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Communism vs. Socialism – What’s The Difference? 

Communism and socialism are political and economic models that can be confusing.

Both of these are different from the United States capitalist system.

Related: Capitalism Facts


But it is important to understand how socialism and communism are different from each other.

Both communism and socialism desire to fix the issues they see within society. For example, the large gap between the rich and the poor. Communists believe that a violent revolution is the only way to fix the gap. Socialism does not think that violence is always necessary. It works to make the needed changes through a more democratic process.

Both of these models use the idea that the government provides for each person. This is based not only on their needs but on what they can contribute back to society.

It happens in a few different ways with big differences between the two systems.


Differences Between Communism & Socialism

Another big difference between communism and socialism is the idea of who holds what kind of power.

Communism believes that the state or the government should control and own all aspects of economic production.

They also think that the state should provide every citizen with their basic needs.

Socialism is a bit more flexible. Socialists believe that all citizens should share in economic resources. Who can have what is the decision of a democratically-elected government.

presidential elections

This means that unlike communism, socialists do believe in private property. All industrial and production is communally owned and managed by an elected government.

Communism and socialism also differ in the ideas of the class structure. Communists believe that there should not be a class structure at all.

This means that there are no ultra-rich or very poor members of society. They think that everyone earns the same, and almost no one is above anyone else. 

pay and money

Socialists believe something a little different. Socialists believe that a class structure can exist. But it is much more relaxed and less defined than both communism and capitalism.

They think that it is possible, but still rare for somebody to earn more than others.


Understanding Communism

Under communism, the idea is that the government provides for the general public based on their needs. The main goals of communism are to get rid of the gap between the rich and poor and create economic equality.

Communists believe that in certain cases, a violent uprising is the only way to get rid of the upper class and restore everyone to an equal footing.

This means that no one is allowed to own private property, and everyone is on the same level. 

There are many different types of communist ideals and societies. While some claim to be real communist nations, only a few countries actually meet the requirements.

Communist flag Russia

Understanding Socialism

Socialism is a system that is based on public ownership. The understanding of socialism is that everyone wants to get along and cooperate. A socialist society uses a centralized government.

The government controls resources, property, income, and many other things. It is then their job to distribute it among the people. 

One of the important goals of socialism is to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor, so everyone is equal. Socialists try to do this through cooperation.

They do not believe that there is a need for a violent revolution when things are not going right.

Russian Revolution

How do they differ from capitalism?

Both of these systems differ from capitalism in a few critical ways. Capitalist nations, like the United States, believe in free and fair competition.

Capitalism also believes in the idea of economic freedom In a capitalist society, most things are owned by private companies. The government does not own things such as factories and businesses. 


A great example of this is most of the food and beverage companies like McDonald’s or Coca-Cola. This practice means that these business owners get to keep what they earn. They can also continue to grow and expand.

In this capitalist system, some people may earn more or less than others, and wages do not have to be fair. In a communist or socialist system, things would not work this way.

Taupo McDonald's

Instead of some people making more or less money, the government controls all the money

Everyone contributes what they can to make sure they are all treated the same. The government would also decide where you live, and how big or small your home would be.

supply demand exchange

Examples of Socialist and Communist Countries

Three countries identify as communist states: North Korea, China, and Cuba. The government of North Korea controls all the resources like property and farmland.

They also handle government-owned housing and assigned homes, as owning property is forbidden.

China also uses a similar system. The government housing system that they have is very competitive. Cuba also works under a communist program. They also have a competitive subsidized housing program.

bank owns house

Cuba’s government also owns and controls most of its companies within the country, and has most people employed working for them.

Some countries that have identified as socialist states are Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.

These countries have to pay higher taxes. But, they also get free healthcare, educational funds, and retirement income.

These countries may not identify with all socialist ideas. Still, they can find the best parts that work for them and follow those.

save on taxes

Final Thoughts

In our world that is growing and changing, we must become informed readers.

In this way, we can stay up to date on important issues. There is no pure capitalist, socialist, or pure communist nation in our world today.

Everyone has taken pieces of the system and used it in a way to best help their government.

The more we know and understand about these important issues, the better it is for our world. Understanding the difference between communism and socialism is important so you can be more aware of how the world works.

After all, that’s the first step in changing your future and the future of society.