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Communism is a left-wing social, economic, and political ideology that was founded by German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1848. Communism advocates the absence of social classes, money, and the state, and capitalism's replacement by common ownership of means of production. These beliefs made communism a major opponent to capitalism, which advocated the privatization of business and allowed for competition to determine prices, not their true worth. Communism's economic ideology champions workers' rights, arguing that workers should be able to be paid more out of surplus value, rather than merchants profiting off of the surplus value without putting in any work. In addition, communism advocates class warfare between the working class and the "capitalist class", aiming for the overthrow of the capitalists by the workers. The system therefore became popular among workers and peasants, and communist revolutions occurred in 1848, 1905, 1917, and 1945 across the world.

The first communist state was the Soviet Union, established in 1922 when the Bolsheviks under Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky overthrew the Russian Empire, defeating the monarchist White Army, and took over the government. Modern communism tends to follow Marxism-Leninism, an ideology stemming from the beliefs of both Marx and Lenin. However, other brands of communism would be formed as more communist leaders took power, with Joseph Stalin's authoritarian Stalinism becoming somewhat of a fascist brand of communism, Mao Zedong's Maoism being more of an old Marxist belief, and Hoxhaism advocating isolationism to combat Stalinism. Communism ruled over much of Eastern Europe and parts of Asia and Africa from the 1940s to the 1990s, and many communist guerrilla movements sprung up during the Cold War, with many of them being crushed, or they moderated their views to socialism or social democracy to become legitimate political parties. As of 2016, the only remaining communist nations were China (with its own unique form of communism), Nepal, Cuba, Vietnam, and Laos.