Communism

In general, communism rests on two fundamental principles: community of goods and the abolition of private ownership. Anarchism includes not only the destruction of all private property but all forms of political government. Socialism holds the doctrine of collective ownership and management of all property and the agencies of production. Communism differs from socialism in holding to the ownership of industry and its products, not by a centralized state but by small federated communities. According to W Bliss, "Socialism puts its emphasis on common production and distribution, communism on life in common." Every age and country has experimented with communistic organizations founded on discontent with the established industrial system. J. H. Noyes cites 47 failures of these communities in America. On the theoretical side the most famous contributions are Plato's "Republic" and More's "Utopia"; while on the practical side the names of Robert Owens and John H. Noyes stand out. The seeming success of some of these communities may be ascribed to the following: the members were a selected group, enthusiastic and willing to undergo sacrifices for principles and ideals; the organizers were able, inspiring, and efficient leaders; with very few exceptions, religious principles constituted the bond which held them together for any period. When religion was not the end, community of wives as well as of property was substituted; free love and moral deterioration were the result. The success of religious communities founded on the abolition of private property is cited by communists as the true Christian ideal. Thus the early Christian community in Jerusalem, in which all things were held in common, and the various religious organizations, both male and female, are brought forward to substantiate their contention. It is to be noted, however, that these communities were voluntary and not compulsory, that they never condemned private ownership, that they were for the few, selected by reason of vocation and not for the world at large, and finally that they were intended for individual spiritual perfection rather than for social reform and equal distribution. The Church's doctrine in relation to the principles of communism may be briefly summed up as follows: The Church upholds the doctrine of private property and hence condemns any compulsory or universal communism. It is a false interpretation of the moral truths dealing with man's equality, origin, needs, nature, and destiny which would lead to a doctrine of universal communism. For the few who have vocation to the religious life, the Church sanctions the principle of a voluntary communism for perfection. In the encyclical of Pope Leo XIII specific condemnation of both communism and socialism is proclaimed. The doctrines of both are contradictory to the principles of morality and religion as taught by Christ and safeguarded by His Church.

New Catholic Dictionary

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