Communism and Democracy are two political ideologies or philosophies that dictate how political systems should be managed. Both systems are considered to be 'left-wing' on the political spectrum and more liberal in nature than some other political ideological alternatives (i.e. fascist or conservative ideologies). This article will help you follow the key differences when trying to understand Communism vs. Democracy.

General Concept

  • Communism: To each according to their needs. The government will provide what people need and through advances in technology everyone will have an abundance to consume. It's important to note that communism is both a political ideology and a social one, in that it dictates how government and social organization will be established.
  • Democracy: Everything is decided by citizens, who all have an equal say in decisions that impact people in general. The majority wins and everything will be decided and ruled by a majority vote. Democracy is a political ideology and not a social one, in that it dictates a form of government but any form of social organization can exist around that government.

Ownership of Property

  • Communism: Communism does not allow for individuals to own anything, all property is public and can be used by those who need it (as decided by government).
  • Democracy: Individual can own personal property like homes and businesses. Some government ownership of producing assets still exists as deemed acceptable by the majority vote.

Freedom of Choice

  • Communism: Either through collective vote or the direction of government leadership all economic, social, and political decisions are dictated.
  • Democracy: Personal choice is allowed for the most part but there are limitations in place (laws) established by the majority rule government to maintain order and set certain guidelines.

Access to Services

  • Communism: Access to services is universal and the state will provide what people need in terms of health care or educational services.
  • Democracy: Access to services will vary based on what the majority rule government dictates, in some democratic countries (i.e. Canada) health and education are free to access. Alternatively, in the U.S. health care is largely private and access to service is driven by private insurers to a significant extent.


  • Communism: Religion is abolished in a communist state.
  • Democracy: Fundamentally, freedom of religion exists and is permitted, the extent to which religion impacts government varies as that will be dictated by majority rule. Some democratic states do not allow freedom of religion due to the views of the majority.

Key Economic Principles

  • Communism: The means of economic production are held in common by the people and production is organized based on the needs and will of the collective (administered by the central government). Individual economic decisions do not exist and are pre-established by the collective.
  • Democracy: Economic structures vary depending on what the majority of voters prefer. Economies in a democracy often have some form of capitalist free market economy with restrictions in place (via laws) as deemed appropriate by the majority elected government.

Communism vs. Democracy in Practice

In reality there are no truly communist states in existence, regardless of the names that certain governments have historically given to their system of government. Cuba, the Soviet Union, and China have typically referred to themselves as communist but private property and ownership were never fully established. At best they were/are all countries with a dictatorship that borrows to an extent from communist ideology.

Democratic countries span the world and the majority of developed nations have democratic political systems. North America and Europe are both almost fully democratic in terms of the government system used by countries on those continents.