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Communism vs. Nationalism: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on December 30, 2023
Communism is a socio-economic ideology advocating classless, stateless society and communal ownership, while nationalism is a political, social, and economic ideology emphasizing loyalty, devotion, or allegiance to a nation or nation-state.

Key Differences

Communism is an ideology centered on eliminating class distinctions and advocating for a society where all property is communally owned, whereas nationalism focuses on promoting the interests and culture of a particular nation, often placing it above others.
The primary goal of communism is to establish a classless society through the abolition of private property, contrasting sharply with nationalism which often cultivates a strong sense of identity and pride in one's nation, sometimes at the expense of international cooperation.
Communism seeks to redistribute wealth and power equally among all members of society, a concept that is generally not a focus of nationalism, which instead emphasizes national sovereignty and self-governance.
Communism is inherently internationalist, promoting solidarity among the working classes across different nations, while nationalism is inherently focused on a single nation's interests, often leading to policies that prioritize the nation's needs over global considerations.
Communism often entails a revolutionary change in the social and economic structure of society, whereas nationalism can manifest within various types of political systems, supporting the idea of a strong, independent nation-state.

Comparison Chart

Ideological Focus

Classless, stateless society and communal ownership.
Loyalty and devotion to a nation or nation-state.

Primary Goal

Eliminate class distinctions.
Promote national interests and culture.

Approach to Property

Advocates for communal ownership.
Does not inherently address property ownership.

International Perspective

Internationalist, promoting global solidarity.
Focuses on national sovereignty and interests.

Political Manifestation

Revolutionary change in social and economic structures.
Can exist within various political systems.

Communism and Nationalism Definitions


A theory advocating class war and leading to a society in which all property is publicly owned.
The Bolshevik Revolution was an attempt to establish communism in Russia.


An extreme form of patriotism marked by a feeling of superiority over other countries.
Nationalism can sometimes lead to xenophobia and intolerance.


A social organization based on the holding of all property in common.
Under communism, individual ownership of businesses is replaced by collective ownership.


Loyalty and devotion to a nation.
Nationalism was a key factor in the outbreak of World War I.


A system in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed.
In communism, resources like housing and food are distributed based on need, not wealth.


Identification with one's own nation and support for its interests.
The rise of nationalism in the 19th century led to the unification of Italy and Germany.


A doctrine based on revolutionary Marxian socialism.
Communism seeks to overthrow capitalist systems through revolution.


Patriotic feeling, principles, or efforts.
The Olympic Games often inspire a strong sense of nationalism.


A political theory derived from Karl Marx, advocating class war.
Communism was influenced by the writings of Marx and Engels.


Advocacy of political independence for a particular country.
The American Revolution was driven by a strong sense of nationalism.


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


Devotion, especially excessive or undiscriminating devotion, to the interests or culture of a particular nation-state.


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.


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.


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


Any political social system that implements a communist political philosophy.


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


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 form of socialism that abolishes private ownership


A political theory favoring collectivism in a classless society


What is nationalism?

Nationalism is a political ideology emphasizing loyalty and devotion to one's nation.

How does communism view state power?

Communism ultimately aims for a stateless society, though it may involve a transitional state.

Can nationalism exist in a communist state?

It's rare, as communism typically discourages nationalistic sentiments in favor of international solidarity.

What role does the state play in nationalism?

Nationalism often involves strong support for a sovereign nation-state.

What is communism?

Communism is an ideology advocating for a classless society with communal ownership of resources.

Do communism and nationalism share common goals?

Not usually, as communism is focused on class struggle, while nationalism centers on national identity.

Does nationalism affect economic policies?

Yes, nationalism can influence economic policies to favor national interests.

Can a nationalist be a communist?

While rare, some individuals may blend elements of both ideologies.

Is communism inherently anti-capitalist?

Yes, communism seeks to replace capitalist systems.

Is private property allowed in communism?

No, communism advocates for communal ownership of property.

How does communism approach global relations?

Communism promotes international solidarity among working classes.

How has nationalism shaped world history?

Nationalism has been a driving force in many historical events, including wars and colonialism.

Can nationalism exist without a state?

Nationalism typically requires a concept of a nation, which often involves a state.

Can nationalism be inclusive?

While often associated with exclusivity, some forms of nationalism strive for inclusiveness within the nation.

How does communism view individual rights?

In theory, communism prioritizes collective rights over individual rights.

Does nationalism always lead to conflict?

Not always, but extreme nationalism can lead to conflicts.

What are the historical origins of communism?

Communism originated from the ideas of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

What are common criticisms of communism?

Critics often cite lack of individual freedom and economic inefficiency.

How do people express nationalism?

Through patriotic activities, cultural expressions, and political involvement.

What is the end goal of communism?

A classless, stateless, and oppression-free society.
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
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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