Huh, Communist Democracy??
Is a term like “Capitalistic Democracy” redundant? Don’t the two words mean the same thing? Aren’t Communist countries always undemocratic?
The answer to all of these questions is the same: “Yes And No, But More So ‘No'”. That’s the short, confusing answer.
In reality, Capitalism, Communism, and Socialism are Economic Systems:
Free Market, or Laisse Faire, Capitalism is the system that 90% of the world’s countries are most familiar with. It is the system in place in the U.S., Australia, and most of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. It’s also the system traditionally associated with the West, including the European Continent and Canada. Capitalistic economies are based on the intrinsic drive for self-preservation and outcompeting other lifeforms present in human nature. To the victor go the spoils.
For this reason capitalistic societies usually attract the best and brightest innovators, the greatest minds, and contribute the most to society. However truly pure capitalism, based on “survival of the fittest”, would mean that the least successful, least wealthy members of society would starve to death. Thankfully, no nation on earth is this capitalistic, and government intervention assists those who are most in need (in theory, although it doesn’t always actually work out that way, does it?).
Communism is the polar opposite of pure Capitalism. It’s the economic system generally associated with Karl Marx, the former U.S.S.R., and present-day China, Cuba, and North Korea. Its global spread can be more or less entirely traced back to Marx and the U.S.S.R. In that sense Communism, or Marxism, is more of an economic “movement” or ideology than simply an economic system. Each Communist government acts as its nation’s sole corporate monopoly, completely controlling every aspect of every market. There is no private business ownership. There is really not much of an incentive to work at all, let alone innovate, since the government essentially pays all people–employed and unemployed–the same wage.
Socialism is an economic system that mimics many of the beneficial aspects of Communism, especially the social welfare programs, while also incorporating the private business ownership of Capitalism. Many people consider Socialism to be a happy medium between the traditional Communist movement and laisse faire Capitalism. Many nations in South America and Scandinavia have socialistic economies or have leaned toward socialism in recent years. These places include Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, and even Canada. Some would argue that the U.S. under President Obama leans toward socialism. Socialism, unlike Communism, is not a social/political movement and any country that is presently socialistic could become purely capitalistic with the next election, as many say will happen in America due to the Tea Party’s growing popularity.
Where the confusion comes in:
Much of the confusion between political and economic systems seems to arise because Communism was tradtionally a socio-political ideology that relied on a purely socialistic economy. Although Socialism and Capitalism tend to be temporary and change depending on who is presently leading a nation, Communism has always had the political component built into it, which is what accounts for the confusion.
Being a political/social movement, more comparable to a religion than anything else, Communist systems demand that Communism is the only legal “political party” and often traditionally didn’t bother with elections at all. This is the case in present-day China, Cuba, and North Korea (although China does have single-party elections now). In this way, Communist countries are, essentially, extremely economically left/socialist dictatorships where citizens are indoctrinated into believing Communism and their dictator’s control over every aspect of their lives is appropriate. Communism is to socialism what Theocracy is to Islam.
Theocracy, Democracy, Republic-ism, Autocracy, Military Dictatorship, and the like–possibly also including Communism–are Political Systems:
Any political system (except Communism, obviously, which builds in its economic component) could, in theory have an economy that’s capitalistic, socialistic, communistic, or anything between pure capitalism and pure communism. So it’s not incorrect to speak of governments and societies in terms such as, Capitalistic Dictatorship, Socialist Republic, or even, possibly, Communist Democracy.
USA under FDR: Socialist Democracy
USA Today: Socialist-leaning Democracy
USA under Ron Paul: Extremely right-wing laisse faire Democracy
Venezuela under Chavez: Socialist-Communist Democracy
China: Socialist-Communist Communist-Party-Dictatorship
Saudi Arabia: Capitalist Monarchy
UAE: Strong Capitalist Monarchy
Iran: Capitalist Theocracy
Burma: Capitalist Military Dictatorship
Singapore: Pure Capitalist Autocracy
Sweden: Communist-leaning Socialist Democracy
Brazil: Communist-leaning Socialist Democracy
Canada: Socialist-Capitalist Democracy
Cuba: Communist One-Party Communist Democracy
Former USSR (1980’s): Communist One-Party Democracy
North Korea: Pure Communist Communist-Dictatorship