Communism History Communism has long been heralded in capitalist countries as the root of all evil. However, as with all phobias, this intrinsic fear of communism comes from a lack of knowledge rather than sound reasoning. It is that same fear that gave the world the Cold War and McCarthys Red Scare. The purpose of this paper is neither to support communism over capitalism nor the reverse of that. Rather, it is to inform the reader of communisms migration through time and hopefully assist the regression of such fear. The ideology of communism came out of the minds of two men, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (Marxism, 11). (Dueto Marx being the more widely known influence, he will be the one most often referred to.) It was his belief that private property was the cause of the poverty and degradation of the proletariat. Therefore, he came to settle on the idea that no one person should have control over production of good, ownership of land, and management of funds. In that same token then, no one class should be allowed to have control over these things.
He went onto comment that the exploitation of the working class must come to an end. That end would be achieved through revolution. Once this was achieved, everybody would work according to their abilities and then be paid accordingly (Capital, 586-617). Soon after, however, technical innovations would create such abundance of goods that “everyone works according to his abilities and receives according to his needs.” Soon thereafter, money would have no place in society. People would be able to take what they want and would be lacking nothing. Marx then believed that the pleasure of seeing the fruits of labor would be enough to cause man to work (Communism, 56-62). Countries and people were soon to catch on to this ideology.
The two most known of which are Russia and China. Of the two, Russia was the first to adopt the communist beliefs. Russia already had a long history of peasant insurrection. Most of these uprisings though, were leaderless and highly unorganized. The motives of the rebels were vague and often confused.
By the time the government did anything to please the peasants, it was too late. In 1917, due to the breakdown of administration and military order, the peasants moved to carry out their own revolution. They tore down any form of legal and territorial authority and distributed the land in a rough equal fashion. During this time, a man by the name of Georgi V. Plekanhov had smuggled into Russia. Once there, these books influenced young students who saw the revolution dependent on the proletariat, not the peasant class.
One of the people influenced by Plekanhov was man going by the name Nikolai Lenin. His revolutionary ardor was strong. Lenin went on to form a group called the Bolsheviks that would go on to create a revolution(Communism, 63-70). It began on March 6, 1917 when bread riots erupted in Petrograd, Russia and didnt end until the U.S.S.R. was organized on December 30, 1922. Then on January 21, 1924, Lenin died.
This only complicated matters since two other people were interested in Lenins position. A power struggle between Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky began (Soviet, xi). Stalin became the Bolshevik party general secretary in 1922. In 1925 Stalin offered a more attractive solution to the Russian people than Trotsky did (Communism, 73-74). Thus in 1927, Stalin scored the first major victory for himself when the Fifteenth All-Union Congress of the Communist party denounced all deviations of the Stalinist line.
Trotsky and any ally of his were banished to the Russian provinces. Here Stalins ruthless nature begins to show. He completely expelled Trotsky from the Soviet Union (Russia, 246). Fear of Trotskiest ideas forced Stalin to have Trotsky assassinated in 1940. However, those fears never completely dissipated.
Stalin went on to establish his dictatorship, crushing any opposing voices within his party and his country. He wouldnt stop there though. Still being enough of a Marxist, Stalin wanted to see the realization of the ultimate goal of world socialist revolution. He and many other Soviet leaders would look toward this ultimate goal. They would hold the furtherance of world revolution above the preservation of the dictatorship. It remained an important goal through the leadership of Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Andropov, and Chernenko. However, this came to a head during the leadership of Gorbachev.
Gorbachev had a country that was falling apart dumped in to his lap. Dissension was widespread. In an effort to bring the country back to its former glory, Gorbachev implemented a program known as Perestroika, or restructuring. Its aim was to make good on the promises of socialism or else it would sink to the status of a third world country. One part of Perestroika was particularly odd. It was called Glasnost.
The purpose of it was to hear constructive criticism, much different from Stalins views, and possibly implement it in an effort to help the country. When western criticism said that Perestroika was slowing down, Glasnost went ahead at full speed, revealing not only the crimes of the Stalin era, but also the full horrifying dimensions of the contemporary crisis. In foreign affairs, not only was there great progress on arms control, but Soviet troops were withdrawn from Afghanistan. Most spectacular of all, in 1989, Gorbachev allowed Soviet control over Eastern Europe to evaporate, as communism was overthrown and independent governments were established in one satellite country after another. In 1991, Gorbachev changed course as he came to realize that his only chance to preserve the union was to work with the leaders of the republics and not against them. For many loyal members of the party and the security forces, as well as managers of industry and collective farms, the country as they had known it was on the brink of falling apart. The last stand of the old guard was an attempted coup in August 1991. It was easy for the plotters to take over the central government, but they found it impossible to topple Yeltsin and the Russian Federation government.
The coup collapsed within days, and the Community party was outlawed. The fate of the August coup showed how little vitality was left in the Soviet Unions central government, and it was not long before appropriate conclusions were drawn. In another quieter coup in December, the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus declared that a Commonwealth of Independent States would replace the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. This declaration only ratified the reality of republican independence. Gorbachev bowed to the inevitable and resigned at the end of the year. The 74-year-old history of the Soviet Union had come to an end (Grolier). After Russia, China was the next major country to adopt to the communist system of beliefs. It was on October 1, 1949 that Mao Tsetung pronounced the establishment of the new Chinese Communist state: the Peoples Republic of China.
It was for this reason that Mao and over 10,000 people set off on what was to be called The Long March. They began in the Jiangxi province where their ranks rapidly grew and became known as the Fourth Red Army. It was comprised of peasants and soldiers who were in favor of a Communist regime, or were in opposition to Chiang Kai-sheks Nationalist views. Maos army never numbered more that 85,000 peasants, while Chiangs forces, the Kuomintang, numbered 200,000 well-equipped troops. The odds were definitely against Mao.
It was for this reason that he favored guerrilla warfare. Mao described these tactics in his Little Red Book: When the enemy advanced, we retreat. When he camps, we harass. When he tires, we attack. When he retires, we pursue. Our weapons are supplied us by the enemy. In 1934, Chiang encircled the Jiangxi province in which Mao was camped.
It was then decided within the communist camp that they must break through Chiangs blockade lines. The 85,000 plus another 15,000 peasants poured through the breach that had been made. Within forty-eight hours, most of the people had gone through. None really knew what laid ahead though over 6,000 mile …