The difference between Socialism, Communism and Anarchy.


My own work with Adobe Photoshop. An drafting ...

This was actually a topic suggestion from The Daily Post that I didn’t have time to write when it was suggested. But I bookmarked it as something I would like to write about cause I thought it sounded a very interesting topic!

I’m no politics expert so this is just my lay interpretation, excuse any errors! 😉

So, here goes. As usual when I tackle things like this I like to start with some definitions of the key words…

First we have ‘official dictionary definitions:

Socialism:

1. a theory or system of social organization  that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.

2. procedure or practice in accordance with this theory.
3. (in Marxist theory) the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles.

Communism:

1. a theory or system of social organization based on the holding of all property in common, actual ownership being ascribed to the community as a whole or to the state.

2. (often initial capital letter) a system of social organization in which all economic and social activity is controlled by a totalitarian state dominated by a single and self-perpetuating political party.
3. ( initial capital letter ) the principles and practices of the Communist party.

Anarchy:

1. A state of society without government or law.

2. political and social disorder due to the absence of governmental control: The death of the king was followed by a year of anarchy.

3.a theory that regards the absence of all direct or coercive government as a political ideal and that proposes the cooperative and voluntary association of individuals and groups as the principal mode of organized society.

4.confusion; chaos; disorder: Intellectual and moral anarchy followed his loss of faith.

And for fun the Urban Dictionary definitions:

Socialism:

Yet another of the misbegotten, utopian visions that fails to live up to reality. Socialism is said to be a tool for the workers, but it is often touted and implemented by a very few that believe humans will act like robots.
Socialism is dead. Stop drinking coffee and smoking in your coffeehouse and get a job.

Communism:

Something that, in theory, is a good idea. Communism is an ideal that believes that everyone should share everything, so that poverty wouldn’t exist, and there wouldn’t be a gap between richer and poorer classes. The problem is, communist governments become corrupt, because people are greedy, so it doesn’t work.
Person One: Why’s that country so messed up?
Person Two: They just got rid of communism, and are now trying to put their country back together.

Anarchy:

Mostly seen now adays when posers write it on there bags or hands. They never have any idea what it means, and probably have no interest in politics whatsoever.
person 1 “oh my god ANARCHY MAN I HATE THE GOVERNMENT!!!!”
person 2 “shut up”
A system of government where there is no governement.Many punks say they want anarchy without knowing what it is. Most do this as their punk heroes said it who heard it from the Sex Pistols. While it works in theory (everyone helps each other, no authority) it will not work in real life as with a lack of government, humans will run riot. People will be terrified and band together for protection.Therefore tribes will spring up who will then ally and become towns. Society will start all over again
Anarchy is an ideal, which like communism will never work due to human nature.

I love Urban Dictionary, it makes such fun of explaining things in a different way! lol

Anyway, back to the discussion…

What do Socialism, communism and anarchy have in common?

Well for starters all three are terms that get misunderstood and misrepresented, so they do have things in common if only for this simple fact.

Equality is the underlying theme that binds all three terms, socialism, communism and anarchy are all opposed to private ownership and all opposed to capitalism

What is the difference between socialism, communism and anarchy?

The basis of each is as follows:

Socialism – supports economic controls but allows for some accumulation of wealth. Social restrictions are significantly weaker, the few control the many,  a belief in collective ownership, democratic control of the material means of production by the workers and the people, a stage on route to communism. Government control, a mainly economic based principle. Distribution of wealth is based on effort.

Communism – no private ownership, egalitarian, classless, stateless society based on common ownership and control of the means of production and property in general. A political and economic based principle. Distribution of wealth is based on need. The many control the few.

Anarchy –  a cooperative socialist gift economy, in which goods are freely produced and distributed according to need freedom, peace, chaos, lawlessness, no government, without leader, disorder. Non in control.

Therefore the differences are:

  • whether there is a political or economic basis,
  • the means and entitlement to distribution of wealth, and ownership
  • and the number of people of control of the society in question

Conclusion

Socialism, communism and anarchy have various similarities and differences as described above, but overall they are three theoretically ideal principles that fail to thrive in reality as a result of human nature, namely greed.

