World communism is the theoretical end state of Marxist philosophy. It envisions a utopian society in which each person contributes to the larger community according to his or her ability and receives back from the community according to his or her needs. World communism presupposes a natural end of all national entities which are replaced by a global society based on commonly held property, shared work, and shared resources.
Understanding Marxist theory is a prerequisite for understanding world communism. At its foundation, Marxist theory is the materialist and political thought of philosopher and author Karl Marx. He believed that matter is all that exists, class differences are arbitrary and oppressive, and that the inevitable end of political action is the eradication of class differences through common ownership of all property.
Many different schools of thought have flowed from Marxist theory. World communism came to be defined primarily by the actions of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), which was founded on Marxist principals. Backed by the USSR, particularly in the 1920s and 1930s, the concept of the Comintern, or worldwide spread of communist philosophy, came to embody world communism.
Most democratic nations opposed the spread of the concept of world communism. In particular, the call of communist nations for a revolution in which communism would replace all other ideologies was unacceptable to those nations. At the same time, while many communist nations paid lip service to the idea of the Comintern, or world communism, they continued to protect the individual rights and interests of their own particular states.
Despite the opposition it raised, the theory of global revolution was a necessary prerequisite to the achievement of world communism. This concept presupposed that realizing the development of communism in all nations and the eventual eradication of nations as entities would require imposing communism on reluctant participants. World revolution was to be followed by a time of transition in which the formerly democratic or capitalist states adopted a communist government. The utopian vision of world communism would follow this transitional period.
Even among the communists, differences grew as to how this three step process of revolution, transition, and end state would occur. Some believe it would happen organically and quickly. Others, such as V.I. Lenin, eventually came to believe it would take an extended period of time. It was in during this long process that the growth of world communism began to lose steam.