Communist partyA communist party refers to a party which advocates Communism. A Communist Party is one which formally uses the term "Communist" in its official name. Communist Parties began to be established in various countries across the world after the establishment of the Communist International by the Russian Bolsheviks. In the late 20th century, during a period known as the Cold War, communist parties held power in many nations of the world. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, communist parties lost power in Eastern Europe and Russia. In many places communist parties re-organized themselves as leftist socialist parties. Communist parties have remained in power in mainland China, Vietnam, North Korea, and Cuba. In the People's Republic of China and to a lesser extent Vietnam, Communist parties have altered their ideology to embrace market economics, while maintaining the absolute political authority of the party.
Most Communist Parties arose in the 1920's as a result of a split among socialist parties over whether revolution was necessary to achieve their ends and whether the socialist parties should accept the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Parties which renounced revolution and the leadership of the CPSU became supporters of social democracy while parties which remained committed to revolution and CPSU leadership became communist parties.
During the Cold War, communist parties in many nations emulated a structure copied from the organisation of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union as designed by Lenin. In theory a party congress would elect a central committee, which elected a Politburo. In practice, the Politburo was self perpetuating and tended to control the central committee which controlled the party congresses. In most nations where communist parties gained power, opposition parties were banned or assimilated into socialist united fronts.
Members of communist parties were often persecuted in the early Cold War hysteria which swept through much of the West following World War II, especially in the United States. US Senator Joseph McCarthy claimed to have a long list of secret communists who were holding posts in the United States government, and was appointed chairman of the Permanent Investigating Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Government Operations.
McCarthy subpoenaed numerous government officials, Hollywood producers and stars, politicians, and others, and grilled them at televised hearings on what connections, if any, they had with communist organizations. More and more people increasingly characterized the effort as a witch hunt, and many successful careers were destroyed by allegations of being a communist spy which ultimately proved completely baseless. The hysteria abated somewhat when McCarthy accused several high level members of the US Army of being communists, and Army lawyer Joseph Welch publicly denounced McCarthy during a hearing by asking him, "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you no sense of decency?"
In the third world, communist parties became popular in some areas because they promised an overthrow of a governmental structure that many considered oppressive. However, the civil wars which resulted often became emeshed into the Cold War with usually the Soviet Union supported the Communist forces and the United States supporting the anti-communist ones.
Among the splits within Communist parties were the split between Stalin and Trotsky in the 1920's and then the split between the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China in the early 1960's.
Communist parties also gained strong electoral and organisational support in France and in Italy, where they and developed a variant ideology known as Eurocommunism. While these parties advocated radical restructuring of the economy, they also eventually accepted the legitimacy of multi-party elections.
Communists parties have had various fates after the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Many parties Eastern Europe and Italy have attempted, with varying degrees of success, to transform themselves into democratic leftist parties, often changing their many in the process. Examples of these parties are the Party of Democratic Socialism in Germany. In Russia, the Communist Party exists as an opposition force with declining membership.
Communist parties remain in power in the People's Republic of China. Cuba, and North Korea. In the case of the Communist Party of China, the party has reinterpreted Marxism to allow for economic reform and markets in the context of an authoritarian state. Cuba and North Korea however have remained organized along Stalinist lines.
Communist parties around the world have mostly disappeared after the fall of the Berlin Wall. However, in Brazil at least, different parties claimed (or claim yet) to be communist, each according to its own version of communism.
- Karl Marx laid the theoretical groundwork for communism.
- Fredrick Engels Marx's friend.
- Vladimir Lenin
- Josip Broz Tito
- Edvard Kardelj
- Josef Stalin
- Leon Trotsky
- Nikolai Bukharin
- Leonid Brezhnev
- Nikita Khrushchev
- Mikhail Gorbachev
- George Marchais
- Enrico Berlinguer
- Fidel Castro
- Mao Zedong
- Pablo Picasso