Communism: OverviewCommunism is the belief that everyone in a society should be equal andshare their wealth. It is an outgrowth of socialism and Anabaptism (Laski 45). It became a firmly rooted term after the Russian Revolution of 1917.
Accordingto the words of Karl Marx, “From each according to his ability, to eachaccording to his needs” (emailprotected). These theories were spread byKarl Marx. He believed that what a person made of himself reflected his effort(McLellan 1). He also believed that communism, or the state of equality wasones “final stage in life” (Leone 1). Communism basically started in 1847, with the formation of the LondonCommunist League.
This was an international association of worker, whose solepurpose was to write a “theoretical and practical program which would serve asthe basis for uniting the working classes of Europe” (Leone 1). The LondonCommunist League asked Marx for help in drafting a document to represent theirstandings. He composed the “Communist Manifesto” or “The Manifesto of theCommunist Party” (Leone 1). The Russian Revolution helped foster communism. The Russian Revolutionstarted with the with the assassination of Rasputin.
In March of 1917, the Dumadeclares a prvisional government, including czars. During this period, therewere also massive strikes by the workers. It was furthered by the abdication ofCzar Nicholas. The Russian Revolution itself occured throughout 1917, with thestart of the March Revolution.
In April of 1917, Lenin return from exil inSwiterland and denounced the established provisional government. The nextgeneral step was the gaining of the seats in the Petograd Soviet Parliment bythe Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks picked Lenin to then head the government, justseveral days after the November Revolution. During this revolution the peasantsstorm the palace, taking total control of the government. At this point, thepower was given to Lenin.
Almost immediatly he issued the New Economic Plan,which instituted the one party system or communism. They basicaly supported thebasic communist theories of Karl Marx, as interpreted by Lenin. He installedmany of his beliefs and helped reorganize the people, and essentiallyemmancipatte the working class. He also is credited with the creation of theSoviet Union.
Unlike many of the countries previous leaders, he had more of thepeseants support. This was extrememly influential later in his career (McKay,et all 880). When he came into power, he gave land to the peseants (Laski 48). He even went as far to nationalize the banks of Russia. Lenin had help with the running of his government, especially fromJoseph Stalin. Stalin helped to advise Lenin on almost all of his problems.
Heeven went as far as to help lead the Red Army in the Civil War (Brzezinski 25). The theory of communism was developed by Karl Marx. He was born inTrier of the Rhineland Germany to Jewish parents and spent his life in an effortto improve the life of the average working man (Foreman 6). Marx is probablybest known for his masterpiece, the Communist Manifesto. In the Communist Manifesto, Marx put forth his philosophy on society andthe way it would change. In essence, he developed “a set of proportions abouthuman society and the way it is supposed to behave over time” (Daniels 5).
Communist’s state that the “greatest freedom, freedom from want, can only berealized went he abuses of big business are eliminated” (Leone 6). This wouldrequire her citizens to give up everything they own, and trust completely in thestability of their government. The Marxist theory describes the cycle through which society revolves insix basic steps. First, economic development would lead to the formation of aclass structure.
This would occur because people would assume different rolesin the production of process, such as worker or supervisor. Second, the beforementioned classes would struggle for dominance, and fight to gain power over theother classes. Third, the classes would form political organizations to furtherthe cause of the class. Fourth, the economic conditions would change, causingnew classes to arise.
Fifth, the addition of more classes would intensify thestruggle for dominance. And sixth, the lower class would rise up and overthrowthe upper class. The cycle would then begin again with the new upper classbringing about economic prosperity (Daniels 6). Marx cannot be given the entire credit for his ideas. He collaboratedwith a fellow German, Fredrich Engles.
Engles met Marx in 1844, at the tenderage of 24. From then on, the two combined ideas and wrote not only theCommunist Manifesto, but also the three-volume Das Kapital (Forman 138). Englesserved his purpose as the “literacy executor” of Marx well (Ebenstein 13). Marx’s genius was refined by Engles’ brilliance.
However, through the course of time, Marx’s and Engles’ theories did notremain as pure as they were penned. Marx himself declared “All I know is that Iam not a Marxist” (Daniels 4). A great amount of credit for the corruption oftrue communism is due to Vladimir Illich Lenin. As the leader of the RussianRevolution (Foreman 139), he felt it necessary to develop his own communisttheory, how appropriately named Leninism. Lenin’s communism was very differentfrom Marxism; the two terms cannot be considered identical or interchangeable(Daniels 18). Russian Marxism generally tends to lean towards “liberation oflabor” (Laski 47).
