Communism in the USSR was doomed from the onset. Communism was condemned due to lack of support from other nations, condemned due to corruption within its leadership, condemned due to the moral weakness of humanity, making what is perfect on paper, ineffective in the real world. The end of this system was very violent. It left one of the two most powerful nations in the world fearful of what was to come.
Communism can either be called a concept or system of society. In a society that follows the communist beliefs groups own the major resources and means of production, rather than a certain individual. In theory, Communism is to provide equal work, and benefits to all in a specific society. Communism is derived from many ancient resources, including Plato’s Republic and early Christian communities. In 1917, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in their Communist Manifesto finalized the philosophy of Communism. (”Communism,” Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 98 Encyclopedia)
In the beginning, people in Russia thought of Communism as a utopian ideal. (Funk & Wagnall’s) The elimination of social classes, and guaranteed employment sounded outstanding to the people who lived in Russia. Communism did call for a role of socialist dictatorship to help control any form of protest. Through persuasive tactics this new government seized power and in 1917 Vladimir Ilich Lenin came to power. Under his control the Soviet Union underwent many radical changes that led to the development of NEP (New Economic Policy). This policy called for some private ownership of the means of production and business. Still the government controlled the majority of production. Throughout Lenin’s government there were many achievements. It ended a long civil war against the remnants of the old Czarist military system and established institutions in government. He later died in 1924, and was quickly succeeded.
In 1924 Joseph Stalin became head of the Soviet Communist Party. He soon became the most powerful man in Russia. He ran the Soviet Union with brut power, removing all that opposed him and the Communist beliefs. This time period was known as the “Great Purge.” Stalin systemically executed anyone who stood in his path. Stalin had millions of people arrested and killed. The government once again changed in its economic status. All private ownership was ended. Industrialization commenced, and the strength of the Soviet’s Military significantly increased. The only downfall was agriculture production slowly diminished. This eventually led to food shortages. During this time period the Second World War broke out and drained most of what was left of the already impoverished state. However after the war, national unity was improved and the Soviet Union once again became a super power of the world. (” Stalin and World War II,” Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 99 Encyclopedia)
Stalin’s death in 1953 marked the end of the supreme power for the head of the Soviet party. Stalin’s successor, Nikita Khrushev, marked the beginning of the fall of Communism in the Soviet Union. Khrushev became the first Secretary of the Communists party (”Nikita Khrushev,” Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 98 Encyclopedia). He believed Stalin’s actions were unnecessary and harmful to the process of moving the Socialist government to its goal of complete Communism. During his period of control the public was given some say in the government. A new policy of economy was brought in known as “New Course.” It helped to balance the agriculture and increase food production so there were less food shortages.
Although Nikita Khrushev started a process of reform he was dismissed due to massive shortage of dairy products, and the fact that he failed to meet any of his initial objectives. After the dismissal of Khrushev, Leonid Brezhnev became the Soviet Communist Party Secretary General in October of 1964. Under his control central power was brought back into effect. Stalin’s disciplinary policies were restored. One of the causes of Brezhnev’s loss of power was in the way he controlled the land of Russia. During this time there was an inefficient use of land, which resulted in an economic slacking once again. The 1980’s saw a dramatic drop in the standards of the Soviet citizens. This led to strikes against the government, which greatly threatened the stability of the Soviet Union. The people were angered at the fact that the Communist Party had not lived up to what it had promised which was in return for their obedience. (B, Ulam, “Looking at the Past: The Unraveling of the Soviet!
March 1985 marked a turning point in the Communist Rule of Russia. Mikhail Gorbachev was elevated to the position of General Secretary. He was fully aware of what he had to do to keep Communism alive in Russia. He began a program called “Perestroika” which was intended to help rebuild the government and military, but the main purpose of this program was to improve the Soviet standard of living. In the end “Perestroika” turned out to be a complete failure. In 1991, the economy deteriorated before the eyes of Gorbachev, and he could do nothing to stop it. Soon following, the USSR voted itself out of existence in December 1991, and Gorbachev resigned as president of the former Soviet Union.
Eventually Communism completely destroyed the Soviet Empire. The parasite of Communism finally drained the last bit of strength from the Russian nation in the late 1980’s and 1990’s, resulting in a sensational break-up of Soviet control.
The break up of the Communist regime in the Soviet Union was more than a political event. The powerful bond between the economy and politics of Russia created an uncanny situation for the successor states of the Soviet Union. The people of Russia were so accustom to the way of life under Communism; they were left with little democratic tradition. Russia was faced with one of the toughest tasks, economic democratization.
But freedom did not take hold in Russia after the break-up. Instead of forging ahead with property rights and free markets, Russians devolved into a collection of turf wars, with ethnic groups, former rulers, organized crime and various other groups competing to survive.
Out of the former Soviet-controlled states, the one that proceeded fastest and furthest with free-market reform instead of controlled business — the Czech Republic — has done the best economically by far. The ones that at least moved closer to free markets, including Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Poland, are doing all right but still struggle.
Russia, who moved least to free markets, whose economy continued to be based on payoffs, bribes and tribute, has done the worst economically and culturally. Yet this catastrophe is often blamed on moving too fast with economic reforms. (”Soviet Union,” 99 World Book Encyclopedia)
Today Russia’s economy is in disorder. The standard of living for most people in incredibly low. It may be even lower now then during the Communist rule due to the long-term effects of the break up of the Soviet Union. One of the major factors for the fall of Communism is the government did not live up to it’s promise of a better life for all, and the failure of government to deal properly with social and foreign affairs. Russia is now faced with a task that may seem impractical, and a journey that may take many years, but it is believed one-day Russia may regain a well-balanced government.
1.”Everything About Russia (History Section).” Http://www.russia.net (6 Dec. 1999) 2.”CNN Interactive (Russian Archive).” Http://www.cnn.com (8 Des.1999) 3. B, Ulam, “Looking at the Past: The Unraveling of the Soviet Union” Source: February 5, 1996 Associated Press article (11 Dec. 99) 4.”The Electric Passport to Russia and Communism” http://www.mrdowling.com/707russia.html (11 Dec. 1999) 5.”Russian human rights commission reports gross violations, practically disbands,” Source: February 5, 1996 Associated Press article (11 Dec. 99) 6. “Karl Marx, Manifesto of the Communist Party” http://www.hartford-hwp.com/cp-usa/manifesto.html (12 Dec.99) 7. George W. Simmonds University of Detroit “World War II Commemoration- Stalin” http://gi.grolier.com/wwii/wwii_stalin.html (18 Dec.99) 8. “Marx and Engels’ Writings” http://english-www.hss.cmu.edu/marx/ (17 Dec.99)