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Communism vs. Dictatorship: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on November 26, 2023
Communism is a political and economic ideology promoting a classless society and communal ownership, while dictatorship is a form of government where power is concentrated in the hands of one individual or a small group.

Key Differences

Communism is an ideology advocating for a classless, stateless society where property and means of production are communally owned. Dictatorship, on the other hand, is a form of government where absolute power is concentrated in the hands of one person or a small group.
The fundamental principle of communism is the elimination of private ownership in favor of communal control, aiming for social and economic equality. In a dictatorship, the focus is on the consolidation and exercise of power by a single leader or ruling party, often without regard for democratic processes.
Communism, as an ideology, seeks to establish a society where all citizens contribute and benefit equally from the collective wealth. Dictatorship, as a system of governance, can vary in its ideology and does not necessarily follow a specific economic or social doctrine.
While communism theoretically advocates for a stateless society, in practice, communist states have often been governed by authoritarian regimes. However, dictatorship is not limited to communist states and can exist under various ideological frameworks.
In communism, the ultimate goal is to create a society without social classes or government. In contrast, a dictatorship is defined by the presence of a strong central authority, often with limited or no checks and balances.

Comparison Chart


A political and economic ideology promoting classless and stateless society.
A form of government where power is concentrated in the hands of an individual or small group.


Social and economic equality, communal ownership.
Concentration and exercise of power, often without democratic processes.


Advocates for a stateless, classless society.
Characterized by a strong central authority, often without checks and balances.


Theoretically consistent but varies in implementation.
Can exist under various ideological frameworks.

End Goal

Society without classes or government.
Maintenance and consolidation of power by the ruler(s).

Communism and Dictatorship Definitions


An ideology aiming for a classless, stateless society where everyone works for the common good.
Communism seeks to eliminate the wealth gap by abolishing private ownership.


A form of government in which a single leader or group has absolute power without effective constitutional limitations.
The dictatorship was marked by the absence of democratic elections and the suppression of dissent.


A political movement aiming to create a society where wealth and power are distributed equally.
The communist manifesto called for the proletariat to rise up against the bourgeoisie.


A political regime where all aspects of the state are under the control of a single person.
Under the dictatorship, opposition parties were banned and political dissent was not tolerated.


A political theory derived from Karl Marx, promoting the absence of social classes.
The principles of communism were influenced by the writings of Marx and Engels.


Rule by a leader who has complete control over a country, typically one who has taken power by force.
The military coup established a dictatorship that lasted for decades.


A society where all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs.
In a communist society, healthcare and education are typically provided universally.


Government by a dictator, often characterized by authoritarianism and lack of political pluralism.
The dictator's regime was known for its harsh policies and human rights violations.


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 office or tenure of a dictator.


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.


A state or government under dictatorial rule.


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.


Absolute or despotic control or power.


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


A type of government where absolute sovereignty is allotted to an individual or a small clique.


Any political social system that implements a communist political philosophy.


A government which exercises autocratic rule.


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


Any household, institution, or other organization that is run under such sovereignty or autocracy.


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.


The office, or the term of office, of a dictator; hence, absolute power.


A form of socialism that abolishes private ownership


A form of government in which the ruler is an absolute dictator (not restricted by a constitution or laws or opposition etc.)


A political theory favoring collectivism in a classless society


A system where power is concentrated in the hands of one individual who often rules by force or manipulation.
In the dictatorship, the media was controlled and censored by the state.


A system advocating for communal ownership of property and means of production.
In communism, factories and resources are owned by the community as a whole.


What is a dictatorship?

A dictatorship is a form of government where absolute power is held by an individual or a small group.

Can communism lead to dictatorship?

Historically, some communist states have evolved into dictatorships, though this is not always the case.

Are all dictatorships communist?

No, dictatorships can exist under various ideological frameworks, not just communism.

What is the key principle of communism?

The key principle of communism is the abolition of private property and the establishment of communal ownership.

What characterizes a dictatorship?

A dictatorship is characterized by the centralization of power in the hands of one person or a small group, often ruling authoritatively.

Can a dictatorship be democratic?

By definition, a dictatorship is not democratic, as power is not derived from the will of the people.

What happens to individual rights in communism?

In theory, communism aims to protect collective rights, but individual rights can vary depending on the implementation.

What is communism?

Communism is a political and economic ideology advocating for a classless, stateless society with communal ownership.

How do dictatorships maintain power?

Dictatorships often maintain power through force, propaganda, and the suppression of opposition.

Do dictatorships have constitutions?

Some dictatorships may have constitutions, but these often grant extensive powers to the dictator and lack genuine enforcement.

What is the role of a dictator?

A dictator typically has ultimate authority and control over the government and often the society.

How does communism view state power?

Communism ideally seeks to create a stateless society where power is held by the community as a whole.

Is communism an economic or political system?

Communism encompasses both economic and political systems, aiming for collective ownership and governance.

What are the criticisms of dictatorships?

Criticisms of dictatorships include human rights abuses, lack of political freedom, and concentration of power.

Is censorship common in dictatorships?

Yes, censorship and control of information are common in dictatorships to maintain control and suppress dissent.

Can communism exist within a democracy?

Theoretically, aspects of communism can coexist with democratic principles, but this is rare in practice.

What are the criticisms of communism?

Criticisms of communism include the potential for authoritarian rule, inefficiency, and suppression of individual freedoms.

How do communists view class structure?

Communists seek to abolish class structure, aiming for a society where all individuals are equal.

Do communist societies have governments?

In theory, communism aims for a stateless society, but in practice, most communist states have had some form of government.

How do dictatorships impact economic policy?

Economic policies in dictatorships are often centrally planned and controlled by the ruling party or leader.
About Author
Written 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.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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