Communism (from Latin communis – common, universal) is a classless, moneyless, and stateless social order structured upon common ownership of the means of production, as well as a social, political and economic ideology and movement that aims at the establishment of this social order. The movement to develop communism, in its Marxist–Leninist interpretations, significantly influenced the history of the 20th century, which saw intense rivalry between the Communist states in the Socialist world and the most developed capitalist states of the Western world.

According to Marxist theory, higher-phase communism is a specific stage of historical development that inevitably emerges from the development of the productive forces that leads to abundant access to final goods, allowing for distribution based on need and social relations based on free association. Marxist theory holds that the lower-phase of communism, colloquially referred to as socialism, being the new society established after the overthrow of capitalism, is a transitional stage in human social evolution and will give rise to a fully communist society, in which remuneration and the division of labor are no longer present. Leninism adds to Marxism the organizational principle of the vanguard party to lead the proletarian revolution and to secure all political power after the revolution for the working class, for the development of universal class consciousness and worker participation, in the transitional stage between capitalism and communism.

Council communists and non-Marxist libertarian communists and anarcho-communists oppose the ideas of a vanguard party and a transition stage, and advocate for full communism to begin immediately upon the abolition of capitalism. There is a very wide range of theories amongst those particular communists in regards to how to build the types of institutions that would replace the various economic engines (such as food distribution, education, and hospitals) as they exist under capitalist systems—or even whether to do so at all.

In the modern lexicon of what many Western sociologists and political commentators refer to as the "political mainstream", communism is often used as a broad term to refer to the policies of Communist states, i.e., the ones governed by Communist parties, in general, regardless of the diversity of economic models over which they may preside. Examples of this include the policies of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam where the economic system incorporates "doi moi" and the People's Republic of China (PRC) where the economic system incorporates "socialist market economy".

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.