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Stateless communism is a phrase used in certain academic works to describe the post-capitalist stage of society which Karl Marx predicted would result from the development of the productive forces or to refer to egalitarian hunter-gatherer bands.1 Stateless communism, however, is not a concept in Marxist theory, with Marx and Engels using the phrase a higher phase communism and a first phase of communism2 and Bukharin likewise concluding communism is necessarily stateless.3 Lenin referred to a stateless society predicated on free association of equals and common ownership as 'higher phase communism'.4 Stalin referred to a higher phase of communism as "socialist society".5 The phrase 'stateless communism' emerged out of the (non-Marxist) notion of the communist state and the need to differentiate between the two.
Anarchists and Marxists both agree on the long-term desirability of a stateless society, but disagree on how such a society will emerge and on what strategy, if any, is to be used for achieving stateless communism.
For Lenin, a classless society would be a society controlled by the direct producers, organised to produce according to socially managed goals. Such a society, Lenin suggested, would develop habits that would gradually make political representation unnecessary, as the radically democratic nature of the Soviets would lead citizens to come to agree with the representatives' style of management. Only in this environment, Lenin suggested, could the state wither away, ushering in a period of stateless communism.citation needed
The concentration of production in state hands is a direct function of the state in its struggle to overcome class oppositions. So here we have a difference in principle in the relation between "society" and the "state", between "politics" and "economics", between the "administration of people" and the "administration of things". In such conditions the development of productive forces and the victorious course of the class struggle systematically prepare the transition to the swallowing up of the political functions of the state in administrative and economic functions, i.e. the transition to classless and stateless communist society.6