Pre-Marxist communism refers to various forms of socialist thought and practice that existed prior to the development of Marxism in the mid-19th century. These early forms of communism were often based on religious or utopian ideals, and focused on the creation of a classless society and the abolition of private property.
One of the earliest examples of pre-Marxist communism was the communalism of the early Christian church. According to the book of Acts in the Bible, the followers of Jesus lived in a communal society, sharing all their possessions and living according to the principles of love and charity. This model of communal living was later adopted by a number of religious groups, such as the Shakers and the Hutterites, who sought to create a society that was free from the corruption and inequalities of the larger world.
Another example of pre-Marxist communism was the utopian socialism of the early 19th century. Utopian socialists such as Charles Fourier and Robert Owen believed that the problems of society could be solved through the creation of small, self-sufficient communities that were based on principles of cooperation and mutual aid. These communities would be organized around the needs of the people, rather than the profit motive of the capitalists, and would provide a model for the rest of society to follow.
Despite the appeal of these early forms of communism, they were ultimately unable to achieve the sweeping social change they envisioned. The communalism of the early Christian church was quickly suppressed by the Roman authorities, and the utopian socialist communities of the 19th century were often plagued by internal conflicts and financial difficulties.
It was only with the emergence of Marxism in the mid-19th century that communism began to take on a more systematic and scientific character. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels developed a new theory of communism that was based on an analysis of the economic and social forces that drive historical change. They argued that capitalism was a fundamentally exploitative system, in which the working class was forced to sell its labor for less than its true value, while the capitalists extracted surplus value for their own profit. According to Marx and Engels, the only way to break this cycle of exploitation was for the working class to organize and seize control of the means of production, thereby creating a new, classless society.
Marxist communism was a revolutionary doctrine that aimed to overthrow the existing social order and replace it with a new, more just society. Unlike the earlier forms of communism, which tended to focus on small, isolated communities, Marxism was a global movement that sought to unite the working classes of all nations in a struggle against capitalism. This vision of international solidarity and proletarian revolution proved to be enormously influential in the years that followed, and played a key role in shaping the course of world history in the 20th century.
In conclusion, pre-Marxist communism represents an important chapter in the history of socialist thought and practice. These early forms of communism were based on a variety of religious and utopian ideals, and sought to create a society that was free from the inequalities and exploitation of the larger world. While they were ultimately unsuccessful in achieving their goals, they paved the way for the more systematic and scientific approach to communism that was developed by Marx and Engels in the mid-19th century. Marxist communism was a revolutionary doctrine that aimed to overthrow the existing social order and create a new, more just society. Its impact has been profound, and it continues to influence political and social movements around the world to this day.