Communism vs Nationalism: Difference and Comparison

Machiavelli was the person behind the concept of state, and 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 of making 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 though they both sound similar, there is still a great difference between them. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Communism is a political and economic ideology promoting classless societies, while nationalism is a political ideology emphasizing national identity and pride.
  2. Communism advocates for the communal ownership of production means, whereas nationalism promotes the interests and sovereignty of a particular nation.
  3. Communist states feature centralized planning and state control, while nationalist movements can exist within various political systems.

Communism vs Nationalism 

Communism is a state control system that focuses on treating every member of the state equally, as it stands for a stateless society. Nationalism refers to the general positive sentiments that a person has towards their country, and it is built around a shared culture, religion, language or value.

Communism vs Nationalism

Communism 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 with 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

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 of 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.

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According to advocates, communism is a higher and more advanced form of socialism.  

Most writers used the terms socialism and communism interchangeably in the 19th century, the same as Carl Marx did.

However, 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 in 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.  

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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 Zionists 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, the state or nation is foremost important and the development of a specific nation, too.  
  3. There are not any national or regional-specific aspirations for 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 the thoughts of others in nationalism. 
  5. In communism, there is not any superiority belief. On the other hand, in nationalism, there is a belief that one nation is at the upper level compared to other nations. 
Difference Between Communism and Nationalism

Last Updated : 09 September, 2023

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12 thoughts on “Communism vs Nationalism: Difference and Comparison”

  1. Excellent article. It covers complex concepts in a clear and precise way. Each section was well-explained, and I learned a lot.


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