I believe Professor Howard Baetjer gave an accurate definition of communism as short and simple as it was. That communism is the common ownership of the means of production of society. But that can be interpreted in two ways.
One, that government owns the means of production of society. Which is generally how communism has been practiced. Look at North Korea today, look at Cuba up until ten years or so ago. Look at China up until about forty years ago. Look at the Soviet Union of Russia before they broke up. Look at the Eastern European Russian satellites during the Cold War.
Another way to look at common ownership of the means of production of society would be that the individuals themselves would own these things. The workers would own a piece of the company that they work for and you see that in what are called economic cooperatives where each worker literally owns a stake in the company that they work for. There are some economic cooperates ( or co-ops ) in America but this is not a common economic system in America or really anywhere else in the world.
But similar with democratic socialism ( the democratic wing of socialism ) communism is not just an economic idea or philosophy. And if you want to know what communism is and what Communists believe you have to look at Communists themselves and what they believe and look at communists government’s in countries where communism is the governing philosophy.
My definition of communism is a belief that the state ( meaning the central government ) should be in charge of society and therefore run society on behalf of the people. That the only way society can be strong is if everyone is strong. Meaning that no one should and would have too much while others live without enough and of course no one should go without enough. That individual freedom and individualism, as well as private enterprise, are looked down upon. That people shouldn’t be allowed to own things and create for themselves and instead everything should be shared for the common good of society. That the state should be in charge of everything and that there is no private ownership on behalf of the people to serve the people. And that there is no private dissent and competition that the state should have to deal with. No political opposition and private media.
There really aren’t any countries left in the world other than North Korea that is purely a communist state. Even Fidel Castro’s Cuba now has private enterprise in it. While the state still clamps down on personal freedom and political opposition. The same can be said about the People’s Republic of China. Russia is still around but the Soviet Union is now gone. All the former Russian European satellites are now essentially democratic republics with private enterprise economies. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam now has private enterprise in their economy. And this is simply that communism doesn’t work as an economic system and these countries were tired of trying to fund their centralized regimes with so many poor people in their countries and not producing enough revenue for their regimes.