Lesson 1, Topic 6
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What is democracy not?

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Communism is one of the most prominent alternative systems of governance. It was popularised by Karl Marx (pictured below) in his 1849 Communist Manifesto. Marx never outlined exactly what he meant by Communism, and it can be interpreted in different ways, but the fundamental features include: no state or government, no class hierarchy, equal ownership of the means of production (the people own the factories, not business owners), centralised planning (a centralised authority decides how much of each product needs to be produced, and who will produce it).

While there are no truly communist countries today, at least as Marx vaguely envisaged them, governments have been governed by Communist parties who sought to reach a Communist society. Through most of the 20th century, one third of the world’s population lived in societies governed by Communists, the most famous of which were the Soviet Union and China governed by the Chinese Communist Party, as it still is today, though China is very much a capitalist country today with only small elements of communism.


A dictatorship is the name of a system that is governed by one person, or a small group of people, who have absolute authority, with no legal constraints to their power. There are no systems of representation and no mechanisms for balancing the power of those governing in a system of dictatorship.

Sometimes the term autocracy is used. Autocracies are very similar to dictatorships, many use the terms interchangeably. There is a subtle difference in that an autocracy is usually where one person, or a small group of people, has absolute authority within a system of government, whereas a dictatorship usually involves absolute authority resting with one person or a small group of people separate from any system of government. There tends to be more negative connotations with the term dictatorship compared to autocracy.

Interested in how to become a dictator? Watch this video to find out how it can be done.