The roots of communism can be traced back to the All-Russian SocialDemocratic Party which split into the Bolshevik and Menshevik Parties. Bolshevik, meaning majority and Menshevik meaning minority in representation. The Bolshevik party had Lenin, who had just came back from Switzerland. In 1917,he announced his April Theses’ to the public and changed the party’s name to theAll-Russian Communist Party. This party was modeled after the communist partyof Germany (Laski 47). Lenin did agree with Marx on one principle; in a situation ofdevastation considerations, it would be necessary of the e lower class to riseup from their oppressing and overthrow the domination upper class.
However, hewas of the opinion that if left to themselves, the masses would not becomerevolutionaries (Daniels 20). Instead a very special elite group was necessaryto overthrow the autocracy for the lower class (Daniels 19). The working classwas involved in the struggle and would be inadequate to successfully revolt. What was needed was an outside, “neutral” group to initiate the revolution. Lenin stated that “class political consciousness can be brought to the workersonly from without, that is only from the outside of the economic struggle, fromthe outside of the sphere of relations between workers and employers” (Daniels20). Lenin also disagreed with Marx on another concept.
Lenin did not thingthat a revolution was a result of natural forces, as Marx did. His philosophystated that the revolution was the result of the purposeful intervention of theelite group (Daniels 20). Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashivili, more commonly called Joseph Stalin,also rose as one of the most powerful men in the world, especially with hiscommuist backing (Brzezinski 27). He was exiled to Siberia early in hispolitiacl carrer, and returded to help support the Bolshevik party.
He wasextrememly influential in decison making with Lenin, and in 1922 he was raisedto the Secretary-General of the Bolshevik party (Miller 68). Stalin became aprimary leader at Lenins death. Stalin helped to create the Cold War Period. The cold war wasessentially created as a result of the soviets wanting to keep itself secure andhappy on their own. The Soviet Union also made demands from other countries tohelp to build up their economy once agian. However, several countires,including the United States and England, refused to grant these unreasonablesums for the fear of a giant communist sphere.
The countries drew up agreementson boundries, of which the USSR also violated. This hate towards the UnitedStates climaxed during the presidency of John F. Kennedy. The Soviets shadowedthe government of Cuba in 1959,creating a communist country under thedictatorship of Fidel Castro.
Under this time period the Bay of Pigs took place. This was an ambushed attempt of the United States to help some rebel war groupsin Cuba to overthrough their dictator. They failed miserably causing manydeaths. The Cold War continued with the Cuban Missil Crisis.
During this Crisisperiod the Soviets installed missiles on the shores of Cuba, aimed for majorUnited States cities. This “problem” was eliminated with talks between theKremlin and the White House, fortunaty a major disaster was prevented. The Cold War ended with the presidency of Ronald Regan. He had outspentthe Soviets, thus putting them in a state of ruin, ending this period of hate.
Communism also developed in China. Around the turn of the 20th Century,reformers began to voice their aspirations of a better China. By 1912 the QuingDynasty had fallen, the emperor had abdicated, and China had been declared arepublic, instituted by Sun Yat-Sen (Shanor 94). In 1921, the Chinese CommunistParty had become the largest formed in the world. (Shanor 95).
Unfortunately, the Chinese society was not ready for democracy. Thoseholding offices of power accepted bribes and participated in other forms ofcorruption. Warlords divided the country into unofficial petty kingdoms witharmies of peasants. The economic state of China made it much more profitablefor a peasant to work for the warlord that form the land (Shanor 95). Because of the poor conditions, small Communist groups began to form inChina’s cities. At first, they were allies with Sun Yat-Sen and hisNationalists.
But the good feelings between the two parties deterioratedquickly after Chiang Kai-Shek, Sun’s successor, ordered the Shanghai Massacre ofthe Communists. Chiang spent the following years alternating betweennegotiating with and fighting against the Communists. The situation became sodrastic that the Communists eventually fled during the Long March of 1934-35(Shanor 95). The United States, who was very Anti-Communist after WWII, supportedChiang Kai-Shek. Over a period of four years, the US gave $2. 5 billion tosupport the Nationalist cause.
Despite their efforts, the Communists eventuallyoverthrew the Nationalist government, forcing Chiang and followers to flee toTaiwan. On October 1, 1949, Mao Zedong, the leader of the Communists,proclaimed the country as the People’s Republic of China (Shanor 96).