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 McCarthy’s 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 communism’s 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 didn’t 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 Lenin’s 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 Stalin’s 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
wouldn’t 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 it’s
former glory, Gorbachev implemented a program known as Perestroika, or
restructuring. It’s 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 Stalin’s 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 Union’s 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 People’s 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-shek’s Nationalist
views. Mao’s army never numbered more that 85,000 peasants, while Chiang’s
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 Chiang’s 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 miles, icy rivers, swampy
marshes, and Kuomintang forces would leave only a handful alive at the end. The

Long March had begun. It would end in 1949, the same time the People’s

Republic of China was formed. Mao had come out on top through extraordinary
means. However, the civil war was not quite over. While living in Taiwan, Chiang
was still getting backing from the United States and again took the title of

President in 1950. Mao recognized, however, that he would need to set up a
government immediately in order to support the close to a billion people living
in China. He then turned to the Soviet Union for financial help. Mao went on to
create the Great Cultural Revolution: an effort to get China up to the status a
major world power. This was a major motivating force for Mao until his death in

1976 (Long March, 22-165). Deng Xiaoping eventually emerged as the paramount
leader in 1978, and promptly launched his economic reform program. One of the
most significant developments in recent history was the death of Deng, on

February 19, 1997. While he has not been active in politics for some time and
has not appeared in public for more than three years, the deaths of senior
leaders has always had an unsettling impact on Chinese politics (China). On the
other hand, Deng retired in 1989 and he placed Jiang Zemin in the powerful post
of chairman of the Central Military Commission. In 1993 Jiang was named
president of China. Jiang’s policy, like that of his mentor, is to effect
market reforms while keeping the country politically and socially
conservative(Profiles). That is going to be difficult though with Hong Kong
having been returned to China on June 1, 1997. President Jiang Zemin himself
will preside as the motherland reclaims a piece of itself, instantly replacing
the councils and crown symbols of British rule with the new authority of the

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. If only it were that simple. The people
of Hong Kong embrace neither of these extremes. They share pride in the
reunification of China, and they harbor some misgivings about their new
landlords, but they’re ready to give their new system a chance. The west is
casting a skeptical eye, however. But if Beijing wants to be welcomed into the
community of nations with the stature its size and wealth ought to command,

China will have to convince the west that it is ready and able to live by the
world’s new rules (Handover). With the Soviet Union no longer in existence,
the world’s countries are turning their attention to the last major communist
nation that has influence. China will have to tread lightly, especially now with
the return of a valuable port that was the refuge for millions of democratic
citizens. China has promised a "one country, two systems" policy, but that
is only drawing more criticism. Communism can no longer grow, it can only
mature. However, the maturing process is turning it into more of a capitalist
country. Bibliography Salisbury, Harrison E. The Soviet Union: The Fifty Years.

New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1967. At the beginning of Harrison

Salisbury’s book, he includes a complete timeline from the first bread riots
to 1967. It is a very concise book that also gave me a greater understanding of
the complexity of the situation in Russia. Rieber, Alfred J. A Study of the

U.S.S.R. and Communism: An Historical Approach. Chicago: Scott, Foresman and

Company, 1962. This book provided a very clear background of the influence of

Marxism on Russian Communism. It also gave a good reliable background as to the
line of rulers that came to power. Kaiser, Robert G. Russia: The People and the

Power. New York: Atheneum, 1976. I gained knowledge of the peoples perception of
communism through this book. It provided me deeper insight and information on
the rulers. Lawson, Don. The Long March. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1983. This
was my main source for information on Chariman Mao and the Long March. It
enabled me to get a better feel for what the Chinese that endured the Long March
went through. The information about Chairman Mao was especially helpful. Cable

News Network Inc. "CNN Plus: Newsmaker Profiles." 1997. http://cnnplus.cnn.com/resources/newsmakers/world/asia/jiang.html

This web site gave me good background information on Jiang Zemin and the way in
which he achieved his current position in the Chinese government. Frankenstein,

Paul. "The Birth of Modern China." 1997. http://asterius.com/china/china4.html

This web site was able to give me excellent information on the change of power
within the Chinese government and the death of Deng Xiaoping. McGeary, Johanna.

"The Big Handover." 1997. http://www.pathfinder.com/time/hongkong/politics/particle12/12particle1.html

From this site, I gained valuable information as to the current viewpoints and
public opinion of the handover of Hong Kong back to China. "Union of Soviet

Socialist Republics." Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. Vers. 7.0. Boston:

Grolier, 1995. I got all of the recent information concerning Russia and the

U.S.S.R. from this source. It had valuable information as to the last few
moments of the communist regime. Marx, Karl. Capital. New York: The Modern

Library, 1906. This book provided me with direct information from the person
that influenced the spread of communism to China and Russia. Sowell, Thomas.

Marxism. New York: William, Morrow and Company Inc., 1985. This book provided me
with excellent critiques of Marx’s theories and system of beliefs. It enabled
me to get a deeper understanding of what Marx was thinking of.

Bibliography

Salisbury, Harrison E. The Soviet Union: The Fifty Years. New York: Harcourt,

Brace & World, Inc., 1967. At the beginning of Harrison Salisbury’s book,
he includes a complete timeline from the first bread riots to 1967. It is a very
concise book that also gave me a greater understanding of the complexity of the
situation in Russia. Rieber, Alfred J. A Study of the U.S.S.R. and Communism: An

Historical Approach. Chicago: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1962. This book
provided a very clear background of the influence of Marxism on Russian

Communism. It also gave a good reliable background as to the line of rulers that
came to power. Kaiser, Robert G. Russia: The People and the Power. New York:

Atheneum, 1976. I gained knowledge of the peoples perception of communism
through this book. It provided me deeper insight and information on the rulers.

Lawson, Don. The Long March. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1983. This was my main
source for information on Chariman Mao and the Long March. It enabled me to get
a better feel for what the Chinese that endured the Long March went through. The
information about Chairman Mao was especially helpful. Cable News Network Inc.

"CNN Plus: Newsmaker Profiles." 1997. http://cnnplus.cnn.com/resources/newsmakers/world/asia/jiang.html

This web site gave me good background information on Jiang Zemin and the way in
which he achieved his current position in the Chinese government. Frankenstein,

Paul. "The Birth of Modern China." 1997. http://asterius.com/china/china4.html

This web site was able to give me excellent information on the change of power
within the Chinese government and the death of Deng Xiaoping. McGeary, Johanna.

"The Big Handover." 1997. http://www.pathfinder.com/time/hongkong/politics/particle12/12particle1.html

From this site, I gained valuable information as to the current viewpoints and
public opinion of the handover of Hong Kong back to China. "Union of Soviet

Socialist Republics." Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. Vers. 7.0. Boston:

Grolier, 1995. I got all of the recent information concerning Russia and the

U.S.S.R. from this source. It had valuable information as to the last few
moments of the communist regime. Marx, Karl. Capital. New York: The Modern

Library, 1906. This book provided me with direct information from the person
that influenced the spread of communism to China and Russia. Sowell, Thomas.

Marxism. New York: William, Morrow and Company Inc., 1985. This book provided me
with excellent critiques of Marx’s theories and system of beliefs. It enabled
me to get a deeper understanding of what Marx was thinking of.