A communist state is a state whose constitution claims to follow the principles of communism, despite following the ideology of Marxism–Leninism. Its form of government has only a single political party, the communist party. The governance of the state is guided by the principles of Leninism, Marxism, Maoism, or any other form of socialist ideology.
Technically, "communist state" is a contradictory term. In principle, a communist society is a stateless society. In practice, communist states do not actually refer to themselves as "communist states". They do not consider themselves to be communist societies at present. Instead, their constitutions call them socialist states or workers' states.
During the 20th century, a "communist state" came to be understood as any country ruled by a single party and guided by a Marxist–Leninist or Maoist ideology. These countries would also have a planned economy. The ruling class is the working class (the proletariat).
As of February 2018, there are five countries that are called communist states. They are China, Cuba, Laos, Vietnam and North Korea. North Korea does not follow Marxism–Leninism but rather the ideology of Juche. Nonetheless, it is otherwise still considered to be in the same category.
There were, at one time, many countries that followed some type of Marxism. One of the most famous is the Soviet Union. However, many of these are now no longer regarded as socialist.
- "N.I. Bukharin and E. Preobrazhensky in The ABC of Communism write "In a communist society there will be no classes. But if there will be no classes, this implies that in communist society there will likewise be no State." See also State and Revolution by Lenin, chapter 5.4 "The Higher Phase of Communist Society"