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Communism vs. Anarchism: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on November 27, 2023
Communism is a political ideology advocating for a classless society and collective ownership, while anarchism seeks to abolish all forms of hierarchical authority.

Key Differences

Communism is a socio-economic system aiming for a classless, stateless society with collective ownership of production. While, anarchism opposes all hierarchical structures, advocating for a society without government or other authority figures.
Communism often involves a transitional state to develop a society where goods are distributed as needed. However, anarchism seeks immediate dissolution of the state and all forms of coercive authority.
In communism, the community collectively owns and controls resources and means of production. Meanwhile, anarchism emphasizes individual freedom and voluntary association without coercion or control by the state.
Communism envisions an end state where the state 'withers away' to achieve a classless, stateless society. Whereas, anarchism is inherently skeptical of any transitional state, advocating for direct transition to stateless society.
Communism has been associated with various movements and governments, often with centralized control. Anarchism, in contrast, inherently resists centralized control and authority, focusing on decentralization and autonomy.

Comparison Chart


Classless, stateless society
Society without hierarchical authority

Means of Production

Collective ownership
Decentralized, autonomous control

Role of the State

Transitional state, then withering away
Immediate abolition of the state

Organizational Structure

Often centralized in practice
Decentralized, based on voluntary associations

Philosophical Focus

Class struggle, economic equality
Individual freedom, opposition to coercion

Communism and Anarchism Definitions


A system advocating for collective ownership of production.
Under communism, factories and resources are owned by the community.


A movement aiming for radical social change to enhance individual freedom.
Anarchists often participate in protests to promote social liberty.


A theory that proposes the abolition of private property.
Communism argues for the collective ownership of land and capital.


A political philosophy that opposes all forms of unjust hierarchy.
Anarchism advocates for a society free from government control.


A political movement aiming to create a communist society.
The communist party was working towards societal restructuring.


Opposition to authoritarian governance and centralized power.
Anarchism opposes the idea of a ruling government or class.


Ideology aiming for a classless society.
Communism seeks to eliminate the division between rich and poor.


The idea of a stateless society based on voluntary associations.
In anarchism, communities are self-governed without a central authority.


Economic system where goods are distributed as needed.
In communism, the distribution of food and resources is based on need.


The belief in abolishing all coercive institutions and structures.
Anarchism seeks to dismantle institutions like the police and military.


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


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


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.


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


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.


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


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


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.


Any political social system that implements a communist political philosophy.


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


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


The doctrine or practice of anarchists.


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.


A political theory favoring the abolition of governments


A form of socialism that abolishes private ownership


A political theory favoring collectivism in a classless society


What is communism?

Communism is a political and economic ideology that advocates for a classless society in which all property and resources are communally owned.

Has true communism ever been achieved?

Many argue that true communism, as described by Marx, has never been fully realized in any country.

Who founded communism?

The foundations of modern communism are attributed to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, who outlined their ideas in the "Communist Manifesto."

What's a communist state?

A communist state is a nation governed by a single party that professes to follow communist ideology, often with a centralized government and planned economy.

Does communism allow private property?

No, communism typically involves the abolition of private property in favor of communal ownership.

Is communism against religion?

Traditional communism advocates for a secular state and views religion as an instrument of class oppression, but attitudes towards religion can vary in communist societies.

What are the criticisms of communism?

Criticisms include lack of economic efficiency, suppression of individual rights, and the potential for authoritarian rule.

What is anarchism?

Anarchism is a political philosophy that advocates for a society free from involuntary or coercive forms of hierarchy and authority.

What is mutual aid in anarchism?

Mutual aid is a key principle in anarchism, emphasizing voluntary reciprocal exchange of resources and services for mutual benefit.

Can anarchism and capitalism coexist?

Most anarchist schools of thought oppose capitalism, seeing it as inherently hierarchical and exploitative.

How does anarchism propose to run a society?

Anarchist societies would be self-governed by voluntary associations, cooperatives, or communes, often based on principles of direct democracy or consensus decision-making.

What's the difference between communism and socialism?

Socialism is a broader concept where resources are owned and managed by the community, but allows for some level of private property and market function, whereas communism advocates for complete communal ownership.

Can communism and democracy coexist?

This is debated. Some argue communism inherently opposes democracy, while others believe democratic communism is possible.

Is communism the same worldwide?

No, different countries have implemented various forms of communism, often with significant differences.

Who are famous anarchist thinkers?

Prominent anarchists include Mikhail Bakunin, Peter Kropotkin, and Emma Goldman.

Has a truly anarchist society ever existed?

While there have been communities and regions with anarchist principles, a fully anarchist state on a large scale has not been sustained.

Do anarchists believe in laws?

Anarchists generally oppose laws imposed by a state, but many support mutually agreed upon rules or norms within a community.

Are there different types of anarchism?

Yes, including anarcho-communism, anarcho-syndicalism, individualist anarchism, and more, each with different views on organization and economic systems.

Is anarchism the same as chaos?

No, anarchism advocates for organized society, but without a state or coercive authority, not for disorder or chaos.

What are criticisms of anarchism?

Critics argue that anarchism is unrealistic, could lead to disorder, and lacks mechanisms to address large-scale societal issues.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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