Authors: Hermet, Badie, Birnbaum & Braud
Summary: This 235-word entry gives various definitions of the term communism, ranging from its origins to Marxism.
Introduced by Cabet in 1835, the term referred to a particular propensity for social equality and for the abolition of private property. These ideas had already been expressed by 17th century English Levelers and by radical German Protestants, much before the term was introduced.
In the 19th century, a "utopian" communism came to the fore, which claimed for the establishment of an ideal society based on the commonality of goods and work and which sometimes refused any authority (from that of God to that of the family).
With Marx, communism acquired the modern meaning, i.e. a "society with neither classes nor state", which could be achieved through an intermediate stage - socialism - where the means of production would be socialized. Marx's communism would be the only way to put an end to the exploitation of man over man.