Communist party
Overview
 
A political party
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

 described as a Communist party includes those that advocate the application of the social principles of communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 through a communist form of government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

. The name originates from the 1848 tract Manifesto of the Communist Party
The Communist Manifesto
The Communist Manifesto, originally titled Manifesto of the Communist Party is a short 1848 publication written by the German Marxist political theorists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It has since been recognized as one of the world's most influential political manuscripts. Commissioned by the...

by Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 and Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels was a German industrialist, social scientist, author, political theorist, philosopher, and father of Marxist theory, alongside Karl Marx. In 1845 he published The Condition of the Working Class in England, based on personal observations and research...

.

A Communist party is, at least according to Leninist theory, the vanguard party
Vanguard party
A vanguard party is a political party at the forefront of a mass action, movement, or revolution. The idea of a vanguard party has its origins in the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels...

 of the working class
Working class
Working class is a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs , often extending to those in unemployment or otherwise possessing below-average incomes...

, whether ruling or non-ruling, but when such a party is in power in a specific country
Communist state
A communist state is a state with a form of government characterized by single-party rule or dominant-party rule of a communist party and a professed allegiance to a Leninist or Marxist-Leninist communist ideology as the guiding principle of the state...

, the party is said to be the highest authority of the dictatorship of the proletariat
Dictatorship of the proletariat
In Marxist socio-political thought, the dictatorship of the proletariat refers to a socialist state in which the proletariat, or the working class, have control of political power. The term, coined by Joseph Weydemeyer, was adopted by the founders of Marxism, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, in the...

. Lenin's theories on the role of a communist party were developed as the early 20th-century Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n social democracy
Social democracy
Social democracy is a political ideology of the center-left on the political spectrum. Social democracy is officially a form of evolutionary reformist socialism. It supports class collaboration as the course to achieve socialism...

 divided into Bolshevik
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

 (meaning "majority") and Menshevik
Menshevik
The Mensheviks were a faction of the Russian revolutionary movement that emerged in 1904 after a dispute between Vladimir Lenin and Julius Martov, both members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. The dispute originated at the Second Congress of that party, ostensibly over minor issues...

  (meaning "minority") factions.

Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

, leader of the Bolsheviks, argued that a revolutionary party should be a small vanguard party with a centralized political command and a strict cadre policy; the Menshevik faction, however, argued that the party should be a broad-based mass movement.
Encyclopedia
A political party
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

 described as a Communist party includes those that advocate the application of the social principles of communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 through a communist form of government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

. The name originates from the 1848 tract Manifesto of the Communist Party
The Communist Manifesto
The Communist Manifesto, originally titled Manifesto of the Communist Party is a short 1848 publication written by the German Marxist political theorists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It has since been recognized as one of the world's most influential political manuscripts. Commissioned by the...

by Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 and Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels was a German industrialist, social scientist, author, political theorist, philosopher, and father of Marxist theory, alongside Karl Marx. In 1845 he published The Condition of the Working Class in England, based on personal observations and research...

.

A Communist party is, at least according to Leninist theory, the vanguard party
Vanguard party
A vanguard party is a political party at the forefront of a mass action, movement, or revolution. The idea of a vanguard party has its origins in the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels...

 of the working class
Working class
Working class is a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs , often extending to those in unemployment or otherwise possessing below-average incomes...

, whether ruling or non-ruling, but when such a party is in power in a specific country
Communist state
A communist state is a state with a form of government characterized by single-party rule or dominant-party rule of a communist party and a professed allegiance to a Leninist or Marxist-Leninist communist ideology as the guiding principle of the state...

, the party is said to be the highest authority of the dictatorship of the proletariat
Dictatorship of the proletariat
In Marxist socio-political thought, the dictatorship of the proletariat refers to a socialist state in which the proletariat, or the working class, have control of political power. The term, coined by Joseph Weydemeyer, was adopted by the founders of Marxism, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, in the...

. Lenin's theories on the role of a communist party were developed as the early 20th-century Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n social democracy
Social democracy
Social democracy is a political ideology of the center-left on the political spectrum. Social democracy is officially a form of evolutionary reformist socialism. It supports class collaboration as the course to achieve socialism...

 divided into Bolshevik
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

 (meaning "majority") and Menshevik
Menshevik
The Mensheviks were a faction of the Russian revolutionary movement that emerged in 1904 after a dispute between Vladimir Lenin and Julius Martov, both members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. The dispute originated at the Second Congress of that party, ostensibly over minor issues...

  (meaning "minority") factions.

Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

, leader of the Bolsheviks, argued that a revolutionary party should be a small vanguard party with a centralized political command and a strict cadre policy; the Menshevik faction, however, argued that the party should be a broad-based mass movement. The Bolshevik party, which eventually became the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the only legal, ruling political party in the Soviet Union and one of the largest communist organizations in the world...

, took power in Russia after the October Revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

 in 1917. With the creation of the Communist International
Comintern
The Communist International, abbreviated as Comintern, also known as the Third International, was an international communist organization initiated in Moscow during March 1919...

, the Leninist concept of party building was copied by emerging communist parties worldwide.

There currently exist hundreds of communist parties throughout the world. Their success rates vary widely: some are growing; others are in decline. In four countries, Republic of Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

; People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

; Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

; and Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, communist parties retain dominance over the state.

The Chinese Communist Party
Communist Party of China
The Communist Party of China , also known as the Chinese Communist Party , is the founding and ruling political party of the People's Republic of China...

 is the world's largest political party, claiming nearly 78 million members at the end of 2009 which constitutes about 5.6% of the total population of mainland China.

