Communism is an economic system where the group owns the factors of production. In countries, the government represents the group. The means of production are labor, entrepreneurship, capital goods, and natural resources. Although the government doesn’t legally own the labor force, the central planners tell the people where they should work. German philosopher Karl Marx developed the theory of communism.
He said it was, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” In his view, capitalistic owners would no longer siphon off all the profits. Instead, the proceeds would go to the workers. To Marx, this meant that people would work at what they loved and did well, happily contribute these skills for the good of all, and the economy would prosper because they would work harder than in capitalism. “To each according to his need” meant the community would take care of those who couldn’t work; it would distribute goods and services to everyone as they required them.
Characteristics of the Theory
According to Marx, material production requires two things: “material forces of production”—roughly, raw materials and the tools required to extract and process them—and “social relations of production”—the division of labour through which raw materials are extracted and processed. Human history is the story of both elements’ changing and becoming ever more complex. In primitive societies the material forces were few and simple—for example, grains and the stone tools used to grind them into flour. With the growth of knowledge and technology came successive upheavals, or “revolutions,” in the forces and relations of production and in the complexity of both. For example, iron miners once worked with pickaxes and shovels, which they owned, but the invention of the steam shovel changed the way they extracted iron ore. Since no miner could afford to buy a steam shovel, he had to work for someone who could. Industrial capitalism, in Marx’s view, is an economic system in which one class—the ruling bourgeoisie—owns the means of production while the working class or proletariat effectively loses its independence, the worker becoming part of the means of production, a mere “appendage of the machine.”