Of course any detailed discussions on this topic inevitably lead to discussion of Marxism, Fascism, Nazi’s, Germany, Russia, China, Democracy and Capitalism, but I’m going to leave it at this more simple explanation of the commonalities and differences for now, or I will be here all week! lol

Thank you for reading!  If you have enjoyed reading this post please share it with others who may be interested and I always enjoy receiving feedback and comments 🙂



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10 comments on “The difference between Socialism, Communism and Anarchy.

  1. interesting
    anarchy is always referred to as something bad, e.g. the streets were in anarchy (total chaos) but In a perfect world I believe anarchy would be quite idealized.
    and communism, well we’ve never actually seen it in it’s perfect form, the way it was intended. Whenever a group is given too much power they seem to abuse it somehow at some stage. I think communism (again, in a perfect world) would work very well.

    • Yes, I found it surprising that anarchy is not just the bad, disordered chaos that we have been led to believe! Like I said, it would appear human nature (especially greed) lead to neither actually being able to live up to reality 😦

  2. “Many people believe the things which the government does for them to be social progress but they regard the things government does for others as socialism.” ~ Chief Justice Earl Warren, April 1952.

  3. Anarchy has been demonized by our society. The words Chaos and Disorder are misleading.
    I’ve been researching anarchism for the past couple months
    and my interpretation of is a classless society in which
    individual Autonomous communities decide what’s best
    for the community of people they live around
    Cooperation and collective efforts
    consensus based decision making
    “restorative justice” within communities

    There are many different types of anarchists, there are individualist anarchists, socialist anarchists, even anarcho-capitalists as Jack mentioned (which i need to read about) etc

    Anyways… my point is that anarchism is a complex and misunderstood creature of its own.
    (along with communism and socialism)

    Here Oscar Wilde, though it is titled the Soul of a man under Socialism
    is really talking about Anarachism (A socialist nation without a leader)
    http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/wilde-oscar/soul-man/index.htm

    Power and authority corrupt always

    HA… sorry rant. I do thank you for the side by side comparison.
    It was a good refresher, i think you did a good job.

    • Thanks Mandi, I think anarchy would actually be a much better societal structure but I doubt it would ever occur in western culture as too many people are power hungry :/

  4. I think everyone is kind of missing the point here. Everyone dismisses alternative sociopolitical traditions as ‘idealised’, blaming (supposedly) universal negative characteristics such as greed for why they won’t work. But hold on… Are we supposed to just passively and uncritically accept classical liberalism and capitalism (along with democracy) as the overarching theoretical and structural basis of modern society? Hello, greed and capitalism go hand in hand, underpinned by classical liberal ideology. It seems to me you’re saying socialism/communism/anarchism is just a pipe dream because people are too greedy, power hungry and uncompromisingly individualist for it to work, so we should just stick to neoliberal capitalism which DEFINITELY operates according to these negative values! It is important to keep in mind that the State and free market have proven ineffective as mechanisms for keeping the peace and promoting justice. For substantiation of this claim, one need only consider the widespread violence, poverty, exploitation, oppression and inequality staining both the history and current circumstances of liberal-democratic nation-states.

    Has anyone stopped to consider for a second that the world hasn’t always been like this? There are alternative forms of social organisation! To rule them out based on some elementary evaluation of being idealistic is unfair and absurd, considering that you put up with far worse from the status quo without applying the same greedy/power hungry/authoritarian critique! The prevalent attitude towards the liberal-democratic tradition- equal parts idealism and complacency- prohibits critical introspection of it’s failures. This is because the State and free market has powerful, vested interests (by their very nature) and have a self-sustaining impetus. Social institutions, most importantly education, are structured to foster obedience to authority and loyalty to traditional political values.

    For me, anarchism is a coherent philosophical framework that can be used to re-imagine and reconstruct politics for a radically free, collaborative and just society. It’s worth your true and thorough consideration. Do some reading.

    • Hi April,

      Thanks for your thoughts; Indeed things haven’t always been like this and won’t always be, and currently isn’t in some cultures outside the greedy modern western societies. I’m not saying that we should passively accept this, but unfortunately those with greed hold all the power making it highly unlikely that their ways of governing our lives would be able to be overthrown for something much more fair and collaborative. I have read more about socialism, anarchy and communism since writing this post (which was only intended to be a brief comparison of the three rather than an in-depth evaluation of any) and am always keen to expand my knowledge should you have any suggestions of good books on the topic 🙂
      Sharon

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