Difference Between Communism and Nationalism (With Table)

Machiavelli was the person behind the concept of state in which he expressed this idea as a form of power that has authority over others. Government can be defined as the power of authority over men with the purpose to make people live together. Various ideologies exist or “ism” such as communism, nationalism, capitalism, etc.  

Whoever studied secondary school must have come across the terms communism and nationalism. Both terms are mainly highlighted in social studies. Even they both sound similar, but still there is a great difference between them. 

Communism vs Nationalism 

The main difference between communism and nationalism is that communism is a state control system that aims to treat everyone equally. On the other hand, nationalism means general sentiments for one’s own country. Communism stands for a stateless society, whereas nationalism stands for a state or nation.  

Communism is originated as a response to the industrial revolution. In this kind of system, there is no private property, and every property is communally owned. It has a strong central government that provides citizens their necessities such as housing, food, education, and medical care.  

Nationalism is an ideology that is developed by people with the thought of superiority of them to all others. Nationalism is mainly built around a shared culture, language, social values, and religion. The nation emphasizes shared folklore, mythology, and symbols. Shared literature, sports, and music may strengthen nationalism. 

Comparison Table Between Communism and Nationalism 

Parameters of ComparisonCommunismNationalism
InterpretationIt is a state control system that aims to treat everyone equally. It means to generate sentiments for one’s own country by promoting the beliefs or interests of a nation.
Coined in 18481772
Coined byKarl Marx and Friedrich EngelsJohann Gottfried
Stands forStateless societyState or nation
Compartmentalized NOYes

What is Communism? 

Communism is a doctrine economy and politics that aims to replace a profit-based economy and private property. With communal control and ownership of at least the means of production and the natural resources of society. According to advocates, communism is a higher and more advanced form of socialism.  

Most of the writers use the terms socialism and communism interchangeably in the 19th century and same as the Carl Marx did. But in his critique of the Gotha Program (1875), he identified two phases of communism in which he predicted the overthrow of capitalism. This distinction was accepted by Marx’s followers, especially Vladimir Ilich Lenin.  

Lenin in State and Revolution (1917) asserted that the first phase of communist society and proper communism to the second by Marx corresponds to socialism. In 1918, Lenin and the Russian Social Democratic Workers Party (Bolshevik wing) reinforced this distinction. After this year, they seized Russia’s power with the name of All Russian Communist Party.  

After this communism has been largely identified with the form of economic and political organization. Firstly, this organization was developed in the Soviet Union. With time communism was adopted in the People’s Republic of China and later other countries with the rule of communist parties too. 

What is Nationalism? 

Nationalism is an ideology based on the individual’s devotion and loyalty to the nation-state. Because nationalism is a movement it promotes the interest of a specific nation, especially intending to maintain and gain the nation’s sovereignty over its homeland. It holds a belief that a nation should be free from outside interference and should govern itself.  

Nationalism also aims to maintain and build a single identity. The identity should be based on shared characteristics of society such as ethnicity, politics, culture, language, geographic location, traditions, and religion. It is also based on the promotion of national solidarity or unity as well as a belief in a shared history.  

Nationalism seeks to foster and preserve a nation’s traditional culture. The association of culture revivals is with nationalist movements. Nationalism is closely linked to patriotism and also encourages pride in a nation’s achievement.  

Depending on individual outlook and context it can be seen as positive as well as negative. The Irish revolution, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Greek revolution, and the Zionist are some of the national movements in which nationalism played a vital role. But it also played an important role in the controversy of the annexation of Crimea by Russia. 

Main Differences Between Communism and Nationalism 

  1. The theory of communism was developed after the revolution of Bolshevik in 1917, while nationalism as a theory was developed after the American war of independence and the French Revolution.  
  2. In communism, the whole world or whole class is a single entity and the development should be equal. But in nationalism, state or nation is foremost important and the development of a specific nation too.  
  3. There are not any nation or regional specific aspiration stands in communism. On the flip side, there is a specific nation only that pertains to nationalism.  
  4. When it comes to prevailing over others, the community is the one that prevails over others in communism, whereas it is the spirit of the nation that prevails over thoughts of others in nationalism. 
  5. In communism, there is not any kind of superiority belief holds. On the other hand, in nationalism, there is a belief that one nation is at the upper level compared to other nations. 


It can be concluded that communism and nationalism are two of the different theories. They both are mainly highlighted in the subject of social studies of secondary school. Communism and nationalism have different motives to ruler a state.  

After the revolution of Bolshevik in 1917, the concept of communism was developed. On the other hand, after the American war of independence and the French Revolution, the theory of nationalism came into play. Communism stands for a stateless society in which everyone is equal, whereas nationalism stands for a state or nation giving importance to a specific one. Both ideologies are still relevant in different countries. 


  1. https://philpapers.org/rec/DOUTIO-4
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=FjqcAQAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP2&dq=nationalism&ots=QWmgFz1ub8&sig=HOq1ASIdQNW9V1ItGncQLQEHKhI
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