Communalism[1] is a term with three distinct meanings according to the Random House Unabridged Dictionary'.'[2] These include (1) "a theory of government or a system of government in which independent communes participate in a federation". (2) "the principles and practice of communal ownership". There is no indication whether communalism (sense 2) would apply in the "independent" communes described in the definition of communalism (sense 1). However, in practice, many experiments in utopian socialism such as that of the Spanish anarchists did implement internal rules of communalist property ownership in the context of federated communalism. Spanish anarchism distinguished itself from communism and that anarchists who practice communalism are frequently at odds with communists. It is at least theoretically possible for a federation of communes to include communes which do not practice communalist rules of property, which is to say, that the overall national government may be a federation of communes, but that private property rather than communalist property is the order within each such commune. Karl Marx, often viewed as the founder of communism, criticized other socialists of his era, and made particularly blistering criticisms of utopianism which was generally conceived along communalist principles, both federational communalism and local property communalism.[3]


Communalism in history

Communalist experiments throughout history have often developed bitter animosities as the parties disputed about the exact issues underlying the confusion over definitions discussed above. The Paris Commune was one such case.[4]

Communalism as ethnic allegiance

The third definition[5] is "strong allegiance to one's own ethnic group rather than to society." For reasons which have not been explicated[dubious ], the term is associated with events in South Asia,[6] but it is unclear what distinguishes the ethnic conflict there from ethnic conflicts in other parts of the world. India is largely English-speaking, but there does not appear to be any published research establishing that or any other fact as a basis for the pattern by which the term is applied to South Asian inter-ethnic strife rather than to events elsewhere.

Indian subcontinent

In the Indian subcontinent, the term communalism has taken on a very different meaning, namely that of a religion—and, more specifically, ethnicity-based sectarianism promoting communal violence, espoused by many political movements.[citation needed]

Political theory

Communalism as a political philosophy was first coined by the well-known libertarian socialist author and activist Murray Bookchin as a political system to complement his environmental philosophy of social ecology.

While originally conceived as a form of social anarchism, he later developed Communalism into a separate ideology which incorporates what he saw as the most beneficial elements of left anarchism, Marxism, syndicalism, and radical ecology. Politically, Communalists advocate a stateless, classless, decentralized society consisting of a network of directly democratic citizens' assemblies in individual communities/cities organized in a confederal fashion.

This primary method used to achieve this is called libertarian municipalism which involves the establishment of face-to-face democratic institutions which are to grow and expand confederally with the goal of eventually replacing the nation-state. Unlike anarchists, Communalists are not opposed in principle to taking part in parliamentary politics -especially municipal elections- as long as candidates are libertarian socialist and anti-statist in policy.

Economically, Communalism favours a form of libertarian communism and the principle "from each according to ability, to each according to need."

See also


  1. ^ What is ------->Communalism? The Democratic Dimension of Anarchism by Murray Bookchin
  2. ^ Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Second Edition,1998, New York
  3. ^ The Collected Works of Karl Marx, Moscow
  4. ^ Organizing independence: the artists federation of the Paris Commune and its ... By Gonzalo J. Sánchez
  5. ^ RH Webster
  6. ^

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Communalism — Com mu*nal*ism, n. A French theory of government which holds that commune should be a kind of independent state, and the national government a confederation of such states, having only limited powers. It is advocated by advanced French… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • communalism — 1871 (in ref. to Paris), from COMMUNAL (Cf. communal) + ISM (Cf. ism) …   Etymology dictionary

  • communalism — [käm′yo͞o nəliz΄əm, käm′yə nəliz΄əm; ] also [kə myo͞o′nəliz΄əm] n. [Fr communalisme] 1. a theory or system of government in which communes or local communities, sometimes on an ethnic or religious basis, have virtual autonomy within a federated… …   English World dictionary

  • Communalism — Outside of South Asia, communalism describes a broad range of social movements and social theories which are in some way centered upon the community. Communalism can take the form of communal living or communal property, among others. It is… …   Mini philosophy glossary

  • communalism — noun Date: 1871 1. social organization on a communal basis 2. loyalty to a sociopolitical grouping based on religious or ethnic affiliation • communalist noun or adjective …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • communalism — communalist, n. communalistic, adj. /keuh myoohn l iz euhm, kom yeuh nl /, n. 1. a theory or system of government according to which each commune is virtually an independent state and the nation is merely a federation of such states. 2. the… …   Universalium

  • communalism — noun a) The communal ownership of property b) Any social system based around a community …   Wiktionary

  • communalism — com·mu·nal·ism || kÉ™mjuːnÉ™lɪzm / kÉ’mjÊŠn n. theory which supports living in small communes; loyalty to one s cultural group or race …   English contemporary dictionary

  • communalism — noun 1》 a principle of political organization based on federated communes.     ↘the principle or practice of living together communally. 2》 allegiance to one s own ethnic group rather than to the wider society. Derivatives communalist adjective… …   English new terms dictionary

  • communalism — com·mu·nal·ism …   English syllables

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”