Communist state

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This article is about a form of government in which the state operates under the control of a Communist Party. For information regarding communism as a form of society, as an ideology advocating that form of society, or as a popular movement, see the communism article. For information about criticisms of Communist party rule, see criticisms of communist regimes.

Communist state is a term used by many political scientists to describe a system of government in which a state operates under a one-party system—where the one party is a Communist Party that typically espouses Marxism-Leninism. Communist states may have several legal political parties, but the Communist Party is constitutionally guaranteed a dominant role in government. Consequently, the institutions of the state and of the Communist Party become intimately entwined.

In multiparty liberal democracies, the system of government (executive, legislative and judicial) operates independently of any political party, with each party competing for a right to control the system of government for a specific tenure. In communist states, however, state institutions and party institutions depend on each other to function effectively.


[edit] State and party relations

In the Soviet Union, the first communist state of the 20th century, the General Secretary of the Communist Party did not necessarily hold a state office like president or prime minister to effectively control the system of government. Instead, party members answerable to or controlled by the party held these posts, often as honorific posts as a reward for their long years of service to the party. On other occasions, having governed as General Secretary, the party leader might assume a state office in addition. For example, Mikhail Gorbachev initially did not hold the presidency of the Soviet Union, that office being given as an honor to a former Soviet Foreign Minister. However, Gorbachev ultimately chose to assume the presidency, running the party and the official state institutions simultaneously.

The degree of this party–state relationship fluctuates both within a state and between different communist systems. In the contemporary People's Republic of China, for example, a degree of separation has developed between state and party, while a number of very small rival parties have appeared on the fringe. Nevertheless, the degree of communist party control over state institutions, and the ability of party figures outside state offices to influence the functioning of the state, is far more extensive than exists in any multiparty democracy, hence the use of the term "communist state" to describe such a system of government.

[edit] Usage of the term

Communist states do not use the term "communist state" to describe themselves. Within Marxist theory, world communism is the final phase of history at which time the state would have withered away; therefore, the notion of a communist state is an oxymoron. Current states are either in the capitalist or socialist phase of history, and the role of the Communist Party (i.e., the vanguard party) is to pull a nation toward the communist phase of history.

Furthermore, many Marxists and Marxist-Leninists argue that most communist states do not actually adhere to Marxism-Leninism but rather to a perversion of it that is heavily influenced by Stalinism. This critique of communist states is particularly strong among social democrats and some critical theorists who hold that Marxism is correct as a social and historical theory, but that it can be implemented within a multiparty democracy. In addition, Trotskyists argue that the bureaucratic and repressive nature of communist states differs from Vladimir Lenin's vision of the socialist state.

[edit] List of current Communist states

Image:Communist States.png
A map showing the current Communist states.

The following countries are one-party states where the ruling party (or coalition) declares its allegiance to Marxism-Leninism. As such, they fall under the definition of Communist states. However, they are not the only countries in the world that currently have a Communist government. There are some liberal democracies, such as the Republic of Moldova, where Communist Parties have won democratic elections and are currently running a democratic government. They do not fall under this article's definition of Communist states because they have not merged the Communist Party with the state.

With the above disclaimer, current Communist states and their ruling parties are:

While these countries share a similar system of government, they have adopted very different economic policies over the past 15 years.

See also: List of Communist parties

[edit] Other formal state definitions

es:Estado socialista ko:공산국가 it:Stato comunista pt:Estado socialista ro:Stat comunist ru:Социалистические страны simple:Communist state sv:Kommunistiska stater vi:Hệ thống xã hội chủ nghĩa zh:共产主义国家

Communist state

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