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Communism vs. Anarchism — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on October 13, 2023
Communism advocates for classless societies where property is publicly owned, while Anarchism emphasizes the absence of hierarchical authority and governments.
Communism vs. Anarchism — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Communism and Anarchism

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Key Differences

Communism and Anarchism are both political ideologies but hold distinct visions for society. Communism, inspired by Marxist thought, envisions a classless society wherein the means of production are collectively owned. In a purely Communist society, individuals work according to their ability and receive according to their needs. Anarchism, on the other hand, opposes all forms of coercive authority, advocating for societies without hierarchical structures or governments.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 13, 2023
Communism often sees a transitional state as necessary to achieve its goals, with the end game being a stateless society. This transitional state would safeguard the revolution and prevent capitalist resurgence. Anarchism, conversely, is inherently skeptical of state power, viewing the state, even a transitional one, as a potential source of oppression and inequality.
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Oct 13, 2023
While Communism is intrinsically linked to economic restructuring and the end of class distinctions, Anarchism is broader in its opposition to all hierarchical authority, whether economic, political, or social. Anarchism envisions a society based on mutual aid, voluntary cooperation, and direct democracy, free from coercion.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 13, 2023
Some movements have tried to merge both ideologies, notably Anarcho-Communism. This strand argues for the fusion of Anarchist and Communist principles, championing a stateless, classless society where individuals freely associate and cooperate without the need for a governing body or hierarchy.
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Oct 13, 2023

Comparison Chart

Fundamental Belief

Classless society with collective ownership
Society without hierarchical authority or government
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View on State

Transitional state might be necessary
Typically opposes all forms of state
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Primary Concern

Economic restructuring & ending class distinction
Opposition to all hierarchical structures
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Historical Inspiration

Marxism
Various thinkers like Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin
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Relationship with Authority

Sees some authority as transitional
Generally opposes all forms of coercive authority
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Compare with Definitions

Communism

Communism (Classless society)
Under Communism, wealth and power disparities are eliminated.
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Anarchism

Anarchism (Rejection of coercion)
Anarchism opposes all forms of forced authority.
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Communism

Communism (State's transitional role)
During the initial phases of Communism, a state might safeguard socialist principles.
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Anarchism

Anarchism (Political philosophy)
Anarchism challenges the need for centralized power.
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Oct 13, 2023

Communism

Communism (Political and economic doctrine)
The book delves into the history of Communism in Europe.
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Anarchism

Anarchism (Emphasis on voluntary association)
Under Anarchism, communities are formed based on mutual consent.
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Communism

Communism (Collective ownership)
In Communism, the means of production belong to the community.
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Oct 13, 2023

Anarchism

Anarchism is a political philosophy and movement that is sceptical of authority and rejects all involuntary, coercive forms of hierarchy. Anarchism calls for the abolition of the state, which it holds to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 19, 2021

Communism

Communism (from Latin communis, 'common, universal') is a philosophical, social, political, and economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of a communist society, namely a socioeconomic order structured upon the ideas of common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money, and, in some cases, the state. As such, communism is a specific form of socialism.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 19, 2021

Anarchism

The theory or doctrine that all forms of government are oppressive and undesirable and should be abolished.
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Sep 19, 2021

Communism

A theoretical economic system characterized by the collective ownership of property and by the organization of labor for the common advantage of all members.
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Sep 19, 2021

Anarchism

Active resistance and terrorism against the state, as used by some anarchists.
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Sep 19, 2021

Communism

A system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy and a single, often authoritarian party holds power, claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people.
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Anarchism

Rejection of all forms of coercive control and authority
"He was inclined to anarchism.
He hated system and organization and uniformity" (Bertrand Russell).
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Communism

The Marxist-Leninist doctrine advocating revolution to overthrow the capitalist system and establish a dictatorship of the proletariat that will eventually evolve into a perfectly egalitarian and communal society.
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Anarchism

A political and philosophical belief that all forms of involuntary rule or government are undesirable, unnecessary, or unethical, and as such that society would function without a state.
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Sep 19, 2021

Communism

Any far-left political ideology or philosophy advocating holding the production of resources collectively, especially by seizing it through revolution.
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Anarchism

A belief that proposes the abolition of hierarchy and authority in most forms.
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Communism

Any political social system that implements a communist political philosophy.
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Anarchism

The doctrine or practice of anarchists.
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Communism

The international socialist society where classes, money, and the state no longer exist.
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Anarchism

A political theory favoring the abolition of governments
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Communism

A scheme of equalizing the social conditions of life; specifically, a scheme which contemplates the abolition of inequalities in the possession of property, as by distributing all wealth equally to all, or by holding all wealth in common for the equal use and advantage of all.
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Sep 19, 2021

Anarchism

Anarchism (Opposition to hierarchical authority)
Anarchism promotes horizontal structures over traditional hierarchies.
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Communism

A form of socialism that abolishes private ownership
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Sep 19, 2021

Anarchism

Anarchism (Stateless society)
Anarchism envisions a world without governments.
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Oct 13, 2023

Communism

A political theory favoring collectivism in a classless society
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Sep 19, 2021

Communism

Communism (Marxist philosophy)
Karl Marx's writings laid the groundwork for Communism.
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Oct 13, 2023

Common Curiosities

Which ideology promotes a classless society?

Both Communism and Anarchism, but with different approaches.
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Which philosophy focuses on economic restructuring?

Communism primarily focuses on economic restructuring.
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Is Anarchism strictly against governments?

Yes, Anarchism opposes hierarchical authority, including governments.
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Which ideology is older?

Both have roots in ancient philosophies, but modern versions emerged in the 19th century.
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What's a core belief of Anarchism?

Opposition to all hierarchical and coercive authority.
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How does Anarchism view mutual aid?

As a fundamental principle, promoting voluntary cooperation.
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Does Communism always require a state?

Not ultimately, but many Communists see a transitional state as necessary.
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Are all Communists Marxists?

Not necessarily, but Marxism is a significant influence on Communism.
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Can one be both an Anarchist and Communist?

Yes, some ideologies, like Anarcho-Communism, merge the principles of both.
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Oct 13, 2023

How do both ideologies view capitalism?

Generally critically, but with different emphases and solutions.
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Are there overlaps between Communism and Anarchism?

Yes, especially in ideologies like Anarcho-Communism.
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How does Anarchism view power?

Skeptically, advocating for power to be decentralized and dispersed.
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Does Anarchism have a set economic model?

Anarchism's focus isn't strictly economic, but some branches advocate for specific economic structures.
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Can Communism exist without a government?

In its ultimate vision, yes, but transitions might involve state structures.
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Do either of these ideologies have multiple branches?

Yes, both Communism and Anarchism have various schools of thought and interpretations.
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Oct 13, 2023

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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