Journal of Emancipation | Spanish

Communism

Marxist Dictionary

Mode of production of a decommodified society where abundance is a reality, the state does not exist, and social production is oriented as a direct objective to the satisfaction of needs. In it work and its products have already lost the condition of commodities, social classes have disappeared and with them the difference between leisure time and work, country and city, the division of work and in general all the social divisions that reflect the fracture of exploitative societies.

Communism as a society of abundance

In a communist society, consumption is determined by need, and need is determined exclusively by each individual:

When the enslaving subordination of individuals to the division of labor has disappeared, and with it the opposition between intellectual and manual labor; when work is not only a means of life, but the first necessity of life; when, with the development of individuals in all its aspects, the productive forces also grow and the springs of collective wealth run abundantly, only then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be completely surpassed and society can write on its banners: From each according to his abilities; to each according to his needs!

Karl Marx. Critique of the Gotha Program, 1875

The progressive reduction of the working day during socialism has eliminated wage labor. Work, on the other hand, merges the expression and development of one’s own personality with the conscious and collective activity, as a species, of transforming our environment.

In short, it falls in the sense that immediate working time cannot always be opposed to free time, as is the case in the bourgeois economic system. (…) Free time -which is at the same time leisure and superior activity- will naturally transform its owner into a different subject, and as a new subject it will enter the process of immediate production.

Karl Marx. Capital, 1857

The division of labor disappears for good with wage labor

The division of labor gives us the first example of how, while men live in a primitive society, while there is, therefore, a separation between private and common interest, while activities, therefore, are not divided voluntarily, but naturally, man’s own acts stand before him as an alien and hostile power, which subjugates him, instead of being dominated by him. From the moment that work begins to be divided, each one moves into a certain exclusive circle of activities, which is imposed on him and from which he cannot escape; man is a hunter, a fisherman, a shepherd or a critic, and he has no choice but to remain one, if he does not want to be deprived of his livelihood; In communism, on the other hand, each individual does not have an exclusive circle of activities, but can develop his or her abilities in whatever branch he or she feels most comfortable with; society takes care of regulating general production, thus making it entirely possible for me to devote myself today to this and tomorrow to that, to be able to hunt in the morning, to fish in the afternoon and to graze my cattle at night, and after eating, if I please, to devote myself to criticizing, without the need to be exclusively a hunter, a fisherman, a shepherd or a critic, as the case may be.

Marx and Engels. The German Ideology, 1845

And with the division of labor the artificial fracture between manual and intellectual work also disappears.

The overpowering subjection of individuals to the division of labor will have disappeared, and with it also the opposition between intellectual and manual labor, work will no longer be just a means of life, but will even have become the first vital necessity, (and) with the multifaceted development of individuals their productive capacities will have grown as well and all the sources of collective wealth will be flowing fully.

Karl Marx. Critique of the Gotha Program, 1875.

The end of the division of labor is not a mere organizational fact; it transforms the entire vital experience of people, liberating their capacities:

The exclusive concentration of artistic talent in unique individuals and the consequent suppression of these talents in the great mass is a consequence of the division of labor (…) In any case, in a communist organization of society the inclusion of the artist in the local and national limitation disappears, an inclusion which responds purely and solely to the division of labor, and the inclusion of the individual in this particular art, so that there are only painters, sculptors, etc. And already the name itself expresses quite eloquently the limitation of his professional development and his subordination to the division of labor. In a communist society, there will be no painters, but at most men who, among other things, are also engaged in painting.

Marx and Engels. The German Ideology, 1845

With all these divisions, the alienation that is characteristic of operating companies also disappears from their core. The product no longer appears mediated by money, not even as an exchange, but as the materialization of social work, of the common metabolism with Nature that socially organized human work has become.

Within a collectivist society, based on the common ownership of the means of production, the producers do not exchange their products; the labor invested in the products is not presented here, either, as the value of these products, as a material quality, possessed by them, since here, as opposed to what happens in capitalist society, individual labor is no longer an integral part of collective labor through a detour, but instead it is so directly.

Marx. Critique of the Gotha Program, 1875

Communism as a dynamic element of the present

Communism is not only, as the only possible alternative to capitalism, a necessity for Humanity and the “true beginning of human history” as Marx pointed out, but a determining element of the present through the proletariat, whose struggles claim universal needs, making present the defining principle of the communist social metabolism to come: “to each according to his needs”. It is to this that Marx and Engels already refer in 1846 when they define Communism not as a state to be implanted but as a movement that already operates in the present in a persistent way.

Communism is not a state to be implanted, an ideal to which reality must be subjected. We call communism the real movement that nullifies and surpasses the present state of things.

Marx and Engels. The German Ideology, 1846