Communism is the belief that everyone in a society should be equal and share their wealth.
It is an outgrowth of socialism and Anabaptism (Laski 45). It became a firmly rooted term
after the Russian Revolution of 1917. According to the words of Karl Marx, "From each
according to his ability, to each according to his needs" ([email protected]).
These theories were spread by Karl 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 was ones "final stage in life" (Leone 1).
Communism basically started in 1847, with the formation of the London
Communist League. This was an international association of worker, whose sole purpose
was to write a "theoretical and practical program which would serve as the basis for
uniting the working classes of Europe" (Leone 1). The London Communist League asked
Marx for help in drafting a document to represent their standings. He composed the
"Communist Manifesto" or "The Manifesto of the Communist Party" (Leone 1).
The Russian Revolution helped foster communism. The Russian Revolution
started with the with the assassination of Rasputin. In March of 1917, the Duma declares
a prvisional government, including czars. During this period, there were also massive
strikes by the workers. It was furthered by the abdication of Czar Nicholas. The Russian
Revolution itself occured throughout 1917, with the start of the March Revolution. In
April of 1917, Lenin return from exil in Switerland and denounced the established
provisional government. The next general step was the gaining of the seats in the
Petograd Soviet Parliment by the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks picked Lenin to then head
the government, just several days after the November Revolution. During this revolution
the peasants storm the palace, taking total control of the government. At this point, the
power was given to Lenin. Almost immediatly he issued the New Economic Plan, which
instituted the one party system or communism. They basicaly supported the basic
communist theories of Karl Marx, as interpreted by Lenin. He installed many of his beliefs
and helped reorganize the people, and essentially emmancipatte the working class. He
also is credited with the creation of the Soviet Union. Unlike many of the countries
previous leaders, he had more of the peseants 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 from Joseph Stalin.
Stalin helped to advise Lenin on almost all of his problems. He even 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 in Trier of
the Rhineland Germany to Jewish parents and spent his life in an effort to improve the life
of the average working man (Foreman 6). Marx is probably best known for his
masterpiece, the Communist Manifesto.
In the Communist Manifesto, Marx put forth his philosophy on society and the
way it would change. In essence, he developed "a set of proportions about human 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 be realized went he abuses of big business
are eliminated" (Leone 6). This would require her citizens to give up everything they
own, and trust completely in the stability of their government.
The Marxist theory describes the cycle through which society revolves in six basic
steps. First, economic development would lead to the formation of a class structure. This
would occur because people would assume different roles in the production of process,
such as worker or supervisor. Second, the before mentioned classes would struggle for
dominance, and fight to gain power over the other classes. Third, the classes would form
political organizations to further the cause of the class. Fourth, the economic conditions
would change, causing new classes to arise. Fifth, the addition of more classes would
intensify the struggle for dominance. And sixth, the lower class would rise up and
overthrow the upper class. The cycle would then begin again with the new upper class
bringing about economic prosperity (Daniels 6).
Marx cannot be given the entire credit for his ideas. He collaborated with a fellow
German, Fredrich Engles. Engles met Marx in 1844, at the tender age of 24. From then
on, the two combined ideas and wrote not only the Communist Manifesto, but also the
three-volume Das Kapital (Forman 138). Engles served 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 not remain
as pure as they were penned. Marx himself declared "All I know is that I am not a
Marxist" (Daniels 4). A great amount of credit for the corruption of true communism is
due to Vladimir Illich Lenin. As the leader of the Russian Revolution (Foreman 139), he
felt it necessary to develop his own communist theory, how appropriately named
Leninism. Lenin's communism was very different from Marxism; the two terms cannot be
considered identical or interchangeable (Daniels 18). Russian Marxism generally tends to
lean towards "liberation of labor" (Laski 47).
The roots of communism can be traced back to the All-Russian Social Democratic
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 the All-Russian Communist Party. This party was
modeled after the communist party of Germany (Laski 47).
Lenin did agree with Marx on one principle; in a situation of devastation
considerations, it would be necessary of the e lower class to rise up from their oppressing
and overthrow the domination upper class. However, he was of the opinion that if left to
themselves, the masses would not become revolutionaries (Daniels 20). Instead a very
special elite group was necessary to overthrow the autocracy for the lower class (Daniels
19). The working class was 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 workers
only from without, that is only from the outside of the economic struggle, from the outside
of the sphere of relations between workers and employers" (Daniels 20).
Lenin also disagreed with Marx on another concept. Lenin did not thing that a
revolution was a result of natural forces, as Marx did. His philosophy stated that the
revolution was the result of the purposeful intervention of the elite 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 his commuist backing
(Brzezinski 27). He was exiled to Siberia early in his politiacl carrer, and returded to help
support the Bolshevik party. He was extrememly influential in decison making with Lenin,
and in 1922 he was raised to the Secretary-General of the Bolshevik party (Miller 68).
Stalin became a primary leader at Lenins death.
Stalin helped to create the Cold War Period. The cold war was essentially created
as a result of the soviets wanting to keep itself secure and happy on their own. The Soviet
Union also made demands from other countries to help to build up their economy once
agian. However, several countires, including the United States and England, refused to
grant these unreasonable sums for the fear of a giant communist sphere. The countries
drew up agreements on boundries, of which the USSR also violated. This hate towards
the United States climaxed during the presidency of John F. Kennedy. The Soviets
shadowed the government of Cuba in 1959,creating a communist country under the
dictatorship 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 groups in Cuba to
overthrough their dictator. They failed miserably causing many deaths.
The Cold War continued with the Cuban Missil Crisis. During this Crisis period
the Soviets installed missiles on the shores of Cuba, aimed for major United States cities.
This "problem" was eliminated with talks between the Kremlin and the White House,
fortunaty a major disaster was prevented.
The Cold War ended with the presidency of Ronald Regan. He had outspent the
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 Quing Dynasty
had fallen, the emperor had abdicated, and China had been declared a republic, instituted
by Sun Yat-Sen (Shanor 94). In 1921, the Chinese Communist Party had become the
largest formed in the world. (Shanor 95).
Unfortunately, the Chinese society was not ready for democracy. Those holding
offices of power accepted bribes and participated in other forms of corruption. Warlords
divided the country into unofficial petty kingdoms with armies of peasants. The economic
state of China made it much more profitable for a peasant to work for the warlord that
form the land (Shanor 95).
Because of the poor conditions, small Communist groups began to form in China's
cities. At first, they were allies with Sun Yat-Sen and his Nationalists. But the good
feelings between the two parties deteriorated quickly after Chiang Kai-Shek, Sun's
successor, ordered the Shanghai Massacre of the Communists. Chiang spent the following
years alternating between negotiating with and fighting against the Communists. The
situation became so drastic that the Communists eventually fled during the Long March of
1934-35 (Shanor 95).
The United States, who was very Anti-Communist after WWII, supported Chiang
Kai-Shek. Over a period of four years, the US gave $2.5 billion to support the Nationalist
cause. Despite their efforts, the Communists eventually overthrew the Nationalist
government, forcing Chiang and followers to flee to Taiwan. On October 1, 1949, Mao
Zedong, the leader of the Communists, proclaimed the country as the People's Republic of
China (Shanor 96).
The Christian Anti-Communism Crusade in April of 1975, stated