Modern Communism as practiced in erstwhile Soviet Union and China has been a collective philosophical predicament expounded by Karl Marx and modified by Lenin and Stalin in Soviet Union and Mao in China. Historically it owes its genesis to the ill-effects of nineteenth century industrial revolution.
In essence, Communists hold a materialist view of history. Whosoever controls the means of production controls the whole society. Thus society is divided into two classes, ‘haves’ and ‘have not’s.
To Marx, “History of all hitherto society is the History of class struggle”. They believe that final goal of class struggle will overthrow the capitalist system and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat. In course of time, a classless society will emerge and the state will wither away.
A comparison between Platonic Communism and Modern Communism reveals more dissimilarities than similarities.
1. Plato’s communism is the outcome of conditions of Athens in the 4th century B.C. But, Modern communism is the result of the most complex conditions arising due to the industrial revolution in the Nineteenth Century Europe.
2. Plato’s communism does not want total transformation of society. The producing class remains intact. It is applied only to the Guardian class.
But, Marxist communism is mainly concerned with alteration of economic structure of the society. It aims at abolition of private ownership of the means of production. All economic resources are centralised by the machinery of communist party.
This led Barker to remark that “Plato’s communism was aristocratic; it is a way of surrender; and it is a surrender imposed on the best. It exists for the sake of the whole society, but not for the whole society.”
3. While Plato’s communism concerned prohibition of things that enabled Guardians to discharge their function, modern communism is concerned with common ownership of the means of production.
4. Plato’s scheme of communism covered both; communism of property as well as wives. On the contrary, modern communism is concerned only with means of production.
5. Plato’s communism aimed at making the Greek city state, a self sufficient properly governed unit. But, modern communism espoused a global vision to bring about a world revolution to usher in a communist society.
6. While Plato’s communism was aristocratic; modern one is ‘Proletarian’.
7. Plato’s communism had high degree of abstraction with great philosophical rigor. Modern communism is more realistic combined with scientific rigor.