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Communism is a socioeconomic structure and political ideology that promotes the establishment of an egalitarian, classless, stateless society based on common ownership and control of the means of production and property in general. Karl Marx posited that communism would be the final stage in human society, which would be achieved through a proletarian revolution. "Pure communism" in the Marxian sense refers to a classless, stateless and oppression-free society where decisions on what to produce and what policies to pursue are made democratically, allowing every member of society to participate in the decision-making process in both the political and economic spheres of life.

As a political ideology, communism is usually considered to be a branch of socialism; a broad group of economic and political philosophies that draw on the various political and intellectual movements with origins in the work of theorists of the Industrial Revolution and the French Revolution. Communism attempts to offer an alternative to the problems with the capitalist market economy and the legacy of imperialism and nationalism. Marx states that the only way to solve these problems is for the working class (proletariat), who according to Marx are the main producers of wealth in society and are exploited by the Capitalist-class (bourgeoisie), to replace the bourgeoisie as the ruling class in order to establish a free society, without class or racial divisions. The dominant forms of communism, such as Leninism, Stalinism, Maoism and Trotskyism are based on Marxism, but non-Marxist versions of communism (such as Christian communism and anarcho-communism) also exist.

Karl Marx never provided a detailed description as to how communism would function as an economic system, but it is understood that a communist economy would consist of common ownership of the means of production, culminating in the negation of the concept of private ownership of capital, which referred to the means of production in Marxian terminology. In modern usage, communism is often used to refer to Bolshevism or Marxism-Leninism.

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