During most of the twentieth century, communism was one of the world’s dominant international political movements. People reacted to it in different ways—as a source of hope for a radiant future or as the greatest threat on the face of the earth. When Karl Marx wrote his Manifesto of the Communist Party of 1848, he had no idea how communism would take off in the twentieth century. Marx sincerely believed that under communism people would live more freely than ever before. This belief turned out to be very ironic. Those who took power in the twentieth century as communist dictators used Karl Marx’s ideas as justification for a ruthless, single-party dictatorship. A prime example was Mao Zedong, whose skilful leadership played a large part in the communists’ successful capture of power in mainland China in 1949. Communist China turned out to be a dystopian society, much like the bleak, artificial society in the novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. In Huxley’s dystopia, he predicts possible problems of Communist beliefs, problems that became a reality in 20th century communist China. Communism comes from the Latin word communis, meaning common or universal. It is described as a revolutionary socialist movement to create a classless, moneyless, and stateless society structured upon common ownership of property. This property includes the factories, machines, and tools used to produce wealth. Communism, in its Marxist–Leninist interpretations, significantly influenced the history of the 20th century, which saw intense rivalry between the communist world and the Western world (Kamenka, 19-23).
Common ownership of property is one of the most important characteristics of communism. Plato in The Republic described it as a state where people shared all their property, wives, and children. This is an exaggeration, but millions of people did share their land in communist China. In the process of agricultural collectivization, individual peasant farms were replaced with collective ones. By 1956, in the Chinese economy as a whole, the basic transfer of the means of production from private hands into state or collective property had been accomplished.
According to communist theory, the only way to abolish capitalist injustices is to have the proletariat class, who collectively constitute the main producer of wealth in society and who are constantly exploited by the elitist bourgeois, overthrow the capitalist system in a massive social revolution. The revolution usually involves an armed rebellion. One example was the Chinese Revolution, which involved military combat between the Chinese National Armies and the Chinese Red. Once the bourgeoisie are overthrown, a dictator usually takes the place of the old government and establishes laws that favor the lower classes.
Mao Zedong is a prime example of a communist dictator. Mao rose to power of the Communist Party by commanding the Long March, forming a united front with the Kuomintang during the Second Sino-Japanese War to repel an Imperial Japanese invasion, and leading the CPC to victory against Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang in the Chinese Civil War (Brown, 300). After solidifying the reunification of China through his Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries, Mao enacted sweeping land reform, by using violence to overthrow the feudal landlords before seizing their estates and dividing the land into people's communes.
Both Mustapha Mond and Mao Zedong believed in the prioritization of society over the individual and the equal distribution of property. Huxley satirizes communism in his novel by using humorous exaggerations. The communists, much like the World Controllers in Brave New World, believe that almost all forms of property should be shared. The results of this idea in China turned out to be...