a bit like asking if Russia today has Capitalism or Hijacked-Capitalism. Nov 21, 2014 at 3:14
  • @LateralFractal - actually, the latter is VERY easy to answer. They don't call United Russa "the party of conmen and thieves" for nothing.
    – user4012
    Nov 21, 2014 at 6:17
  • Having a basic understanding of the nature of the regime and its ideology beyond its purported desire to overthrow the US government is relevant in many ways…
    – Relaxed
    Nov 21, 2014 at 7:28
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    @Relaxed - not really. If you are about to get punched, the motivation behind the punch is wholly irrelevant to blocking it.
    – user4012
    Nov 21, 2014 at 17:51
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    @DVK To continue with your analogy my point is that its direction and speed are relevant among other things… And even the motivation itself is relevant if you want to know when the next punch is coming or how you could ensure that there is no next punch. It's not even clear the Soviet Union was seriously trying to overthrow the US government in particular. All that is a cute comment but hardly a real answer to the question asked.
    – Relaxed
    Nov 21, 2014 at 22:39

Pure communism has been attempted in various smaller sized communes, but not as a country-wide system. For example, Kibbutzim might qualify as examples of that, or various isolationist religious communities.

Such examples illustrate that communism principles are somewhat feasible on scale of a "village", but I'm not aware of any successful examples that have scaled to numbers where it's humanly impossible to know or recognize all members of the community, e.g. 1000+ people; and we have some biological reasons to believe that we as homo sapiens feel and treat relationships (and social duties/norms) differently depending on the scale, i.e., decisions regarding 10 or 50 closest people are made differently than identical decisions regarding someone you have never seen.

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    Another important factor of why Kibbutzes and other small scale experiments worked but wouldn't work when scaled up was the lack of insulation - anyone who got tired of communism could just move out to other place, AND there were plenty of volunteers from outside the Kibbutz to take their place via recruiting. And Kibbutzes benefitted from all the economic benefits afforded by surrounding non-communist economy (strong military defense, R&D, medicine, agronomical research, water projects)
    – user4012
    Nov 21, 2014 at 19:45

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