"First place, what is this soul of which you speak?"

Throughout the novel there have been increasingly obvious clues to Lizzie's Communist sympathies - the bomb in the bombe surprise, the secret correspondence, all suggest an active role in the emerging party; Fevvers' recent sympathy for the outlaws shows that she has inherited some of her stepmother's ideals, for all her passion for diamonds.

Communism aims for a classless, stateless society of shared ownership and labour; its maxim reads, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”  To achieve this state, it was widely believed that the working class - the proletariat - would have to overthrow the powerful ruling class, even if that had to be through insurgency and weaponry.  Today, communist parties hold power in several countries including China, Vietnam and Cuba; however, none of these countries practice pure communism, in which all property is shared and all decisions are made for the good of the majority albeit by a single, controlling political party. 

Karl Marx (1818-1883), the father of Communism and co-author of The Communist Manifesto (1848), saw communism as the basic state of hunter-gatherer humanity; only where surplus existed, he felt, could capitalism flourish.  The industrial revolution in the 19th century saw a new generation of an oppressed proletariat as factory workers suffered in arduous and dangerous jobs for minimal wages, whilst factory owners grew rich.  In the late 1800s, following the emancipation of the serfs, Russian peasants recognised how little their conditions had improved and a growing unrest began, with the formation of communist-based unions, a first revolution in 1905, and the major October Revolution of 1917 after which the Marxist Bolshevik Party seized power.  The Soviet Union was formed in 1922, led by the Communist leader Vladimir Lenin.  The hammer and sickle is the symbol of the Soviet Union, and closely associated with communism more widely as showing the tools of the working class.

According to The Communist Manifesto, there are ten basic tenets of communism:

Abolition of Private Property

Heavy Progressive Income Tax

Abolition of Rights of Inheritance

Confiscation of Property Rights

Central Bank

Government Ownership of Communication and Transportation

Government Ownership of Factories and Agriculture

Government Control of Labor

Corporate Farms and Regional Planning

Government Control of Education

Furthermore, Communism demands the abolition of religion, in the assumption that civility within society would increase in the absence of possessions.  Lizzie's response to the Escapee challenges his surviving belief in the human soul, the possibility of universal happiness under the current system, and insists on the necessity of action to bring about change.

Since 1917, the drawbacks of Communism have become increasingly evident.  An absolute ruling party leaves no place for future dissidence, even where it has been born from the demands of the oppressed majority.  In those countries still led by communist parties, state control of the economy has been reduced to stimulate growth; poverty in China has reduced by 47% following these changes. On the other hand, communist countries led earlier technological development including the race to reach space and posed a genuine challenge to western democracy, leading to the Cold War in the 1980s and Senator McCarthy's trials of suspected Communists in the USA.