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A communist party is a revolutionary left-wing political party that seeks to realize the social and economic goals of communism. The term communist party was popularized by the title of The Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848) by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. As a vanguard party, the communist party guides the political education and development of the working class (proletariat). As the ruling party, the communist party exercises power through the dictatorship of the proletariat and is the highest class organization of the proletariat.
Vladimir Lenin developed the idea of the communist party as the revolutionary vanguard, when social democracy in Imperial Russia was divided into ideologically opposed factions, the Bolshevik faction ("of the majority") and the Menshevik faction ("of the minority"). To be politically effective, Lenin proposed a small vanguard party managed with democratic centralism which allowed centralized command of a disciplined cadre of professional revolutionaries. Once the policy was agreed upon, realizing political goals required every Bolshevik's total commitment to the agreed-upon policy.
There are a number of communist parties active in various countries across the world and a number that used to be active. They differ not only in method, but also in strict ideology and interpretation, although they are generally within the Marxist communism tradition.
Officially ruling in communist states
In the following countries, several communist parties either lead the ruling coalition or hold monopoly on state power as defined by their respective country's constitutions.
- China – Communist Party of China leads the United Front
- Cuba – Communist Party of Cuba
- Laos – Lao People's Revolutionary Party leads the Lao Front for National Construction
- DPRK – Workers' Party of Korea leads the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland
- Vietnam – Communist Party of Vietnam leads the Vietnamese Fatherland Front