Marxism states that communism is the ultimate social form.

A revolution, in my present understanding, is that one class overruns another, something like changing from a feudal to capitalist society, or changing from a capitalist to socialist society.

Could such revolutions happen in communist countries?

  • This question appears to be off-topic because it is about politics. – iphigenie Jul 30 '13 at 12:03
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    @iphigenie: it sounds like political philosophy - of the marxist flavour. Does that not count? – Mozibur Ullah Jul 30 '13 at 13:18
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    Politics is a subset of philosophy. You will also note that Plato's greatest work is actually called "Politics". – Captain Kenpachi Jul 30 '13 at 14:19
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    @Strauss: Yes, but there is a difference between politics & political philosophy - the two overlap. – Mozibur Ullah Jul 30 '13 at 14:54
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    Socialism is not the same as communism, by the way. I would suggest you read Marx and Engel's descriptions of the differences between the two (as well as what they call true socialism) in Volume II of their German Ideology. It should be noted that familiarity with Hegel is paramount to understanding this work. – Jon Jul 30 '13 at 21:39

If your definition of revolution is conflict between classes, then a hypothetical ideal communist society would be classless, so the notion of revolution would be meaningless. Of course, actual regimes which call themselves communist are generally saying that they subscribe to Marx's ideology and that their (ostensible) goal is to achieve Marx's ideal communist society, not that their society at the present has attained that status yet. For one thing, Marx envisioned a stateless utopia, whereas those countries have governments and thus have a political class, so insofar as there is still class distinction in those countries, you could still have a revolution in your sense.

  • Alternatively, it could be the case that a classless society is unobtainable. – labreuer Oct 29 '13 at 21:24
  • @labreuer I think there are certain animal societies that are classless, so the argument would boil down to, is there something inherent in human nature that necessitates division into class? (In any case, if classless societies are indeed impossible, then it's vacuously true that no possible classless society can have a revolution :)) – Keshav Srinivasan Oct 29 '13 at 22:52

A revolution is an inevitable part of socialism. The way in which a communist country usually guards itself against a revolution (known as a counter-revolution) is by military suppression and oppression of dissidents. The problem here is that you need to create unrest to overthrow the capitalists/bourgeoisie/nobility in order to free the proletariat. This means that the unrest needs lots of momentum. This momentum often cannot be stopped once started, even after the "oppressors" have been overthrown, and this leads to a second revolution, which may or may not be stopped by military intervention (euphemistically referred to as "normalization").

Yuri Bezmenov was the greatest source of information on communist revolutions I've ever come across. If you want to know more detail, I would suggest you start with him.

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    How does this differ from a police-force? All states appear to have them. – Mozibur Ullah Jul 30 '13 at 13:51
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    The police force normally protects the citizens from each other (theft, murder, etc). In the suppression of a (counter-) revolution, the police force is utilised to protect the government from its citizens. It is basically a corruption of the police's intended purpose. – Captain Kenpachi Jul 30 '13 at 14:22
  • Ok, I'm conflating policing with domestic-intelligence gathering - It's unlikely however that governments have popular support at all times from every single person. That means at least some domestic intelligence gathering is permissable, no? – Mozibur Ullah Jul 30 '13 at 14:53
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    That's probably a question on its own. – Captain Kenpachi Jul 30 '13 at 15:07
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    @JuannStrauss. Theoretically, there could always be non-violent, communist revolutions in social democracies; an example would be a complete employment of employee owned companies. Also, revolutions are not inevitable to socialism. You would need to cite anyone who said so. – Jon Jul 30 '13 at 21:44

The answer for this question and many other similar questions you may have is: "why not?"

"Give a man a fish..."

BTW, this question may also be interesting for you: What are the requisites for political change?

Revolutions will only happen when their necessary conditions have been met and will always happen when their sufficient conditions are met.

This quote from JFK may provide some help: "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

To finish up, my opinion. IMHO this is very similar to earthquakes, when there is a lot of pressure and tension it will be released rapidly (usually violently) but when the surfaces sliding are smooth then the movement is slow and there are no surprises.

Borrowing some concepts from constructal theory, does socialism guarantee "smooth surfaces" and a slow and constant flow of the currents in it?

IMHO it guarantees the opposite, by enforcing and forcing some equality à la Procustes as opposed to the freedom (for the flow of the currents) that other ideologies promote more.

But it really takes more than a few paragraphs to analyse this properly, I have seen many analyses but none that I like, I'd like one done using cybernetics and the concepts of convergence and stability in a system. Therefore the final answer is "why not?".


First of all, I agree with Keshavs answer - if there's a communist society in the sense that economical classes do not exist, one class cannot overthrow the other.

However, if you apply a subjective definition of class, say any large sector of society that can identify common goals (wether thy really profit from them or not), one group could band around the goal to establish themselves as kings or whatever and attempt a putsch or revolution.

Granted, we are in the realm of semantics here - what do we mean by class - but that's what you get from asking on philosophy SE.

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