Mass organizations

As the membership of a communist party was to be limited to active cadres, there was a need for networks of separate organizations to mobilize mass support for the party. Typically communist parties have built up various front organizations, whose membership is often open to non-communists. In many countries the single most important front organization of the communist parties has been its youth wing. During the time of the Communist International the youth leagues were explicit communist organizations, using the name 'Young Communist League'. Later the youth league concept was broadened in many countries, and names like 'Democratic Youth League' were adopted.

Other organizations often connected to communist parties includes trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

s, student, women's, peasant's and cultural organizations. Traditionally these mass organizations were politically subordinated to the political leadership of the party. However, in many contemporary cases mass organizations founded by communists have acquired a certain degree of independence. In some cases mass organizations have outlived the communist parties in question.

At the international level, the Communist International organized various international front organizations (linking national mass organizations with each other), such as the Young Communist International
Young Communist International
The Young Communist International was the parallel international youth organization affiliated with the Communist International .-International socialist youth organization before World War I:...

, Profintern
Profintern
The Red International of Labor Unions , commonly known as the Profintern, was an international body established by the Communist International with the aim of coordinating Communist activities within trade unions...

, Krestintern, International Red Aid
International Red Aid
International Red Aid was an international social service organization established by the Communist International...

, Sportintern, etc.. These organizations were dissolved in the process of deconstruction of the Communist International. After the Second World War new international coordination bodies were created, such as the World Federation of Democratic Youth
World Federation of Democratic Youth
The World Federation of Democratic Youth is a progressive youth organization, recognized by the United Nations as an international youth non-governmental organization. WFDY describes itself as an "anti-imperialist, left-wing" organisation...

, International Union of Students
International Union of Students
The International Union of Students is a worldwide nonpartisan association of university student organizations.The IUS is the umbrella organization for 155 such student organizations across 112 countries and territories representing approximately 25 million students.-Aim and work areas:The aims of...

, World Federation of Trade Unions
World Federation of Trade Unions
The World Federation of Trade Unions was established in 1945 to replace the International Federation of Trade Unions. Its mission was to bring together trade unions across the world in a single international organization, much like the United Nations...

, Women's International Democratic Federation and the World Peace Council
World Peace Council
The World Peace Council is an international organization that advocates universal disarmament, sovereignty and independence and peaceful co-existence, and campaigns against imperialism, weapons of mass destruction and all forms of discrimination...

.

Historically, in countries where Communist Parties were struggling to attain state power, the formation of wartime alliances with non-communist parties and wartime groups was enacted (such as the National Liberation Front of Albania). Upon attaining state power these Fronts were often transformed into nominal (and usually electoral) "National" or "Fatherland" Fronts in which non-communist parties and organizations were given token representation (a practice known as Blockpartei), the most popular examples of these being the National Front of East Germany
National Front (East Germany)
The National Front of the German Democratic Republic was an alliance of political parties and mass organisations in East Germany...

 (as a historical example) and the United Front of the People's Republic of China
United Front (PRC)
The United Front in the People's Republic of China is a nominally popular front led by the Communist Party of China. It is managed by the United Front Work Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and besides the communist party it consists of eight minor parties and the...

 (as a modern-day example). Other times the formation of such Fronts were undertaken without the participation of other parties, such as the Socialist Alliance of Working People of Yugoslavia
Socialist Alliance of Working People of Yugoslavia
The Socialist Alliance of Working People of Yugoslavia or SSRNJ , formerly the People's Front , was the largest and most influential mass organization in SFR Yugoslavia from August 1945 through 1990. In 1990 its membership was thirteen million, including most of the adult population of the country...

 and the National Front of Afghanistan
National Front (Afghanistan)
The National Front formerly known as the National Fatherland Front was an umbrella organization to the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan which ruled Afghanistan from 1978-1990. NFF was established to recruit more supporters for the communist regime in Afghanistan...

, though the purpose was the same: to promote the Communist Party line to generally non-communist audiences and to mobilize them to carry out tasks within the country under the aegis of the Front.

Naming

A uniform naming scheme for communist parties was adopted by the Communist International. All parties were required to use the name 'Communist Party of (name of country)'. Today, there are plenty of cases where the old sections of the Communist International have retained those names. In other cases names have been changed. Common causes for the shift in naming were either moves to avoid state repression or as measures to indicate a broader political acceptance.

A typical example of the latter was the renamings of various East European
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 communist parties after the Second World War, as staged 'mergers' of the local Social Democratic parties occurred. New names in the post-war era included 'Socialist Party
Socialist Party
Socialist Party is the name of several different political parties around the world that are explicitly called Socialist. All of these parties claim to uphold socialism, though they might belong to different branches of the socialist movement and might therefore have different interpretations of...

', 'Socialist Unity Party', 'Popular Party', 'Workers Party' and 'Party of Labour
Party of Labour
Party of Labour is a name used by various political parties throughout the world.* Party of Labour of Albania* Party of Labour and of the People, in Argentina* Belarusian Party of Labour, in Belarus* Workers Party of Belgium* Guatemalan Party of Labour...

'.

The naming conventions of communist parties became more diverse as the international communist movement was fragmented due to the Sino-Soviet split
Sino-Soviet split
In political science, the term Sino–Soviet split denotes the worsening of political and ideologic relations between the People's Republic of China and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics during the Cold War...

 in the 1960s. Those who sided with China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and/or Albania
Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

 in their criticism of the Soviet leadership, often added words like 'Revolutionary' or 'Marxist-Leninist' to distinguish themselves from the pro-Soviet parties.
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